dough ball for flour tortilla

It wasn’t until I moved to Japan that I ever even considered the idea of making my own flour tortillas. On the west coast of the US, tortillas are ubiquitous, affordable, and regularly consumed in a wide range of settings. My family used them for burritos at every possible opportunity (Dad has legendary breakfast burrito magic I may have to try to replicate and introduce here someday). When I moved to Japan in 2009, Mexican food hadn’t really gained any footing, and tortillas were scarce.

ingredients for flour tortillas

Initially, I just accepted my fate: either there were to be no tortillas in my life, or I was going to pay 800 yen ($8 or so) for a 5 pack of minis. While I would occasionally give in to my urges and indulge myself, it wasn’t for a few years that it dawned on me to try to make my own. 

I searched for recipes around the internet, trying a few here and there to find one I really liked. I even bought a tortilla press (but quickly learned that these are used for corn tortillas, not flour tortillas. Now you know too). After much trial and error, I finally found a recipe that I loved. It’s one cobbled together from a base recipe and recommendations from people leaving comments on the original. I have long since lost the webpage where the base for the recipe originated. 

ball of dough for flour tortillas

portioned dough for flour tortillas

At the time I found the recipe, however, I was in an odd phase where I wanted to have a handwritten recipe for everything I liked. Thus, I have the good fortune of having a physical copy of my flour tortilla recipe (it is properly worn and slightly dirtied, as it is forever stuck to the side of my refrigerator with a magnet). I love the recipe because at this point I can churn out 8-10 fresh flour tortillas in 30 minutes (that’s mixing, rolling, and cooking time, yes).

The result is not the heavy, floury tortilla you might find in a store-bought bag. They’re made with olive oil (and cooked in the stuff too), so the enjoyment of eating these comes from those great flavors. You can roll them as thin or as thick as you like, and adjust the size according to your needs. You can make the tortillas as crispy or as soft as you like. They are customizable deliciousness.

cooking flour tortilla

If you’re anything like me, after you get these simple flour tortillas in your repertoire, you’ll find yourself turning to them time and time again just because they’re so satisfying. If I haven’t sold you yet, give the recipe below at try. Make a fajita night out of it (I usually do).

stack of completed flour tortillas

Flour tortillas recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsps olive oil

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Heat the water to boiling.
  2. Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the olive oil. Pour the boiling water into the oil, and mix everything together well until incorporated. Separate the dough into the desired number of portions, making each into a ball (8-10 recommended).
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll each ball out to desired thickness (3-5 mm recommended). If not cooking as you roll, stack uncooked tortillas on a plate with a paper towel between each tortilla (to prevent them sticking together).
  4. In a large nonstick pan (or griddle) heat about 1/2 tsp of oil (or more, if preferred) over high heat. Drop tortilla into pan and cook approximately 1 minute (or until golden brown) on each side. Enjoy while warm.

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