I had a difficult time mastering homemade whole wheat tortillas. My man and I love them, but for some reason, I just couldn’t find a recipe that work for me. It didn’t matter which one I tried; my tortillas just didn’t turn out. They were too brittle. Too sticky. Too dry. Too crumbly. Too burnt (oh wait, that wasn’t part of the recipe, that was just my own forgetfulness).
After many failed attempts, I finally experimented and created my own recipe! Today, I can make a soft, pliable, 100% whole wheat tortilla that I love!
How to Make Soft, Whole Wheat Tortillas
This recipe is simple, but there’s one old-fashioned ingredient you need that will make particularly soft whole wheat tortillas. It’s yellow, fatty and makes everything taste better!
I don’t know why, but for some reason butter creates the best, most pliable tortilla wrap! So don’t you go changing it out for something else in the recipe, y’hear?
Unless of course, you’re dairy free. If so, I give you my next best pick on fats at the bottom of this tutorial.
Step 1: Mill Some Fresh Flour
There’s nothing like freshly milled, whole wheat flour; the flavor and nutrition are unbeatable! For this recipe, I like to use a Red Fife wheat berry. When you grind your own flour, be sure to set the mill to it’s finest setting. This results in tortillas that hold together, better!
Step 2: Measure and Melt the Butter
While your wheat is being ground in the grain mill, measure out and warm your butter in a small pot until just melted. Be sure to you don’t overheat it! Set it aside while you mix up the remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Measure Ingredients Into a Bowl
Measure your flour and salt into a bowl, then use a whisk to mix everything together.
This accomplished, it’s time to measure in your wet ingredients (minus the butter). After you’ve stirred the flour and liquid together, it’s time to knead in the butter.
At this point, the dough will be wet, but it shouldn’t be sticky. You can use it immediately, or set it aside to ferment for 6-24 hours.
Step 4: Heat a Cast Iron Pan
Set a cast iron pan on the stove under medium heat. Don’t bother adding oil. You won’t need it! In fact, your tortillas will be softer if you don’t add fat or oil of any kind.
Step 5: Roll Out Tortillas
As you pan heats up, liberally sprinkle your kneading surface with flour. Take enough dough to fill your palm and roll it into a ball that’s somewhere between a golf and tennis ball size. Flatten it out on the floured surface. Flip. And flatten it again with your hand.
Use a wooden rolling pin to create a very thin, round tortilla. Because the dough is wet, you can also use your fingers to gently stretch and adjust the shape.
When you have finished, gently lay it in the hot cast iron pan and let it cook.
Step 6: How to Cook Tortillas
Make sure you don’t overcook your tortillas! Think of your pan as a dehydrator, where all you want to do is ‘dry out’ the dough. Overcooked tortillas will be stiff and brittle.
About 20-30 second after your tortilla hits the pan, inspect the underside for a dry look.
When you see it, flip the tortilla and give it even less time on the other side. It also just needs to look dry.
Step 7: Steam Under a Cloth
When your tortilla looks dry on both sides, put it on a plate and cover with folded tea towel (to keep things moist and tender). Continue rolling the dough, cooking and adding to the stack, being sure to re-cover after each new addition. By slightly steaming the tortillas, you’ll keep them soft, pliable and tender.
Step 8: How to Store Whole Wheat Tortillas
Tortillas made from freshly milled flour will keep 5-7 days at room temperature. Store and seal in a zip lock bag when they’re still slightly warm. This helps keep them moist and soft, when they’d otherwise dry out.
You can also made a big batch and freeze your tortillas! In order to keep them from drying out, I recommend freezing while still mildly warm. Place a layer of parchment paper between each tortilla and store in an airtight container or zip lock bag.
Step 9: The Best Way to Serve Tortillas
Due to it’s high bran content, whole wheat flour is crumblier than white flour. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to serve whole wheat tortillas hot, so they’re less likely to rip or tear when filled with food.
I like to flash heat them in a skillet on the stovetop.
Whether you have them sitting at the back of your counter in a bag or decide to freeze them for lunches, tortillas always taste better when you give them a bit of heat anyway!
Whole Wheat Troubleshooting Tips
Working with whole wheat is totally different than working with white, refined flour. Because of this, I want to give you a few troubleshooting tips so that you can have a successful start! Here are some issues you might run into.
Issue 1: My Tortillas Keep Sticking to the Counter
Rolling out tortillas can be a frustrating experience, primarily because you’re working with a wetter dough. Make sure you sprinkle your working surface with lots (and I mean LOTS) of flour when you go to roll out your dough. Flip it several times in the rolling process, putting down more flour each time.
Trust me. Don’t try using oil. Flour is the only way.
Issue 2: My Tortillas Aren’t Pliable
There can be several reasons for this, but the primary culprit is overcooking. Like I said before, you really don’t have to cook these tortillas. All you want to do is dry them out! Keep your heat to a medium-low.
Other reasons for dryness include 1) failing to cover/steam finished tortillas as you add to the stack, 2) leaving them to sit out for too long before bagging.
Issue 3: My Home is Dairy Free
If you can’t consume butter, I recommend you use lard as a substitute. I’ve tried both olive oil and coconut oil in this recipe, but both result in a firmer, less pliable tortilla.
Don’t know how to render your own lard? I teach you how in this tutorial here!
That’s How You Make Soft, Whole Wheat Tortillas
Of all the whole wheat tortillas recipes I’ve tried, this one alone deserves a place in my recipe binder! I love how simple the recipe is, that it has the option of fermentation and that it makes such a delicious, pliable whole wheat tortilla!
Here’s the printable version of the recipe for your convenience!
A Soft, Whole Wheat Tortilla Recipe
- 2 1/2 C freshly milled, whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 C milk (or water for a DF option)
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 C melted butter (or lard for DF option)
- Mill fresh flour for making whole wheat tortillas
- Measure butter into a small saucepan and heat on the stove top until just melted
- Measure flour and salt into a bowl and whisk together
- Add milk (or water for DF option) and apple cider vinegar to flour and stir in
- Take melted butter and knead into the dough
- If desired, cover with lid and set at the back of your kitchen counter to ferment for up to 24 hours
- Heat a cast iron skillet under medium-low heat
- Heavily flour your working surface
- Take a lump of dough large enough to fill your palm and flatten on floured surface
- Flip the disc of dough and flatten again
- Using a rolling pin, thinly roll out dough, flipping and flouring the surface several times in the process
- Flip tortilla over your hand and transfer to the skillet
- Cook for 20-30 seconds on one side, or until it looks dry
- Flip and cook for even less time, until dry
- Transfer to a plate and cover with a folded tea towel
- Continue rolling, cooking and stacking whole wheat tortillas under the cloth until finished
- Serve immediately while still hot, or allow to cool to warm before bagging or freezing.