Cook a Flour Tortilla to Perfection


I have a love affair with southwest cuisine.  The flavors.  The textures.  The aromas.  This is comfort food at its best.  For me, one item is the first to come to mind when I am ready to tuck into a perfectly prepared southwestern plate of food.  It is the humble tortilla.

Over the years, tortillas are becoming more common in grocery stores across the country.  Sure… they are convenient, but since the majority of them are already cooked, the sublime flavor of a fresh tortilla will not be discovered on a supermarket shelf.

Now whether you want to make your own or have access to fresh tortillas, they are at their peak of flavor when freshly cooked.   They are warm, pliable, and tasty.  They become the perfect vehicle for simple fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas.  This simple bread is even great with slathering of warmed butter.

If you want to enjoy this experience, you have two options.  1) Make your own from scratch.  2) Find a vendor that sells uncooked tortillas.

Over the years, friends have asked how to cook tortillas.  It just wasn’t in their wheelhouse.  Did they need to add oil to a pan?  Are they toasted?  Fried?  Baked?  How long are they cooked?  This pictorial post will answer those questions.

How to Cook a Tortilla to Perfection

  • Place uncooked tortilla in a hot skillet.  Oil or butter is not necessary.
dry, hot skillet

dry, hot skillet

uncooked flour tortilla on the skillet

uncooked flour tortilla on the skillet

  • Note: skillet is placed over a medium heat.
  • Steam bubbles will begin to form in tortilla.
steam forming bubbles in tortilla

steam forming bubbles in tortilla

  • Do not flip tortilla yet.  Let bubbles get larger and the edges of the tortilla cook until they no longer look wet or raw.
large bubbles have formed

large bubbles have formed

  • Flip the tortilla over with a spatula.  Notice the golden brown color scattered about the tortilla.
tortilla will puff after flipping

tortilla will puff after flipping

  • Allow tortilla to cook for approximately 10 – 15 seconds after flipping.  Remove tortilla from skillet.
perfectly cooked tortilla

perfectly cooked tortilla

The key is to start with a skillet that is hot.  Do not place the tortilla on a cold skillet.  The tortilla will become dry before it is fully cooked and the resulting texture is stiff  rather than nice and pliable.  With a hot skillet, total cook time is approximately 30 – 45 seconds.  If you are uncertain how long to cook or if you lost track of time, simply let the appearance of the tortilla be your guide.  Peak at the underside.  Are the gold brown spots there?  Remember… you are looking for spots, not a uniform golden brown crust across the entire surface.

So friends, go ahead and cook tortillas right before the meal.  It doesn’t matter if you make your own or purchase them raw.  With a little practice, you too, can cook a tortilla to perfection.


6 responses »

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  3. I need to get a tortilla press – so want to make them like my Grandma Aguilar! she used to flip the dough in her hands, back and forth and then lard in the cast iron – grill – brown spots and lovely!

    • I have tried flipping the tortillas with my hands, but I get burned by the steam coming off from them. But despite that, they cook up beautifully on a cast iron skillet. I just love those golden brown spots. I hope you can find a tortilla press.

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