Basic Whole Wheat Tortillas (Soaked)

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Whole Wheat Tortillas (Can Be Soaked!)
Makes 24 large or 32 small tortillas

Note: As Mindy noted in the comments below, she successfully converted this recipe to a soaked tortilla recipe by replacing 1 tablespoon of water (per cup of flour) with 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (per cup of flour).  She mixed all the ingredients together and kneaded the dough and let the balls of dough soak for 24 hours. She wrote that next time, she’ll let the dough soak as a whole, then shape into balls and roll out just before cooking. This is awesome news! I (Wardee) would suggest letting this soaking happen in the refrigerator if the temperature of your house is more than room temperature – or decrease the soaking time to prevent the dough getting overripe.

I have tried several whole wheat tortillas recipes. I never found a recipe that resulted in soft, fluffy tortillas until I made up my own. In my opinion, homemade tortillas need a good bit of oil to be fluffy and soft. So here is my recipe for whole wheat tortillas, which does not skimp on the oil.

See all basic recipes.

  • 6 cups whole wheat flour (preferably freshly ground)
  • 2 cups cold filtered water (or 2 cups water minus 6 tablespoons, plus 6 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or melted virgin, unrefined coconut oil
  • extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil for frying

In bowl of mixer, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Turn mixer on dough setting and add oil. Add water gradually until mixture cleans sides of bowl and forms ball in center of bowl. Let the machine knead the dough for 2 minutes. Remove dough. If following soaked version, let dough rest for twelve to twenty-four hours and then proceed. Otherwise, divide into 32 parts for small tortillas or 24 parts for large tortillas. Roll each part into a ball and spread on a cookie sheet. Spray with oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. If following unsoaked version, let the balls rest 1 hour before proceeding.

Heat a flat cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add a small amount of oil. Oil a clean, flat work surface, such as a countertop. With an oiled rolling pin, roll out one ball of dough into a circle that is approximately 1/8″ thick, or your desired thickness. Place rolled out tortilla in the pan. Let it cook for about 25 seconds or until there are several bubbles in the dough. Flip the tortilla with a spatula and cook the other side for another 15 to 25 seconds, or until the bubbles are browned*. Remove tortilla from pan and place between towels to stay warm and moist. Meanwhile, roll out the next tortilla. Repeat until all of the balls have been rolled out and cooked. Add oil to pan and/or rolling pin as needed. Store in a zipper seal freezer bag in refrigerator or freezer.
*Adjust heat or cooking times to account for your stove, pan, or thickness of tortilla.
© 2006-2009 by Wardee Harmon

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m happy to have this recipe! I’ve made homemade tortillas many times, but not with whole wheat. Something new to try! Are you enjoying the heat wave? :o)
    Flora

  2. says

    Hi, Flora! Yes, this warmth we’re enjoying is wonderful!

    I hope you like this recipe. I just went back and edited it because I realized I hadn’t put the right amount of oil. It should be 1/2 cup of olive oil.

  3. says

    Dear Wardee,

    Good evening! :) I have never made my own tortillas, but you have inspired me to do so. You have been a blessing to me, putting up a recipe here and there. It works out so well because I know they are going to be healthy! Thank you.

    Have a good evening. Love, Robin

  4. says

    Robin and Sylvia, I hope you will give it a try and let me know how it goes. I would appreciate the feed back :)

    Robin, I try as hard as I can to make everything healthy. I am happy you’re willing to try my recipes. You’re a blessing to me!

  5. Cindy says

    Thanks, Wardee! for experimenting. I was googling for whole wheat tortillas. This is exactly what I was looking for. I was not sure if I could use olive oil and wanted to find out if some else had tried. If not, I was going for the challenge myself. I am off to try it.

  6. fennie says

    hi wadeh,
    i don’t have a big family so it just the two of us. can you make this recipe smaller, idon’t want to make all this tortilla if it doesn’t work out
    thanks

  7. says

    Hi, Fennie.

    You could easily quarter or halve this recipe.

    For quarter, use:

    * 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (preferably freshly ground)
    * 1/2 cup cold filtered water
    * heaping 1/4 teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder
    * heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    * 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    * extra virgin olive oil or olive oil spray for frying

    For half, use:

    * 3 cups whole wheat flour (preferably freshly ground)
    * 1 cup cold filtered water
    * 3/4 teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder
    * 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
    * 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    * extra virgin olive oil or olive oil spray for frying

    You might have to mix it in a bowl, though, since the dough hook may not be able to knead such a small quantity.

    Hope this helps!

  8. Lillian says

    Once I make these tortillas, what if in the next two days I want to give some to my friends, short of just hot of the grill, how does one keep the tortillas from getting dry and hard? Will the olive oil prevent them from getting dry in a day or two? Thank you Lillian

  9. says

    Hi, Lillian.

    What I do is transfer the hot tortillas right to a plate lined with a towel and then I layer a towel on top. As they cool, they condense on themselves which keeps them moist. Then to reheat, warm them in a 250 or 300 degree oven, completely wrapped in foil, until just warm. They will still be soft. I serve three or four day old tortillas this way and they are still soft.

    If you know you aren’t going to use them for a few days, though, why not freeze them after they’ve cooled a bit and take them out the morning of or the night before using and then warm them in the oven (completely wrapped in foil)? They’ll be just like fresh. Hope this helps!

    I believe the olive oil does keep them moist, too. That’s one reason why I use more than most people in my tortillas.

  10. Cheryl says

    I’m out of the country right now and don’t want to buy baking powder (or soda). Do substitutes exist? I have eggs… And what will happen if I leave it out?

  11. says

    Hi, Cheryl. I was out all day yesterday so I hope I’m not too late to answer your question. I don’t know of any other substitutions than those using baking soda, cream of tartar and /or cornstarch. What I would do in your situation, is just leave the baking powder out. I think it gives the tortillas a little lift, but they’re not dependent on rising up like a cake would be. I think they probably would be fine without baking powder. But I’ve never gone without, so I don’t know for sure. If it works, would you let me know? :)
    Here’s a link to a sub made with baking soda, cream of tartar and corn starch. http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1630,148185-255196,00.html
    Just in case.

  12. Lillian says

    I made your tortillas for a friend, and he thought they were the best whole wheat tortillas he had ever had! My sister thought they were too. Both of them could almost not stop from eatting all 24 that I had made. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I wrapped them in plastic and they stayed moist for days! Lillian

  13. Anne says

    Thanks for the recipe.
    We were looking for a tortilla recipe without baking powder and tried yours, and it worked out fine. The tortillas puffed up in the pan just like you described and they taste great :)
    One more modification was made: Instead of 6 cups of whole wheat flour, we substituted half of it with all purpose flour, and therefore also used a little less water, around 1 3/4 cups. We kneaded it by hand which took about 15 minutes until the dough was nice and smooth. The dough was a pleasure to work with.
    Regards, Donald and Anne

    Donald & Anne, thanks for sharing your modifications! I’m glad to know that your changes worked and I hope they will be a help to others who read here!

  14. says

    I have not tried this recipe but I too was looking for one with Olive oil instead of shortening.

    As for homemade tortillas, I find that 20 or so seconds in a microwave will soften them up, they even will have air pockets and billowy after a week old.

    Will try this recipe next time, Thanks.

    Hope it works for you, Steve! Thanks for sharing your trip about softening up tortillas.

  15. says

    Got around to making the tortillas today.
    I made mine with one cup of wheat flour and two cups of white flour and followed the recipe exactly for half as written below.

    They came out great! Best so far that my wife has made. We use to live in Mexico and at Soriana they would make fresh tortillas daily. Their tortilla’s would have so many air pockets. These that we made today had many air pockets and would almost inflate like a balloon while cooking.

    The olive oil worked great and I am glad to not be using shortening. I think I will keep it with one cup of wheat and two cups of white flour as they taste great.

    Steve, thanks for sharing your good news! I’m glad they worked for you. It is good to stay away from shortening, so I’m happy to hear your good report.

  16. Shelley says

    Hello! I just found your website and am so thankful that I did. We have already tried this tortilla recipe and LOVED them! Wow! I am so thankful for your website. It is already such a big help for me in my quest to feed my family healthy foods! Blessings to you and your family!

    Hi, Shelley! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the tortillas. Please let me know if I can ever be a help to you!

  17. bill says

    I came looking for a decent tortilla recipe (thank you!) but lingered to look at the picture on your masthead. Its quite nice — you must be quite proud of them!

  18. Erin says

    I made these tortillas for the second time today. They are so good! I’d tried to make other whole wheat tortilla recipes before, but they were always brittle. These are so soft. I love your website. Thank you for taking all the time to keep it up.

    Thanks for sharing your successes, Erin! I’m so happy to hear you love the tortillas. They are very love-able. :D

  19. J. Smith says

    What type of whole wheat flour do you use for different baking? I have been using hard red winter wheat, but I have just ordered some soft wheat (whole grain that I grind in the old vitamix). The hard red winter wheat is very strong tasting for things like pancakes, pizza dough, etc, but fine for bread (according to my family). What do you use?

    The soft wheat will work fine for tortillas and muffins and cakes, etc. That soft wheat, when ground, becomes whole wheat pastry flour.

    If you’re looking for a lighter tasting whole wheat for breads, pizza dough, I’d recommend hard white wheat, or hard spring wheat (the names are interchangeable). You’ll find it to be lighter, sweeter, fluffier, but still have a good protein content for making good structure. It can also be used for pancakes and muffins and cakes, but it will be heartier, while the pastry wheat (soft wheat) will make more cake-like texture.

    Hope this helps!

  20. says

    Do you think this recipe could work with a flour other than wheat? My son is off wheat right now, though he is still having other gluten flours.

    • says

      Kelly,yes it will! You may have to experiment as to liquid, but these can be made successfully with spelt and kamut, at least (I’ve tried those) and probably with additions of barley and rye also. See my spelt-kamut tortilla recipe. The dough is more fragile but the resulting tortillas are delicious!

  21. says

    I haven’t read all the comments, so I apologize if this has already been asked. But would there be any problem with letting the dough rest for longer than just 1 hour? The reason I ask is that I don’t have access to sprouted flour, so I’d eventually like to use this as a soaked recipe. Possibly I could replace a Tablespoon or two of the water with cider vinegar and let it sit for 12 hours or so. What do you think of that idea?
    .-= Mindy´s last blog post… hit the beach! =-.

    • says

      MIndy, I don’t see why you couldn’t do that. I think it is a great idea! The only stipulation is: you MUST let me know how it goes. :)

  22. says

    Deal! :) Today I’m trying the original recipe – I figured I should try that first, and see how I execute it, before tinkering with it at all. Except…I’ve run out of olive oil to cook them in. Yikes! So we’ll see how it goes.
    .-= Mindy´s last blog post… hit the beach! =-.

  23. says

    Wardee,
    I have a tortilla recipe, soaked, that makes very soft tortillas also! You can use butter, coconut oil or lard with good results. The key is to use “white whole wheat” flour (hard white wheat for freshly ground). It’s an amazing difference from regular wheat flour. (On my site under recipes tab.) I may try this one if I’m ever out of white whole wheat though! Thanks!
    .-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog post… Real Food Wednesday: Seeking Information about Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Diet =-.

    • says

      Katie – I believe I used white wheat in these tortillas. When we used wheat, that’s all I would use. :) It is so wonderful! I am going to look at your recipe (and I hope you will, too, Mindy) because maybe that will be the answer to having a soaked tortillas recipe. I’m excited!

  24. says

    We tried these last night, and they were delicious! My kids, ages 5 and 7 loved them! I did use a little too much oil and had to throw the first tortilla out, but the rest of them turned out perfectly! I’m so glad that your site came up when I searched for a recipe because I am now looking forward to spending more time on here reading things you’ve posted and trying more healthy recipes!!!
    .-= Kendra´s last blog post… Ava’s Celebration =-.

  25. says

    I did it!

    I just removed a tablespoon of water per cup and replaced it with 1 T. raw apple cider vinegar. (I actually halved the recipe this time around.) It worked beautifully. The tortillas tasted just the same!

    Probably I *did* let it soak a little long – there were a few spots that dried out a little. But they worked back into the dough easily. And maybe next time I’ll experiment with letting the dough soak all together in a bowl, and shape it into balls as I make the tortillas. Just spitballing here…

    Thanks for providing such a great recipe, Wardee! My family loves it.
    .-= Mindy´s last blog post… never the same =-.

  26. says

    I actually soaked for a little over what NT recommends – I just didn’t get back to it as soon as I’d have liked. I think optimum would be 12-24 hours. (though Kimi Harris at The Nourishing Gourmet tends to say “overnight”) I think my dough soaked for something like 25 or 26 hours…

    I’m sure whey or yogurt would work, too, but I’ve come to really trust cider vinegar for these kinds of things. That’s what I use to soak when I make pasta, and love flavor. I’m not sure how things would be different with a dairy product…?
    .-= Mindy´s last blog post… never the same =-.

    • says

      Mindy – I’ve come to rely on ACV or Kombucha for much of my soaking, too. The flavor is good – and not sour. Thanks for clarifying the soaking time. :)

    • says

      Hi, Becky – The way Mindy did it was to combine everything and leave it to soak. I think I’d approach it the same way because of kneading the entire dough. Although, perhaps you could try leaving out the leavening and salt and add those last. Hope it works for you. :) Another idea that is stirring in me, once I get good at sourdough, is to use this with a sourdough starter and no leavening other than that…

  27. says

    Wardee – a question and a comment –

    1. Q – do you ever worry about the smoke point of the EVOO when using it in this recipe? I know my tortillas like to be fried up HOT, and EVOO is rather unstable…I think. ??

    2. re: soaking in the fridge – the grains have to soak out of the fridge in order for the phytates to be broken down, at least that is my understanding. I soak my tortillas 24 hours on the counter, even in hot weather, w/o problem.

    Thanks, Katie
    .-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog post… Finer Frugal Things Friday: City Bus “Field Trip” =-.

    • says

      Katie – Yes, I do worry about the smoke point of EVOO in this recipe. I would keep the heat low enough so it doesn’t smoke if I were to use EVOO. However, I use coconut oil all the time now, which I think it is a better choice all around, but especially concerning the smoke point.

      On the soaking, I appreciate hearing your comments on that. That is a question I’ve had – whether or not the soaking can be done in or out of the fridge. I’d like to get to the bottom of it. For sourdough bread, the resting time can be done in or out of the fridge, it doesn’t matter. Of course, that is bacteria driven, not acid neutralization of another acid. For your tortillas, you leave the dough out 24 hours even in very warm weather? With sourdough, leaving it out when the temp is very warm in the house speeds up the resting time, otherwise the dough would get overripe. Maybe these are two different things. :) We should get to the bottom of it! The trouble with Nourishing Traditions is that there’s never quite enough information to answer every circumstance. If you figure this one out for sure, please let me know!

  28. Tammy says

    So when you say soak you mean let the dough sit after you mix it for 24 hours? I have several soak (sprouted) recipes but this is the first time I have tried tortillas. I just want to make sure I understood it correctly. Have you tried using Spelt in this recipe?

    Thanks so much
    Tammy

  29. Christina Dickson says

    Wow Wardee! I make my tortillas so different :) Coincidentally I made some tonight as follows:
    3 c. flour in a bowl (because I’m feeding 6 people)
    1 tsp salt stirred in
    I made a well in the middle and poured in 1/2c. kombucha water and 1/3c. melted coconut oil. I start stirring in the middle, slowly incorporating more and more of the flour, adding more kombucha water untill all the flour is a nice dough (I don’t know how much I used, around a cup).
    I covered with plastic wrap and set on the counter all day. This evening I rolled it out to 8 tortillas and cooked on a med-high pan without oil.

    Homemade tortillas are so great. I remember the first time I made some as a newlywed, they were so tough and would shrink up as fast as I could roll them out and as tough as could be! Eventually I figured out to make them with very warm water and when the recipe says “let set 10 minutes” it is important!
    Now letting it set out all day conditions the dough nicely.

    Blessings to everyone!

  30. Marla says

    Thank you, thank you! I have tried so many tortilla recipes that failed, but this one turned out great! I made them straight without soaking, but I plan to soak them next time. You’ve made me and my pocketbook very happy!

  31. Gretchen says

    I had given up on making whole wheat tortillas as my first few attempts were not so good. These however are amazing, and I never want to buy a flour tortilla every again! I soaked them with water and lemon juice, and used unrefined virgin coconut oil. I found I didn’t need to add oil to my cast iron pan, they cooked up great with just the oil in the dough and my pan is seasoned enough that they did not stick at all. I also used fresh ground hard white winter wheat for the flour.

    My husband and I are totally hooked on these, thanks so much for sharing it!

  32. Cass says

    I have never been able to make a tortilla that we find acceptable but I decided to give it another go last night. These were the best I’ve made so far, the kids liked them but hubby did not. We agreed they would be perfect as pitas! I made sandwiches out of them for today’s lunchboxes & I have my fingers crossed that they will be gone this afternoon. I did find a brand of tortillas (Tortillaland) in the refrigerated section at Costco that are raw & ready to be cooked with a very short ingredient list (flour, water, canola, salt, sugar) which we are addicted to. They are made with white flour & not organic so less than ideal but better than the others I’ve seen. I don’t know that we will be able to give them up 100% as it is one of our indulgences but I will keep working on it & in the meantime I will definitely find uses for these! Thanks so much for the recipe & your wonderful site!!

  33. Tiffany says

    these were really good for whole wheat!! i mean, the flavor has some getting used to when you grow up on white flour. they cooked perfect, which is amazing for me first time with a recipe. i didn’t need to add extra oil to my cast iron either. i’m going to try them next time with lard as that will be a more traditional flavor than olive oil, we are from New Mexico!

  34. Janette says

    I have a question about the soaking. Aren’t you supposed to leave the salt and baking powder out until after the soaking time is over and then add those in? Doesn’t the leavening and salt defeat the soaking process if it is added all together beforehand?

    • says

      Janette – That is ideal, yes. Sometimes it can’t always be done and it doesn’t totally defeat the purpose. The salt can interfere with the soaking, but so can a sweetener and oil. I think it is worth trying to add salt and baking powder at the end in this recipe, so if you do it, let me know how it goes and I can add your notes to the recipe to benefit others in the future. :)

  35. Bonnie says

    I’m confused by the term “soaked”. I read the recipe as mixing the flour, water & vinegar & putting it in the fridge overnight. Is this what you mean by “soaking”? I am visualizing a dough ball sitting in water….and I don’t think that’s right. Thanks.

    • says

      Bonnie — I am sorry to have missed your comment! I just found it today in the spam box. :( What you do is make the dough, including the vinegar, and let it sit at room temperature. This soaking time prepares it for optimal digestion, and neutralizes phytic acid (which interferes with mineral absorption otherwise) among other things.

  36. Kristen in MO says

    I made these today, but I did not get any air bubbles. I used the unsoaked version. Any ideas on what we did wrong? We used freshly ground hard white wheat with EVOO in the dough and coconut oil to fry in.

  37. Salem Thorup says

    From what I understand about soaking grains and flour, it would not be wise to soak this recipe after adding the baking powder and salt. For a genuinely effective soaked version, one should only combine the flour, water, acidic agent, and (if desired) the oil before soaking. Everything else should be added after soaking is done. Also, the EVOO is too unstable for tortillas. It will go rancid the second you heat it up very hot at all. I recommend coconut oil, butter, lard or tallow. This is all based on my biochemical research and nutritional knowledge. Hope that helps.

  38. krista says

    So I have been working on a gluten free tortilla to soak. I actually used lime juice instead of apple cider vinegar…I was thinking that it may be something to try with corn tortillas too. I end up using xantham gum instead of baking powder because of the lack of gluten, but I am wondering if anyone has experience with soaking gluten free flours. Is xantham gum ok to soak with the gf flour and salt. I also add in either sucanat or honey for a little sweetness and was wondering about if I should add it in before or after soaking. I added both the xantham gum and honey after this last batch but it was a little awkward to get it all mixed in after the dough was already wet.

  39. jessica says

    I have tried a bunch of other ww tortilla recipes and they were always dry and hard, these were soft. These are by far the best ww tortillas I have ever had. I used lard for the oil and didn’t soak them. The leftovers were still soft when warmed the next day.
    I still prefer the taste of the tortillas you buy raw and refrigerated, but ww is healthier, so I will be eating these instead.

  40. Rebecca T says

    I made these last night using the soaked version, and although we love them I’m going to make a few modifications for next time. I found the dough to be too wet – I tried to roll out using oil as written, but the dough was too gloppy. I had to roll out after working additional flour into the dough – probably using 9 cups total flour instead of 6 cups per the recipe. I used sifted einkhorn wheat flour, perhaps next time I should measure before sifting, or reduce the amount of water.

    However – the taste and texture was fantastic! Soft, slightly chewy, thick tortillas with an added tangy flavor due to the soaking. I have to avoid traditional wheat, so having this soaked version with the einkhorn flour is a lifesaver! I shared a sample with some of my Indian coworkers, and they informed me that it tastes just like Roti bread! Haha!

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