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Why Are My Flour Tortillas Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Why Are My Flour Tortillas Hard? (And What to Do About It)

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As simple as it may seem to make flour tortillas at home, more than a few things can go wrong.

I’m not saying that whipping up flour tortillas at home is complicated, after all, the typical recipe only calls for a few ingredients and you don’t need to use any advanced techniques.

However, getting the right texture and consistency of flour tortillas can be tricky business. Among the most common (and frustrating!) mishaps is the one that leaves you wondering: Why are my flour tortillas hard?!

Today, I’m sharing possible reasons behind this issue and how you can fix them to end up with a soft, pliable wrap instead of a crisp.

What Makes a Hard Flour Tortilla?

Flour Tortillas On A Plate

What Makes a Hard Flour Tortilla?

Known for being soft and easy to work with, flour tortillas are the base of various popular dishes such as burritos, wraps, and soft tacos.

When a flour tortilla turns out to be just as stiff as a corn tortilla, you should start looking at what might have gone wrong.

Overcooking

Generally, the main issue that will result in your flour tortillas becoming too brittle is cooking them for too long.

The longer you cook the tortilla, the more the dough will harden. So, if you leave your tortillas on the pan for too long, they’ll go from prime wrapping material to something that you could use with a dip.

This could happen because you miscalculated the time or you didn’t heat the pan enough before starting to fry the flour tortillas.

However, using excessive heat can also cause flour tortillas to dry out because of scorching.

Overworking the Dough

Although flour tortilla dough needs working to help the gluten develop, too much working can turn it excessively stiff. This results in hard tortillas upon frying.

Faulty Rolling Techniques

Too many rolls or too strong rolling overworks the dough into stiffness, but other rolling mistakes can also lead to hard flour tortillas.

These include rolling the dough before allowing it to rest for enough time, not rolling the dough thin enough, and covering the work surface with too much flour during rolling.

Absence of Fat

Finally, a fat-free recipe can be the culprit behind hard and brittle flour tortillas. Skipping the oil or butter in your dough reduces its moisture and pretty much kills the softness.

How To Avoid Making Hard Flour Tortillas

Now that you have a better idea of what causes flour tortillas to become hard, it’s time to figure out solutions to those problems.

Since cooking tortillas for too long is the main reason they come out stiff, the obvious fix is to try to reduce the time your tortillas sit on the hot pan. 

That said, everyone’s tortilla recipe is going to differ slightly. There are thousands of recipes out there to choose from, each person boasting that their recipe is the best one.

People also source their ingredients from different stores, markets, and so on. This leads to variations among different brands of flour and other ingredients.

As such, there’s no hard and fast answer to how long you should typically cook your tortillas. If you’re sticking to a recipe, you should try to do some extra reading to see how people liked that specific recipe and if there are any adjustments that numerous people made to the cooking times.

If you notice a general agreement that cooking times should be adjusted for a better tortilla, then go with that instead. Also, if you’ve been trying to make tortillas following a certain recipe and ended up with brittle and hard flour tortillas, you may want to make some of those adjustments yourself.

Beyond the cooking time, here are some additional tips to keep your flour soft and delicate:

  • Work the dough gently and avoid excessive handling.
  • Make sure the dough isn’t sticky as you roll it. If so, the dough is probably too dry and needs a bit of warm water.
  • Let the dough rest for at least 15 to 30 minutes before rolling. If you start rolling out the dough and see it pull back or shrink, then it needs a longer resting period.
  • Don’t sprinkle too much flour on your working surface for rolling. Keep it light; just enough to make rolling easier.
  • As you roll out your tortilla discs, they shouldn’t be too thick. They’re thin enough when you hold the disc and can see light through it.
  • Once the first tortilla has finished cooking, wrap it in foil so it can continue to steam slightly while you place the other tortillas onto the pan.
  • Make sure to rest your tortillas in a stack after cooking so they don’t dry out while cooling down.
Roll Of Aluminum Foil On Table

Saving a Failed Tortilla

If you’ve already made tortillas and they came out hard, you might wonder if there’s a chance to save them.

Typically, the hardness of overcooked tortillas is because of too much moisture escaping the dough.

So, to fix your hard flour tortillas, you need to introduce moisture back into the dough. Here’s how:

  • First, dampen some paper towels without soaking them through. The paper towels should have enough water in them to effectively transfer moisture to the tortilla without much of it getting lost in the process.
  • Next, microwave both the dampened paper towel and the tortilla together on high for about ten seconds. The heat of the microwave will cause the moisture from the paper towels to rise as steam and get absorbed by the tortilla without overloading the tortilla and turning it into a soggy mess.

Final Thoughts

Many foods out there can serve as a blank canvas for your food creations, but tortillas are at the top of the list! With limitless options of toppings and fillings, tortillas can fit just about anyone’s tastes!

Getting the texture of your tortillas just right is going to be one of the most complicated parts of making a tortilla, but even then, it is pretty simple once you know what not to do.

I’ve covered everything you need to avoid while making flour tortillas to keep them from turning out hard and brittle. You now know how to fix those issues and even how to salvage already hardened tortillas, so don’t be afraid of trying again!

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