The Easy Way To Swap Lard With Another Fat In Homemade Flour Tortillas

While corn tortillas are a Mexican culinary tradition, flour tortillas are believed to have come to the Americas via the Old World. Spaniards brought a simple, longstanding tortilla recipe (along with its key ingredients of flour and lard) to Mexico. Flour tortillas have since become a staple of northern Mexican and Mexican American cuisines, used interchangeably with corn tortillas for tacos and quesadillas and inspiring their own dishes like burritos and fajitas.

Traditional Mexican recipes for scratch-made flour tortillas typically blend flour, water, and lard into dough before separating the dough into balls to roll out and cook on a griddle. The lard helps bind the dough but also imparts a delicious flavor. Lard is a solid fat that easily breaks down and forms a cohesive mass of dough with the flour. The optimal substitutes for lard are likewise solid fats like butter or shortening. However, you can also use vegetable oil with a simple procedural tweak.

If you use shortening or butter, the swap is a one-to-one ratio. Blend the same amount of room temperature, solid butter, or shortening as you would lard into the flour before adding hot water slowly until you can form the dough into a cohesive ball. If you're using oil or another liquid fat like bacon grease, you will add the same amount of fat, but add the oil and hot water simultaneously.

More flour tortilla tips

Homemade flour tortillas are a simple three-ingredient recipe but act more like flatbread than corn tortillas. Consequently, they require resting time, kneading, and rolling. The initial blend of flour, water, and fat renders a sticky, tacky dough that you'll knead until it forms a cohesive ball. Letting the dough rest for at least an hour allows the fat and flour to integrate into a smoother ball that will be easier to divide. Once you've divided the dough into individual balls, another 20 minutes in the fridge will give them the perfect consistency for rolling out.

The thickness of your tortilla is a matter of personal preference; some like a thicker, pita-like tortilla, while others like a thin, crepe-like tortilla. A 400 F griddle or iron pan will cook tortillas in one minute, with a flip at the 30-second mark. You want the tortilla to have some golden brown spotting and puff up as it heats on the comal. By the time it starts puffing up, you'll flip it, and once the tortilla begins to puff up again, it's ready to enjoy! Place tortillas fresh off the griddle on a cloth towel to maintain the moisture and texture while you cook the rest of them. For storage, place cooled flour tortillas in an airtight Ziploc bag or wrapped thoroughly in tin foil before refrigerating. They'll reheat beautifully on the griddle.