Oh, how I miss the ooey-gooey yumminess of flour tortillas. I especially miss breakfast burritos. But my body simply does not approve of grains so tortillas have been off the table for far too long.
Then I discovered CASSAVA!
Have you heard of it? Cassava is the root of the yuca plant (not to be confused with the yucca plant of North America) and is commonly eaten in Latin America and Asia. It’s a starchy root that can be fried up like potatoes or dried and ground into flour. And it’s MAGIC!
I’ve since seen cassava tortillas in the store but they’re expensive! And the ones I’ve found have extra ingredients like chia seeds that, while healthy and an excellent source of fiber and omega-3 fats, are not compliant with the elimination phase of the AIP diet.
So I got to thinking…how hard can tortillas be to make? I mean, they were a staple in homes for thousands of years so they can’t be that hard right? RIGHT!
Tortillas are super simple to make! If you’re Paleo or AIP you can use cassava flour. If your body approves of grains you can use traditional flours like wheat. Either way, there are only 4 ingredients involved and the technique is pretty much foolproof.
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Pastry knife (recommended) or a simple fork will do
- Unbleached Parchment Paper
- Tortilla press (recommended), rolling pin or even a large round can
- Skillet or griddle
- Cooling Rack
- 1 Cup Cassava Flour (alternative flours discussed below)
- 1/2 tsp Real Salt or Himalayan salt
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil or Avocado oil
- 1/2 Cup Filtered Water, hot, plus a little extra
Make Your Dough
Whisk together your flour of choice along with the salt.
Add the oil and work it into the flour using a pastry knife or a fork. You want the mixture to be uniform, like sand. If you have some larger lumps and some smaller ones, continue mixing until all the lumps are the same size and the mixture appears sandy.
Add the hot water and mix until a soft dough forms. Turn it out onto the counter and knead a few times to ensure the dough is well mixed. I use a silicone baking sheet or you can use parchment paper to keep your counter clean.
NOTE: If you live in a humid environment you may not need all the water. If you live in a dryer climate you may need to add a little extra water. You’re looking for a dough that is soft and pliable and does not crack as you kneed and stretch it.
If your dough is too dry (cracks instead of stretches), add 1 teaspoon of water and mix well. Continue adding water 1 teaspoon at a time until the proper texture forms.
If your dough is too wet (sticks to your hands and the bowl) add a tablespoon of flour and mix it in well. Continue adding flour just a tablespoon at a time until the right consistency forms.
Form & Cook Your Tortillas
Now for the fun part!
Preheat your skillet or griddle while you form the tortillas. Heat on medium-low heat. You won’t need any oil (using oil results in tostadas. Yummy and crisp if that’s what you want but won’t be a soft tortilla).
Divide your dough into 8 equal balls. I use a food scale similar to this one to weigh my dough then divide that by 8 so I get uniform tortillas. You don’t need to be that OCD but it does make for nicer tortillas.
Roll your dough into balls then form them into tortilla shapes either with the tortilla press or rolling pin.
Place the ball of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper and place in the tortilla press or roll out using a rolling pin. You can even just use your hands to form the dough if you’d like a more rustic tortilla.
Stack the raw tortillas between parchment paper as you form them. This helps keep them from drying out while waiting to cook.
Check that your skillet or griddle is hot enough. Get a little water on your fingers and flick it onto the skillet. The water should sizzle then evaporate. If it sits there the pan isn’t hot enough. If it evaporates in a flash the pan is too hot. Remove it from the burner and allow it to cool for a few moments.
Keeping the tortilla on a sheet of parchment paper, flip it onto the hot pan. You can leave the parchment paper there for a moment or two so the tortilla doesn’t break as you try to peel the paper away (especially helpful if the dough is a tad wet).
Allow to cook for a minute or so on the first side. You’ll see small bubbles form. When the bubble areas are slightly brown on the first side, flip the tortilla and cook the other side. Cook until the bubble areas are just starting to brown. If you overcook you’ll end up with tostadas not tortillas. It may take a couple of tries for you to learn when to flip the tortillas. Don’t worry! With just a little practice you’ll get the hang of how long to cook them for the perfect, soft tortilla.
Allow your tortillas to cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge. I find that they taste best when warmed slightly.
They also freeze very well! When freezing, I keep a piece of parchment paper between them so they don’t stick together.
Notes & Variations
I use cassava flour for my tortillas but recently I discovered tiger nut flour. It adds a sweet, nutty flavor to the tortillas that I really like. I use half cassava and half tiger nut. I find that the dough is considerably stickier than just plain cassava and the tortillas tend to tear easily when flipping so this might not be the best combination for your first attempt at making tortillas. But once you get the hang of the basic cassava tortilla I highly recommend giving this one a try!
I’ve seen AIP tortillas made with arrowroot starch too, but I don’t care much for the flavor.
Of course, if your body approves of grains you can use wheat flour, sorghum, etc.
You can turn these tortillas into pita bread by adding about 1/2 tsp baking powder to the dry ingredients. This results in a fluffier bread much like a pita. Be sure your baking powder is AIP compliant if you’re in the elimination stage.
I also use these tortillas as PIZZA CRUST! I just bake them for several minutes in my air fryer then top with pizza toppings and heat in the fryer. It results in a thin, crispy crust. Or you can make the pita bread variation and use that as a pizza crust.