I would like to make a tortilla that is softer and more elastic, allowing for large burritos with lots of filling

I've been using the following recipe below which yields good results, however it is not soft or elastic enough to handle large amounts of filling.

1/4c butter
1/2c water
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 3/4c flour

I knead the dough and then immediately cook.


The tortillas taste great fresh, but after sitting in a zip-lock bag for a few hours the become much less pliable. I generally re-heat them with a damp towel in the microwave which makes them pliable enough to wrap filling in.

I've read this question about how to make "Big, Fluffy" tortillas, and it notes letting the dough rest is a key step. I did try this, and I ended up getting more air bubbles but other than that they are pretty much the same.

I would like to figure out how restaurants like Moe's make and prepare their tortillas which are suitable for large burritos. I am open to suggestions in technique or ingredients.

  • What flour are you using, and how long are you kneading? For elastic, you generally need more gluten (=bread flour, more kneading), but this also opposes the "soft" part, if you understand "soft" as in fluffy.
    – rumtscho
    Aug 29, 2012 at 16:07
  • 1
    If your tortillas are of the thickness you want, then the answer to making a larger tortilla is to use more dough for each.
    – derobert
    Aug 29, 2012 at 16:12
  • Flour - I am using all purpose, unbleached flour and kneading until it forms a dough. I don't keep kneading like I would a pasta or bread dough.
    – Brian
    Aug 29, 2012 at 16:26
  • 4
    Usually restaurants that are doing mission-style burritos (which I think is what Moe's does) use 12-14" tortillas and also (perhaps most importantly) a tortilla steamer. By vigorously steaming the tortillas, they become more stretchy, thus they can be filled more without ripping. The foil that is then wrapped around the burritos ensure that as the tortilla cools down and drys out that it will continue to not rip. Aug 29, 2012 at 17:52
  • @djmadscribbler That answers my question! I always called them "American Burritos" But now I know the name and the origin of the style. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_burrito
    – Brian
    Aug 29, 2012 at 18:58

9 Answers 9


Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_burrito

Two key technologies that made the San Francisco burrito possible are the large flour tortilla and tortilla steamers, which together increase the flexibility, stretch, and size of the resulting tortilla. The tortilla steamer saturates the gluten-heavy tortilla with moisture and heat, which increase the capacity of the tortilla to stretch without breaking. This in turn allows for the size of the San Francisco burrito. Corn tortillas, the original indigenous pre-Columbian form of the tortilla, cannot achieve either the size or the flexibility of the flour tortilla, and thus cannot be used to make a San Francisco burrito. A few San Francisco taquerias grill the tortillas instead of steaming them, using heat and oil instead of steam; and a few grill the finished product before the final step of wrapping it in aluminum foil.

The aluminum foil wrapping, which is present whether the customer is eating in the restaurant or taking out, acts as a structural support to ensure that the tortilla does not rupture. One of the main difficulties of the San Francisco burrito is the issue of structural integrity, but skilled burrito makers consistently produce huge burritos that do not burst when handled or eaten. A successful large burrito depends on an understanding of the outer limit of potential burrito volume, correct steam hydration, proper wrapping/folding technique, and assuring that excess liquid has been removed from the burrito ingredients prior to inclusion.

  • 1
    I'm going to second the steaming!
    – lemontwist
    Aug 29, 2012 at 23:43

Bull-honkey on the steamers part. All you need is a comal (a.k.a. griddle) for the cooking, and later, re-heating part.

The reason your toritllas get hard after day 1 is due to the baking powder. I know you're saying "but I need that to rise or get soft and chewy". Again bull-honkey.

I make awesome "mission" style tortillas on an every-other-week basis and I use NO baking powder, steamers, nor butter.

I do use, [whole wheat] flour, olive oil, warm water and salt, and that's it. Ingredients aren't enough though, it's prep that ties it all together. You need to let the dough autolyse is the trick. Combine flour and water (into dough mass) and let rest covered for 20-30 mins. then add oil and salt, kneading slightly again to combine. Make dough balls, flatten, roll, toss on a super hot griddle for 30-60 seconds each side (each side needs to bubble, if this doesn't happen or takes too long to happen, you're griddle's not hot enough, you'll end up making a cracker), and BAM! ready to eat, or store in air tight bags for later (refridge)

for the record, yes, I'm hispanic (have 5 kids). I eat habanero salsa. I'm authentic. the above is authentic.

Your welcome


My aunt users my grandmother's recipe and they are the thickest most pliable and delicious tortillas I've ever had, similar to the texture and taste of Taco Cabana but thicker and tastier and she would laugh at the thought of using a steamer.

I'm in total agreement with the the comment above starting with: "Bull-honkey" though my aunt does use some baking powder. She's always told me that if you want them pliable then you have to knead the dough.

Good luck!


Here is a great video on making soft tortillas....the secret is the kneading, resting, and the extra kneading when dividing the dough into dough balls. Best wishes to all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5W-KWRcC7DE&t=0s

  • While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review
    – bob1
    Sep 13, 2021 at 21:35

You are using too little water and too little baking powder in your formula. Now you use 31% water (on flour) and you should use about 70%. Also, double or triple the baking powder. Athanasios.


This recipe I use:

  • 4 c flour
  • 1/2 c lard ( kind in green and white small or lg tubs) Manteca
  • 1 1/2 c hot water
  • Tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp baking powder

Add dry ingredients together n mix Add lard and mix by hand until flour looks like sandy texture Add third of water and knead in then add another third water ,knead again then keep kneading til big doughy ball Cover with damp towel and let sit 15 mins

Regular sized tortillas use golf sized dough ball If want bigger tortilla use bigger sized dough ball

If wanting soft tortillas for next day make sure to wrap securely and put in fridge. If not soft when take out. Microwave few 6-9 seconds for single tortilla and should be soft as new.


I think you are looking for a Sonoran style tortilla. You'll need to use more fat to get them that thin. Here's a recipe you might try.



Steaming your tortilla is the best way. (Just like Chipotle)


I use flour, salt, baking powder, lard or crisco, warm water. Mine stay soft till the next day and more if any left over. This is the old way and I am hispanic. I also love to add Rosemary to mine at times depending what I am putting in it. Good luck!

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