Why You Should Always Let Your Homemade Tortilla Dough Rest

Anyone who's had fresh, homemade flour tortillas knows that the store-bought varieties simply can't compete. Fortunately, making them at home is relatively easy. Many cooks often miss an important step that can make a massive impact on the final product, though — resting their dough.

The crucial process comes after cooks knead the dough. Tortilla preparers then rest the dough at room temperature for about 15 minutes. However, it is best to think of that 15-minute period as a minimum resting time. Some tortilla makers cover their dough and rest it overnight in the fridge, making it even easier to work with.

There are a few reasons why this is so critical. It allows the dough to thoroughly and evenly hydrate, creating a consistent mix that cooks the same way every time. In addition, the resting makes a softer final product and encourages subtle improvements to flavor. Finally, fully rested dough is far easier to work with, avoiding the tendency to spring back into shape after rolling that unrested dough can often experience.

The finer points of tortilla making

Those using flours other than traditional white flour may need to adjust the length of rest. For example, whole wheat tortillas should be rested for at least 30 minutes. Tortilla dough made from gluten-free flour can benefit from rest for hydration and more even consistency, even if there's no gluten to relax. This includes corn tortillas, the traditional version that dates back thousands of years.

There are also some other subtle things to remember for best results when following a homemade flour tortilla recipe. For one, use the best-quality flour and other ingredients you can, as they can truly elevate a simple recipe like this one. Additionally, work in a bit of the right kind of fat, which can add an extra rich flavor. Many experienced tortilla makers prefer lard or shortening since they're solid at room temperature and can easily be integrated into the dough without compromising the texture.

If you're craving some homemade tacos or burritos after reading this, wait out the time necessary to rest your tortilla dough. You'll be glad you did when you take that first bite.