Soft and flavorful gluten-free cassava tortillas that taste like regular flour tortillas! They're tender, chewy, and flaky. Adapt with your fat of choice to make them paleo or vegan, and make them ahead to keep on hand in the freezer or fridge!
When we got married, Lucas fondly told me stories of his grandma's homemade flour tortillas. When she passed a couple of years ago, he wanted to carry on her legacy, bringing more of his Mexican heritage into our family cooking. So, together, we've been testing batch after batch of gluten-free flour tortillas. Lucas is the resident authentic flour tortilla expert, and I'm the gluten-free flour buff. Honestly, this might be the best outcome of our marriage (kidding, our kids are pretty great too).
This final recipe here is exactly what we've been looking for. Lucas says they live up to the "Grandma Marta" test and we all prefer them to any store-bought tortillas we've had. Dedicated to Grandma Marta for Mother's Day.
Homemade Gluten-Free Tortillas
These homemade gluten-free flour tortillas are soft and tender with flaky bubbles that brown up just like traditional flour tortillas. With a chewy texture, they make the best tacos and quesadillas. And they're even delicious enough to eat on their own.
Lucas folds a warm tortilla up with a pat of butter, so we now make a double batch if we want to have enough left for tacos!
Cassava flour tortillas
Pliable soft gluten-free or grain-free flour tortillas can seem elusive, but cassava flour cooks up with a very similar texture as wheat flour in recipes like tortillas that don't rely on gluten for structure.
Cassava flour is a soft and finely ground flour that is neutral in flavor, which makes it a great substitute for gluten-free or paleo flour tortillas. This nutrient-rich flour is created out of the root vegetable cassava, sometimes also called yuca. Native to South America, the production and harvesting of cassava root is an essential aspect of many indigenous populations' livelihoods. With this history, I feel fortunate to have easy access to cassava flour in mainstream supermarkets and online for home cooking and baking.
How to make gluten-free tortillas
This gluten-free tortilla recipe uses a combination of cassava and tapioca flours as the base. Add hot water, fat, and salt. The dough couldn't be simpler!
For this cassava tortillas recipe, I found that combining the cassava flour with a bit of tapioca starch made the tortillas even softer and fluffier. When first mixed, the dough may seem sticky, but after a minute or two, the cassava flour will soak up moisture, leaving a dough that feels like very soft playdough that isn't at all tacky.
Since the flours are so light and fluffy and just a little mismeasure can affect the moisture content, I strongly recommend a kitchen scale for measuring flour and water. I've included cup measurements in case you don't have a scale, but you'll then need to pay attention to the cues from the dough for the perfect texture.
Best gluten-free tortillas
Without the stretchiness from the gluten, gluten-free or grain-free flour tortillas can be a bit trickier to roll out into a perfect circle. I first recommend pressing the dough disk flat using a baking sheet then rolling it thinner with a rolling pin. When hand-rolled, you may end up with rustic shaggy edges or an oblong tortilla. They'll taste exactly the same, don't worry!
However, if you're like me and crave perfectly round flour tortillas for your tacos, use a tortilla press. While a tortilla press is typically used to make homemade corn tortillas, it's the perfect solution for gluten-free flour tortillas. Just press the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and repeat.
This tortilla press method makes the whole process so much faster as well! We can make fresh homemade gluten-free flour tortillas, adding only about 15 minutes to our cooking time than when heating up store-bought tortillas. And the results are so worth those extra 15 minutes.
Gluten-free flour tortillas recipe
After cooking the tortillas, keep them warm in a tortilla warmer. This is one of the first gifts my mother-in-law gave me and it's now one of the most-used items in my kitchen. It keeps your tortillas piping hot while you prepare the rest of your tacos, and if you happen to cook a tortilla a bit too long and it ends up a bit crispy, it'll soften right up from the steam in the tortilla warmer. Get one, you won't be sorry.
Paleo or Vegan Gluten-Free Tortillas Recipe
This grain-free tortilla recipe calls for fat, and the differences are so subtle that you choose what works best for your diet. To make paleo tortillas, use ghee or coconut oil. To make vegan gluten-free tortillas, use coconut oil or vegetable oil. Note: unrefined coconut oil has a distinct coconut-y flavor. If you'd prefer a more neutral flavor, opt for refined coconut oil.
Storing Cassava Flour Tortillas
You can make a double or triple batch of these grain-free flour tortillas and store them for later use.
Freezer storage: Stack uncooked, par-cooked (20-30 seconds on each side), or fully cooked tortillas between squares of parchment paper and place flat in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. The tortillas are a bit more delicate and brittle when frozen uncooked, so just make sure you don't crush or bend the freezer bag while in storage.
- To cook, remove them from the freezer and let sit for 5 minutes to slightly soften. Cook uncooked or par-cooked tortillas as instructed above, adding 30 seconds or so to the time. For fully cooked tortillas, reheat on low so you don't burn the tortillas.
Fridge storage: Stack uncooked, par-cooked (20-30 seconds on each side), or fully cooked tortillas between squares of parchment paper and place flat in a freezer bag. Keep uncooked tortillas for up to 2 days, and par-cooked or cooked tortillas for up to a week in the fridge.
- To cook, remove them from the freezer and let sit for 1-2 minutes to slightly soften. Cook as instructed above, directly from the fridge. For fully cooked tortillas, reheat on low so you don't burn the tortillas.
Gluten-Free Taco Recipes for your Tortillas
- Vegetarian Shawarma Tacos with Cauliflower & Chickpeas
- Buttermilk Fried Tofu Tacos with Jalapeno Lime Yogurt Cabbage Slaw
- Mole Spiced Chickpea & Grilled Zucchini Tacos
- Gluten-Free Baja Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream Sauce
- Salmon Tacos with Green Onion & Asparagus Salsa
- 165g (about 1 cup + 2.5 tablespoons) cassava flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
- 36g (about ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon) tapioca starch/flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
- ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum (see note for substitutions)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 195g (about ¾ cup + 1.5 tablespoons) hot water (110-120°F)
- 49g (about 3½ tablespoons) melted unsalted butter, ghee, coconut oil (refined or unrefined), or vegetable oil (see note)
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine cassava flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt. Add hot water and melted butter (or other fat) and stir to combine into a shaggy dough. Use your hands to knead into a smooth dough. The dough may seem sticky at first, but will become smooth and not-tacky after 30 seconds or so of kneading as the cassava soaks up the moisture. The texture of your dough should be similar to very soft playdough. If it's too firm, add a few drops of water and work it into the dough. If it's too sticky, dust just in a bit more cassava flour (I've never had this happen).
- Divide into 9 balls, about 49g each, and gently flatten each ball into a disk with your hand so it's no more than an inch thick. I recommend placing the dough balls under a damp towel so they don't dry out as you roll each one. If you notice a dough ball seems a bit crackly or dry after sitting, just knead in a couple of drops of water to soften it back up.
- Roll out the tortillas. If using a tortilla press (my recommendation), place a square of parchment paper on the press (no larger than the press itself), then top with a dough disk and another square of parchment paper. Press the dough into a flat round circle. Peel off the top piece of parchment paper and set the tortilla aside on the bottom parchment paper. Repeat, until you have a stack of tortillas with parchment paper between. If rolling the tortillas out by hand, place a dough disk between two pieces of parchment paper. Start by using a flat baking sheet to press the tortilla as flat as possible then use a rolling pin to roll it even thinner (or roll using just a rolling pin to start, but your tortilla may not be perfectly round). It should be very thin, but not translucent (and if you mess one up, just roll it back into a ball and do it again!). You can freeze the tortillas at this point, or cook them for easy fridge storage (see notes about storage).
- Preheat a cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot (I like to do two pans side by side to make this go quicker). Carefully peel a tortilla from the parchment paper. To easily peel the tortilla off the bottom parchment, I flip it over so the tortilla is upside down on my left open palm and then carefully peel off the parchment. Place the tortilla in the hot skillet and cook until it starts to bubble up with a few larger bubbles (½-1 inch), about 45 seconds. Carefully flip the tortilla and continue cooking until it puffs up, about 45 seconds (see picture). Flip and cook the tortilla until the bubbles are golden brown on both sides, less than a minute. If you notice the bubbles burning too quickly before the tortilla puffs up, adjust the heat on your burner a little lower. If you notice your tortillas taking a lot longer to cook, increase the heat. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Tip: I usually have two skillets going with tortillas side by side.
- Transfer each tortilla to a tortilla warmer or a plate covered in a couple of layers of clean kitchen towels to keep them soft and warm. Serve warm.
Xanthan gum: I've tested without xanthan gum and the results are similar, but less soft, chewy, and flaky. I also tested with a tablespoon of ground chia seeds instead, but those cooked up crispier. If you don't have or can't eat xanthan gum, leave it out.
Fat: I've tested with all of the fats listed and the differences are so subtle - use what works for you! Here is my preference in order: melted unsalted butter, ghee, coconut oil (preferably refined), or vegetable oil.
Storage: I tested every method of storage and here are my tips.
- Freezer storage: Stack uncooked, par-cooked (20-30 seconds on each side), or fully cooked tortillas between squares of parchment paper and place flat in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. To cook, remove them from the freezer and let sit for 5 minutes to slightly soften. Cook as instructed above, adding 30 seconds or so to the time. For fully cooked tortillas, heat on low so you don't burn the tortillas.
- Fridge storage: Stack uncooked, par-cooked (20-30 seconds on each side), or fully cooked tortillas between squares of parchment paper and place flat in a freezer bag. Keep uncooked tortillas for up to 2 days and par-cooked or cooked tortillas for up to a week in the fridge. Cook as instructed above, directly from the fridge. For fully cooked tortillas, heat on low so you don't burn the tortillas.