Rolling out Flour Tortillas (Gluten Free Tortillas, At That)

Rolling out dough, particularly into a circular shape, is a learned skill. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when John tried his hand at making tortillas. At approximately 11:30 on a Tuesday morning I received a call from work that went something like this, “So how do you keep the dough from sticking to everything??” “Well, you make sure everything stays well floured and keep rotating your dough.” “David, stay out of the dishwasher! I’ve gotta go. I’ll give that a try”

When I got home that evening I found 7 balls of dough in a bowl in the refrigerator. Turns out the rolling didn’t go so well, (keeping the child out of the dishwasher was probably equally unsuccessful) and John gave up after one tortilla. I decided this gluten free flour tortillas recipe was going to need an accompanying tutorial.

Items Needed:
clean, flat surface
rolling pin
gluten free flour tortilla dough
flour for dusting

Step One: Dust Everything With Gluten Free Flour
The tortilla dough is pretty sticky and calls for more a thorough flouring of surfaces than a pizza or pasta dough. I put a fine dusting of rice flour on my board and on the rolling pin.

Dust Rolling Pin with Gluten Free Flour

Step Two: Roll the Dough Into a Small Ball
The tortilla recipe calls for the dough to be split into 8 pieces. Roll each of the eight pieces into a nice, neat little ball and lightly dust the exterior with gluten free flour. Place one ball in the center of your floured rolling surface.

Ball of Gluten Free Tortilla Dough

Step Three: Roll the Dough
To roll dough into a circle, start by placing the floured pin onto the center of the ball. Press down a little bit to create an indention, and then roll the pin away from you gently. Rotate the dough a quarter turn, place your pin back in the middle of the dough and roll away from you a second time. After 4 turns and 4 rolls, your dough should look something like this.

The longer you can keep the dough in a nice circular shape, the more circular your finished tortillas will be. (Your dough will start to develop ragged edges as you roll it out, but try to aim or a relatively round tortillas).

Gluten Free Flour Tortilla - slightly rolled

Step 4:Keep on Rolling

Now that you have rolled the dough into a flat disk, continue to roll out the dough from the center to the edges, rotating the dough slightly after each roll. Your tortilla will eventually look something like this.

rolled out tortilla gluten free tortilla

Here’s a side view, so that you can see the thickness. I roll the tortillas out as thinly as possible – you can see the imprint of my hand through the dough when I hold it. The tortillas puff up when you cook them, so the raw tortilla needs to be on the thin side.

Rolled out Gluten free tortilla - side view

Troubleshooting Tip #1 - When the Dough Sticks to the Board When an unfloured piece of dough comes in contact with an unfloured surface, stickage will occur. This is probably the most frustrating aspect of rolling out dough, but it can be minimized.

Rotating the dough after each roll is the key to preventing the dough from sticking to the board. As you roll out the dough, new un-floured portions of the dough are exposed. The rotation of the dough allows the flour on the board to cover these newly exposed areas of sticky dough.

Also, if you rotate between each roll you will quickly realize when the dough is sticking to the board. In the picture below, I’ve caught the dough just as it was starting to stick. When this happens:

  • Gently pull the dough off of the board
  • Scrape off any dough that stays on the board and then dust the board with additional flour
  • Place the dough back on the board – sticky side up
  • Gently dust the top of the dough with flour

If you’re not rotating the dough, you may end up with the entire tortilla stuck to the board. If this happens, just scrape it up and start over.

Troubleshooting - dough sticking to board

Troubleshooting Tip #2 - When the Dough Sticks to the Pin

In the picture below the dough stuck to the rolling pin as I rolled over it. This can happen at any point in the rolling process and it is a signal that the dough needs to be flipped.
Troubleshooting - Dough sticking to pin

In the next picture, I’m pulling the dough off of the pin. You can see that the side that stuck to the pin has much less flour on it’s surface than the side that was on the board. When this happens:

  • Pull the dough away from the pin as gently as possible.
  • Flip the dough over, place your full hand on the dough, and gently move it around the board so that it picks up more flour.
  • Remove any stray bits of dough from the rolling pin.
  • Dust the rolling pin with additional flour (but only if this is happening frequently).

Peel the dough off of the pin

And that’s it. I hope the tortilla rolling goes well. If this is your first time to roll out dough, let me know how it goes. I haven’t been able to talk John into doing another test run =)

And don’t be discouraged. You’ll get faster every time you make this.

Comments

  1. Wonderful tutorial on rolling out tortillas Mary Francis. Making tortillas is one thing I’ve never tried out…a lacking in my culinary journey you could say. Maybe I need to give them a try. With your excellent post like yours, they shouldn’t be too hard…I hope.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten a Go Go

  2. when i first learned how to make these a couple of months ago, I was SO excited!! This is a great post Mary Frances! I’m glad you are back!!

  3. Thanks for the tutorial! I am going to have to try coming up with a low carb version. I will definitely be referring to this!

  4. Carrie Gonzales says:

    I just found your site a few weeks ago, after almost a year and half of cooking and eating GF due to celiac disease. I’ve got to hand it to you, Mary Francis–this is one of the best recipe sites I’ve seen. The detailed info, photos, and techniques are a god-send. It’s been absolute torture in my Mexican-American household, to have the cook (me!) be unable to eat flour tortillas, so this recipe is next on my “gotta try that!” list, especially since I make regular flour tortillas twice a week for all the bodies here. Your rolling directions are spot-on, by the way. A question, though–have you tried using these tortillas in any recipes that require cooking the tortillas in sauce–like enchiladas or chilaquillas? I’m wondering if they get gummy. I’m going to make some next week and give them a test run in some enchiladas and we’ll see. Thanks, again!

  5. Kristina says:

    Welcome back, Mary Frances! Glad you survived the tax season. I send my dad (also a CPA) a carepackage of GF goodies every tax season (though he refuses to be tested for celiac, I’m pretty sure I know what the results would show)- I’ll add you to my list next year, so you don’t have to deal with those gluten-infested snacks at work!

  6. Hi Carrie,
    I’m so glad that you’ve found the site helpful! That’s so exciting for me. I haven’t tried the tortillas in anything except soft tacos and sandwich wraps…mainly because we’re still so in love with those. But now that you’ve given me that idea I’ll add something to my menu for this week that involves cooking the tortillas in sauce.

  7. Kristina,
    That is so sweet of you! Thanks =)

  8. Hi!
    I’ve had so much trouble rolling out GF dough in the past! But on some web site, I forget where, it was suggested to cut open a large ziploc bag. I cut off the top (zip part) and open up the two sides so it is one long sheet. I put the dough on the sheet, fold the sheet over, and roll it out “inside” the bag. It rolls out nice and flat and I don’t have any problems with it sticking to the bag.

  9. Love your site, will pass it on to newly diagnosed pts with gluten allergies. I have helpful advise for rolling out dough and pie crusts – use a pastry cloth (mine is an antique soap sack that once belonged to my great Aunt Hazel – I’ve used it for over 30 yrs!). Just dust it with flour (much less than on a bare surface) and keep turning the dough as you have suggested above. It works especially well for pie crusts and pizza dough. Keep adding flour as needed. I’m noted for my pie crusts – this is the secret! Hope this proves helpful!

  10. I wouldn’t do this all the time, because it’s so expensive, but I tried dusting the surface with almond meal. It made the tortillas taste wonderful, and they didn’t have that grainy texture they can get on the outside from the residual flour.
    Question: Have you tried cooking these, letting them cool, and then frying them? I’d like to make homemade tortilla chips, and that’s how you make homemade plain corn tortillas, according the the masa bag directions.

  11. I would love to try baking them to make a chip. More like pita bread. I only just found this site, thank you Mary Frances. I didn’t have the ingredients you listed but tried using chickpea flour and tapioca flour. They ended up very tender not at all easy to roll out so I just flattened them out. They were very tasty. I am looking forward to the original recipe.

  12. Letitia Snyderman says:

    The best tip ever for rolling out any kind of dough is to use two pieces of wax paper. Lay one piece of wax paper down. Sprinkle liberally with GF flour, covering the entire paper surface. Place the ball of dough in the center. Flatten dough ball slightly and sprinkle with flour. Cover with second piece of wax paper. Now follow same steps as above. Roll, turn paper/dough/paper “sandwich”. Keep turning until desired size and thickness. Peel top lay of wax paper off dough slowly and carefully. Now sprinkle more flour on top of exposed round circle of dough. This will ensure no sticking. Place wax paper back on top and carefully flip over. Now the freshly floured side is on the underside. Slowly peel off the “now” top piece of wax paper. You should be able to pick up, or transfer, the rolled dough easily. Good luck!

  13. First of all I just must say THANK YOU for so many wonderful recipes. my 21 yr. old college son feels much less cheated and much more treated now that I’ve found you. You really went over the top with the incredible Green Bean Casserole we enjoyed at Thanksgiving, and now the tortillas (!) and an amazing Flatbread! Can’t thank you enough! By the way, I tried and tried the tortilla rolling but really flipped with delight when I used the viewer’s hint about rolling them out inside a plastic bag — wow — round, perfect, and much less flour needed. I couldn’t believe that one would be so terrific.

  14. I have used the wax paper trick. When you use the ziplock bag s do you put flour on the inside surface? Thank you for this wonderful sight and the fabulous tips. The world is a much nicer place with a network of friends…

  15. Allendavies says:

    Sorry to sound a little daft but still using imperial her can you tell what weight or volume 2 c is as used in uour Gluten Free Tortillas pleas.

    Thanks

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  1. [...] I did have a little difficulty rolling out the tortillas but this tutorial on how to role out gluten free flour tortillas helped with that.  Gluten free cooking school is a terrific resource and I am looking forward to [...]