In addition to queries about Mexican oregano, one of the most common questions I get on the site involves the universally loved bacon:
Can I use the leftover bacon drippings to make flour tortillas?
Up until last week my response was always a bit cautious, as if those tortillas would be second rate to our other Flour Tortillas recipe that uses home rendered lard as the cooking fat. And also a little concerned they might taste too much like bacon.
But after getting another question about it a couple weeks ago I finally set aside some time to try it -- and I'm glad I did!
How To Make Flour Tortillas Using Bacon Drippings
For reference, traditional flour tortillas are made using lard. And in particular, lard rendered from pork back fat.
And since I'm not a fan of hydrogenated, shelf-safe lard I will usually render my own at home. You can see how to do that here.
Flour tortillas made with home-rendered lard are incredibly satisfying and that's probably why I'm skeptical about flour tortillas made with leftover bacon fat. I mean...will that even work?
So for the past week I've been eating lots of bacon and straining the drippings into a Mason jar.
I usually put a small strainer on top and pour the drippings directly into the jar. The above pic is the leftover grease from a single pound of bacon (accumulated over a few days) that I've been keeping in the fridge.
I'll be using our original flour tortilla recipe but with the addition of a bit more fat because I feel like bacon drippings are less concentrated than home-rendered lard.
To make the tortillas, we'll start by adding 1.5 teaspoons of salt to 3 cups of all-purpose flour and combining well.
Then add 4 tablespoons of the bacon fat (1/4 cup).
I usually just use my hands to incorporate the fat into the flour, crumbling it into bits and coating it with the flour.
Then we'll add a single cup of warm water and use a spoon or spatula to combine it as much as you can.
Dump the shaggy mixture onto a cutting board or work surface.
Use your hands to knead this into a cohesive ball.
Note: sometimes it can be tricky to get the right consistency but don't sweat it too much because you are closer than you think! If it's sticking to your hands then there is a bit too much water -- simply add some more pinches of flour to dry it out. Conversely, if it's not combining into a cohesive ball then it's too dry and you need to add another splash of water.
I usually let this rest anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on how hungry I am. This makes it easier to roll out the dough balls.
Once rested, simply pull off a golfball sized chunk and give it a quick roll between your hands.
This will make a tortilla that is approximately 5-6" in diameter.
I like homemade tortillas best when they are super thin, so I usually roll these out to the point of being transparent.
If you're getting snapback and it's difficult to roll them out then most likely they need to rest a bit more. And if the dough is sticking to the rolling pin then add a light dusting of flour.
And don't worry about making them into perfect circles -- they will taste better if they have unique shapes!
Each side will need about 45-60 seconds in a dry skillet to fully cook. I usually cook one at a time and roll out the next one in the meantime.
Once you've got bubbles forming you know there will be light brown spots on the other side, i.e. it's time to flip it!
You might have to offer up a couple sacrifices before you get the temp right on your stove. The ideal setting on my stove is halfway between medium and medium-high. This creates brown spots in about 45 seconds.
If it's taking significantly longer to get brown spots then your heat is too low. If you're getting black spots quickly then your heat is too high.
Every stove and pan combo has a sweet spot so don't worry if it takes a couple tries to find the right settings for your combo.
And don't forget, it's always best to do some taste testing along the way!
If you've got a thin, light, delicious tortilla on your hands then you'll know you've found the sweet spot.
And the official result?
I have to admit, after all of my skepticism, these were some incredibly satisfying flour tortillas and they were easily on the same level as the ones made with home-rendered lard.
Thin, light deliciousness without any overwhelming bacon flavor. Actually there wasn't much bacon flavor at all, just a hint of that bacon savoriness in the background.
Maybe bacon drippings aren't as different from home-rendered lard as I had assumed? Either way I found these to be incredibly rewarding and I'll give a definite thumbs up the next time someone asks.
These tortillas are the perfect size for tacos, but you could also just spread some refried beans and cheese on top for an impromptu meal.
Homemade, cooked tortillas won't last too long so I decided to only make half of this batch and store the rest of the dough in the fridge.
I've been cooking the tortillas on the fly for the past few days with no downgrade in quality yet. Simply pull off a chunk of dough, let it come to room temp for a few minutes, then roll it out and add it to your pre-heated pan. Awesomeness.
Save your bacon drippings! You can make a killer batch of flour tortillas and I think they are on par with tortillas made from home-rendered lard. And let me know if you have any questions about the flour tortilla process -- it's remarkably easy and will instantly upgrade your home kitchen.
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Flour Tortillas Made With Bacon Fat
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup bacon fat
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup warm water
- In a mixing bowl, add 1.5 teaspoons of salt to 3 cups of all-purpose flour and combine well. Add 1/4 cup bacon fat to the flour and use your fingers to crumble the fat into the flour mixture. Add 1 cup warm water and stir as much as you can with a spoon or spatula, then dump the mixture onto a flat surface and knead into a cohesive ball using your hands. Let the dough rest for 30-60 minutes.
- Tear the dough into golfball sized chunks, rolling between your hands to shape them into smooth balls.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough balls out to approximately 5-6 inches in diameter. I usually roll them out super thin to the point of being transparent.
- Preheat a dry skillet or comal. The preferred setting on my stove is halfway between medium and medium-high heat. Add one of the rolled out tortillas and cook each side for 45-60 seconds or until light brown spots are forming.
- As one tortilla cooks, roll out the next to expedite the process.
- Serve immediately and store leftovers in the fridge. Alternatively, you can only make as many as you need and store the remaining dough in the fridge where it will keep for a few days.
Our latest recipe is a batch of Mexican Shredded Beef.
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Just made and ate all of the tortillas this recipe yields! So dang good! I wouldn’t make one change. Now I think I need to invest in a tortilla press. Thank you for the recipe!!!
Ahh good to hear, so glad you tried this one out Lindsey! Cheers.
U don't need any baking powder in this recipe? All other recipes require some, just think it's odd
Hi Vikki! Adding baking powder will make them thicker and a bit more fluffy so you can add some if you want, but I like flour tortillas best when they are super thin so I usually omit the baking powder. Cheers.
This is the only way my family has made tortillas for generations. I think it was just a matter of, waste not, want not. Of course the upside was, everyone always liked our flour tortillas over anyone else's.
My family has Spanish and Native American roots out of northern New Mexico. The recipes are distinctive to the region, as are the tortillas. Simple and tasty.
Hey thanks much for your note Curtis!
This is a wonderful recipe, and her amusing rationale for why we should try making our own tortillas inspired me to try it. Truth is, my dog trained me to add crispy bacon bits to her kinble, so I always have lots of bacon fat on hand.
Well, so I found this one and the results were with a couple of tries, perfect! The key for me was finding the sweet spot on my stove top that resulted in golden brown spots on the tortillas— perfect in taste. I love this recipe and appreciate all the details you provided in making the batter as well! My dog thanks you and I thank you for my home-made healthy burritos and crunch rolls that will become a menu item at my son’s newly built after-school restsurant/play program.
Thanks much Tamara, so glad you tried these out! Cheers.
Excellent recipe and easy to follow. A winner first time out of the starting blocks making tortillas. It will be difficult to go back to store bought after making these tortillas.
Hey thanks much for your feedback Mike, so good to know these were a first time success for you. Cheers.
The bacon fat makes the best tortillas ever! I'll never go back to using any other day. The smell of these cooking is heavenly! Have you ever made tortillas with milk instead of water? I did recently and was amazed at how good they were! Many thanks for your post. Dios le bendiga.
Hey thanks much for the feedback Liz! No I haven't tried making these with milk but I will now put it on the list 🙂 Cheers.
This is the best recipe I've ever used! It's so easy and I always have trouble making tortillas, but this recipes definitely won for me and my family. Thank you!
Question: Would I be able to use this same recipe but substitute bacon grease with unsalted butter?
Thanks Shelley! Haven't tried it but I'm pretty sure you could sub a similar amount of butter and get a good result. Cheers.
Can't wait to try this one.. looks so yummy
Can you use a tortilla press with this recipe?
Hey Pat! You won't be able to completely flatten flour tortillas with a tortilla press so I just go with a rolling pin. Corn tortillas are a different story though 🙂
Been keeping bacon fat in the fridge for a bit now and finally gave these a shot -- fantastic! I cheated a bit and used a food processor for combining everything. These are the first tortillas I've ever made and was quite happy. Much better than the "Mission" brand or whatever regular grocery store tortillas, these were more in line with the restaurant ones I used to get back in TX. Cheers!
Hey thanks much for your feedback, so glad you found this recipe! Cheers.
Bacon has been on sale, so we've been stocking up and baking it. Spouse found your recipe while looking up "what do I do with all of this leftover bacon grease" answers. I think next time, we're going to try creating the dough balls and then letting them rest before we roll them out, because we had some snapback trouble despite letting the dough rest first. Thanks for the recipe! It has been dubbed "a keeper," which is a high compliment in our family!
Ahh good to know, glad this one is a keeper for you guys! Cheers.