If you have ever dined at a Mexican Restaurant, chances are that you tried a tortilla along with other popular choices such as quesadilla, burrito, and taco. If you haven’t tried a tortilla, you should know that they are yellow-brown yummy circular flatbreads that are ideal for stuffing beans, cheese, rice, jalapeños, guacamole, salsa, and other classic Mexican add ons.
But if you’re someone who follows a sustainable and vegan-friendly eating lifestyle, the first question that comes to mind is- “are tortillas vegan?” Read on to find out.
Are Tortillas Vegan?
Yes! Tortillas are vegan as they generally include basic ingredients commonly found in every households (even vegan) – flour (or corn as per choice), baking soda, salt, oil, water, and maybe some sugar at times. The flour can be an all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour.
However, since the dish has evolved over the years – reaching every part of the world and undergoing several variations to appeal different tastes, you might want to always check with the store or restaurant before buying them, especially when you follow a vegan lifestyle.
Tortilla Ingredients List
1. Vegan Tortillas Ingredients
1. Corn or wheat flour – Whether the tortilla is made using corn flour or wheat flour, both are grain-based and thus are vegan. A special type of corn flour called masa harina is used in making these tortillas. It is treated using lime water, then hulled and grounded without the use of animal products or by-products.
2. Salt – Salt is a ground mineral. It is completely vegan. However, the salt content in some tortillas is high, and so if your blood sugar level is high, or you’re facing any other health problems – these may not be the best idea.
3. Vegetable Oil and Baking Powder – Both of these are optional ingredients. The fat in vegetable oil (Canola oil is used most of the times) sometimes enhances flavor and gives a creamier texture, whereas baking powder will make them a little fluffier. Either way, they’re both vegan ingredients.
Also Read: Does Canola Oil Go Bad?
2. Non-Vegan Ingredients
1. Lard, Butter, or Whey – While corn tortillas usually do not use lard, some may use it for the flavor and richness it provides. Wheat flour tortillas almost always have animal fat and are, therefore, not vegan friendly.
2. White sugar – White sugar has always been a controversial ingredient in the world of veganism. Even though sugar is a plant based commodity, the sugar-making process often involves using animal bone char for bleaching and charing of sugar. Hence, the sugar that involves bone char in their manufacturing process is not vegan.
3. Palm Oil – Even though palm oil does not contain any animal products or by-products; the manufacturing process it undergoes involves exploitative farming practices, which is why most vegans choose not to consume it.
4. Animal Derived enzymes, ( glycerin, monoglyceride, and diglyceride) – These enzymes are used during the production of most tortillas. However, some environment-conscious companies opt for plant based enzymes instead. Check the food label to ensure which one is used!
Also Read: Best Vegan Vitamin D Supplement
Types of Tortillas
Ever since tortillas became popular in different parts of the world, beyond Mexico-many different varieties of them have begun to emerge in markets, grocery stores, and restaurants. The three most common types of tortillas are flour, corn, and Spanish tortillas.
1. Flour Tortillas – To know the answer to “are flour tortillas vegan?”, the first step is to know the ingredients. Flour tortillas are made using all-purpose flour, water, fat, and a little salt. They are also known as wheat tortillas and are marketed as the healthy, whole wheat option. Most traditional recipes use lard as the fat component, which is fat from the abdomen of a pig that is refined and clarified. Thus, it may not be vegan. However, modern recipes substitute lard with vegetable oil or other alternatives.
2. Corn Tortillas – Corn tortillas are the classic variety that are the most popular among all. These tortillas use “masa harina” or dough flour as the main ingredient. The tortillas made as a result are super thick and sweet and are served with crumbled cheese! Since these tortillas contain nothing much except group-up corn, the answer to “are corn tortillas vegan” is yes.
3. Spanish Tortillas – Unlike the other variations of tortillas, the Spanish one is an open-faced omelet. The only feature they have in common is that they both are round in shape. Spanish tortillas make for great snacks and appetizers and are made using eggs, potatoes, spices, onions and are cooked in oil. Since these are omelets, made using eggs – they are not vegan. People have tried to veganize them by replacing eggs with chickpeas, which despite being a good alternative, doesn’t taste the same.
Ideal Solution? Make Your Own Tortillas at Home!
With doubts creeping in from everywhere, it can be really hard to make a decision and actually bring yourself to ordering one at your favorite restaurant or sliding one into the beginners vegan shopping basket at the grocery store. How about making your own, vegan-safe homemade tortillas so you can enjoy every bite without a worry?
Vegan Tortilla Recipe
Vegan Flour Tortilla Recipe
- 1.5 cup All-purpose flour (you can take whole wheat flour for wheat tortillas)
- 1/2 tsp Baking powder
- 1 g Salt
- 2 tbsp Refined coconut oil
- 1/2 cup Lukewarm water
- Take a large mixing bowl and add all the dry ingredients to it. Pour coconut oil over and start mixing it all with your hands. The oil should evenly blend with all the ingredients.
- Add about ¼ cup of water slowly and again using your hand, mix it with the flour to knead it into a dough. You may keep adding more water slowly as required until a smooth dough is formed. Place a clean towel over the dough and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8 parts. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the rolling surface so the dough doesn’t stick. You can also use a silicone baking mat for rolling as it’d prevent sticking.
- Meanwhile, place a skillet over medium heat. Take one part of the dough and roll it into a ball, then making it into a thick disk. Sprinkle some flour lightly over the rolling pin too and start rolling the dough in the shape of a big circle. Make sure however that the circle is as thin as possible. You want your vegan tortillas crispy!
- Place the tortilla on the heated skillet and while it cooks, start rolling the next dough piece. Keep an eye on the one getting cooked; you’d see bubbles forming on top of the tortilla which means you can now flip it to the other side. Let it cook on both sides evenly.
- Wrap the cooked tortillas in a large folded towel (placing one over the other as they get cooked) to allow them to get soft in the steam.
- Once the tortillas are made, serve hot or store them in an airtight container until next serve.
Vegan Tortilla Brands
Being vegan, should not steal you of the opportunity to be able to enjoy great Mexican food and especially tortillas. Several vegan tortilla brands are easily accessible, and can be bought from your grocery stores-
- Old El Paso Tortillas
- Amaizin Organic Tortillas
- Tesco Own Brand Tortillas
- Whole Foods 365 Brand Tortillas
- Rudi’s Gluten-Free Tortillas
- Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas
- Mission Tortillas (uses enzymes)
- Taco Bell Tortillas
- Chipotle Tortillas
There are several vegan options when it comes to tortillas. The key to enjoying these vegan products is to always check the ingredient list present on the nutrition labels of a product before you purchase it!
To recap it for you, if you’re following a vegan diet- it is important to avoid ingredients such as lard, butter or whey, white sugar, palm oil, and other animal derived enzymes such as glycerin, monoglycerides, and diglycerides.
We hope you enjoy using these vegan tortilla brands and make all of your favorite Mexican meals!