Tortillas are one of the oldest foods on the planet, and historical records show that ancient Mesoamericans (Central and South Americans) were making tortillas as long as 10,000 years ago!
They’re a common part of Mexican cuisine and are also used in various South American and Southwestern dishes.
The real question you’re here for, though, is, “Are flour tortillas vegan?”
For the most part, flour tortillas are vegan-friendly! Most brands are made using a simple recipe that consists of flour, water, salt, and a bit of oil and leavening. All of these ingredients are natural, plant-based, and vegan!
Today’s post is going to be all about flour tortillas. Whether it’s taco night at the house or you’re going out to eat some authentic Mexican cuisine, you’ve come to the right place!
Below, I’ll answer some of the most common vegan-related questions about flour tortillas and give you a complete breakdown of all of the main ingredients. Then, I’ll show you the best vegan flour tortilla brands.
Let’s take a look!
Can Vegans Eat Flour Tortillas?
As far as carbs go, tortillas are one of the most vegan-friendly foods on the market. Unlike noodles (which may contain eggs) or bread (which may contain dairy and eggs), tortillas are made with a relatively simple recipe that’s 100% animal-free.
Tortillas today are made using the same basic recipe that ancient Native Americans have been using for thousands of years. Neither North, Central, nor South America had cows or chickens before European colonization. As a result, tortillas are far different from the bread baked by Europeans.
So, yes – vegans can eat flour tortillas!
Occasionally, some brands of flour tortillas or handmade flour tortillas may contain lard or animal fat. However, this is a more traditional additive that’s more common to find in Mexico and South American countries. It’s very rare that you’ll find lard in any store-bought American tortillas!
Are Flour Tortillas Gluten-Free?
If you have a gluten allergy or suffer from celiac disease, then you’re probably doing your best to avoid any and all forms of gluten. By itself, gluten isn’t unhealthy, and it’s often used in vegan cooking (most notably seitan, which is made from pure gluten).
However, when gluten-sensitive individuals consume gluten (even in small amounts), it can cause allergic responses, such as:
- Itchy rashes
- Stomach discomfort
Unfortunately, flour tortillas are NOT gluten-free, as they’re made using wheat flour.
Wheat flour is one of the most gluten-heavy grains on the planet, and it can cause severe reactions in those with celiac disease or a gluten allergy.
If you’re on a gluten-free diet, it’s better to consume corn tortillas, which are made with cornflour. Since corn doesn’t contain any gluten, it’s perfectly safe for anybody with celiac to consume!
This is an easy thing to miss, as flour tortillas don’t specifically say wheat on the front. This is because, in Spanish, there are two different words for cornflour and wheat flour.
Cornflour is called maize and wheat flour is called harina. As far as the Spanish language is concerned, a “flour” tortilla is always wheat flour.
What Are Flour Tortillas Made Of?
Above, I mentioned that flour tortillas are made using a relatively simple recipe. Nonetheless, I’m still going to give you a full breakdown of the most common ingredients used to make flour tortillas, so you can tell for yourself.
I always try to promote awareness when it comes to food ingredients. So you should never rely on one person’s word over another’s. Not to mention, brands often change the ingredients they use. So the same product that was vegan last year may not be vegan this year.
Long story short, don’t just take my word for it… read the ingredients list!
1) Wheat Flour
Wheat flour is the number-one ingredient used to make flour tortillas. As I’ve previously mentioned, wheat flour is 100% vegan, as it’s made from ground-up wheat kernels.
Most store-bought brands of flour tortillas are made with unbleached wheat flour, as well, which is less processed and somewhat healthier than chemically-bleached flour.
Additionally, many popular brands of store-bought flour tortillas use enriched flour. This flour is vegan-friendly and uses a regular flour base with added minerals, such as niacin, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and folic acid.
This means that they’re an especially good choice for vegans, who are often at risk for iron deficiency! One of the biggest sources of iron for humans is meat, which vegans obviously don’t eat. It’s always a good idea to supplement with iron-enriched foods like flour tortillas or bread.
Water is mixed directly with the flour to create dough. If you didn’t know already, water is completely vegan! Sure there are some brands of water that are healthier or better for the environment… At the end of the day, though, water is essential to all life on earth and is 100% vegan.
3) Vegetable Oil
A bit of vegetable oil is typically added to the mixture before the tortillas are cooked. This oil helps to hold the tortillas together so they don’t fall apart in the oven while they’re cooking.
Traditionally, most tortillas are made using corn oil, as it’s the most readily available cooking oil in Mexico. That being said, some tortilla brands may use alternate cooking oils, such as canola oil or soybean oil. Just watch out for flour tortillas that are made with palm oil!
Salt is one of the most common ingredients and is often added to baked goods, such as bread, tortillas, cookies, and more. Thankfully, salt is 100% natural and is vegan-friendly. Plus, it’s only used in very small amounts.
Last but not least, a bit of leavening is always added to flour tortilla dough. Naturally, wheat flour rises when it’s baked in the oven. This is due to the natural yeast that is present in wheat flour.
To prevent tortillas from rising and turning into small pieces of bread, leavening agents, such as baking soda are added to the dough. This stops the tortillas from rising and keeps them nice and flat.
Are Flour Tortillas Made With Palm Oil?
Flour tortillas are typically made using corn oil, canola oil, or a blend of the two. However, some flour tortilla brands may use palm oil, as it’s a bit cheaper and more cost-effective. The only way to tell for sure is to check the ingredients list before you purchase the product.
Technically speaking, palm oil is vegan-friendly, as it’s 100% plant-based and all-natural. So, dietary vegans have no issues consuming palm oil.
However, the palm oil industry itself has a lot of problems. In fact, it’s one of the main forces behind the deforestation of Earth’s largest rainforests.
Every year, greedy corporate farms burn down thousands of acres of forest to make room for more palms and feed the growing demand for palm oil.
Losing these trees is horrible for the environment, as it depletes our atmosphere of oxygen. However, this deforestation is also responsible for driving certain animal species into extinction.
As they lose their habitat, they’re often forced to compete for resources or are driven into human communities, where they’re killed or regarded as pests.
What Tortillas Are Not Vegan?
The only tortillas that truly aren’t vegan are those that are made using lard. Lard is pure animal fat that typically comes from pork or bacon fat.
In times when food was scarce, people would add this animal fat to their tortillas to make them more filling and nutrient-dense. This is often how some Mexican tribes would survive the winter months.
As a result, some traditional handmade tortilla recipes still use lard. It’s very rare that you’ll ever find this on a store shelf, though, so it isn’t something that most vegans will ever have to worry about!
What Brands of Flour Tortillas Are Vegan?
Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite vegan-friendly brands of flour tortillas:
- Banderita Flour Tortillas
- Maria & Ricardo’s Flour Tortillas
- Old El Paso Flour Tortillas
- Guerrero Flour Tortillas
- 365 by Whole Foods Flour Tortillas
Most of these brands can be found on grocery store shelves all around America, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding any of them!
Since ingredients can vary from one year to the next, it’s still a good idea to double-check the ingredients labels and make sure that they don’t contain any palm oil or animal by-products.
Are Corn Tortillas Vegan?
Yes! Corn tortillas are almost always vegan.
They’re made with the same basic ingredients like flour tortillas. The only difference is that cornflour (or maize) is used instead of wheat flour.
Are Handmade Tortillas Vegan?
The only time that you’ll ever have an issue with flour tortillas being vegan is if they’re handmade or they come from an authentic restaurant. As I mentioned above, some handmade tortillas may contain lard.
Additionally, some restaurants also coat their tortillas with dairy-based butter before warming them on the grill.
If you’re ever unsure, it’s always best to ask the person you’re getting tortillas from or the restaurant you’re ordering at, so they know not to put lard or butter in your tortillas!
The Verdict – Flour Tortillas Are An Excellent Choice For Vegans!
Flour tortillas are a great (and affordable) way for vegans to get their carbs in. Plus, they’re an incredibly versatile food that you can eat with almost any main dish! Seitan tacos, vegan “meat,” or just plain old-fashioned veggie tacos all make for a great-tasting lunch or dinner.
If you’re looking for the best shredded “meat” to make your vegan tacos with, be sure to check out my list of the best vegan meat crumbles next!