Tortillas are one of the oldest foods in the world. In fact, records show that ancient Mesoamerican civilizations were making tortillas as early as 10,000 B.C.!
Most tortillas use a simple, easy-to-follow recipe that hasn’t changed much since ancient times. The real question you’re all wondering, though, is, “Are tortillas vegan?”
Yes! Most tortillas are 100% vegan and made using simple plant-based ingredients. Fresh, hand-made tortillas are made using flour (either cornflour or wheat flour), water, and a pinch of salt.
Store-bought tortillas use pretty much the same recipe, with the addition of a few preservatives designed to increase the product’s shelf life.
Not only are tortillas almost always vegan, they’re also a great way to stretch your food out and are great for making vegan tacos, quesadillas, and burritos!
They’re affordable, fairly healthy, and mostly natural. I’d even argue that they’re healthier than most store-bought bread, as they contain less sugar.
Today’s post is all about tortillas. I’ll break down all of the key ingredients used to make both corn and flour tortillas, show you the best vegan tortillas brands, and answer a few commonly asked questions. It’s taco time!
Are Flour Tortillas Vegan?
Flour tortillas are almost always vegan. They’re made from a simple dough made from flour, water, and a bit of salt. Sometimes, a bit of oil is added to the recipe to help larger tortillas stick together.
Do Flour Tortillas Contain Lard?
Above, you may have noticed how I mentioned that flour tortillas were “almost always vegan.”
95% of the flour tortillas on the market are completely vegan. However, I have heard of lard being used in certain homemade flour tortilla recipes.
Lard is pure animal fat (usually from pork) and is often used in traditional Mexican tortilla recipes. The reason why lard is sometimes used is to make the tortillas more filling, which is important when you’re trying to feed a large family on a small budget.
Sometimes, you’ll find small Mexican taquerias in the U.S. that still make homemade lard tortillas to honor their roots.
That being said, it’s fairly uncommon.
In all of my travels, I’ve only come across two small family-owned restaurants that used lard in their flour tortillas. One was in Southern Cali and the other was in Houston.
Both of these restaurants were more than happy to accommodate my needs and gave me lard-free corn tortillas instead of a flour tortillas!
Are Flour Tortilla Chips Vegan?
Flour tortilla chips are made by deep-frying triangles of pre-cooked flour tortillas. For the most part, white flour tortilla chips are 100% vegan-friendly, as they contain the same ingredients as regular white flour tortillas.
The only thing that could be problematic is the fact that some tortilla chips are fried in palm oil, which is generally considered non-vegan.
Although palm oil is plant-based cooking oil, the commercial palm oil farming industry is very destructive to our environment and rainforests around the world.
Thankfully, a growing number of tortilla chips are being fried in canola oil, sunflower seed oil, or soybean oil, all of which are vegan-friendly vegetable oils!
Are Flour Tortillas Gluten-Free?
Unfortunately, white flour tortillas are not gluten-free. Unlike corn tortillas chips, white flour tortillas chips are made using wheat flour. Wheat flour contains a lot of gluten, which could trigger an allergic reaction in somebody with a gluten sensitivity.
So, if you’re avoiding seitan or other vegan foods containing wheat gluten, you’ll want to swap the white flour tortilla chips for corn tortillas chips instead!
What Are Flour Tortillas Made Out Of?
Wheat flour tortillas typically contain a few extra ingredients than corn tortillas. Here are the most common ingredients you’ll find in most store-bought flour tortillas.
1) Wheat Flour
Enriched or all-purpose flour is the main ingredient in all flour tortillas. This is the base of the dough and is where most of the tortillas’ caloric content comes from.
Water is added to the four to make tortilla dough. The dough is then rolled into balls before being pressed in a tortilla press and baked into ready-to-eat tortillas.
3) Vegetable Shortening Oil
Vegetable oil or shortening is typically used in flour tortillas, as it holds the dough together and creates a more even texture while the tortilla is being baked.
By itself, wheat flour can taste a bit bland. To counteract this, a small amount of salt is typically added to most flour tortilla recipes.
The majority of flour tortillas don’t contain sugar. However, certain store-bought brands may contain sugar, as it helps create a sweeter (more addictive) tortilla.
Unfortunately, white sugar is not vegan-friendly. So, if the flour tortillas you’re looking at containing sugar, you should consider another sugar-free brand instead.
6) Baking Soda
Baking soda is an important ingredient in flour tortillas. It acts as a leavening agent, preventing the dough from rising.
Are Corn Tortillas Vegan?
Corn tortillas are always vegan! They’re made using a simple recipe consisting of cornflour (maize), water, and a bit of salt.
Pre-packaged store-bought corn tortillas may contain a few added preservatives or starch, but those should be the only non-natural additives.
Are Corn Tortilla Chips Vegan?
Yes! Corn tortilla chips use the same ingredients as corn tortillas, making them a vegan-friendly option.
You’ll never have to worry about milk derivatives, meat-based seasoning, or other non-vegan additives that you’ll find in the most popular brands of Doritos and other gas station snacks.
The only reason why corn tortillas chips wouldn’t be considered vegan is if pure palm oil was used to fry them. However, most of the tortilla chip brands that I’ve seen lately are fried in vegan-friendly canola oil!
Are Corn Tortillas Healthier Than Bread?
The other day, I had a reader email me and ask me if corn tortillas were a healthier option than bread. If you’re comparing a simple handmade corn tortilla to most of the white bread on store shelves, then yes, corn tortillas are definitely a healthier option.
Well, corn tortillas don’t contain any added sugar, bleached flour, or other chemical additives that are often found in processed white bread.
On the other hand, my answer changes if you’re looking at some high-quality ancient grain vegan bread.
Ancient grain bread is typically made using ultra-nutritious ancient grains and contains more dietary fiber, minerals, and whole grains than corn tortillas, making it a healthier option.
Are Corn Tortillas Gluten-Free?
If you suffer from celiac disease or have a general sensitivity to gluten, then corn tortillas and tortilla chips are an excellent option! They’re more affordable than gluten-free bread, taste great, and are 100% gluten-free.
Unlike wheat flour, which contains loads of wheat gluten, the cornflour used to make corn tortillas is naturally gluten-free.
What Are Corn Tortillas Made Out Of?
Corn tortillas are made using an incredibly simple recipe:
Cornflour naturally doesn’t rise, so there’s no need for baking powder or other leavening agents.
What Brands Of Tortillas Are Vegan?
Most store-bought flour and corn tortillas are 100% vegan-friendly, so you shouldn’t worry too much while shopping. Here’s a quick list of the most popular vegan-friendly tortilla brands:
|Vegan Wheat Flour Tortilla Brands||Vegan Corn Tortilla Brands|
|La Banderita||La Banderita|
|Old El Paso||Old El Paso|
|365 By Whole Foods||Guerrero|
These are the most commonly found brands of tortillas found in grocery chains, Mexican stores, Walmart, and other international grocers around the country.
Although some of these brands may not be the healthiest and often contain artificial additives and preservatives, they should be 100% vegan-friendly.
If you’re ever in doubt, though, your best bet is to double-check the ingredients label. Any obvious animal by-products should be listed there!
The Best Vegan Tortilla Brands: Listed
If you’re looking for simple, cheap, vegan tortillas, then any of the mainstream tortilla brands I listed above will get the job done.
However, if you’re looking for a really great-tasting tortilla with limited preservatives and artificial ingredients, then I suggest checking out the following vegan tortilla brands!
Siete Tortillas (link)
Siete (Spanish for “seven”) is a small family-owned brand that focuses on making delicious grain-free tortillas and tortilla chips.
Overall, the consistency, flavor, and texture of these tortillas are the same as you’d expect from a handmade corn tortilla. The difference is that they’re not made with corn or wheat flour.
Instead, all of Siete’s tortillas are grain-free and geared toward the gluten-free community.
They’re made using cassava flour or almond flour (I prefer the cassava flour tortillas). Although cornflour is gluten-free, cassava and almond flour are healthier and more nutritious!
Siete makes small tortillas for tacos as well as large burrito-size tortillas and some delicious vegan tortilla chips as well!
365 By Whole Foods Market Tortillas (link)
Whole Foods Market is like heaven for vegans. Although the grocer isn’t exclusively vegan, they offer a far wider variety of delicious vegan foods than any other grocer I’ve been to.
365 by Whole Foods Market offers both taco-sized tortillas as well as larger tortillas for vegan quesadillas and burritos. All of their tortillas are used with vegan-friendly soybean oil and are free of any and all palm oil!
Maria & Ricardo’s Tortillas
Maria & Ricardo’s makes some of the best-tasting all-natural tortillas that I’ve ever had. They’re definitely on the more expensive side, compared to most store-bought tortillas.
However, the quality of the ingredients and the rich flavor make them taste just as good as (if not better than) handmade tortillas!
Their best-selling vegan tortillas are their grain-free almond flour tortillas. However, they also offer some delicious soft corn tortillas and whole wheat tortillas, if you’re looking for that traditional flavor.
Conclusion – Tortillas Are Great For Vegans!
Tortillas are a staple in my vegan pantry. They’re delicious, can be paired with just about any food you can think of and are mostly natural. For everyday tacos, I typically use the cheap store-bought corn tortillas.
However, when I’m making a vegan burrito or large vegan quesadillas, I’ll splurge on some of the larger all-organic tortillas offered by Siete or Maria & Ricardo.
If you’re looking for a full list of the best vegan tortilla brands, check out my favorites next!