Tortillas are a necessary addition to any Mexican dinner. You can't have Taco Tuesday or Fajita Friday without these delicious, yet practical, wraps. But if you're watching the types of food you eat, you might be wondering if tortillas count as bread?
We didn't know either, so we decided that it was time to investigate. The answer was more complicated than we'd imagined!
When you're learning how to press tortillas for your next batch of barbacoa burritos, you might have been asking the same questions we are. Tortillas are sort of like bread, but they are really nothing like the loaves of bread we might have grown up with America! So what are they?
When we started looking into the topic, we discovered that tortillas have some of the qualities you'd need to be considered a bread, but they have many qualities which would mean they are not a type of bread!
Bread is traditionally defined as being made of flour, water, and yeast, that has been all mixed together and then baked in an oven.
Tortillas are usually made of corn or flour, mixed together with water, but no yeast, and not necessarily baked in the oven.
Already, we are seeing a few fundamental differences. Yes, it's confusing. But it really just goes to show that tortillas are in a class of their own!
So are tortillas bread? Tortillas are made from grains, either wheat flour or ground maize. Bread is also made from grain, ground into flour. The difference, though, is that tortillas are unleavened.
'Bread' is leavened, which means the yeast is added to it in order to make the dough rise when it's baked. You've probably noticed that tortillas are flat because there's no leavening product used in the cooking process.
A better description of tortillas would be a flatbread. They are more similar to Indian flatbreads or Middle Eastern flatbreads in shape and size than they are to loaves of bread made from flour.
Despite these definitions and criteria, though, tortillas really do perform the same function that bread does. Bread is often used to create sandwiches, as a way of packaging up food to make it easier to eat or to transport. Tortillas are used for exactly the same purpose, except instead of a sandwich, you end up with tacos or burritos!
Technically, tortillas might not meet the exact definition required to be 'bread,' but in reality, they are just one of many, many different types of bread that you can find all over the world.
The real question we should be asking is, are tortillas healthier than bread? Yes, in many ways, they are. Tortillas will usually have fewer calories and fewer carbs than bread. Tortillas can be smaller and thinner than a slice of bread, meaning your portion sizes are smaller.
It's important to note that corn tortillas are healthier than flour tortillas. Corn tortillas have many more nutrients that you don't find in flour tortillas or flour bread. They have fewer carbs and calories than their flour counterparts and are high in fiber too.
The healthiest tortillas will be homemade tortillas, which are best made using a cast iron tortilla press. That way, you can control everything that goes into making your tortillas, and you keep your portion sizes under control too.
So, are tortillas bread? Yes, and no! The answer appears to be more complicated than we had imagined! What we do know, though, is that tortillas are absolutely delicious, and compared to traditional bread, much healthier!
If you want to find out more about the carb count in corn tortillas, check out this blog post on Corn Tortilla Carbs.