Roti vs Tortilla: The Subtle Differences Between Two Flatbreads

Roti vs Tortilla

Roti vs Tortilla: The Subtle Differences Between Two Flatbreads

No matter where you go in the world, you’ll find some version of bread in every culture. Bread is a universal food and although it's hard to pin down exactly how many types there are, we know there are over a hundred variations. Even though most cultures have their recipes, there are also many similarities between different types of bread. Whether you’re making a wrap or using bread as a side to go with rice or curry, you may come across the difference between roti vs tortilla.

Roti and tortillas are both types of flatbread, but the main difference is that roti is made from whole wheat flour while tortillas are made with wheat or corn flour. While roti comes from India, tortillas originated in Mesoamerica and are a staple in Mexican cuisine.

There are several differences between roti and tortillas, but you can still use them in many similar dishes. Keep reading to find out more about how roti and tortillas are made and what meals they go best with.

Corn Tortillas. Food made with nixtamalized corn, a staple food in several American countries, an essential element in many Latin American dishes.
Corn tortillas were the original tortillas and are still widely used in Mexican cuisine.

©Sergio Hayashi/Shutterstock.com

Roti vs Tortilla: What Is the Difference?

Whether you receive roti or a tortilla with your meal is going to depend on what type of restaurant you’re at. You’re unlikely to see roti at most American restaurants, but tortillas have become a popular food even in American cuisine. You might see them on a menu as part of meals like tacos, burritos, or fajitas.

One of the main differences between roti and tortillas is their ingredients. Roti is a pretty simple bread that includes whole wheat flour and water. Some might choose to add salt or oil as well. After the dough is rolled out, they’re generally baked in the oven or on a grill.

Compared to roti, there are two different kinds of tortillas: flour and corn. Corn tortillas are the type that originated in Mayan and Aztec cultures and are most popular in Mexican cuisine. Wheat or flour tortillas are more similar to roti than corn tortillas. However, there are still several differences between them.

Flour tortillas include flour, water, salt, and baking powder although they may include additional seasonings or ingredients. Once the dough comes together, it’s rolled out and tortillas are generally fried in oil or cooked on a stove.

The shape and texture are also different between flour tortillas and roti. While roti is more unevenly shaped, tortillas tend to be more circular with even edges. Additionally, roti is rolled out thicker than tortillas, giving them a chewier texture.

What is Roti?

Roti is a flatbread that’s made from whole wheat flour and is popular in Indian cuisine. This type of bread originated in India and is also known as chapati. The most basic recipe for roti is made from a combination of whole wheat flour and water. Compared to another popular type of Indian bread, known as Naan, roti is much flatter since it’s unleavened.

Roti is similar to tortillas in this way since they’re both unleavened bread. Additionally, roti is generally cooked in the oven or on a grill but compared to tortillas, roti is much thicker and chewier. The texture of roti is similar to what we consider a flatbread in American cuisine while a tortilla is closer to a wrap.

What is a Tortilla?

A tortilla is a type of unleavened bread that’s popular in Mexico. Tortillas generally come in two varieties: corn and wheat. When it comes to Mexican cuisine, the corn tortilla is more common, however, you’re more likely to see flour tortillas in North America.

Many dishes such as fajitas, tacos, and burritos are served on tortillas. For other types of Mexican cuisine, tortillas are served on the side so you can dip them in sauce or even use them to scoop up meat or rice. In traditional Mexican restaurants, wheat or corn tortillas are served with most meals.

Tortillas are generally fried in a pan with oil. The dough for tortillas includes flour, water, and baking powder. Corn tortillas specifically have a history that dates back thousands of years when the Mayans used corn, or maize, to make bread. No matter which type of tortilla you prefer, they can both be a delicious addition to any meal.

Nutritional Values of Roti vs Tortilla

Roti vs Tortilla Nutritional Facts

What Are Tortillas and Roti Used For?

No matter what country or culture you visit, you’ll see some type of bread in their cuisine. Roti and tortilla are both examples of this from two different cultures. Even though roti and tortillas have slightly different ingredients, they often have similar uses.

Roti and tortilla are both often served on the side of the main course. In Indian cuisine, roti is often served with curry, a popular dish in India that includes sauce, meat, and vegetables. Like Naan bread, it may be used to pick up rice or to soak up any sauce.

Corn tortillas in Mexican cuisine are often used in the same way to go along with various meals. Flour tortillas are the type most commonly used in dishes such as tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.

Traditionally, only corn tortillas were used in Mexico, but flour tortillas have become more popular, especially in North America. Unlike tortillas, roti or chapati is not used as a wrap for entrees like burritos or tacos.

Can You Substitute a Roti for a Tortilla?

When it comes to determining whether a roti or tortilla will go best with your meal, you might wonder if you can substitute one for the other. Even though roti and tortillas have some different ingredients, you could use one as a substitute for the other. Although roti is thicker than a tortilla, it can be used in a similar way as a side to go along with rice, beans, or curry.

Homemade Indian Chapati or Roti on grey concrete background with human hand pouring butter ghee over
Roti has a simple recipe and can be a great alternative to tortillas.

©Tati Liberta/Shutterstock.com

Substitutes for Tortillas

Roti can be a substitute for tortillas or vice versa, but if you’re looking for another type of bread to use, there are many possible substitutes for tortillas. The right substitute is going to depend on what type of meal you’re eating, but here are some ideas to get you started:


Even though roti isn’t generally used as a wrap, it can be a great alternative if you’re serving tortillas on the side. Even though roti is generally thicker than a tortilla, it goes well with rice and beans or other similar entrees.

Lettuce or other greens

If you’re making a taco or burrito and are looking for a lower calorie or lower carb alternative, you can try wrapping your meat and toppings in a lettuce wrap or other similar greens. This gives you the feel of a taco or burrito without the extra calories and carbs. This can also be an excellent gluten-free alternative.

Almond flour wraps

Speaking of gluten-free, if you’re unable to eat gluten but want an alternative that tastes more like bread, there are many alternatives out there. One option is wraps made out of almond flour instead of wheat flour. 

Pita bread

Pita bread is the type of bread that’s most common in Mediterranean cuisine, but it can be a great alternative to flour tortillas. This type of bread is thicker than your typical tortilla, but it can be used to make a pita, which is similar to a taco. You can also serve pita bread on the side of your meal.

Substitutes for Roti

Tortillas can be a great substitute for roti if you’re in a pinch. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to roti but still want something similar to go with your meal, there are many recipes out there for chapatis or roti that are made with different ingredients.

You might try to make roti yourself but instead of using whole wheat flour, which can lead to higher carbs or calories, try making roti with one of the following bases instead:

  • Oats
  • Chickpeas
  • Almond flour

There are numerous alternatives to wheat flour that you can use if you’re gluten-free or have other restrictions in your diet.

Which Is Healthier: Roti or Tortilla?

When it comes to the nutritional values of roti vs tortilla, there are some major differences. One serving of roti is higher in calories and has over twice as many carbs as one tortilla. However, roti also has a higher percentage of iron and protein.

Although both tortillas and roti can be a part of a healthy meal, the whole wheat flour used in roti leads to it being higher in certain nutrients and vitamins. However, if you’re managing your weight and counting carbs or calories, roti may not be the best choice for your diet. 

It’s also important to note that roti has over twice as many calories as one tortilla. If you're counting calories, be mindful of how much you’re consuming with your meal. Roti or tortillas can be hard to resist when they're warm and fresh from the oven!

Infographic comparing roti and tortillas.
It might surprise some to learn that a roti is higher in calories, fat, and carbs compared to a tortilla.

Roti is made with whole wheat flour, while a tortilla is made from wheat or corn flour. This difference in ingredients can be partially explained by their geographic origins. Roti comes from India, while tortillas originated in Mesoamerica. It's important to remember that roti is higher in calories, fat, and carbs compared to a tortilla. It isn't the ideal choice for someone who is on a diet, or who needs to watch their carbohydrate intake. If you plan on consuming multiple rotis, remember that the calories and fat will stack up quickly!

Recipes with Tortillas

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Fresh Homemade Corn Tortillas Ready to Cook

Tortilla Soup

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  • Author: Moms Who Think


Units Scale
  • 3 corn tortillas
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (4-ounce) can of chopped green chiles
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup shredded, cooked chicken
  • Salt
  • 1 (10-ounce) can of tomatoes and green chiles
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 4 large lime slices


1. Cut tortillas in 2 x 1/2-inch strips. Fry tortillas in small amount of hot oil until brown and crisp. Drain
on paper towels.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and sauté until translucent.

3. Add green chiles, broth, chicken, salt to taste, and tomatoes and green chiles. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

4. Stir in lime juice.

5. To serve, pour into soup bowls and add tortilla strips. Float a lime slice in the center of each bowl.

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