When eating at a Mexican restaurant, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the vast array of menu options. There are just so many amazing combinations of beans, meat, and cheese, after all. Maybe you’ve got it narrowed down to two choices—a burrito and an enchilada. While both entrees are wrapped in tortillas and taste delicious, what exactly separates the two? It turns out there are a variety of factors and ingredients that come into play. Let’s examine them all.
While there are many regional varieties of burritos, the dish essentially consists of a flour tortilla that’s tightly wrapped around your choice of fillings, usually some combination of meat (ground beef and chicken being ever popular), and refried beans. But all manner of other things can be added, from rice, sauteed bell peppers, and guacamole to cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and an entire chile relleno.
In fact, its name actually alludes to the infinite possibility of filling options. The word “burrito” literally translates to “little donkey” in Spanish. While the origin remains unknown, it likely refers to the myriad of ingredients a burrito can contain, much like how a donkey can carry a lot on its back at once. As far as metaphors go, that’s pretty darn cute. (And it means a loaded burrito bowl can still live up to its name, even without the tortilla.)
Enchiladas, on the other hand, consist of tortillas made from corn, not flour. While they too are rolled around a filling, the dish tends to be a little more elaborate. The tortillas are usually covered with a tomato and chili pepper sauce. In fact, the spicy addition is right there in the name, as enchilada is the past participle of Spanish enchilar, which literally means “to season (or decorate) with chili.” Red enchilada sauce is most common, but green enchilada sauce, based on tomatillos, is a worthy option too.
So, what happens if you smother a burrito with chili sauce? Does it become an enchilada? Well, technically no, because of the flour tortilla. But this variation has garnered a name of its own and is often called a “wet burrito” or a “smothered burrito.” While not the most appetizing names, they do easily mark this distinction. And if you’re feeling especially indulgent, you can make a deep fried burrito, otherwise known as a chimichanga.
No matter your preference, here are some of our favorite burrito and enchilada recipes. You can’t go wrong either way.
For a Mexican twist on breakfast, wrap up some leftover carnitas, avocados, and eggs. It tastes so good, we’d eat it any time of day. Get our Carnitas-Avocado Breakfast Burritos recipe.
The addition of roasted potatoes and chorizo make this one of the heartiest burritos we’ve ever seen. Get our Chorizo Breakfast Burritos recipe.
The secret to these enchiladas is the tomatillo sauce. Savory, spicy, and just a little tart, it will enhance any old chicken. Get our Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verde recipe.
These beefy smothered burritos are bursting with flavor and loads of melted cheese. Get the Smothered Beef Burrito recipe.
For an ultra-creamy and comforting plate of enchiladas, this is your new go-to. Get our Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas recipe.