Decoding the Distinctions: Burrito vs. Enchilada

Burrito vs. Enchilada: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, two popular dishes that often come to mind are burritos and enchiladas. These tasty and satisfying dishes have gained popularity around the world. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are important differences that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of burritos and enchiladas, explore their unique features, and help you understand the differences between them.

What is a burrito?

A burrito is a Mexican dish typically made with a large flour tortilla. It is known for its versatility, as it can be filled with various ingredients such as rice, beans, guacamole, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and even breakfast items such as eggs. The tortilla is usually rolled into a cylindrical shape, enclosing the fillings inside. This method allows for easy handling and eating by hand.
The Mission-style burrito, which originated in the Mission District of San Francisco, has gained widespread popularity. It is characterized by its larger size and an abundance of fillings. In contrast, traditional burritos from northern Mexico are often simpler, with only one or two fillings, such as beans and vegetables.
Over time, burritos have evolved to accommodate regional preferences and creative combinations of fillings. Today, you can find a variety of burrito types, including seafood burritos, breakfast burritos, vegetarian options, and many more. The possibilities are virtually endless, allowing individuals to customize their burritos according to their preferences.

What is an enchilada?

Enchiladas have a long history in Mexican cuisine and are believed to have originated in the ancient Mayan or Aztec cultures. These corn tortilla-based dishes have evolved over time, but have retained their delicious and satisfying qualities.
An enchilada typically consists of a corn tortilla filled with a variety of ingredients such as rice, beans, meat, cheese, vegetables or sauce. The tortilla is wrapped around the fillings, but unlike a burrito, the ends of the tortilla are often left open. Enchiladas are then smothered in a savory sauce, such as salsa, and topped with queso fresco, a Mexican cheese made from fresh cow’s or goat’s milk.
Enchiladas can be prepared in a variety of ways. Some are baked with the sauce and cheese, creating a rich and creamy dish. Others are served as they are, allowing the flavors of the fillings and sauce to shine. Because of their saucy nature, enchiladas are typically eaten with a knife and fork, making them ideal for sit-down meals.

Key differences between burritos and enchiladas

While burritos and enchiladas may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences that set them apart:

  1. Tortilla type: One of the main differences between burritos and enchiladas is the type of tortilla used. Burritos are made with flour tortillas, which give them a soft and pliable texture. Enchiladas, on the other hand, use corn tortillas, which have a slightly denser texture and impart a distinct flavor.
  2. Size and shape: Burritos are typically larger than enchiladas. Burritos are rolled into a cylindrical shape, which allows for a generous amount of fillings. Enchiladas, on the other hand, are often smaller and flatter because they are wrapped around the fillings without completely enclosing the ends.
  3. Eating style: Burritos are designed to be eaten by hand, making them a convenient option for meals on the go. Enchiladas, on the other hand, require the use of utensils such as a knife and fork due to their saucy nature and open ends.
  4. Sauces and cheese: While both burritos and enchiladas can have similar fillings, enchiladas are smothered in a sauce, typically salsa, which adds a rich and spicy flavor. In addition, enchiladas are often topped with queso fresco, which enhances their creamy and savory qualities. Burritos, on the other hand, may or may not be accompanied by a sauce, and cheese is usually included as one of the fillings rather than as a topping.

Choosing between a burrito and an enchilada

Now that you understand the differences between burritos and enchiladas, you may be wondering which one to choose. Here are some considerations to help you make your decision:

  1. Tortilla preference: If you prefer a soft and pliable tortilla, a burrito made with a flour tortilla is the way to go. If you enjoy the slightly denser texture and flavor of corn tortillas, opt for an enchilada.
  2. Sauce and cheese: If you crave a saucy and spicy dish, enchiladas are the perfect choice, as they are smothered in flavorful salsa and topped with queso fresco. On the other hand, if you prefer a drier and more customizable option, a burrito allows you to choose whether or not to include sauce and how much cheese to include.
  3. Portability: When you need a meal you can enjoy on the go, a burrito is a convenient choice. Its portable nature makes it easy to eat without utensils. Enchiladas, on the other hand, are better suited to sit-down meals where you can enjoy the flavors with utensils.
  4. Filling options: While both burritos and enchiladas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, the fillings in a burrito are often more extensive and varied. If you enjoy a wide range of fillings and flavor combinations, a burrito offers plenty of room for customization. Enchiladas, on the other hand, have a more focused filling profile due to their smaller size.

Ultimately, the choice between a burrito and an enchilada comes down to personal preference. Both dishes offer unique flavors, textures and eating experiences. Whether you choose the portable convenience of a burrito or the spicy indulgence of an enchilada, you can be sure to enjoy a delicious and satisfying Mexican culinary experience.

Bottom line

In summary, while burritos and enchiladas share some similarities, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart. The choice between a burrito and an enchilada depends on factors such as tortilla preference, sauce and cheese preferences, portability needs, and desired filling options. Understanding the differences between these two popular Mexican dishes will allow you to make an informed decision and enjoy the culinary experience that best suits your preferences. Whether you’re craving a portable burrito packed with flavorful fillings or a spicy enchilada bursting with savory goodness, both options offer a taste of Mexico’s vibrant and diverse cuisine.


What is the main difference between a burrito and an enchilada?

The main difference is the type of tortilla used. Burritos are made with flour tortillas, while enchiladas are made with corn tortillas. In addition, burritos are larger, can be eaten by hand, and may or may not be served with a sauce. Enchiladas are typically smaller, smothered in sauce, and eaten with a knife and fork.

Can I use flour tortillas for enchiladas or corn tortillas for burritos?

While it’s possible to use different types of tortillas, it’s recommended to use the traditional tortilla type for each dish. Flour tortillas work best for burritos because their soft and pliable texture makes them easy to roll and handle. Corn tortillas, with their denser texture and distinct flavor, are ideal for making enchiladas.

What are the typical fillings in a burrito?

Burritos offer a wide variety of fillings. Common fillings include rice, beans, meat (such as chicken, beef, or pork), cheese, guacamole, vegetables, and various sauces. However, fillings can vary depending on personal preferences and regional variations.

How are enchiladas different from tacos?

While enchiladas and tacos both use tortillas, they have different preparation methods and characteristics. Enchiladas are made with corn tortillas that are stuffed with ingredients, rolled, and then smothered in sauce. Tacos, on the other hand, typically use corn or flour tortillas and are folded or rolled around fillings, often topped with toppings such as salsa, lettuce, and cheese.

Can I make burritos and enchiladas at home?

Absolutely! Both burritos and enchiladas can be made at home. There are numerous recipes available that provide step-by-step instructions for making these delicious dishes. You can experiment with different fillings, sauces, and toppings to create your own unique variations tailored to your taste preferences.

Are burritos and enchiladas gluten free?

Generally, the corn tortillas used in enchiladas are gluten-free, making them suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. However, it’s important to check the ingredients of fillings and sauces, as they may contain gluten. Flour tortillas used in burritos typically contain gluten unless specifically labeled as gluten-free.