Burritos and enchiladas are Mexican menu choices that appear similar because both are tortilla-wrapped entrees containing combos of meat, cheese and beans. Why choose a burrito over an enchilada or choose an enchilada over a burrito? Are the differences between these two popular Mexican dishes significant?


What is a Burrito?

A burrito is a Mexican dish that is basically a combination of beef or chicken meat and refried beans tightly wrapped in a flour tortilla. However, since the Spanish word “burrito” means “little donkey,” it can be fully loaded with just about anything like its animal namesake. Actually, the donkey metaphor alludes to the combination of ingredients added to the basic meat and beans combo.

Burrito fillings tend to vary from region to region but the most popular additions to the beans and ground meat include rice, cheddar cheese, lettuce, sauteed bell peppers and guacamole. Some even use the filling as stuffing of a chile relleno first before wrapping the stuffed chile with a flour tortilla. Yet as the name burrito or little donkey implies, a burrito variation can be an assortment of many ingredients.

While some Mexican cooks serve burritos covered or smothered in sauce, the dish is called a “wet burrito.” A burrito can be without a tortilla and be called a a “burrito bowl” instead. When a burrito is deep fried, it becomes a chimichanga.

What is an Enchilada?

Although an enchilada has fillings similar to those used in a burrito, it specifically requires the use of corn tortilla rather than flour/ Otherwise, the entree will be a burrito.

The word enchilada is a conjugation of the Spanish verb enchilar, which translates as “to spice up with chili.” In doing so the tortilla-wrapped combination of meat, beans, vegetables and cheese is smothered with a tomatillo and chili pepper sauce. The enchilada sauce may be red or green, which depends on the variety of tomatillo used. A tomatillo by the way, is not a tomato but a different fruit that can either be purplish or yellowish in color.