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, and refried beans. 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.

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.”

But 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 deep fry a burrito and make a chimichanga.

No matter your preference, here are some of our favorite burrito and enchilada recipes. You can’t go wrong either way.

Black Bean Enchiladas

Chowhound

This classic vegetarian take on enchiladas also incorporates tons of Jack cheese and olives, making for a hearty meal even meat-eaters will love. Get our Black Bean Enchilada recipe.

Carnitas-Avocado Breakfast Burritos

Chowhound

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.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas

Chowhound

If you’re looking to get more use out of your Crock-Pot, this recipe is definitely a great way to go. Get our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas recipe.

Chorizo Breakfast Burritos

Chowhound

The addition of roasted potatoes and chorizo make this one of the heartiest burritos we’ve ever seen. Get our Chorizo Breakfast Burritos recipe.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Chowhound

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.

Smothered Beef Burrito

House of Yumm

These beefy smothered burritos are bursting with flavor and loads of melted cheese. Get the recipe.

Header images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jessica is an Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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