Burrito: The Ultimate Guide From History, Varieties, and More!

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What is a burrito?  A burrito is a Mexican dish made with a soft tortilla wrapped around a filling, usually containing rice, beans, and either meat or vegetables.

The word “burrito” comes from the Spanish word “burro,” meaning “donkey.” The exact origin of the burrito is unknown, but it’s believed to have originated in the city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. 

In this article, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about this delicious dish.

What is a burrito

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Unwrapping the Secrets of the Burrito

A burrito is a dish that consists of a grilled or steamed tortilla, typically made of flour, lightly adhered to a cylindrical shape. It is then filled with a choice of ingredients, usually including beef, ground or sautéed, beans, cheese, and a handful of other savory fillings. The burrito is then rolled up and sealed, creating a soft, totally delicious package of flavors.

Where did the burrito come from?

The burrito is a Mexican cuisine that has been around for years. The word “burrito” actually means “little donkey” in Spanish, and it is said that the burrito got its name because it was a popular food among the working class in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The burrito was an everyday meal that was easy to pack and eat on the go.

How is a burrito made?

Making a burrito is a rich and complex recipe that involves a few simple steps. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Soften the tortilla by heating it up on a grill or in a steamer.
  • Add the filling of your choice, such as beef, beans, cheese, and extra ingredients like sautéed vegetables.
  • Roll up the tortilla, making sure to tuck in the sides to create a sealed package.
  • Serve and enjoy!

What makes a burrito so delicious?

The secret to a delicious burrito is in the combination of flavors and textures. The soft tortilla provides a perfect base for the filling, which can be savory and spicy or mild and creamy. The beans and cheese add a rich, creamy texture, while the beef or other protein provides a hearty, satisfying taste. The flavors are all working together to create a delicious, satisfying meal that can be enjoyed in just a few minutes.

What are some popular variations of the burrito?

While the classic burrito is filled with beef, beans, and cheese, there are many variations and similar dishes that you can find. Some popular options include:

  • Breakfast burritos, which are filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese.
  • Korean burritos, which combine Mexican and Korean flavors for a unique taste.
  • Chubby’s burritos, which are a Denver specialty that are known for their extra-large size and delicious filling.

No matter what kind of burrito you choose, one thing is for sure: it’s a delicious and satisfying meal that you’ll love.

The Fascinating History of Burritos

Burritos are a beloved Mexican dish that has become popular worldwide. The origin of burritos can be traced back to Mexico, where they were first created. The word “burrito” means “little donkey” in Spanish, and it is believed that the dish was named after the pack animals that were used to transport food.

There are several stories about the origin of burritos, but the most popular one is about a street vendor named Juan Méndez. According to the story, Juan used to sell tacos in Ciudad Juárez during the Mexican Revolution. One day, he decided to wrap the fillings in a flour tortilla to make it easier to transport. This new creation was a hit with his customers, and the burrito was born.

The Development of Burritos

After its invention, the burrito quickly spread throughout Mexico and became a popular regional dish. Different regions of Mexico developed their own variations of the burrito, with unique fillings and preparations. Some of the regional varieties of burritos include:

  • Yucatán Burritos: These burritos are made with a large, thin tortilla and filled with cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) and pickled onions.
  • Cuernavaca Burritos: These burritos are made with a small, thick tortilla and filled with refried beans, cheese, and chili.
  • Pueblo Burritos: These burritos are made with a corn tortilla and filled with beans, cheese, and chili.

In the early 1900s, burritos started to become popular in the southwestern United States, where they were introduced by Mexican immigrants. The first known use of the term “burrito” in English was in the 1930s, in the Diccionario de Mejicanismos by Feliz Ramos.

Regional Varieties: The Many Flavors of Burritos

As burritos became more popular around the world, people began to put their own twist on the traditional Mexican dish. This led to the development of regional varieties, each with its own unique ingredients and preparation methods. Some of the earliest regional variations of the burrito appeared in Northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Significant Ingredients

While the ingredients in each regional variety of burrito may differ, there are some common ingredients that are found in many types of burritos. Some of these include:

  • Rice: Rice is a common ingredient in many burritos and is often used as a filler to make the burrito more substantial.
  • Beans: Beans are another common ingredient in burritos and are often used as a source of protein.
  • Meat: Meat is a staple ingredient in many burritos and can be found in a variety of forms, including shredded, thin-sliced, or ground.
  • Cheese: Cheese is often used to add flavor and texture to burritos and can be found in many different varieties.
  • Tortillas: The main component of a burrito is the tortilla, which is typically made from flour and is used to wrap all the other ingredients together.

Traditional Preparation Methods

While each regional variety of burrito may have its own unique preparation method, there are some traditional methods that are commonly used. These include:

  • Hand-rolling: Many burritos are prepared by hand, with the tortilla being filled and rolled up tightly to keep all the ingredients inside.
  • Topping: Many burritos are topped with additional ingredients like cheese, salsa, or sour cream to add flavor and texture.
  • Wrapping: Burritos are typically wrapped in a tortilla to keep all the ingredients together and make them easy to eat.

So Many Variations and Similar Dishes to Try!

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, there are a variety of dishes that are similar to the burrito, but with their own unique twists. Here are some of the most commonly found dishes:

  • Tacos: Typically consisting of a corn or flour tortilla filled with meat, cheese, chili, and other toppings, tacos are a staple in Mexican cuisine.
  • Enchiladas: Fried or soft tortillas filled with meat, cheese, and other fillings, then covered in sauce and baked.
  • Chalupa: A specialty from Southwestern Mexico, chalupas are made with a crisp wheat tortilla that is filled with a variety of toppings.
  • Chimichanga: A deep-fried burrito that originated in Arizona, typically filled with meat, cheese, and beans.
  • Fajita: A dish consisting of grilled meat, peppers, and onions, served with tortillas and toppings for diners to assemble themselves.
  • Gordita: A thick masa pancake stuffed with fillings such as carnitas or cheese.
  • Quesadilla: A tortilla filled with melted cheese and other ingredients, then folded in half and grilled.
  • Sincronizada: Similar to a quesadilla, but with two tortillas and additional fillings such as ham or chorizo.
  • Sope: A thick corn tortilla topped with beans, meat, cheese, and other toppings.

Regional Variations

While the burrito is a beloved dish throughout Mexico and the United States, there are a variety of regional variations that are worth trying:

  • Alambre: A specialty from Mexico City, alambre is a mix of grilled meat, cheese, and vegetables served on a skewer.
  • Cachapa: A pancake made from fresh corn, typically filled with cheese and other toppings, originating from Venezuela.
  • Empalme: A rolled tortilla filled with cheese and other ingredients, then bathed in tomato sauce, a specialty from the state of Sonora in Mexico.
  • Entomatada: A dish similar to enchiladas, but with a tomato-based sauce instead of chili sauce, commonly found in central Mexico.
  • Flauta: A deep-fried tortilla filled with meat, cheese, and other toppings, rolled into a cylinder shape.
  • Gringas: A variation of the taco, consisting of a flour tortilla filled with meat, cheese, and pineapple.
  • Motuleños: A dish from the Yucatán region of Mexico, consisting of a fried tortilla topped with black beans, eggs, and other toppings.
  • Nachos: A popular snack consisting of tortilla chips topped with cheese, chili, and other toppings.
  • Pupusa: A stuffed Salvadoran or Honduran dish made from masa and filled with cheese, meat, or beans.
  • Quesabirria: A new trend in Mexican cuisine, consisting of a tortilla filled with melted cheese and beef birria, then dipped in a flavorful broth.
  • Rancheros: A dish consisting of eggs served with a tomato-based sauce and tortillas.
  • Taquitos: Rolled tortillas filled with meat, cheese, and other ingredients, then fried until crispy.
  • Talo: A specialty from the Basque region of Spain, consisting of a corn tortilla filled with meat, cheese, and other toppings.

Breakfast Burritos

While the burrito is commonly thought of as a lunch or dinner dish, breakfast burritos have become increasingly popular in recent years. Here are some of the most popular fillings:

  • Bacon, egg, and cheese
  • Chorizo and potato
  • Ham and cheese
  • Sausage and egg
  • Veggie and cheese

Toppings and Sides

No matter what kind of burrito or similar dish you’re enjoying, there are a variety of toppings and sides that can take it to the next level:

  • Guacamole: A fresh mix of avocado, tomato, onion, and other ingredients, perfect for dipping tortilla chips or adding to your burrito.
  • Chili: A spicy sauce made from chili peppers, perfect for adding to tacos, enchiladas, or burritos.
  • Cheese: Whether melted on top of your dish or mixed into the filling, cheese is a must-have for any Mexican dish.
  • Rice and beans: A classic side dish for any Mexican meal, rice and beans are a filling and delicious addition to your plate.
  • Chips and salsa: A perfect snack or appetizer, tortilla chips and salsa are a great way to start any meal.
  • Taquitos: Rolled tortillas filled with meat, cheese, and other ingredients, then fried until crispy.
  • Guacamole: A fresh mix of avocado, tomato, onion, and other ingredients, perfect for dipping tortilla chips or adding to your burrito.
  • Chili: A spicy sauce made from chili peppers, perfect for adding to tacos, enchiladas, or burritos.
  • Cheese: Whether melted on top of your dish or mixed into the filling, cheese is a must-have for any Mexican dish.
  • Rice and beans: A classic side dish for any Mexican meal, rice and beans are a filling and delicious addition to your plate.
  • Chips and salsa: A perfect snack or appetizer, tortilla chips and salsa are a great way to start any meal.

Korean Burritos: A Fusion of Flavors

  • To make Korean burritos, you will need:

– 1 lb beef roast
– 1 cup of rice
– 1 tbsp sesame oil
– 1 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tbsp minced ginger
– 1 tbsp sriracha sauce
– 2 cups of water
– 2 cups of chopped cabbage
– Flour tortillas
– Salt and pepper to taste

  • Here’s how to cook it:

– Season the beef roast with salt and pepper and brown it in a slow cooker.
– Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, minced ginger, and sriracha sauce to the slow cooker.
– Set the slow cooker on high pressure for 60 minutes and let it cook.
– Once done, shred the meat and set it aside.
– Cook the rice according to the package instructions and set it aside.
– In a pan, add the chopped cabbage and cook it until it’s wilted.
– Add the beef to the pan and mix it with the cabbage.
– Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assembly and Serving

  • To assemble the Korean burritos:

– Lay a tortilla flat on a plate.
– Add a spoonful of rice in the center of the tortilla.
– Add a spoonful of the beef and cabbage mixture on top of the rice.
– Fold the sides of the tortilla towards the center.
– Roll the tortilla tightly and set it aside.
– Repeat the process until you have made as many burritos as you need.

  • To serve the Korean burritos:

– Cut the burritos in half and place them on a plate.
– Add extra sriracha sauce on top of the burritos for an extra kick.
– Serve with your choice of side dishes.

Thoughts and Inspiration

Korean burritos are a combination of Korean BBQ and Mexican food. The flavors of the beef, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar are inspired by Korean cuisine, while the tortilla and cabbage are inspired by Mexican cuisine. The addition of sriracha sauce gives it an extra kick that makes it even more delicious.

I tried making Korean burritos for dinner one night, and it was a hit with my family. The slow cooker made it easy to cook the meat, and the combination of flavors was yum! Cutting the burritos in half made it easier to eat, and adding extra sriracha sauce on top gave it an extra kick.

If you’re looking for a new recipe to try, Korean burritos are a great choice. They’re easy to cook and taste amazing.

Conclusion

So, there you have it- everything you need to know about burritos. They’re a delicious Mexican food that you can enjoy for lunch or dinner. 

Who knows, you might just become a burrito fan after reading this article!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.