When it comes to burrito vs fajita, could you tell these 2 famous Mexican dishes apart?
Being new to Mexican cuisine, you might get very confused when first meeting enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and fajitas.
All of them somehow look alike, which uses tortillas (thin and round cakes) to wrap fillings usually consisting of meat (pork, chicken, beef), corn, cheese, sour cream, chili sauce, and so on.
However, there are still a few differences among these dishes. This article will provide some insights and explain how to distinguish burrito from fajita.
Burrito Vs Fajita: Introduction
Talking about Mexican cuisines, people should think of eye-catching dishes with the typical spicy flavor of peppers. Of those delicious and colorful dishes, burrito and fajita are two great recipes in almost all Mexican restaurants worldwide. They also act as a major contributing factor that promotes Mexico’s culinary culture all over the world.
To tell a burrito from a fajita, pay attention to their appearance and cooking/serving process instead of the flavor. Anyway, it would be better to learn about what burrito and fajita are beforehand.
What is a burrito?
Burrito is a traditional Mexican food made by folding an extra-large-sized tortilla into a cylinder with a filling inside it consisting of meat, beans, cheese, and red pepper sauce.
This dish was accidentally created by Mexican people in the first years of the twentieth century when they found ways to keep their food warm during a long journey. To be exact, they used tortillas – a famous traditional cake in Mexico to wrap a mixture of meat, corn, cheese, beans, then hung them on the back of donkeys to keep food warm.
Typically, a burrito includes two parts: tortilla and filling.
The tortilla is the most popular ingredient you can find in all Mexican dishes. That the Mexicans use tortillas in daily meals is the same as that the Asians eat rice every day. There are 2 main types of tortillas: corn tortillas (made from corn) and white tortillas (made from wheat). To make a traditional burrito, a corn tortilla is the desired ingredient.
Initially, the burrito’s filling only consists of meat (chicken, beef, or pork), beans, cheese, and red pepper sauce.
Meat used in this dish is chicken or beef, or pork., which is chopped, marinated with spices, and stir-fried separately before rolled. Stir-frying in advance is not compulsory because after rolling, people will grill the burrito one more time.
Beans – a familiar staple food – have been grown widely in Mexico for a long time. In a burrito, it is necessary to stew beans until they get a mushy texture in advance.
After preparing the perfect filling, the next step is putting all the above ingredients (meat, bean, cheese) into an extra-large-sized tortilla, then sprinkle with red pepper sauce (usually made of poblano peppers). Lastly, roll the tortilla carefully into a cylinder and grill it in an oven.
Nowadays, people have come up with some modern versions of burritos by replacing or putting more things into the filling, such as rice, vegetables, corn, guacamole, sour cream, or anything they fancy.
What is a fajita?
Fajita is another traditional Mexican dish of meat and vegetables cut into strips, cooked, and wrapped inside a corn tortilla or wheat tortilla.
The first version of the fajita was created by Mexican workers living in West Texas in the late 1930s and early 1940s. At the time, fajita only consisted of skirt steak (the parts underneath the cow’s heart and lungs) served with tortillas.
Skirt steak is quite tough to cook, but Mexican workers found a way to make them tender and edible. They cut skirt steaks into thin strips, marinated with spices, grilled the meat, then ate them with tortillas.
Until the early years of the 1960s, this dish became a popular street food in Mexico and West Texas. Then, people began to put more stuff in fajitas such as vegetables, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, onions, etc., and replace skirt steak with some other meat like chicken, pork, or other portions of beef.
In short, a burrito and a fajita do resemble each other in some terms, from the crust made of the tortilla to the filling of meat, bean, cheese, red pepper sauce,, and the typical spicy taste of Mexican food.
Extra-large-sized tortillas (wheat or corn) are used to rolling the filling into a cylindrical shape in burritos. Meanwhile, medium to small-sized tortillas is preferred to use in fajitas.
Burritos are always served in big cylindrical rolls fully loaded with the filling inside after being grilled. To enjoy a burrito that is too big to eat by hand, it is essential to use a knife and fork to cut it into small pieces to enjoy.
On the other hand, fajitas are usually served with tortillas and fillings separately so that each person can choose their favorite ingredients. Typically, when serving fajitas, the waiters will show a list of toppings for customers to opt for which they fancy most.
Besides, due to their medium to small-sized tortillas, fajitas can be enjoyed by hand. This is why fajitas are more well-known as street food than as luxurious dishes in restaurants.
Burritos taste juicier than fajitas. The juiciness of burritos comes from its cooking process: People sprinkle sauce and gravy directly into the fillings, and cheese melts while being grilled.
All in all, there are only a few differences between the two dishes, and both are yummy easy-to-cook recipes.
Can I make burritos and fajitas at home?
Making burritos and fajitas at home is easy, especially when you can quickly find all the necessary ingredients in every grocery store or supermarket. For tortillas, you can even make it yourself.
Are you having trouble preparing tortillas at home? This recipe might be helpful: How To Make Corn Tortillas At Home In An Oven.
If you are still not confident in your cooking skills, try to make a burrito with chicken first by following some straightforward recipes instructed in these videos:
Which is more delicious between burrito and Fajita?
Nothing is better or worse. It depends on each person’s taste and how you want to enjoy them. Owing to the versatility, you can choose any of your favorite toppings to wrap into tortillas. Hence, there is nearly nothing to discuss when referring to their flavor differences.
Are there any dishes like fajitas, burritos in Mexican cuisine?
Yes, there are many other Mexican dishes similar to burritos and fajitas. For instance, enchiladas, chimichangas, and tacos.
The common characteristics of these dishes are all using tortillas to wrap the filling made of meat, vegetables, cheese, resulting in a rich and spicy taste that is the highlight of Mexican cuisine.
Of all the above Mexican dishes, enchilada is the oldest one, which first appeared in the Mayan period. While enchiladas resemble burritos the most, they are served in medium-sized tortillas, making them spicier and juicier than burritos.
Next, chimichanga can be regarded as a deep-fried version of a burrito, which is associated with a crispy taste and usually served as a Mexican appetizer.
Besides, taco is also an old traditional Mexican food whose flavor is similar to burritos and fajitas. The only difference is that people usually wrap tortillas into crescent shapes for tacos instead of cylinders.
Burrito and fajita are two must-to-try dishes when you come to Mexican cuisine.
Though there are many similarities between these two traditional Mexican dishes, I hope you have obtained helpful information through this article to differentiate burrito from fajita.
One more time, thank you so much for reading our guide and tips. If you find this article helpful, don’t hesitate to share it with relatives and friends.
And it would be great if you leave some comments with pictures of burritos and fajitas that you have tasted or made at home by yourself.
Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of Elpasony.com. She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.