Chalupa or Enchilada – What’s Your Pick?

Mexican cuisine is unquestionably one of the most popular in the United States.

In fact, one out of every ten restaurants in the US serves Mexican cuisine. It uses many of the same components (tortillas, beef, salsa, rice, and so on) over and over again but with varied preparations and presentation.

Do you know the difference between a chalupa and an enchilada on the menu? If you don’t, then keep reading, because this guide will show you their differences.

Overview of Chalupas and Enchiladas

Chalupas are created by squeezing a thin layer of masa dough around the exterior of a tiny mold, forming a concave container that resembles the boat of the same name, and then deep-frying the result to produce crisp, shallow corn cups.

These are packed with shredded chicken, pork, chopped onion, chipotle peppers, red salsa, and green salsa, among other ingredients. They’re similar to tostadas in that they’re both composed of masa-based dough that’s fried or baked.

Traditional chalupas from Cholula, Puebla, are small, thick, boat-shaped fried masa tortillas with just salsa, cheese, and shredded lettuce on top.

In addition to the basic cheese, salsa, and lettuce toppings, some areas in Mexico add variants such as chorizo, pork, shredded chicken, or refried beans. In other cases, the fried masa is shaped like a tostada and topped with typical chalupa toppings.

When referring to enchiladas, they are pretty similar to burritos. First, a maize or wheat tortilla is firmly wrapped with filling. Then, the enchiladas are topped with sauce and cheese and served with a choice of side dishes; it’s one of the few Mexican meals that can be eaten with a knife and fork.

They are thought to have originated as a street snack that changed over time; the oldest recorded version of the dish was a rolled tortilla dipped in chili sauce. The term is made up of two Nahuatl words for “chili” and “flute.”

Chalupa vs Enchilada: 5 Main Differences


The shapes of chalupas and enchiladas are what distinguish them.

An enchilada is a traditional Mexican meal that consists of a tortilla wrapped around meat, cheese, or vegetables. It began as a basic maize tortilla rolled up and dipped into a chili sauce by street sellers in Mexico.

The most popular presentation of enchiladas in the United States and Canada is a tortilla that is filled, rolled, and then topped with additional sauce and cheese. However, the stacked enchilada is more prevalent in Mexico and parts of the southern United States.

In the United States, the hard-shell, U-shaped chapula is the most popular variety. A crisp-fried shell is generally filled with seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and occasionally tomato, onion, salsa, sour cream, and avocado or guacamole in this form of chapula.


A delightful consequence of Mexican, Native American, Texas cowboy, and Anglo cultures, this traditional Tex-Mex meal is one of America’s first fusion cuisines. As a result, enchiladas are highly adaptable. They hold up well to a range of fillings, including shredded meats such as beef, pig, or chicken, as well as meatless fillings like beans, sour cream, or cheese.

Topped with a cream sauce seasoned with jalapenos, tomatillos, and cilantro, enchiladas can include spinach, shrimp, and cheese filling. Don’t be afraid to mix up the fillings and the degree of spiciness.

Shredded chicken or pig, chorizo, ground beef, refried beans, and eggs are all popular chalupa fillings. This fried snack is commonly garnished with shredded lettuce, cheese, chopped raw onion, and salsa, but you may also add tomatoes, sour cream, and cheddar cheese.

The Tortilla Shell

An enchilada shell is a tortilla. Corn and flour tortillas are the two most common types. Both kinds are popular in Tex-Mex cuisine and are widely accessible. You may, however, make your own. It’s simple!

Maize tortillas are produced with a basic combination of water and masa harina, a corn flour that has been carefully processed. Flour tortillas are prepared using wheat flour, baking powder, and either shortening or lard. Because the wheat flour allows the dough to be stretched without crumbling, they’re bigger and thinner than corn tortillas.

Tortillas are made by kneading a flexible dough, pressing or rolling thin discs, and cooking them rapidly on a hot iron griddle.

Chapula shells are often made of flour. Masa dough is molded around the outside of a shallow concave shape and cooked to make chalupa shells.

When the shells are crisp around the edges, carefully move them with a slotted spoon to a sheet pan lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Don’t they look delectable? Let me just add that they also smell great at this stage!


There are 3 types of enchilada sauce in the United States: red, white, and green.

The red sauce has a deep, rich flavor that comes from the use of both dried and fresh chilies as well as tomato puree. Chili powder is used in a lot of red enchilada sauce recipes. Chili powder is a unique combination of dried red chilies, cumin, oregano, garlic, and salt.

The green sauce has a light, fresh flavor due to the use of fresh green chilies as a basis. Garlic, onions, cumin, salt, and pepper are included in both the red and green enchilada sauces.

Finally, the white sauce enchilada is the most authentically American of the three kinds. Sour cream is generally the only ingredient in white sauce. However, it is frequently combined with chopped green chiles, fresh herbs, lime juice, or even condensed soup.

Another sauce often used in chalupas is salsa. Salsa is a common component in Mexican cuisine — it’s used as a condiment on tacos, soups, stews, and tamale fillings. Fresh salsa prepared with tomatoes and spicy peppers is known as salsa fresca.

Salsa verde is a dip or salsa made with cooked tomatillos that go well with chilaquiles, enchiladas, and other Mexican meals.

Cheese Toppings

Try Cheddar, Jack, or Mexican Cotija cheeses if you want cheese-topped enchiladas.

First, sprinkle the enchiladas with shredded cheese. Then, bake them at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until the enchiladas are cooked through, the sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is melted. It should take around 30 minutes to complete this task. (If you want the enchiladas’ edges to stay soft, cover the pan with foil.)

Dress the tortillas as you like once they’ve been cooked. Traditionally, basic toppings such as queso fresco, cilantro, and shredded lettuce are used.

You can also make Mexican chalupas with leftover rotisserie chicken for a heartier taste. If you have any leftover pulled pork or even cooked shrimp, they’ll go great with these chalupas.


Can you find these two dishes in a traditional Mexican restaurant?

Yes, of course. These are among the most popular dishes you can find. So, try them out.

What about burritos and enchiladas?

Even though the burrito looks similar to the enchilada, these two are not the same.


That’s all you need to know about the distinctions between chalupas and enchiladas!

I hope you were helped by learning about these two dishes from this tutorial. Perhaps you can now prepare your own delicious chalupas and enchiladas.

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For transparency, this content was partldeveloped with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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