Mexican Food Face-Off: Enchilada vs. Chimichanga – Let the Battle Begin!

Most of the time, Mexican delicacies are tricky to distinguish, especially those dishes of enchiladas and chimichangas. Because these two delicacies look so much alike, they leave many people clueless about their differences.

If you cannot tell these two famous wraps apart, today’s detailed enchilada vs. chimichanga rundown will help. Stay tuned for our detailed comparison.

Chimichanga vs Enchilada: What Exactly Are They?


Enchiladas were initially an incredibly delicious way Mexicans used leftovers. The first documented type of dish was, most likely, just a tortilla wrap with chili dressing. However, over the centuries, they have become popular street food.


On the other hand, chimichangas are a famous delicacy. They are prepared by adding meat, beans, cheese, and other ingredients to a tortilla, then wrapping it and frying it.

Enchilada Vs. Chimichanga: The Difference

Origins (are they Mexican?)

As most would expect, enchiladas originally came from Mexico. Way back in the Mayan era, people rolled various ingredients into tortillas. It has become a habit for millennia in the region, and the tradition continues today.

The initial enchiladas were corn tortillas with fish filling. When the Spanish colonists landed, they meticulously recorded everything the Iocals ate.

They mentioned enchiladas a lot, and how people made them was pretty much all over the place. In the 18th century, one of the earliest Mexican cookbooks even presented them.

Chimichanga, on the other hand, is not a traditional Mexican dish. Instead, it is part of the Tex-Mex cuisine, which usually involves adapted Mexican dishes found on the Northern Mexican border.

Chimichangas are highly famous in Tucson, Arizona, the dish’s birthplace. According to folklore, Monica Flin of the El Charro Cafe inadvertently slipped a tortilla into a sizzling oil pan in the early 1950s. Because there were kids around, she avoided swearing by saying, “chimichanga.”


The wraps of these two dishes might look the same for regular eaters. However, these dishes use two different kinds of tortillas. While enchiladas usually utilize corn tortillas, people typically use wheat tortillas to make chimichangas.

This difference comes from their distinct origins and the ingredient adaptations in those areas.

Indeed, the reason why corn tortillas are the go-to ingredient in almost every Mexican wrap and why wheat tortillas are so famous in Tex-Mex cuisine is simple.

Corn is found everywhere geologically. As it has existed for decades as a vital agricultural product in Mexican culture, it’s no wonder that this ingredient significantly impacts the area’s cuisine.

On the other hand, wheat was only available when the Spaniards came to America, bringing the seeds from Europe. In other words, wheat tortillas back then were exclusively in Northern Mexico and the United States, where they have become popularized in Tex-Mex culture.

The sizes of the tortillas also differ. While enchiladas are usually in 6-to-8-inch flour tortillas, ready-made corn tortillas are approximately 10 inches. Restaurant-made ones, however, typically extend from 13 to 16 inches.

The final dishes also have different serving sizes based on the tortilla sizes. Typically, more than three servings of enchilada equal one serving of chimichanga.


The fillings of an enchilada aren’t demanding at all. They could be freshly prepared meat or leftovers. If you’re vegan, you may even skip the meat and fill the tortilla with black beans and vegetables.

However, regarding the meat option, the two most popular enchilada meat fillings are chicken and beef. Yet, nowadays, you can technically add anything to your enchilada.

On the other hand, a chimichanga’s primary ingredient is meat. There are many meat options: you could select anything from dried meat to seasoned pork and finely diced or shredded chicken. However, people usually go for a beef chimichanga.

The reason is simple: As stated above, a chimichanga is a Tex-Mex dish, and the area technically is all about beef. As a result, it plays a prominent role in Tex-Mex cuisine, notably in chimichangas.

You can pair your chimichangas with a few other ingredients besides the meat. For example, cheese, rice, and beans can add great chimichanga alongside the meat.


People usually serve enchiladas with two famous sauces: the red chili dressing called Rojo and the green chili dressing called Verde. These sauces typically include dried red or green chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and sour cream, which makes the dish pretty spicy.

On the other hand, people usually pair chimichangas with various dressing options, including melted cheese (a must-have in most cases), enchilada, guacamole, salsa, carne asada, and sour cream.


Another big difference between these two dishes is the spice factor.

Cumin is the star ingredient in Tex-Mex culture, and it usually appears in dishes like chimichangas. However, in its homeland, people seldom use this ingredient. Instead, they prefer chili peppers and cilantro.

When comparing the tastes of these ingredients, traditional Mexican food like enchilada tends to be way spicier than Tex-Mex ones. However, putting enchiladas and chimichanga on the same table shows that the latter is a considerably milder dish.

Cooking methods

The cooking techniques of these two dishes are also different.

If you want traditional Mexican enchiladas, the cooks will initially make a chili dressing, which they utilize to create the signature flavor.

Then, the chefs insert the fillings into the corn tortillas before dipping the wrap in the signature chili dressing. According to some modern recipes, you can also add cheese to the stuffing, but people will usually use it as a topping.

Then, they will place the enchiladas in the oven and bake them until everything is hot. In the last few minutes, they can also add the shredded cheese for a melted cheese topping.

On the other hand, to make a chimichanga, you must prepare a traditional burrito. As stated above, the fillings are up to your preferences, but often, they include meat, veggies, spices, cheese, and tomato.

The chefs will roll all ingredients in a wheat tortilla and use a stick or a wooden skewer to prevent any components from falling out and causing a mess.

Then, they will fry this (deep frying is advisable) in a hot pan at about 200°C until the outside becomes golden and crunchy. Usually, it takes about 3 minutes.

Alternatively, you could brush it with oil and bake it in your oven. However, people still prefer the first technique.

How to eat

As mentioned above, an enchilada piece is about 6 to 8 inches, which perfectly fits a mouth bite. Therefore, you don’t have to use a knife at all. Yet, the dish usually comes with a dressing on top, so you cannot eat it with your hands. The best choice here, however, is using a fork.

On the other hand, enjoying chimichangas requires using both a knife and a fork. As each fried burrito is pretty large (up to 13+ inches), it’s advisable to cut it into smaller pieces.

The chimichanga also comes with many toppings, such as melted cheese or dressings. Thus, using a fork will minimize the chances of having a messy meal.

Should I call it a fried burrito?

You should call it by its official name, which is chimichanga.


Now you know the 7 significant differences between enchilada and chimichanga – no more walking in a Mexican restaurant and feeling confused when looking at the menu!

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Larisa Blinova.

For transparency, this content was partly developed 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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