Many people may get confused when distinguishing quesadilla vs burrito. Even though both are described as meat filling in a tortilla, each has unique features, which is why they are identified separately in Mexican cuisine.
Knowing these differences helps you make better menu choices and surprise Mexican friends with your knowledge. If any of these managed to pique your interest, read until the end to learn all the distinctions between a quesadilla and a burrito.
Quesadilla is a Mexican dish made with a thin dough or tortilla filled with cheese, meats, spices, and other fillings. After stuffing the filling inside a folded tortilla, a quesadilla will be grilled on a griddle or stove until the cheese melted down.
The traditional quesadilla would call for corn tortilla; however, a flour tortilla can also be utilized. The tortilla is a staple in Mexican cuisine. Like how Asians eat rice every day, Mexicans consume tortillas on a daily basis.
Although the quesadilla is generally made with cheese, it can also be loaded with meat, beans, jalapeños, onions, and other seasonings. Although you can add other ingredients to the filling, the addition should be minor so that cheese remains the main ingredient.
The defining feature of a quesadilla would always be cheese. The name of this dish is a direct reference to cheese in Spanish. Hence, if the filling is not primarily cheese, you are not making a quesadilla.
Burritos are a traditional Mexican dish made by rolling an extra-large tortilla into a cylinder and stuffing it with meat, beans, cheese, and red pepper sauce.
Corn tortillas are required for making a typical burrito. Traditionally, the filling consists of meat (chicken, beef, or pork), beans, cheese, and red pepper sauce.
The meat is diced, seasoned with spices, then stir-fried separately before being rolled inside the tortilla with other fillings. Yet, since the burrito can be grilled again after rolling, you may not need to stir-fry ahead of time.
The modern burrito can vary a lot from its traditional form. People can change or add extra ingredients to the filling, such as rice, vegetables, corn, guacamole, sour cream, or whatever they like.
Quesadilla Vs Burrito: 4 Key Differences
Although both dishes originate from Mexico and are tortilla-based dishes, they have some differences that set each of them apart from each other.
Quesadilla translates into “little cheese thing” in English. This dish’s origin dates back to a long time ago, derived from Aztec, different from today’s quesadilla.
Corn tortillas have always been a staple among the Aztecs. To create a delicious dessert from this, they packed them with squash and pumpkin and baked them in clay ovens. In 1521, after the European introduction of cheese and dairy products in this region, the filling was replaced by cheese. This resulted in a newer quesadilla version that wins the heart of millions up to this moment.
In the case of burritos, Mexicans invented this dish by accident in the early twentieth century while looking for ways to keep their food warm during a long journey. They wrapped a mixture of meat, maize, cheese, and beans in tortillas, then hung them on the backs of donkeys to keep the food warm. This is the first version of a burrito in history.
As mentioned above, the filling of a quesadilla has to revolve around cheese. You can add other ingredients to complement the cheese. Yet, if you add too many secondary ingredients and overpower the cheese, the taste of your quesadilla may not live up to your expectations.
Meanwhile, the filling of a burrito can be anything to your liking.
A burrito and a quesadilla are different in terms of appearance because the former is cylindrical, while the latter is flat.
Since a burrito contains a lot of filling, it can take on a bigger cylindrical shape when it is formed into a roll. Meanwhile, a quesadilla is flat due to its limited ingredients.
When compared to a burrito, a quesadilla is also much lighter. A burrito is heavier than a quesadilla since it contains meat or beans, lettuce, and cheese, whereas a quesadilla only has a cheese filling.
Method of cooking
When constructing a quesadilla, you must first lay the cheese inside the tortilla before grilling the quesadilla so that the cheese can melt.
A full quesadilla is generally constructed with two tortillas sandwiched together with a filling of cheese. A half counterpart is a single tortilla folded into a half-moon shape and stuffed with cheese.
When making a burrito, unless the filling has become cold, the burrito will not be placed back on the stove once the filling is inside the tortilla.
How To Make A Quesadilla?
Now, let’s learn how to make this cheesy dish with our simple recipe below. This recipe only contains cheese as the filling. Yet, you can feel free to add other ingredients to the filling as long as the cheese still takes the central stage.
Things to prepare
- 2 flour tortillas
- Shredded cheese of your choice
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- Green chili pepper and chopped onion
- Begin by placing your tortilla on a plate or a clean surface. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla. Avoid putting a lot of cheese on the tortilla’s edges since it will melt and leak out, causing the tortilla to burn inside the pan.
- Put the chopped onions and green chilies on top of the other tortilla roll. Make sure to leave some room around the tortilla’s borders. Finally, combine the two tortillas so that the cheese is evenly distributed among the onions and green chili peppers.
- Take a nonstick pan and place it on a medium-heated cooktop. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and heat it. Add the tortilla and cook it on one side until the cheese starts to melt. Add another tablespoon of butter and flip the tortilla to allow the other side to heat up fully.
- Remove the tortilla from the pan and serve it when the cheese is still melted, and the outside is crispy. Serve it with a dollop of sour cream and a dollop of guacamole on top to improve the flavor.
How To Make A Burrito?
If you want to make a burrito at home, here is a simple recipe for you to put together a delicious burrito quickly.
Things to prepare
- Tortilla wraps
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- Chopped onion, garlic, cumin, coriander
- Beef mince
- 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
- Chopped tomatoes
- Black beans
- Begin by pouring oil into a pan and heating it on medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes after adding the onions.
- Add the garlic cloves and the rest of the spices. Cook for another minute.
- Place the beef mince in the same saucepan as the other ingredients. Combine it with other ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the meat begins to brown. Then, add a sprinkle of sugar, a splash of vinegar, and the sliced tomatoes on top. Allow all the ingredients to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the black beans to the pot and cook for 20 minutes with the rest of the ingredients. The result should be smothered like gravy.
- Take the tortillas and heat them in a pan once the filling is done. Stuff the tortilla with the filling. Any fresh ingredients like lettuce can also be added. Wrap the burrito tightly enough to prevent the filling from dripping out.
With the help of our comprehensive guide above, you have now grasped the essential differences between quesadilla vs burrito. Furthermore, try following our recipes to make these delicious dishes at home.
I bet that it will be the most enjoyable weekend for both your friends and family, especially if they have never tried a quesadilla or burrito before.
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.