Mexican food is all about the joy of coming together with family and friends and sharing a great meal.
You don't need to be in Mexico to enjoy some of its most famous dishes - burritos are enjoyed all over the world, and with a little help you can make your own tasty, fresh dishes at home too.
From wondering about what a burrito is to how to make one at home, here’s an essential run down on this popular Mexican dish.
What is a burrito?
Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a burrito?
Put simply: a burrito is a Mexican wrap. A flour tortilla is filled with refried beans and other toppings, then wrapped into a closed cylinder and served.
Burrito literally translates to “little donkey” in Spanish, which could refer to the round bedrolls commonly carried by donkeys in Mexico.
The exact history of the burrito is unknown, though it grew in popularity around the nineteenth century with Mexican Americans, particularly in California. Farmworkers would often prepare a burrito of beans and salsa as an easy lunch.
What’s in a burrito?
What goes in a burrito depends on who you ask, but it’s core ingredients generally consist of: a flour tortilla, beans or refried beans, salsa and a meat filling. Vegetables, rice, sour cream, guacamole and cheese are also frequently added to the mix.
The two most common types of beans used for burritos are black beans and pinto beans. Refried pinto beans are most traditional - you can cut down on your cooking time by keeping a can of our Old El Paso™ Refried Beans in your kitchen pantry.
The next classic burrito filling consists of a wet meat - traditionally pork, chicken or beef. Meat cooked slowly in its own juices with spices makes for a tender filling, as does anything with sauce. You can pull together the perfect filling with our Beef and Bean Chilli Burrito Kit, which comes with sauce seasoning, flour tortillas and salsa.
A good salsa will enhance the other fillings in your burrito and add a bit of heat, too. A pico de gallo style salsa is most popular, and salsa verde is another delicious choice. A combination of a hot and mild salsa will bring lots of extra flavour. You can save yourself time with our selection of chunky salsas - they come in both mild and hot.
How to make a burrito?
Think of the burrito as the sum of its parts. The ingredients are simple, but each one plays an important role in the overall taste.
For most people, what makes a burrito so appealing is how easy it is - you can eat it quickly and it’s a delicious, tasty and satisfying meal.
To cut down on prep time, make your meat filling in advance - a slow cooker is ideal for this. Cooking in batches means you can also freeze extra portions to save for later.
Don't be afraid to go beyond the classic ingredients - adding your own spin with fresh ingredients means you can enjoy your favourite dish dozens of different ways.
For a kick of heat, add jalapenos - you can add them to stir fried vegetables like peppers and onions if you're making a veggie burrito or simply slice and add as part of the garnish.
Though meat is the standard filling, you can easily transform a burrito into a vegetarian or vegan dish by swapping out a few ingredients. Instead of meat, you can add sweet potato to make your burrito satisfying and filling.
Chocolate is another way to add a secret twist to your burrito recipe. It pairs beautifully with chilli to make a rich sauce that highlights all the other delicious flavours.
How to make healthy breakfast burritos?
Burritos are delicious any time of day, and the rise of the breakfast burrito proves there’s no bad time to eat one.
They make an easy and healthy breakfast that you can put together quickly with your choice of ingredients. Replace rice with eggs and your chicken, beef or pork with bacon and you have the makings of a delicious start to the day.
It doesn’t need to take long - we’ve put together a quick and simple breakfast burrito recipe that takes the hard work out of your meal prep.
How to wrap a burrito?
The key to wrapping a burrito starts with the placement of your fillings.
- Make sure your tortilla is warm. A few seconds in the microwave, oven or on a flat grill should warm it through. If your tortilla is cold it’s more likely to crack or break.
- Assemble your fillings in the bottom centre of the tortilla and be sure not to overfill it. If you load too much into a small tortilla it will split before it closes. Leave plenty of room around the edge - this will prevent anything from spilling out when you fold.
- Think of your circular burrito as a square, or, if it’s simpler, the four points of a compass. Begin by folding the east or west end towards the centre, then follow with the opposite end.
- Next, pull the bottom (or south facing) end of the burrito forward until it covers the fillings, then slowly roll. The key to keeping everything together is to use your little fingers to fold the folded edges in place as you roll.
- Take a bite. You’re done!
How to reheat a burrito?
The humble microwave is the master of reheating just about anything, but can occasionally make food go soggy. With a burrito that’s already filled with wet fillings you might destroy the texture.
One of the simplest ways to go about it is wrap your burrito in a layer of protective foil - this will help it hold its shape and provide a thermal layer to help reheat your food.
Turn your oven on low heat and place on a baking tray. The burrito will gradually reheat and your fillings will remain just as they were intended.
You can complement your burrito and fill your plate with a range of tasty sides that are quick and easy to put together. If you need some suggestions, try:
- Refried beans
Nachos are the perfect easy side dish when you're serving up for friends and family - you can use some of the same ingredients from your burrito for your nachos too, saving you time and prep.
If you've packed your burrito full of other delicious ingredients like sweet potato, serve up some refried beans on the side instead. They're especially delicious served with tortilla chips.