Mexican cuisine is full of ingredients that other cuisines often ignore. But once you get the hang of the primary ingredients forming the foundation of Mexican cuisine, it is easy to appreciate the food for what it is – delicious!
One ingredient most commonly associated with Mexican food is the humble tortilla which plays a big part in two of the most popular dishes to come out of Mexico, the quesadilla and burrito. But how do they differ?
The most significant difference between a quesadilla and a burrito is simply their shapes. A quesadilla is two flat tortillas with filling in the middle, while a burrito has its tortilla wrapped around the filling and secured on both ends.
What is a Quesadilla?
Quesadillas are a cheap and affordable meal consisting of only one tortilla and a handful of cheese.
However, there are plenty of ways to get creative with a quesadilla. So long as there is plenty of filling sandwiched between a folded tortilla or between two tortillas, then you can fill the tortilla with any filling you wish.
Of course, the best part of a quesadilla is its crispy exterior.
Once you have built your quesadilla, it then needs to be fried or grilled to get wonderfully crispy and melt the cheese. Traditionally Chihuahua or queso menonita cheese makes up the filling of a quesadilla, however, Monterey jack is much easier to buy outside of Mexico and can provide a similar texture.
As delicious as a quesadilla is by itself, it is basic enough to pair with a whole range of dips and sauces. Sour cream and guacamole have become popular with quesadillas in restaurants.
In Mexico, masa tortillas are used to make quesadillas which are quite a common ingredient in most Mexican households. However, regular flour tortillas are just as capable of being used for your quesadilla.
What is a Burrito?
A burrito is an easy and transportable way to enjoy a whole range of savoury foods, which is why they are a popular menu item in Mexican fast-food restaurants.
However, you will need to use two hands to eat a burrito purely because of how big they are.
As for the fillings, there are a few basics that a burrito should include to be classed as a burrito:
Some rice, beans, and fresh veggies like tomatoes or lettuce are a must. Cheese should be included along with some kind of meat, often beef or pork. Then comes the wet ingredients, such as salsa or sour cream.
There is a skill when it comes to wrapping a burrito, as you need to wrap it tight enough to keep all the fillings in without breaking the burrito itself. This includes ensuring that the burrito’s top and bottom are closed and sealed shut.
There are several variants of the burrito, including the wet burrito. This is essentially just a regular burrito that is covered in a red sauce similar to enchilada sauce and finished with a generous helping of cheese.
Similarities Between Quesadillas and Burritos
The general description of a quesadilla and burrito is very similar, which is why it is easy to see why those who are not as accustomed to Mexican dishes may get confused, for reasons such as:
- Creative Fillings – There is no limit to how creative you want to get when it comes to the fillings of either a quesadilla or a burrito. Sure, there are some basic rules for each dish, like a quesadilla should include cheese, while burritos should have some fresh veggies and beans.
- Tex-Mex Take – Because of the physical closeness of Texas and Mexico, there are quite a few cross-overs between the two cuisines. Tex-Mex dishes are essentially Mexican dishes with a Southern twist. Being two of Mexico’s more popular dishes in the US, quesadillas and burritos have been given similar Tex-Mex treatments, such as including fried chicken rather than ground beef or pork.
Differences Between Quesadillas and Burritos
Of course, quesadillas and burritos are two fundamentally different dishes with their own separate characteristics, such as:
- Exterior Texture – A crucial part of the quesadilla experience is the crispness of its tortillas once they have been fried or grilled. It is the exact contrast that its cheesy filling needs. Burritos do not traditionally have the same crispy exterior. Sure, you can grill the assembled burrito a little to try and add some texture, but it will not be anywhere near as crispy as the tortilla of the quesadilla.
- Typical Fillings – For a quesadilla, the filling is supposed to be a simple affair of only cheese. More specifically, queso menonita or Chihuahua cheese or sometimes a mix. A burrito has a much more varied array of fillings, including rice, beans, lettuce, and a range of other vegetables, ground beef, and cheese. Burritos also use a mixture of wet fillings such as sour cream and salsa.
- Simplicity – Due to how many fillings a typical burrito requires, it becomes a more complicated dish to make. Never mind the wrapping technique you need to master to keep the fillings from falling out of the burrito. In contrast, a quesadilla is much simpler to make and requires little effort.
- Final Shape – You only need to look at a burrito and quesadilla to know that they are different. A burrito is more similar to a wrap as its filling is wrapped entirely in a flour tortilla. Quesadillas are far more similar to grilled cheese, using tortillas for bread and sandwiching the filling between the tortillas.
Quesadilla vs Burrito: Which Wins?
You’ve got two plates in front of you. One is loaded up with quesadillas. The other is piled high with burritos. Which plate are you going for? We’re putting them against each other. It’s quesadillas vs burritos:
Do You Prefer Quesadillas or Burritos?
Quesadilla and Burrito FAQs
Do you have more questions about quesadillas and burritos? Then check these FAQs out:
Yes, quesadillas are Mexican. Unfortunately, finding traditional quesadillas made with masa tortillas, outside Mexica, can be challenging.
Yes, burritos are thought to have been invented in Northern Mexico, fairly closer to the border with the USA. This is why they are also incredibly popular in Tex-Mex cuisine.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.