Chimichanga vs Burrito: What’s the Real Difference?

Now, who doesn’t like to settle down after a long day with a delicious meal?

Or enjoy their nights out or vacation days with a Mexican night?

We absolutely love Mexican food for any occasion, especially when it’s loaded with so much cheese and tender carne. From overloaded nachos to delectable tacos, mangonadas to elote, we’ve got to hand it to Mexicans who know their food.

Two of our favorite Mexican dishes are the chimichangas and burrito.

But wait, hold up! If you know what they are and what you look like, you’re probably thinking: Uh, hey, they are the exact same thing?

Interestingly, they aren’t, and there are major differences between both that make them unique and tasty.

Let’s delve deeper into the chimichanga vs. burrito comparison, so you know what you’ll be ordering or making on your next Mexican night!

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What is a Chimichanga?

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Like burritos, chimichangas are considered an evolution from ancient Mexican cuisine and culinary traditions. (*)

Americas’ inhabitants used a tortilla press to create tortillas out of corn for thousands of years since they were great to wrap food with.

The origin of chimichangas is actually a bit vaguer than the burrito.

We can’t even confirm with you if they are actually Mexican!

But again, we know that the chimichanga has the same ingredients as a burrito, and it’s also wrapped in a big flour tortilla.

What makes it different is that chimichangas are deep-fried.

It is essentially a deep-fried burrito.

Basically, you create a traditional burrito and deep-fry it in hot oil.

Once you’re done deep-frying, and the chimichanga turns crispy and golden brown, it’s served on a plate and topped off with a dressing.

We love to top our chimichangas off with cheese, guacamole, sour cream, or enchilada sauce.

Fun fact: We think that the burrito was dropped in a deep fryer and is now referred to as Mexican chimichangas. This most likely didn't occur in Mexico but somewhere in one of the Southwestern United States' border states like Arizona or Texas, where Tex-Mex cuisine is famous.

When we define chimichanga, it tends to skip various subtle nuances, which evolved in time. Such differences are considerable enough to consider the chimichanga as its own distinct dish.

What is a Burrito?

image of burrito vs chimichanga

We all know what a burrito is.

It’s one of the most famous dishes from Mexico, after all!

But do you really know about the burrito?

The burrito features a flour tortilla with amazing stuffing inside, with so many different variations to choose from.

Throughout history, the burrito has changed in size and ingredients.

Now, you can find large tortillas with meat, beans, guacamole, and a smorgasbord of other ingredients.

But let’s go back to its origins, though the history of the burrito is still shrouded in myth.

Fun fact: The name burrito translates to Little Donkey, and we don't even know how it got its name in the first place.

But what we do know is that burritos come from northern Mexico, where the flour tortilla became popular amid Spanish colonization.

Originally, the burrito was filled with only beans and meats.

But once the burrito came to the USA, things started changing, and more ingredients were added.

There’s rice, salsa, cheese, a lot more beans, different meats, and even seafood in Tex-Mex burritos!

That’s why it’s challenging to give one standard definition of the burrito. Heck, there are even vegan and vegetarian burritos available!

The one thing we can assure you is that burritos are made with different ingredients wrapped in a soft tortilla, usually flour tortillas. (*)

The Different Kinds of Burritos

As mentioned, there are many different burritos out there as they have evolved over time.

What began as a small wrap with 2-3 ingredients became different varieties with bigger sizes and condiments!

These are some of the most popular burritos you’ve got to try:

  1. The traditional burrito: This is the classic burrito made in Mexico using small tortillas with two ingredients: Either rice, meats, cheese, potatoes, or a sauce.
  2. San Francisco Style Burrito: This is a popular type of burrito in the USA. It’s larger than the traditional and made with a combination of different ingredients like meats, cheese, beans, guacamole, lettuce, and more things, depending on the chef.
  3. San Diego Style Burritos: These are made from San Diego and have fewer ingredients. Other than meat, this burrito contains guacamole or pico de Gallo.
  4. California Burrito: These are big burritos, and boy, are they heavy! This one has fries and cheese, so think of it as a special blend of various cuisines. The Calidornia Burrito also contains meat, guacamole, Salsa Fresca, or pico de Gallo.

What is the difference between Chimichanga vs. Burrito?

You’ve learned a bit about the histories of chimichangas and burritos, and don’t worry; we’re not going to bore you with more of that!

Let’s get to the good part: The differences between the two dishes!

1. Preparation

The preparation is the most significant difference here. Burritos would have a flour tortilla filled with various ingredients, from meat, salsa, rice, cheese, and more beans. It will then be tightly wrapped. Chimichangas are prepared similarly but will also be deep-fried.

2. Filling

The burrito and chimichanga would usually have different ingredients, interestingly enough.

Burritos contain meat, eggs, melted cheese, beans, rice, potatoes, lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and other vegetables.

You can add more, depending on your tastebuds!

As for Tex-Mex chimichangas, they don’t contain as many ingredients.

What you would find is a lot more meat, which is either marinated or dried meat, minced chicken, or slow-cooked beef.

You’ll also find rice and melted cheese, but not a lot more.

The other ingredients you may want to add are served as a topping or on the side.

3. Serving

The way the burrito and chimichanga are served is also different.

Burritos are merely wrapped in a tortilla then in foil, handed for you to eat with your bare hands.

Chimichangas aren’t eaten with your hands but served on plates with utensils.

There’s also some kind of sauce included, like sour cream, guac, or salsa. Since chimichangas would have spices over them, they’re best eaten with utensils.

4. Appearance

Crispy chimichangas have a golden-brown crust from the deep-frying process.

It will also have some form of sauce as a topping.

Burritos have more ingredients in a tight tortilla wrap, making them larger.

Plus, think of it this way: If you see it on a plate with sauce on the side, it’s most likely a chimichanga.

Fun fact: Obviously, the chimichanga has a crispy outer layer that’s soft on the inside. Burritos tend to be softer and juicier.

5. Sauces and Dips Served

The chimichanga would be topped with many sauces, while burritos aren’t served with any.

The sauce would usually be inside if you choose to have one. That said, you can dip your burrito in sauce to eat directly, which is filling and delicious.

6. Health Matters

Again, chimichangas are deep-fried and served with a sauce.

Given the fact they are fried in oil, they are higher in fat and calories, making them less healthy than burritos.

In fact, a single chimichanga dish is about 1,500 calories on average, being deep-fried and topped with a lot of heavy sauces.

Burritos aren’t fried and won’t have high-calorie ingredients, but it depends on what you choose to add.

Either way, we love both dishes.

They are absolutely delicious, and we will eat them during cheat days!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still left with probing questions about the chimichanga vs. burrito?

Here are frequently asked questions from our readers:

1. Can I order chimichangas instead of burritos?

Sure you can!

To get a slightly similar flavor, we recommend choosing ingredients you want in a burrito and skipping the topping. The texture will be different, and there will be more calories as it’s fried, though.

2. Is chimichanga just a fried burrito?

Technically, it is a deep-fried burrito, but chimichangas are way more than that!

It’s part of the Tex-Mex cuisine, and an expert will tell you their many differences, from the fillings to how they are served.

3. Which is bigger, a chimichanga or burrito?

When comparing the standard-sized chimichanga and burrito, the latter is larger.

You can find mini, small, regular, large, and extra-large burritos and chimichangas! Even when comparing these two dishes of the same size, the burrito is larger.

4. Are chimichangas authentic Mexican dish?

No, chimichangas aren’t actually a traditional Mexican dish as they most likely originated from the USA and were then introduced to Tex Mex menus. Meaning it’s a combination of Texan and Mexican food.

Burritos are legitimately Mexican, known to have been made by indigenous people from Mexico.

5. Is chimichanga or burrito better?

That’s up to you to decide! If you want the authentic Mexican dish and explore the cuisine further, we suggest starting with traditional burritos from Mexican restaurants.

But we won’t judge if you prefer the indulgent and crispy deep-fried Tex-Mex burrito, served on a plate with various sauces and toppings.

It’s worth trying, and we recommend adding a decent amount of meat and multiple ingredients to make the experience a fun one!

6. What is the difference between a burrito and enchilada and a chimichanga?

There are a few key differences between burritos, enchiladas, and chimichangas. For starters, a burrito is typically made with a flour tortilla, while an enchilada is made with a corn tortilla.

Additionally, the filling for a burrito is usually rolled up inside the tortilla, while the filling for an enchilada is placed on top of the tortilla and then rolled up.

Finally, a chimichanga is deep-fried, whereas burritos and enchiladas are not.

Consequently, chimichangas tend to be significantly greasier than their burrito and enchilada counterparts.

Wrapping It Up

We hope our chimichanga vs. burrito article helped you delve deeper into the world of Mexican cuisine!

So, when you’re in Mexican restaurants, you’ll know what you want based on your cravings.

Or hey, why not order both the burrito or chimichanga to taste test and enjoy them individually?

We know we’d do the same thing.

Enjoy your meal!

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