The classic burrito is not exactly a new recipe that comes from South America. There is historical proof, however, that making tortillas is part of ancient Aztec and Mayan heritage. Combining savory spiced meats and fresh veggies within a flour tortilla is an excellent meal that is best served fresh. Here's one recipe that you'll love to try that teaches you how to make your own tortillas, and then create a complete chicken burrito.
Tools You’ll Need
To start, you want to have the right kitchen accessories to make these recipes a lot easier instead of trying to find substitute items. You likely have these items in your kitchen already, so keep them close for each recipe so you aren't looking inside a drawer. Assemble them on your counter or table so they are all within reach. These include:
- Large frying pan or skillet
- Rolling pin or tortilla press (or pasta roller)
- Glass or plastic bowls (for mixing various ingredients)
- Paring and utility knife
- Spatula or a large wooden spoon
- Kitchen whisk
- Cutting board or chopping board
- Kitchen apron
- Large freezer bags or silicone parchment paper
- Measuring spoons and a digital scale
- Silicone pastry matt
What’s a Burrito And How it’s Made
A burrito is now accepted as a Tex-Mex dish that has many variations depending on the ingredients inside. It can contain spiced meat, cheese, chopped veggies, cooked rice, and refried beans that are wrapped inside a large tortilla. It’s essentially a self-contained meal that is either wrapped in aluminum foil for better handling or served on a plate. In the old days, it was likely wrapped in cloth or inside a corn husk.
A burrito is wrapped in such a way so the contents don’t spill out when you eat it. The tortilla is warmed up so it becomes pliable and the ingredients are placed inside it. After this, it’s wrapped up so everything is contained inside similar to the swaddling method. In this case, the entire contents of a burrito are encased inside the tortilla on the top and bottom so the contents stay warm.
One interesting note is that a burrito is no longer called a burrito when the sauce is poured over the outside of the tortilla. This is when it becomes an Enchilada or (wet burrito) and will have cheese melted on the outside before sauce is drenched over the entire burrito. This dish is only served on a plate and can be quite messy because the sauce is generously added on top.
The origins of the burrito often come from stories that date back to the Mexican Revolution that lasted from 1910 to 1920. It's commonly known that northern cowboys working in the Texas and Mexican regions were not Mexican at all. They had mostly come from Spain and comprised of Northern African and Black Muslim men who were all experts at horse and cattle driving.
They were called Black Cowboys and enjoyed burritos that were prepared regionally by Mexican locals for the cowboys to take with them on their cattle and horse drives northward. Many of these cattle drives included a chuck wagon which was a cowboy's food truck in those days. The cook on a chuck wagon would have picked up many local and regional recipes, and were easy to make for long journeys.
How to Make Corn Tortillas
No matter how much corn is refined, a flour or corn tortilla is still the same because of the ingredients used. Corn tortillas are just unrefined corn flour that becomes soft when you make the finished tortilla. A flour tortilla is using refined flour and will appear lighter in color when it's complete. Here are two recipes that include making corn and flour tortillas.
This recipe makes 8 tortillas depending on how large in diameter you decide to roll out the final tortilla. Finding corn flour is pretty common where flour is sold and is usually right next to refined flour.
1 cup corn flour (Masa Harina or any unrefined corn flour)
1 cup warm water (estimated amount depending on the consistency)
- Measure and empty the flour into a large bowl and start to whisk it while it’s dry. This will break up any clumps and make the (hydration), mixing with water easier to absorb. Now slowly add your water using a measuring cup with a spout. Mix this with a wooden spoon so the water and flour combine and then let this sit for a few minutes.
- Once the water and flour have hydrated, you can start to knead it together on a pastry mat just like dough. It will be slightly gritty but will smooth out after a few minutes of kneading. Use the bottom of your palms to help push it down over and over. Depending on the consistency add more water or flour to get a dough-like quality.
- When the dough is nice and soft, it will be fresh and warm (like Play Dough), separate all of your dough into plum-sized pieces. This is when you'll need some silicone parchment paper or a large freezer bag. This helps to stack your finished tortillas onto each other and peel off easier than if you stacked them without using paper or plastic in between each tortilla.
- It's easier if you place one sheet on the bottom and then one on the top, so your rolling pin is simply squishing the dough into the size you want. Pre-flatten each piece of dough (to a hockey puck-sized piece), to make rolling them out faster. Each tortilla should be between 10-12 inches in diameter (or more) if you like extra large tortillas.
- Using a tortilla press or pasta roller is nice if you have these gadgets available, but not necessary if you have a good rolling pin. Place all of your finished tortillas off to the side in a stack until you’re ready to cook them. It’s cooked using a large flat pan on medium-high heat for 30 to 45 seconds on each side. A cooked corn tortilla lasts 3 weeks or more in a sliding channel storage bag.
This recipe will make three flour tortillas depending on the size you prefer. You can double this recipe to make 6 by doubling the ingredients.
100 grams refined flour (all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup warm water
2 grams of baking powder
1 gram of salt
15 grams of butter
- Measure your flour and place this into a large bowl and use a whisk for breaking up any lumps in the flour. This is more common with refined flour so be patient to spot small lumps. After this, you want to add warm (room temperature) butter that is not melted! Mix this into your flour until it becomes a thick paste-like mixture similar to hard cookie dough.
- Now you slowly start to add your water. Using a measuring cup with a spout, pour in 1/3 cup of your water and mix with a wooden spoon. This will make the dough slightly runny but will firm up once it hydrates. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes and ready your silicone matt. Scatter some flour on the mat so it doesn't make the dough stick.
- Separate your dough into three equal parts. Place a sheet of silicone parchment paper on top to roll out each tortilla. Occasionally, lift the edge to get flour under the pastry mat and your tortilla. Gently lift the paper off the top of your tortilla and add more flour so it doesn’t stick on either side. Repeat this for all of your finished tortillas and stack them in a pile.
- When you are ready, you can cook each tortilla on a large flat pan on each side for 30-45 seconds using medium-high heat. These are best when they are still warm however, they can be cooled and stored in storagebags for 3 weeks in your fridge. These can also be frozen so they last longer.
How to Properly Wrap a Burrito
If you’ve ever swaddled a baby, you’ll know how easy it is to wrap a burrito. The only difference is that these ingredients are completely wrapped inside without the head sticking out. It takes some practice, but is very simple if you follow these helpful steps:
- Lay a freshly cooked tortilla down where all of your ingredients are located. Add everything in a line like a vertical rainbow leaving 2 inches from the top and bottom of your tortilla. This should include a line of meat, cheese, veggies, and sour cream toppings. Don’t try to throw it all together in one pile, neatness counts when it gets rolled up.
- Take the bottom edge and fold it upwards toward the ingredients and grab the right side of your tortilla. Now gently fold the top edge into the upper half. You should have something that looks similar to an envelope. You can now complete the burrito by rolling the rest of the edges toward the one end that isn’t folded.
- Some professionals like to use a lightly-dipped pastry brush to swipe the flap edge with water so it sticks to the rest of the tortilla when it gets rolled over. Allow your burrito to sit while you make another the same way. Don't overdo the water on your pastry brush, the tortilla will get mushy. Wrap each burrito in aluminum foil or put it onto a plate and serve.
Creamy Chicken Burrito Recipe
If you love chicken burritos, this burrito recipe will certainly become an instant favorite. If you don't like spicy, don't add anything that might be too much to handle. Tex-Mex foods and Mexican food, in general, are full of spices and chili flavor, so there are always alternative spices that give you punch without pulling the fire alarm!
3 cups cooked chicken meat (shredded)
2 cups cheddar cheese (coarsely grated)
1 cup sour cream (20% if available)
2 cups canned corn kernels (rinsed and drained)
1 clove of garlic (crushed in a garlic press)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
teaspoon cayenne chili powder (or Mexican all-spice)
8 tortillas (8-10-inch)
1 cup fresh cilantro (loosely packed)
2 medium limes (cut into wedges)
- Start to preheat your oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a large bowl and add your shredded chicken, canned corn, half of your cheddar cheese, sour cream chopped cilantro, garlic, and cayenne chili powder. Mix these ingredients together using a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper (to taste) to this chicken burrito mixture.
- Place this mixture into a casserole dish and cook for 25 minutes, and remove to cool for 10 minutes. Place your casserole dish onto a wooden cutting board along with the remaining ingredients next to your prep table.
- Cook your tortillas and then fill the ingredients onto a warm tortilla and add the remaining cheese inside with fresh sprinkled cilantro. Now you can fold them so they are ready to serve. If you want to make Enchiladas, place the fillings into uncooked tortillas, fold and cover with the remaining cheese and bake these in an oven for 5 minutes.
- Enchiladas are then served hot on a plate with sprinkles of cilantro and lime wedges. You can add any kind of enchilada sauce from the store or make it fresh. A good substitute is adding any kind of salsa of your choice for this burrito recipe.