Chimichanga vs Enchilada: What’s the Difference?

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You’ve asked your partner to pick up some takeaways for Friday night, and you know Mexican food is what you are craving. But what happens if you wanted an enchilada but got a chimichanga, and your partner doesn’t want to share their enchilada?  

So what are the differences between an enchilada vs a chimichanga?

The main difference between an enchilada and a chimichanga is the tortilla flour used to make the soft tortilla shells. To make enchiladas, you need to use wheat tortilla flour, and to make enchiladas, use corn tortilla flour. Also, chimichangas are usually smothered in a cheese sauce, while enchiladas are smothered in a green or red chili sauce.  

Knowing the key differences between chimichangas and enchiladas will help you order the correct tasty dish next time. So here’s everything you need to know about enchiladas vs chimichangas. 

What Is a Chimichanga?

A chimichanga is also known as a deep-fried burrito because of its similarities with this favorite Northern Mexican food. 

However, a chimichanga, which is a Tex-Mex food, is very American, allegedly originating in Tucson, Arizona, when a cook at the El Charro Cafe accidentally dropped a burrito into the deep frying machine. 

The result was the chimichanga, which was original to be called a “thingamajig.” 

Chimichangas are like a burrito in that they are also typically made using wheat tortilla flour. Once the cook creates a soft shell tortilla, the filings, mainly slow-cooked meat, red sauce or salsa, onions, and peppers are added. 

The tortilla is folded or rolled to close the ends, and then it’s deep-fried until the outside is crispy and golden. 

Chimichangas are served on a plate, drizzled with cheese sauce, and accompanied by Mexican rice, Picco de Galo, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and lettuce. It’s a complete meal on a plate.

Did you know? Chimichanga means “toasted monkeys,” and a burrito means “little donkeys.” So the name for deep-fried burritos is quite accurate, don’t you think?    

What Is an Enchilada?

An enchilada is a native Mexican dish that was originally made with leftovers. These days, it’s a popular meal served at Mexican restaurants. 

Enchiladas are made using small corn tortilla wraps and then filled with mostly meat or some kind of protein. Other filling options with the meat are vegetables and cheese.  

The wrap is then drenched in red or green chili sauce. This sauce-smothering makes enchiladas similar to wet burritos but they aren’t 100% the same. 

Cheese may be sprinkled on top of the enchiladas. Sides include rice and beans. 

Two or three enchiladas are served on a plate, and you’ll need to eat it with cutlery since it’s covered in sauce and comes with sides.

Did you know? Enchilada means “to season with chili.”

Difference Between Chimichanga vs Enchilada

Use this quick guide on the differences between chimichangas and enchiladas to remember the differences: 

1. How It’s Made 

The main difference between enchiladas and chimichangas is the type of tortilla flour used in the wraps. 

The tortillas that form the basis for chimichangas are made from wheat tortilla flour, while the tortillas for enchiladas are made from corn tortilla flour.     

2. The Sides 

A couple of enchiladas are typically served with Mexican rice and refried beans. Some cheese may be sprinkled on top of the sauce-drenched enchiladas. 

Chimichangas are traditionally also served with refried beans and Mexican rice, but other sides include guacamole, Picco de Galo, sour cream, and lettuce.  

3. The Fillings  

The fillings are similar when it comes to enchiladas and chimichangas, and ultimately, some restaurants do their own take on their famous dishes. 

But here are the toppings you can expect in each of these tortilla-based meals: 

  • Enchiladas are mostly filled with meat, and sometimes, veggies and cheese. 
  • Chimichangas are usually filled with protein, like chicken or beef, onions, peppers, and a sauce or salsa.  

4. How It Tastes

Since chimichangas are deep-fried until they are golden brown and crispy, you can expect a crunchy exterior or a crunchy taco with yummy goodies inside. 

Enchiladas have a soft outer since they are made from fillings and a soft corn tortilla. There can also be heat from the chili cause when you take a bite.   

5. The Sauce 

Enchiladas are usually covered with a spicy sauce – either red chili sauce or green chili sauce – before they are served. 

Chimichangas are typically smothered in a cheesy sauce. 

Did you know? You don’t need to eat enchiladas with chili sauce if it’s too hot for your pallet. Most restaurants have various sauce options you can choose from, and the same goes for chimichangas if you don’t want a cheesy sauce.  

6. The Origins 

Chimichangas are very American; they are deep-fried, after all. These deep-fried burritos are part of Tex-Mex cuisine.   

On the other hand, enchiladas (like their burrito cousin) are very Mexican. Mexicans used to make enchiladas from leftover ingredients.  

What Makes a Chimichanga Different from an Enchilada and Burrito?

There are a few things that set chimichangas apart from burritos and enchiladas. 

Chimichangas are: 

  • American but a Tex-Mex meal  
  • Made from wheat tortilla flour
  • Deep-fried tortillas with meat, sauce, onion, and pepper filling 
  • Served with a cheese sauce 
  • Served with a few sides: rice, beans, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and lettuce 

Burritos are: 

  • From Northern Mexico 
  • Made from wheat tortilla flour 
  • Traditionally filled with meat, rice, veggies, and beans
  • Other popular fillings are guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese, and sauce 
  • Served in foil or on parchment paper 
  • Found at fast-food joints or restaurants   

Enchiladas are: 

  • Also natively Mexican
  • Made from corn tortilla flour 
  • Soft corn tortillas filled with meat, veggies, and cheese 
  • Smothered in a hot sauce, usually a red or green chili sauce 
  • Sprinkled with cheese 
  • Served on a plate with beans and rice  

What Makes an Enchilada an “Enchilada”?

There are two things that make an enchilada an “enchilada”: 

  • Using corn tortilla flour to make the tortilla shells
  • Drenching the enchiladas in a chili sauce since enchilada means that it’s seasoned with chili  

My Last Foodie Thoughts 

Mexican and Tex-Mex foods are utterly delicious, but you’ve got to listen to your cravings and taste buds and order the right meal. 

With this handy guide, you now know exactly what the differences between enchiladas and chimichangas are, and you even know how they are related to the famous burrito. 

Enjoy your next enchilada! Or will it be a chimichanga?

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