Tex-Mex and native Mexican items have proven their popularity as street food. Mexican cuisine wowed millions worldwide with dishes like burritos and tacos, enchiladas, and chimichangas. For some people, using tortillas or flatbread to wrap around fillings makes everything taste the same.
However, the difference in the filling, bread, and sauces creates a significant difference. This makes an enchilada very different from a chimichanga.
If you are interested in knowing everything about these popular Tex-Mex dishes, keep reading this comparison. We will dive deep into this delicious world to catch all the noteworthy characteristics and distinctions.
Table of Contents
What is an Enchilada?
Enchiladas are made of corn tortillas, but the wrap is small. The whole idea of enchiladas began as a way of representing food leftovers. Then, it found its way among the top preferred Mexican street food items.
Modern enchiladas are dressed with different sauces. Also, they are topped with cheese. Depending on the filling you want, you can have an additional sauce and type of cheese.
Enchiladas give you complete control over the filling, sauce, and even the sprinkled cheese. You can have simple or complex ingredients, too. For many foodies, ground beef or lamb fillings are the best.
But aside from meat, you can find chicken, sausage, or any other stuffing. Vegan enchiladas can be made with any vegetable and any type of bean.
Enchilada fans prefer their enchiladas to be soaked in a red sauce that can be spicy or sweet, depending on their tastes. Such things make enchiladas different in their way of eating.
You can’t eat enchiladas like any other wrap sandwich. You will have to use a fork for this purpose. Holding the sauce-smothered wraps by hand won’t be a wise call.
It is common to enjoy a plate of enchiladas with two or three enchiladas, as a single piece would be too little.
What is a Chimichanga?
A chimichanga is a product of Tex-Mex cuisine that resembles a burrito. However, it gets deeply fried to give it a different flavor. Like the original burrito, the filling can vary according to where you buy it.
It is usually filled with beef, but you can find other secondary fillings too. Along with meat, your chimichanga can be filled with beans, rice, and cheese.
Pairing the beef with beans and rice makes this dish richer in nutrients and more satisfying if someone is hungry. When serving chimichanga, you will find dressings like sour cream, guacamole, or carne asada. Such dressings are served with chimichanga after the deep-frying stage.
As a type of Tex-Mex, this dish was originally invented in the American Southwest. Sources indicate that Arizona is the birthplace of the chimichanga. Then, it found its way to the nearby states and northern Mexico.
Despite being considered a delicious item in Tex-Mex cuisine, it is not healthy. Aside from being stuffed with many fillings, the deep frying makes chimichangas unhealthy. Deep frying increases the content of unhealthy (saturated) fats.
What are the Differences between an Enchilada and a Chimichanga?
Enchiladas and chimichangas are made from tortillas. Sauces and cheese also accompany them. They are both filled with meat. Despite all these similarities, enchiladas and chimichangas remain very different.
Here is an overview of the significant points of the comparison:
Despite the common misconception that enchiladas and chimichangas come from the same cuisine, the truth is otherwise. Enchiladas are an authentic Mexican recipe that has been around for centuries.
Some stories promote the idea that the use of enchiladas dates back to the time of the Aztecs.
Chimichanga, on the other hand, is not native to Mexico. It belongs to Tex-Mex cuisine, which originated in the Southwest of the United States. Most stories refer to Tucson, AZ, as the birthplace of the chimichanga recipe.
The influence of the Mexican way of cooking is noticeable in a chimichanga, but the Southwestern touch is more obvious in the type of meat, sauce ingredients, and spices.
2. Bread type
While both dishes are made from tortilla wraps, they do not use the same kind of tortilla. Enchiladas are made from yellow corn flour, while chimichangas are made from white flour. Some cooks, however, like to wrap chimichanga in tortillas made from whole-wheat flour.
Another notable difference in comparing enchiladas to chimichangas is the frying, or more accurately, the deep frying. Chimichangas must be deep-fried before serving. This step gives the wrap a desirable crunch and golden color. Enchiladas, on the other hand, should not be fried at all.
You can identify enchilada wraps by their smaller size. They are usually around 6 inches long, while a chimichanga is nearly twice the size of an enchilada.
The concept of making an enchilada does not rely on various fillings. It was a way to represent leftovers with different tastes and shapes. So typically, it will have fewer fillings than a chimichanga.
The main filling in an enchilada is beef or chicken, but enchiladas can be more suitable for vegans. These can only contain beans and veggies.
A chimichanga must contain primary and secondary fillings. The main filling can be any meat, particularly beef. However, it must be accompanied by rice, cheese, and beans.
The dressings or sauces used with enchiladas and chimichangas are different. However, sometimes a chimichanga is served with the original enchilada sauce. Yet, enchiladas are generally submerged in a red sauce or salsa consisting of chili peppers, garlic, tomatillos, and sour cream.
If you are not into spicy sauces, you can ask for them without the spicy tone.
On the other hand, Chimichanga is served with sour cream or melted cheese. Sometimes it goes with carne asada or guacamole.
These two tastes are notably different, yet they can be similar in some cases. The difference comes from using different sauces and fillings. But generally, enchiladas’ taste is famous for being spicy.
The presence of rice and beans defines a chimichanga. Additionally, they are crunchy due to the deep frying. Furthermore, corn tortillas taste different than white flour ones.
When it comes to adding a signature flavor to each of them, spices are heavily used. Enchilada’s sauce is created with authentic Mexican spices, such as chili peppers, chili powder, and cilantro.
On the other hand, Chimichanga dressing is famous for having a noticeable taste of cumin. This is a primary spice in all other Tex-Mex dishes.
Making enchiladas requires baking them in the oven. They won’t be fried or grilled. Then, after leaving the oven, cheese is sprinkled all over the wrap.
On the other hand, a chimichanga is similar to a traditional burrito. However, it must be deeply fried to become golden in color and crispy in texture.
10. Way of eating
Enchiladas are remarkably different in their proper way of eating. The small bread wraps are not easy to grab with your bare hands, as they are soaked in the sauce and cheese topping. Eating them with a fork and a knife is the right way. The chimichanga is not submerged in sauce, and you can easily hold it in your hand.
11. Nutritional value
Both enchiladas and chimichangas are considered nutritious due to their ingredients. However, corn tortillas can be healthier than white flour ones. Furthermore, depending on the type of meat or vegetables rolled in them, both can provide you with protein.
However, chimichangas can give you more nutrients, as they can have yellow rice and black beans along with meat. This means more calories, proteins, and healthy fiber. However, deep frying can be bad if you want to avoid unhealthy fat.
In general, neither of them is considered healthy. So, consume them with caution.
Enchilada vs Chimichanga: are they the same?
Enchiladas and chimichangas are different types of street food. Both are popular in North America and in other parts of the world. Also, they are made with different bread and cooked differently.
If you prefer authentic Mexican food, you will love Enchiladas. They are made with Mexican sauces, and meat cooked the Mexican way. It is also topped with cheese sprinkles and the famous red or green enchilada sauce.
Enchiladas can be modified to suit vegans. It can be stuffed with beans and salad instead of meat. Then, the wrap is sent to the oven to be baked.
Chimichangas are made to suit the tastes of fans of Tex-Mex items. It is prepared like good-old burritos but cooked by deep frying for 3 or 4 minutes. Along with meat, a chimichanga has beans, rice, cheese, and sour cream dressing. This makes it richer in nutrients and saturated fats simultaneously.
Both enchiladas and chimichangas are tasty and give you a satisfying street food experience. Still, their differences make them even more desirable. You can decide which one to go for depending on your taste.
If you like spicy wraps, enchiladas will suit you the best, whereas fans of deep-fried food will appreciate chimichangas.