classic burritos

This is not my most gourmet meal. It’s mostly fancy Taco Bell. It kind of looks like dog food. It’s delicious and easy and kinda healthy. I like it.

It’s at least fancier than we made it when I was a kid. Back then, we (usually my brother) browned some ground beef, dumped in a packet of burrito seasoning and some water, and stirred in a can of refried beans. Then we glopped it on tortillas with fixin’s and were happy.

Then my brother started getting creative. He would add green chile to the mix or use shredded chicken instead of ground beef. I don’t like change. I just want my fancy Taco Bell.

What I have changed is to get rid of the sodium and preservative-filled spice packet and the pasty canned refried beans for some good stuff – browned onions, fresh garlic, spices that I already have anyway, and pinto beans I mush up myself. Plus I use ground turkey instead of ground beef, because it tastes the same once it’s mixed in with everything else, and it’s a little healthier. Same goes for Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Sure, it’s just a regular old burrito, and it costs 79 cents at a fast food chain. But if you make it yourself, you can use high quality ingredients – lettuce that is actually crisp, cheese that has flavor, spices that are fresh – and it isn’t much harder than going through the drive-thru.

One year ago: Bran Muffins
Two years ago: Spinach Artichoke and Red Pepper Strata

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Classic Burritos

4-6 servings

The filling also reheats really well, so I usually make enough for more than one meal and have an easy leftover night a few days later.

These are my favorite fillings for these very basic burritos. Obviously you can go wild here with whatever you like – salsa, hot sauce, green chile, guacamole…

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 pound ground turkey (or other ground meat of your choice)
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup water

flour tortillas
green leaf lettuce, sliced
tomatoes, diced
cheddar cheese, shredded
black olives, chopped
sour cream (or Greek yogurt)

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until just browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the spices and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the meat and salt and cook, stirring occasionally to break up large chunks, until no longer pink. Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add the beans to it; use a potato masher to break up the beans slightly. Stir in the water and simmer over medium heat until the liquid mostly evaporates. Serve the filling with toppings of your choice.


  1. technically wouldn’t those be soft tacos, not burritos? (which, traditionally in latino countries, are only filled with meat, rice and beans)

  2. But… aren’t burritos the ones that have to be rolled up? These actually look like soft tacos. I’m confused 🙁

  3. They’re only unrolled for the photos so you can see the filling.

  4. As always, you make anything look delicious. Love the pics. Burritos or soft tacos or whatever you call them are not the easiest thing to take attractive pictures of… We had taco night once a week growing up and it sounds similar to what you and your brother did.

  5. Mmm! I’m definitely a fan of making Mexican dishes at home. It doesn’t sit in my stomach as heavy but is always extremely satisfying. Love this!

  6. Rachael says:

    Surprisingly enough, a few of the local Mexican places that I inspect for work use the same packaged seasoning for burritos and tacos that my mom always had around when I was a kid. Brings back so many memories to walk through the kitchen when they are making up a batch.

    I have yet to find a seasoning combination that I enjoy enough, so I often fall back onto the Lawry’s seasoning packets. I will have to try out yours to see if I can use it regularly.

  7. I loved eating these for dinner when I was growing up. Somehow I’d always load mine up too much and would have trouble getting it closed. We always used ground turkey too.

  8. I’m hungry for dinner and these look delicious! I especially love making a big pot of refried beans from scratch for the burritos:)

  9. looks delicious! i <3 mexican food so much.