When it comes to choosing the best meat combo for burritos, there are a few key factors to consider. The type of meat, spice level, texture, and flavor all play an important role in creating the ideal protein filling for a burrito. Ultimately, the “best” meat combo comes down to personal preference. However, by evaluating the pros and cons of different meats and meat combinations, you can determine which option will likely appeal most to your tastes.
Ground beef is a popular choice for burritos because it is readily available, budget-friendly, and easy to season. Lean ground beef provides a meaty flavor and texture that pairs well with burrito fillings like beans, rice, cheese, and more. It can be seasoned with taco seasoning, chili powder, cumin, and other spices to add flavor. The meat crumbles nicely when cooked, giving a pleasing mouthfeel. Ground beef is a safe, crowd-pleasing option for burritos.
- Familiar, well-liked flavor
- Inexpensive and easy to find
- Easy to season and cook
- Nice crumbly texture
- Can dry out if overcooked
- Less complex flavor than some other meats
Chicken is lower in fat than beef but still offers a meaty bite and savory flavor. Shredded or chopped chicken thighs or breasts pair deliciously with the traditional burrito fixings. Chicken can be seasoned in endless ways, from simple salt and pepper to bold chili-lime or smoky-chipotle rubs. It provides a lighter protein option compared to beef. Leftover roasted or smoked chicken also works well for burritos. The tender, pull-apart texture of chicken is ideal in a hand-held burrito.
- Lower fat than beef
- Very versatile flavor options
- Shredded or chopped chicken has ideal texture
- Leftover chicken works great
- Can dry out if overcooked
- Less hearty than beef
Pork offers a middle ground between beef and chicken when it comes to flavor and fat content. Pulled pork, pork carnitas, and chorizo add hearty, savory flavor to burritos. Pork pairs especially well with sweet and spicy seasoning. The juicy, tender shredded texture of slow-cooked pork is perfect for burritos. Chorizo provides a spicy, smoky kick. Pork lifts burritos beyond basic beef for a more interesting flavor experience.
- Savory, rich flavor
- Shredded pork or chorizo have great textures
- Takes well to sweet and spicy seasonings
- More complex flavor than beef
- Not as readily available or easy to cook as beef
- Higher fat content than chicken
Steak adds a hearty, beefy flavor to burritos, while providing a juicier, more tender texture than ground beef. Grilled, shredded flank steak or skirt steak work nicely in burritos. Marinating the steak adds extra flavor. The char from grilling gives another layer of flavor. Due to the higher cost of steak, it is less common in burritos than ground beef. But for a special occasion burrito, steak takes it to the next level. Carefully cooked and sliced steak pieces have a mouthwatering texture and richness perfect for a burrito filling.
- Very rich, savory beef flavor
- Juicy, tender texture
- Char from grilling adds nice flavor
- Marinades can further enhance flavor
- More expensive than ground beef
- Requires more cooking time and skill
While individual meats all have their merits, combining two or more meats in a burrito can provide even more flavor complexity, texture, and overall enjoyment. Popular combinations include:
- Ground beef and chorizo: The familiar beef flavor paired with the spicy smokiness of chorizo is a stellar mix.
- Pulled pork and chicken: Shredded, juicy pork and chicken provide meaty satisfaction with less overall fat.
- Steak and chicken: This duo brings together the irresistible richness of steak and lighter healthfulness of chicken.
- Ground beef, bacon, and chorizo: A trio of sausage, bacon, and ground beef gives you all the meaty decadence in one burrito.
When combining meats, balance flavor intensities, fat content, and textures. Spice rubbed chicken or steak with rich juicy pork carnitas make an exciting flavor and texture combo. Try smaller amounts of more strongly flavored meats like chorizo or bacon with a milder meat like chicken or ground beef. Experiment to find your favorite meat team.
Seasoning is key when crafting gourmet burrito fillings. Here are go-to options for flavoring burrito meats:
- Taco seasoning – A melange of chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano gives classic taco flavor.
- Fajita seasoning – Similar to taco seasoning but often contains cilantro, jalapeno, red pepper flakes.
- Chili powder – For Southwestern flavor, dust meats liberally with ancho, chipotle, or other chile powder.
- Cumin – This earthy, aromatic spice is essential for Mexican cuisine. Rub or sprinkle on meats.
- Chimichurri – Argentine green sauce brightens grilled meats. Contains parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano, red wine vinegar.
- Jerk seasoning – For a Caribbean twist, coat meats in this spicy, tangy blend containing scotch bonnets, allspice, cloves, thyme.
- Harissa – North African chili garlic paste adds exotic heat and flavor to meats.
- Salsa – Use fresh pico de gallo, verde, or chipotle salsa to marinate meats for built-in flavor.
Experiment with moist and dry rubs, marinades, and finishing sauces to make your burrito fillings shine.
Certain cooking techniques bring out the best in various burrito meats.
- Ground beef: Saute over medium high heat till crumbled and browned. Drain excess fat.
- Chicken: Poach, braise, grill, or roast. Shred or chop.
- Pork: Braise or slow cook shoulder. Shred. Saute pork belly or chorizo.
- Steak: Grill or pan sear flank, skirt, or flat iron steak. Slice or shred.
Keep meats juicy by not overcooking. Let marinades penetrate before cooking. Create char and caramelization through grilling, broiling, or sautéing.
|Best Cooking Methods
|Roast, poach, grill
|Slow cook, braise, sauté
|Grill, pan sear, broil
Choosing Fillings to Match Meat
The accompaniments you choose will complement or clash with your burrito meats. Consider these filling guidelines:
- Ground beef – Works well with cheese, beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, guacamole, sour cream
- Chicken – Pairs nicely with black beans, brown rice, queso fresco, grilled veggies, avocado
- Pork – Great with pinto beans, cilantro-lime rice, pineapple salsa, queso, pickled red onions
- Steak – Matches nicely with refried beans, Mexican rice, Monterey Jack, caramelized onions, chimichurri
Choose fillings that balance the meat’s flavor intensity, spice level, and juiciness. Creamy, cooling ingredients help tame spicy meats like chorizo. Hearty meats pair with equally hearty beans and rice. Play around with fillings until you land on your ideal combinations.
Burrito pros recommend using 6 to 8 ounce tortillas for the ideal burrito size. This leaves room for fillings while still being manageable to pick up and eat by hand. With larger tortillas, overstuffing can lead to breaking, tearing, and fillings spilling out. For smaller tortillas around 5 inches, stick to about 4 ounces of total fillings.
For the meat portion, 2 to 3 ounces per burrito provides sufficient protein without overpowering the other fillings. Here are protein guidelines based on cooked weight:
- 2 ounces ground beef
- 2 ounces shredded chicken
- 2 ounces pork carnitas
- 3 ounces steak strips
- 1 ounce chorizo
Less meat means you can include more servings of veggies, beans, rice, etc. But too little meat leaves you wanting more. Find your perfect meat-to-fillings ratio for satisfaction in every bite.
When crafting the ultimate burritos, the meat choice and combinations make all the difference. Ground beef satisfy with familiar flavor and hearty texture. Chicken provides lighter nutrition with tons of versatility. Pork brings decadent, sweet-spicy flavor. Grilled steak gives an upscale protein punch. Mixing meats like chorizo-beef or chicken-steak makes for exciting flavor. Season boldly, cook properly, and complement with tasty fillings. With the right meats and fillings, you can create burritos that will have everyone going for seconds.