Wet Burritos

Wet Burritos: Recipes, Origins, and Serving Tips

Fabulous wet burritos have roots in Michigan, specifically in Grand Rapids. They emerged in the 1980s as a variation of the traditional Mexican burrito. Local Mexican-American communities contributed to this evolution, blending their rich culinary heritage with American tastes. The main distinguishing feature of wet burritos is the smothering sauce, which adds depth and richness to the dish. Early versions used red enchilada sauce, but variations with green or mole sauce also became popular over time.

Regional Variations

Wet burritos vary significantly across different regions in the US. In the Midwest, you’ll often find them smothered in red or green enchilada sauce. The West Coast, particularly California, favors a variety of sauces, including salsa verde and mole. Each region also has its preferences for fillings. Midwest versions typically include ground beef, beans, and cheese. California versions often contain shredded pork, chicken, or carne asada, accompanied by fresh toppings like guacamole and pico de gallo. These regional differences highlight the adaptability and widespread appeal of wet burritos.

Key Ingredients of Fabulous Wet Burritos

The Essential Proteins

Proteins form the core of wet burritos, offering texture and flavor. Popular options include:

  1. Beef: Ground beef or shredded beef, seasoned with spices like cumin, paprika, and garlic, adds a savory richness.
  2. Chicken: Shredded chicken, often cooked with onions, garlic, and spices, provides a lighter yet flavorful choice.
  3. Pork: Options like carnitas or pulled pork, slow-cooked and seasoned, infuse the burrito with tender, juicy bites.
  4. Beans: Pinto or black beans offer a vegetarian protein alternative, creating a hearty and wholesome filling.

Salsa and Sauces

Sauces are crucial for the authentic wet burrito experience, transforming a simple dish into a flavorful delight. Key sauces include:

  1. Red Enchilada Sauce: Traditional choice, made from tomatoes, chilies, and spices, offering a rich, tangy flavor.
  2. Green Enchilada Sauce: Salsa verde, crafted from tomatillos, green chilies, and cilantro, provides a fresh and zesty taste.
  3. Mole Sauce: Complex sauce made from chocolate, chilies, and a mix of spices, delivering a deep, earthy flavor.
  4. Salsa Roja: Tomato-based salsa with chilies, onions, and garlic, adding a robust, spicy kick to the burrito.

These components come together to create the signature wet burrito, blending proteins with flavorful sauces for a memorable dining experience.

Cooking Techniques for the Perfect Wet Burrito

Preparing the Filling

Use high-quality proteins like beef, chicken, pork, or beans for the filling. Sear or simmer meats to ensure they retain moisture and absorb spices. Cook beef or chicken with onions, garlic, and peppers, adding spices like cumin, chili powder, and oregano to enhance flavor. For pork, slow-cook it until tender, then shred and mix with spices and sauce. Beans should be soaked and simmered until tender, then mashed with spices and seasonings.

Wrapping and Sauce Application

Warm tortillas before wrapping to make them pliable and prevent tearing. Place filling in the center of the tortilla, fold in the sides, then roll tightly. Arrange burritos in an oven-safe dish, seam-side down. Pour a generous amount of chosen sauce over the top, ensuring every part of the burrito is covered. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 20 minutes or until heated through and the sauce is bubbling. Top with cheese during the last 5 minutes of baking for added flavor.

Serving and Presentation Tips

Ideal Side Dishes

Pairing wet burritos with complementary side dishes elevates the dining experience. Consider serving Mexican rice, refried beans, or corn on the cob. Fresh salads, like a simple green salad with avocado or a tangy coleslaw, bring balance and freshness. Tortilla chips with guacamole or salsa also make great additions. For beverages, a classic margarita or a refreshing aqua fresca enhances the meal.

Presentation Techniques

A well-presented wet burrito enhances visual appeal. Place burritos on a large white plate to highlight the sauce’s vibrant color. Garnish with fresh cilantro, diced onions, or sliced jalapeños. Adding a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of cheese on top creates a pleasing contrast. Serve with neatly arranged side dishes. Use colorful napkins or plates for added visual interest and to make the meal memorable.


Wet burritos offer a delightful fusion of flavors that cater to diverse tastes. Whether you’re a fan of red enchilada sauce or prefer the rich complexity of mole, there’s a wet burrito variation for everyone. By focusing on high-quality ingredients and mastering the cooking techniques, you can create a dish that’s both delicious and visually appealing.

Pair your wet burritos with complementary side dishes like Mexican rice and refried beans to elevate your meal. Don’t forget the garnishes—fresh cilantro, jalapeños, and a dollop of sour cream can make all the difference. With these tips, you’re well on your way to serving up fabulous wet burritos that will impress any crowd.

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