When hand-held is required, burritos do the trick. Toasted on the outside with a spicy, savory filling, these crispy beef burritos make the perfect tailgate or football party dish. And even better, you can make them ahead!
It doesn't have to be football season to eat a beef burrito. Does it? Nah. It just has to be burrito season. Crispy Beef Burrito season preferably.
Which is January-December— if "burrito-eating season" isn't a thing, it darn well should be.
Is there anything better than a toasted tortilla stuffed chockful of spicy beef, cilantro lime rice and two kinds of cheese? Ok, you probably could think of a few things like diamonds or your team winning the Super Bowl. But if someone walked up to you with a hot, foil-wrapped beef burrito, tell me—could you walk away?
What to put in a crispy beef burrito
Well, certainly a whole lot of great ingredients. But— I'm all about providing choices and giving you a BIG burrito canvas with which you can customize to your liking and that of your pals. The pictured burrito canvas is a gigantic tortilla as big as the size of your head. You pick the size.
A smaller tortilla makes it harder to wrap, especially if you like your burritos stuffed to the gills. However, it would be a great choice if you are looking for appetizers for a big party. Anyway— back to the filling.
I only used beef, rice, and cheese in my burritos because I was preparing them for a tailgate serving a bunch of people with different preferences. Here's a list of great ideas for burrito fillings:
- spicy ground beef - you could certainly change up the protein here and use ground turkey, chicken or a plant-based ground meat alternative like Beyond Meat. Entirely up to you.
- cilantro-lime rice - so necessary for the burst of lime and hit of cilantro
- shredded cheese - sharp cheddar and Monterey jack make everything all melty and cheese-pull-y.
- beans -while I don't have these in my recipe, I love black beans and I especially think a jar of my sister and my favorite black bean dip would propel this recipe from amazing to whatever is beyond amazing. (In all fairness, this was my sister's idea—she's an awesome cook!)
- roasted veggies - roast a pan of your favorite vegetables like red onions and colorful peppers
- sauteed corn - sauté up some frozen roasted corn in a little butter for added flavor and texture
Make a flavorful filling
Instead of using a premixed packet of spices where how long it's been on the grocery shelf is a mystery, make your own blend! It might take three extra minutes to measure out the spices, but your meat will taste that much better and make you the hit of your gathering or dinner table! I mix:
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- sugar (just a tich!)
Of course, tomato paste, freshly chopped onion and garlic all make an appearance as do a big dose of minced jalapenos because...well— heat! A burrito needs some fire or is it really a burrito?
You'll start with warming olive oil in a pre-heated pan and sauteeing diced onions, adding some chopped garlic right at the end. Then add your meat and saute it all together. You'll drain the excess water or fat right before adding your spice mix and a little bit of water. Don't overdo the water as you don't want wet sloppy joe consistency. There's a fine line.
Right at the end, add your chopped jalapenos and give them a super quick saute - you just don't want them to go all mushy on you. The crunch from the jalapenos is the absolute best bite. Trust me. That...and one more secret ingredient.
The secret to a crispy burrito
It's all about one word.
Yup, butter. The outside of your burrito wants to be all toasty, warm and slightly crunchy because you and your gang will love it even more. And butter makes that all happen.
You're going to brush some softened butter on the outside of the tortilla. When I'm making a lot of them, I go through and do this step all at once and lay them on the baking sheet and then go down the line and fill them.
How to fold a burrito
So how do all those great ingredients make it into the burrito without falling out the sides? It's all about proportion and wrapping. The proportion of tortilla to filling is about 2:1 meaning there's about twice as much tortilla as filling so that you get all those goodies inside without the burrito's sides splitting open.
- Butter one side of the tortilla with butter and flip over the buttered side down on a baking sheet.
- Place a measured amount of meat filling in a vertical line down the middle of the tortilla. Continue with your rice, cheese, and extra jalapenos, if adding (as shown in the top left pic)
- Brush the left edge of the tortilla with a little more butter. This will be your outside edge that keeps the burrito closed (again, top left).
- Fold the top edge of the tortilla into the middle, covering about ⅛-1/4 of the filling (top right).
- Repeat #3 for the bottom edge.
- Turn the burrito 90 degrees so that the buttered edge is on the top (furthest away from you). Holding both the right and left sides, start at the bottom and roll the burrito away from you over top of the filling towards the buttered edge until you have a closed packet. This is usually two rolls worth (last pic).
- Place the burrito seam side down on a buttered baking sheet.
No beefing - you can totally make burritos ahead of time before your big event! Here's how you do it:
- Rip or cut as many pieces of parchment paper AND aluminum foil as burritos you plan to make. You need one piece of parchment and one piece of foil per burrito.
- Fill and fold burritos as outlined above making sure to have the outsides buttered.
- Wrap each burrito first in the parchment paper and then the aluminum foil. FYI- there is freezer paper that would work great as well and save you some time. I do the double wrap technique to eliminate the risk of freezer burn. (The parchment paper also makes it easy to remove the frozen burritos).
- Load up a freezer-safe Ziploc bag with as many burritos as it can hold. Seal.
- Freeze burritos for up to 3 months.
- To cook- preheat oven to 425º and cook for 20 minutes until crisp and browned.
For a crowd: Have a burrito party with a big topping bar. Serve with bowls of sliced limes, a variety of salsas, and a big bowl of fresh homemade guacamole.
For a few: Make a bunch of burritos at one time and freeze per the directions above. Remove and bake up as needed.
Crispy Beef Burritos
- 1 ⅓ lb ground beef, I use 85% lean
- 4 tablespoon medium chile powder
- 3 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 6 tablespoon water
- 1½ cup grated cheese, I use a combo of medium/sharp cheddar with Monterrey Jack
- 15 burrito sized tortillas, prob like 10-12"
- Heat olive oil in a pan and add chopped onion. Saute for 5 minutes until golden brown.1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ cup chopped onion
- Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.2 cloves garlic
- Using a slotted spoon, remove onion and garlic from the pan to a small plate and set aside.
- Over medium heat, add ground beef to pan spreading out evenly. Cook, tossing lightly until browned completely, about 8 minutes.1 ⅓ lb ground beef
- Return onion and garlic to the pan along with tomato paste, spices, seasonings, and sugar. Stir over low heat until combined and tomato paste is incorporated about 1 minute.4 tablespoon medium chile powder, 3 tablespoon ground cumin, 1½ teaspoon sugar, 2 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt
- Add water a tablespoon at a time.6 tablespoon water
- Simmer for about 5 minutes until the meat absorbs the water.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Cilantro Lime Rice
- Add 2 cups of water to a 4-quart saucepan along with the rice, 1 tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of salt.1 cup basmati rice
- Bring to a low boil. Once the water and rice are boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest it can go. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Try not to peek.
- After 20 minutes is up, let the rice sit for 5 minutes. Take the lid off and fluff with a fork.
- Add butter, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.5 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 lime, ½ cup chopped cilantro, salt and pepper
- Let the rice cool completely.
Assemble the Burritos
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Butter one side of the tortilla with butter and flip over the buttered side down on a baking sheet.15 burrito sized tortillas
- Place a measured amount of the meat filling in a vertical line down the middle of the tortilla. Continue with your rice, cheese, and extra jalapenos, if adding.1½ cup grated cheese
- Fold the top edge of the tortilla into the middle, covering about ⅛-1/4 of the filling.
- Repeat #4 for the bottom edge.
- Brush the left edge of the tortilla with a little more butter. This will be your outside edge that keeps the burrito closed.
- Turn the burrito 90 degrees so that the buttered edge is on the top (furthest away from you). Holding both the right and left sides, start at the bottom and roll the burrito away from you over top of the filling towards the buttered edge until you have a closed packet. This is usually two rolls worth.
- Place the burrito seam side down on a buttered baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the burritos are toasted and golden brown.
About Lori Murphy
Lori has over 30 years in the food industry as a marketing strategist, culinary instructor and chef for three kids with discerning palates. As the chief content creator at Josie + Nina, Lori is dedicated to helping home cooks create food memories through fresh ingredients and Italian flavors.