My first real job as a teenager was bagging groceries at the local grocery store. It was the first of many food-related jobs for which I’m truly thankful. Not only did I learn the proper way to place cans in a paper sack, I also encountered a number of ingredients and foods I’d never heard of. This was the late 80s in Los Angeles County; you’d think that we were really cosmopolitan back then, but we weren’t.
Hand in hand with discovering gourmet items like capers or chutney came a vast array of junk food my mom had never bought. Working late at night, I would see folks come through the line with frozen burritos. They were cheaper than a "run for the border," so I bought a few. Yuck!
It cured me of ever wanting to eat any burrito that wasn’t freshly made — until years later when I heard friends raving about the homemade frozen burritos they made themselves. I tried out the method and wow! What a flavor and texture difference! Not to mention I had discovered a convenience food that was easier than heading to the drive-thru of the local taco stand.
When I make up a batch of burritos during a freezer cooking session, I have to make a lot. These are some of the first things to go in my arsenal of homecooked, ready-made meals. My Chicken, Bean, and Cheese Burritos never last long because my family snatches them up almost instantly.
My husband or kids grab a few to microwave for a late-night snack. I pull a bag out of the freezer to reheat and crisp on the griddle for a healthier chimichanga dinner that comes together in a flash. I know we’ve got something cheaper and healthier than your average take-out burrito that’s on the table faster than I could find my car keys.
Tips for Great Frozen Burritos
If you haven’t tried making your own, well, now’s the time. Here are some tips for making great frozen burritos:
- Use fresh, room temperature burrito-size tortillas. Cold tortillas tend to crack when rolled. It’s not pretty and it leaves a hole in your burrito. Since you want the burrito to hold the filling in a tight package, soft tortillas are a must.
- Choose any fillings you love as long as they aren’t too wet. Again, you want a tight, compact package, so drippy, wet fillings aren’t going to go over well.
- Assemble burritos with room temperature ingredients. It’s important to me not to let the burritos get soggy. If they are soggy before they even enter the freezer, they aren’t going to improve in the deep freeze. By using room temperature ingredients, I can avoid any steamy, soggy messes. Plus, they chill and freeze quicker, reducing the risk of freezer burn.
- Roll a tight, neat package. The beauty of a well-made burrito is that all the filling stays inside. While the temperature and quality of your ingredients can affect this, so can the manner of rolling the burrito. Watch this short video demo if you’re not sure how to roll a tight, neat burrito.
- Wrap them well. I usually make dozens of burritos at a time. As soon as they are rolled, I stack them in zip-top freezer bags. It’s rare that I’ve had them stick together, and since we’re a big family, it doesn’t really matter. I reheat several in one sitting usually. An alternative means of wrapping is to wrap each one individually in foil or plastic wrap and then store the whole lot in a freezer bag. This method is particularly helpful if you’re going to pack a few burritos for work or school. It also gives you an extra layer of protection against burritos freezing together.
Great Fillings for Frozen Burritos
Chances are as long as the filling item is one you would normally see in a frozen dish, it should be fine. Lettuce and sour cream? Not so much. Serve those items on the side, along with fresh salsa. Favorite fillings of ours include:
- Refried or drained cooked beans
- Shredded cheese
- Enchilada sauce or chunky-style salsa
- Cooked chicken, turkey, pork, or beef
- Cooked rice
- Roasted chiles
Here are some of my favorite filling recipes:
Frozen burritos, commercially made, don’t have much going for them. But, if you make them yourself? You save yourself some time and money and avoid the dubious ingredients. Prepare fresh, wholesome ingredients, fill your burritos, and reap the rewards during the weeks to come.
Got a favorite burrito filling? Do tell.
(Image credits: Jessica Fisher)