Walking Guide

Build a Better Burrito

Are you and your family craving that spicy, south-of-the-border cuisine? Well, skip the local burrito joint. Those "burritos as big as your head" can contain more than 1,000 calories—even more depending on how many fixings you add. Instead, round up the muchachos and throw a build-your-own burrito fiesta! These quick and easy Mexican delights take just minutes to prepare and are sure to please the pickiest of eaters.

The basic building blocks of burritos are tortillas and beans, which provide a healthy amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. By applying the following burrito building tips, you can trim the excess calories, fat, and sodium, but keep the flavor. With these healthy and tasty burritos, your family will be singing your praises and shouting "Ole!"

Cut the Calories and Fat

  • Replace ground beef with ground round or ground turkey.
  • Use fat free refried beans or canned beans of your choice (such as pinto, black, navy, or great northern).
  • Avoid beans canned with lard.
  • Use reduced fat cheeses or cheese blends.
  • Select flavorful cheeses, such as sharp cheddar. Since it has a stronger taste than mild cheddar, you can use less and still have a delicious taste.
  • Enjoy a small dollop of guacamole or sour cream.
  • If you don’t want to swap your ground beef for turkey, brown and drain the meat. Then place the beef in a colander and rinse well with hot water. This method reduces both fat and calories.

Season Without Salt

  • Use fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes labeled "no salt added."
  • Try a taco or burrito seasoning, labeled 30% less sodium.
  • Use corn tortillas, which have less sodium, instead of flour tortillas.
  • Select reduced sodium cheeses or use less cheese.
  • Add flavor with cilantro or avocados.

Increase Fiber

  • Add extra beans for flavor, protein, and fiber.
  • Make your own salsa with fresh tomatoes, beans, corn, avocados, and onions.
  • Instead of tortillas, enjoy 100% whole-wheat pitas.
  • Enjoy a dollop of guacamole. Avocados provide fiber and healthy, monounsaturated fat.

Round out the Meal

  • Add lettuce and tomatoes to your creation—the colors are appetizing, plus they add flavor without all the extra calories.
  • For a side dish, serve red beans and rice or Spanish rice.
  • Make your own tomato or vegetable salsas, using fresh ingredients and adding spices such as chipotle chile pepper.
  • End your meal with a sweet guava, papaya, or mango for dessert.
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Member Comments

I love Mexican cuisine, but being diabetic had to be cautious, this will allow be to have it again very limited. Report
Will give a try to some of these tips. Report
thanks Report
Good article. Report
Some of these ingredients sounds like something I would eat. Report
interesting Report
ELRIDDICK
Thanks for sharing Report
It may be a healthier burrito but it won't taste like one by far. Sounds grim. Ground turkey is like eating sawdust - no flavor or texture. Report
I have started making "Burrito Bowls". I cook a large batch of brown rice seasoned with salsa in my pressure cooker, then portion it out in 1 cup servings and freeze. Today's contains left over rotisserie chicken breast, black beans, corn, chopped mini peppers, chopped grape tomatoes, and chopped iceberg lettuce. A Lime vinaigrette, for zest, perfect meal. You can make the rice portion smaller and increase the beans. Report
ETHELMERZ
Just buy smaller tortillas for at home. Ground beef drained well is fine, rinsing removes flavor and is a waste of meat money. If a person is going to be so anal about calories, better to choose a different meal, until you have a splurge, then do it right. Report
The place we like to go has a fajita burrito. It is probably too big, but it is packed, and I mean PACKED with veggies. Carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers,onions. It is to die for! Report
This article forgot the biggest change! Use smaller tortillas, this is by far the most limiting factor to how much you can stuff in it! Report
FOXGLOVE999
I'm looking for a balanced meal, so I get the tortilla and skip the beans, corn and rice. How much carbs do I need. I like shredded chicken, I'm not a ground meat person. And as always, it's about portion control, only eat half the burrito. Report
Like the dish but with chips. Report
skip the wrap and opt for a bowl. Report
Walking Guide

About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.
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