California Burrito

california burrito

When it comes to burritos, there’s no denying that the California burrito holds a special place in the hearts of many. Known for its hearty and satisfying ingredients, this burrito is a staple in California’s culinary scene. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying one, you’re in for a treat.

What Makes This So Great?

The California burrito stands out because it’s packed with a combination of bold and comforting ingredients that create a satisfying meal. It’s not just a burrito; it’s an experience. The star of the show is the carne asada, which brings a robust and savory taste. When combined with crispy French fries, creamy guacamole, spicy salsa, melted cheese, and a hint of sour cream, it creates a flavor explosion that’s hard to beat.

Another reason this burrito is so beloved is its versatility. Whether you’re enjoying it as a quick lunch, a hearty dinner, or a late-night snack, it always hits the spot. Plus, it’s easy to customize with your favorite toppings and adjustments to suit your taste preferences or dietary needs.

What Kitchen Items Do You Need To Make This?

To make a California burrito at home, you’ll need a few essential kitchen items:


  1. Medium Bowl: For mixing the marinade ingredients.
  2. Ziploc Bag or Large Bowl: To marinate the steak.
  3. Grill: A grill is ideal for cooking the carne asada to perfection.
  4. Cast Iron Skillet: For warming up the tortillas.
  5. Cutting Board and Knife: For chopping and slicing the ingredients.
  6. Tongs: For handling the steak on the grill.
  7. Measuring Cups and Spoons: To measure out your ingredients accurately.
  8. Foil: Optional, but useful for wrapping the burritos.

What Ingredients Are Needed For This Recipe?

Here’s a detailed list of the ingredients you’ll need to make a California burrito:

For the Carne Asada

  • 1½ lbs flank steak: Make sure the membrane is removed for a tender result.
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice: Adds a touch of sweetness and acidity.
  • ½ cup soy sauce: Provides a rich umami taste.
  • Juice of 1 lime: For a fresh, zesty kick.
  • ¼ cup olive oil: Helps in marinating and grilling the steak.
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro: Adds a fresh, herbaceous note.
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced: For a robust, aromatic base.
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped: Adds a bit of heat.
  • 1 tsp cumin: Brings a warm, earthy spice.
  • 1 tsp chili powder: Adds depth and a hint of spiciness.
  • 1 tsp black pepper: For a touch of sharpness.

Everything Else

  • Homemade French Fries or frozen French fries: The crispy element that sets this burrito apart.
  • 6 burrito-size flour tortillas: Large enough to hold all the delicious fillings.
  • 2 cups guacamole: Creamy and rich, essential for a California burrito.
  • 1 cup salsa: Adds a fresh and spicy kick.
  • 2 – 3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese: Melty and slightly spicy.
  • Sour cream: For a creamy finish.

How To Make It

For the Carne Asada

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a medium bowl, combine the freshly squeezed orange juice, soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, chopped jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. Mix well.
  2. Marinate the Steak: Place the flank steak in a Ziploc bag or large bowl and pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag or cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  3. Grill the Steak: Remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Grill the steak for about 5 minutes on each side to achieve a medium-rare cook.
  4. Rest and Slice: Once cooked, remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, making the meat more tender. Slice the steak against the grain, then chop it into small, bite-sized pieces.

To Assemble the Burrito

  1. Warm the Tortillas: In a large cast iron skillet, heat the tortillas one at a time over medium-high heat. Flip every 30 seconds until thoroughly warmed through. Set aside and cover to keep them warm.
  2. Add the Fillings: Take a large spoonful of guacamole and spread it evenly just below the center of the tortilla. Add a generous portion of chopped carne asada, then top with a handful of French fries. Sprinkle with shredded pepper jack cheese, add a spoonful of salsa, and a dollop of sour cream.
  3. Roll the Burrito: Fold up the bottom of the tortilla to cover the filling, then fold in the edges. Roll it up tightly, and wrap it in foil if desired.
  4. Serve: Cut the burrito in half and enjoy it hot.

What Is The History Behind This Recipe?

The California burrito has its roots in San Diego, a city known for its vibrant Mexican-American food culture. It’s believed to have originated in the 1980s or early 1990s, emerging as a local favorite among surfers and college students looking for a hearty, satisfying meal that was easy to eat on the go. The unique addition of French fries to the burrito is what sets it apart from other burrito varieties and gives it that signature California twist.

San Diego’s proximity to Mexico means that its culinary traditions are deeply influenced by Mexican flavors and techniques, and the California burrito is a perfect example of this fusion. The use of carne asada, a staple in Mexican cuisine, combined with the American love for French fries, results in a burrito that’s both familiar and unique.

What Can I Switch Up To Make This Different If I Have Dietary Needs (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)?

If you have specific dietary needs, you can still enjoy a delicious California burrito with a few modifications:


  • Protein: Substitute the carne asada with grilled vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and zucchini, or use a plant-based meat alternative such as tofu or tempeh. You can also use black beans or refried beans for added protein.
  • Cheese: Use a vegan cheese alternative or skip the cheese altogether.
  • Sour Cream: Opt for a dairy-free sour cream or a cashew-based cream sauce.


  • Tortillas: Use gluten-free tortillas instead of regular flour tortillas.
  • French Fries: Ensure that the French fries are gluten-free. Some store-bought fries may contain gluten, so check the labels carefully.

Healthier Options

  • French Fries: Use baked sweet potato fries instead of regular French fries for a healthier twist.
  • Cheese: Opt for a lower-fat cheese or reduce the amount used.
  • Sour Cream: Use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream to add a bit of tanginess while reducing the fat content.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in a California burrito?

A California burrito typically includes carne asada (grilled steak), French fries, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream, all wrapped in a large flour tortilla. The combination of these ingredients creates a hearty and satisfying meal that’s perfect for any time of day.

What is the difference between a California burrito and a carne asada burrito?

The main difference between a California burrito and a traditional carne asada burrito is the inclusion of French fries. While a carne asada burrito focuses on the steak, beans, rice, and traditional toppings, the California burrito adds a layer of crispy French fries, giving it a unique texture and taste.

Why is it called a California Burrito?

The California burrito gets its name from its place of origin, California, specifically San Diego. The burrito reflects the state’s vibrant culinary scene and its fusion of Mexican and American flavors. The addition of French fries to the burrito is a nod to California’s love for innovative and delicious food combinations.

How Should I Store This?

If you have leftover California burritos or want to prepare them ahead of time, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Wrap each burrito tightly in foil or plastic wrap to keep them fresh. When you’re ready to eat, you can reheat the burritos in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes or until heated through. Alternatively, you can use a microwave, but the oven will help maintain the tortilla’s texture better.

For longer storage, you can freeze the burritos for up to 3 months. Wrap each burrito in foil and then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. To reheat, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then follow the same reheating instructions as above.

Making a California burrito at home is a fun and rewarding experience. With its combination of hearty ingredients and bold flavors, it’s sure to become a favorite in your household. Enjoy experimenting with different variations and making this iconic dish your own!

california burrito

California Burrito

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
The California Burrito is a San Diego classic and for good reason! Instead of rice and beans, these delicious burritos are stuffed with crispy fries, carne asada, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 day 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 day 25 minutes
Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6 burritos
Calories 396 kcal


For the Carne Asada

  • lbs flank steak membrane removed
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cilantro chopped
  • 4 garlic cloved minced
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Everything else

  • 1 Homemade French Fries or frozen French fries
  • 6 burrito size flour tortillas
  • 2 cups guacamole
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 – 3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • sour cream

Recipe Instructions

For the Carne Asada

  • In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except for the steak) and mix together. In a Ziploc bag or large bowl, place steak inside and dump in marinade. Marinate overnight or at least 4 hours.
  • Remove steak from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Preheat grill to medium high heat.
  • Remove steaks from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Add steaks to the grill and grill each side for about 5 minutes to get a medium rare cook.
  • Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Next, slice against the grain and then again into small, bite-sized pieces.

To Assemble

  • In a large cast iron skillet, heat up tortillas (one at a time) over medium high heat. Flip every 30 seconds until thoroughly warmed through. Set aside and cover while you warm the rest.
  • Take a couple large spoonfuls of guacamole and spread evenly just below the center of the tortilla. Next, add chopped carne asada topped with a handful of fries. Top with desired amount of cheese, salsa, and sour cream.
  • Fold up the bottom to cover the filling then fold the edges in. Roll up tightly, and wrap in foil if desired. Cut in half and enjoy hot.


Calories: 396kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 29gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 1437mgPotassium: 970mgFiber: 7gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 505IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 3mg
Keyword California Burrito
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