When it comes to delicious food with vibrant flavors, bright colors, and lots of convenient handheld meal options, Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines are often some of the first options, at least here in the United States.
However, ordering some of the more similar dishes from those cuisines can sometimes be confusing, especially if you’re eating in a new restaurant. Knowing which dish you want to make at home is only more confusing, especially for meals that seem very similar, like Flautas and Taquitos.
While some people might think that these are the same dish, there are some important differences between the two. Want to know more? Let’s go.
What Are Flautas
Flautas are the much more distinctly Mexican option out of these two. There are restaurants in Mexico that specialize in this distinctive dish, while taquitos are much more often left off the menu entirely or included as an afterthought or an option designed for American tourists.
Flautas are named for their similar appearance to flutes and are typically long and thin. They may be conical in shape at times, which can help contain the filling so that you get all the flavor of the dish in each bite, instead of letting some of the filling fall out of the tortilla on your plate.
Critically, flautas are generally made with flour tortillas, which can be more flexible than corn tortillas and allow for more filling in a more tightly rolled dish.
Flautas contain flavorful fillings, usually consisting of ground meat that is heavily seasoned or otherwise flavored, occasionally mixed with vegetables, beans, or cheese. The rolls are then deep-fried to help them hold their shape and are often served covered in a salad garnish of lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, cheese, and other ingredients.
The perfect flauta is flavorful and rich, without feeling heavy. It should be nicely balanced by the lighter crisper flavors of the garnish.
Different Types of Flautas
Like Taquitos and burritos and several other Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, the basic formula for a flauta is pretty consistent no matter where you are or what type of flauta you want to make in the end. The biggest difference is in how you prepare the filling.
Vegetarian versions of flautas can be made by substituting beans instead of meat in the filling or using meat alternatives the way you would in other dishes. The trick is that a lot of the best flauta fillings rely on the rich umami of the filling, so you need to be strategic about your meat alternatives to create an effective mix.
Other styles depend both on the type of meat, pork, beef, or chicken, and how it’s prepared. So you can have options like carnitas flautas, ground beef flautas, and more.
How Do You Make Flautas?
There are three core steps before you garnish a flauta that are all critical. The first is preparing the filling, which should be rich, flavorful, and maybe a little bit acidic to help cut the fatty feeling of deep frying the meal.
Next, you need fresh tortillas for the best-tasting flautas, though pre-warmed tortillas are a close second if you don’t have time to prepare and cook your own.
Lastly, you need to wrap the flauta well so that it holds together during deep frying. A poorly wrapped flauta is likely to just fall apart, which can make for a great salad topping, but not really a traditional flauta.
Delicious Flautas Ingredients
Flautas come in a ton of different forms, but the core filling should be well-matched to the garnish.
Beef and pork flautas are common thanks to the robust flavors of the meat and how well they hold up to traditional slow-cooked preparations and the heavy seasoning that's common to flautas and a lot of other Mexican cuisines.
Consider experimenting with traditional combinations like pork carnitas, or come up with your own! Peppers, lime, and herby aromatics all make great additions to flautas. You can also experiment with different kinds of beans and cheese in your filling, from traditional Mexican cheeses to just about any hard cheese that sounds good!
For your garnish, lettuce and tomatoes are the basic garnish, but you can change the flavor significantly by trying different kinds of lettuce, like romaine or butter lettuce instead of iceberg.
Great Flautas Recipes You Should Try
Two Peas and Their Pod has a fantastic chicken flautas recipe that is flavorful and filling, but not too complicated for even novice cooks to make at home. Plus, baking and air frying directions give you healthier alternatives to the traditional deep-fried flauta.
Marley Spoon has another option that is a blend of traditional and Tex-Mex flavors, a flavorful sauce, and easy to customize just by changing up your pulled pork recipe!
What Are Taquitos?
A lot of people in the United States first think of the freezer aisle version of taquitos first when they hear about this Tex-Mex dish, or maybe the gas-station roller version.
The truth is that Taquitos can be a lot more than either of those versions, though the origins of this dish are still, for the most part, unknown. They are certainly a modern Tex-Mex invention, but they’ve become a codified and popular meal and snack option for millions.
The core of a taquito is a tightly rolled, often smallish, corn tortilla filled with a flavorful filling and then deep fried. Baked versions are also common, though sometimes less flavorful than the fried version.
However, while flautas are typically filled with ground and seasoned meats, taquitos are sometimes more versatile, with cheese and vegetable versions widely available for vegetarians.
The most common taquitos though, are smaller corn-tortilla versions of their flauta cousins, and every bit as flavorful.
Different Styles Of Taquitos
Like flautas it's hard to say that there are a ton of different styles of taquito since the filling really is the primary difference.
Similarly, taquitos can be served with a salad and sauce garnish like flautas often are, but they can also be served on their own or even held in your hand for a portable snack.
Taco beef, pulled pork, cheese and beans, and cheese and jalapeno taquitos are also popular version of this dish, but you could in theory make taquitos with almost any combination of finely-chopped ingredients that will fit in the tortilla.
How Do You Make Taquitos?
Like Flautas, Taquitos are typically made in three stages, creating the filling, wrapping the filling in the corn tortilla, and then deep frying them to add flavor and hold the tortilla in place.
The trick here is getting the right balance of flavor in the filling so that the filling isn’t eclipsed by the flavor and texture of the tortilla. Since corn tortillas are more flavorful than flour tortillas on average, it’s important to remember that you need strong flavors that complement each other, even more so than in flautas.
One of the tricks is actually reducing the number of ingredients in your filling instead of adding more. That way the flavors shine on their own, and aren’t overpowered by the corn.
Taquitos Ingredients and Toppings To Experiment With
Ground beef taco seasoned taquitos are likely the most common version, but dark meat poultry and pork are also good alternatives. Additionally, you’ll want aromatics like onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs or cumin to help tie the flavors together.
Taquitos often have more cheese added, and cotija cheese, Colby jack, and pepper jack cheese are all similarly popular. Just remember that cotija cheese should be paired with a thicker sauce than the others since it’s not a very melty cheese.
Top Taquitos Recipes You’re Sure To Love
This simple recipe from Lil Luna combines chicken and cream cheese for an excellent minimalist recipe that’s genuinely delicious, both as a meal and as a mid-day snack!
Or choose a Tastes Better From Scratch recipe for delicious beef taquitos that pull a bit more from traditional Mexican cuisine!
Wrapping Up: What are the key differences between Flautas Vs. Taquitos?
These two dishes are incredibly similar, and taquitos are likely an adaptation of flautas, but with their own flavors and strengths that make both meals delicious.
The core difference here is size and tortilla type, with taquitos typically made from smaller corn tortillas, and flautas featuring burrito-sized flour tortillas.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Are Taquitos Just Rolled Tacos?
In Mexico, yes, taquitos are often just rolled tacos. In the United States there is generally more of a distinction between them, with taquitos offering a cheesier filling.
Q2: What Are Big Taquitos Called?
The bigger versions of taquitos could be either oversized taquitos or flautas depending on which type of tortilla is used. Corn is a taquito, while flour tortillas mean that the dish is likely flautas.
Q3: Are Taquitos An American Thing?
Yes and no, taquitos don’t have a specific known origin that we can point to for sure, though they might have been invented in San Francisco. That said, they are likely more American or Tex-Mex than truly Mexican.
Q4: Are Taquitos Or Flautas Healthier?
Neither of these dishes is inherently healthier since both are deep-fried and have similar ingredients. If you're looking for a healthier version of either dish you should consider baking instead of frying them, and including more vegetables and less meat in your recipes.