Best California Burrito

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I live on the east coast so I had never heard of a California burrito. There was a market/deli in my neighborhood that made wraps before wraps were even a thing. One of them was a California wrap that was a flour tortilla rolled around grilled chicken, romaine lettuce or other greens, ranch dressing, and more avocado slices than my palate could handle. I just assumed everything edible that was labeled “California” was avocado centric. 

I never really considered that California actually borders Mexico and much of Southern California cuisine is so much more than grilled chicken, kale, and avocado. A California burrito is a Cali-Mex invention that is a San Diego staple and flavor bomb combining both cuisines. This is a tortilla that is filled with carne asada (beef), melted cheese, salsa, avocado crema, and French fries. Yes, French fries! I have always said that if I had to choose my last meal, it would definitely include French fries, so this burrito was definitely on my bucket list.

I know this burrito sounds like it has some complicated ingredients. I won’t lie, it does. But I have some shortcuts that will make it easier to make and assemble a California burrito. For instance, carne asada is basically marinated and grilled skirt steak that isn’t too hard to prepare. I am not beneath buying a really good sliced roast beef from my local butcher shop that is already cooked. There is no shame in using frozen French fries. There are some really great brands available that I will heat until super crispy in my air fryer in just minutes. Avocado crema can be made with super creamy pre-made guacamole mixed with sour cream. 

I will walk you through the entire recipe from scratch and link to or suggest easy options in the Substitutions and Shortcuts section after the recipe. 

California Burrito

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Marinating Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 734kcal

Ingredients

Salsa

  • 1 can 14 ounces of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeds removed
  • ½ small onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Avocado Crema

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Carne Asada

  • 1 ½ pounds skirt or flank steak pounded to tenderize
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper

French Fries

  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Burritos

  • 8 to 10 large flour tortillas
  • 1 ¼ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 ¼ cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • All ingredients ready? Let's begin!

Salsa

  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the tomatoes, lime juice, jalapeño pepper, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt, oregano, and pepper.
  • Pulse until blended but still a little chunky.
  • Refrigerate until ready to assemble the burritos.

Avocado Crema

  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the avocado, sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, cumin, and garlic powder.
  • Pulse until smooth.
  • Refrigerate until ready to assemble the burritos.

Carne Asada

  • To a 1/2 gallon plastic bag, add the olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the steak to the bag and seal it. Massage the meat to coat completely. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for 4 to 8 hours.
  • Remove the steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Prepare your charcoal or gas grill. Or, preheat a grill pan to medium-high. Grill the steak 5 minutes per side, or until an internal thermometer reads 130°F.
  • Transfer the steak to a clean cutting board. Tent with foil and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes.
  • Slice the steak thinly against the grain.

French Fries

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
  • Slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch thick strips or fries. Add them to the bowl and toss to coat evenly.
  • Place the fries in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.
  • Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the fries over and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Burritos

  • Warm a skillet or flat top griddle over medium heat.
  • Place the tortillas on a flat work surface. Layer each tortilla with carne asada, followed by French fries, cheese, avocado crema, and salsa. Roll the burritos tightly.
  • Warm the burritos on the skillet or griddle just until the cheese melts, rotating once to brown both sides.
  • Serve while warm with lots of napkins.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 734kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 1813mg | Potassium: 1222mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1053IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 487mg | Iron: 6mg

Notes & Tips

  • You can marinate the beef the night before and make the salsa and crema a day ahead of time.
  • It is important to note again that this recipe doesn’t need to all be made from scratch unless you are planning to feed a crowd for a special occasion. See the notes below for ingredients you can use to make a quick version of a California burrito. 

Substitutions & Shortcuts

  • Salsa: You don’t have to make salsa from scratch. I really like the fresh tomato salsa that you can find in the produce section of your local market. 
  • Avocado Crema: Like salsa, most markets have creamy guacamole in the produce section. Just add some sour cream and a little bit of mayo to the guacamole and you are good to go for the crema.
  • Carne Asada: I happen to like really good deli roast beef. My local butcher shop has a slow-roasted top round that they will slice to any thickness I ask for. It is well-seasoned and medium rare. Sliced roast beef is fine for this burrito.
  • French Fries: I love really good homemade oven fries but I am not a snob when it comes to good frozen French fries that I can crisp up in the oven or my air fryer. There are high-quality, organic, non-GMO frozen fries that are really good for this recipe.
  • Cheese: I am a big fan of packaged shredded Mexican cheese blends. One of my favorites is Organic Valley. It is tangy and melts really well because the shreds are fine.

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