Taquitos means little taco in Spanish and that's exactly what they are -- tempting little treats not much different than rolled tacos. Both taquitos and rolled tacos have fillings encased within a tortilla and both are shaped like narrow cylinders. While the ingredients and cooking methods may vary for taquitos and rolled tacos, enjoy either with a side of salsa, sour cream and guacamole for dipping.
Taquitos enclose a filling of seasoned beef, chicken, beans or cheese in a corn tortilla. That same filling could be used in a rolled taco. However, since the rolled taco is larger, there's room for additional ingredients such as rice, chopped cooked onions and jalapenos. Rolled tacos may be made from either flour or corn tortillas.
It's in the Shape
Traditional tacos are circular tortillas folded in half and stuffed with meat and cheese. Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes or pico de gallo -- a mixture of chopped fresh cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes and onions -- is layered on top of the meat and cheese mixture. Rolled tacos and taquitos, however, aren't open so they can't be stuffed with additional garnishes. For both of these dishes, garnishes like pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream and guacamole are served on the side.
Taquitos are almost always fried, either in a deep-fryer or in a shallow layer of oil in a sauté pan. Rolled tacos may be fried or baked. The baking pan is sprayed with cooking oil and the tacos are baked until golden brown. Baked rolled tacos are less crunchy than fried rolled tacos. Frying in oil cooks the food more quickly than baking so the moisture inside the food doesn't have a chance to escape while the moisture in the outer layer of the food nearly instantly evaporates -- becoming crisp.
Flautas, Enchiladas, Burritos and Chimichangas
If you're confused by the subtle differences between a taquito and rolled taco, the confusion may increase when you consider flautas, enchiladas, burritos and chimichangas. Flautas are rolled tacos made with corn tortillas and deep fried. Enchiladas are made with either flour or corn tortillas rolled around a filling and then baked under a sauce. Since there's no worry about the filling spilling out in a fryer, there's usually more filling in an enchilada than a rolled taco or taquito. Burritos are flour tortillas wrapped around a hot filling. When the burrito is deep-fried it's called a chimichanga. The difference between a chimichanga and a rolled taco or taquito is that both ends of a chimichanga are folded over and closed, making a tidy package, while the rolled taco and taquito is open at each end.