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Best Homemade California Burrito Recipe with Fries

Make an authentic California burrito recipe with juicy carne asada, crispy French fries, homemade pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream.

stack of open california burritos

California burritos are mouthwatering and irresistible. You can’t go wrong with carne asada, guacamole, crema, pico de gallo, fries, and cheese wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. Every bite is a real treat.

They are like fast food paradise mixed with incredible Mexican flavors from your favorite local taco shops. For the best result, everything must be fresh, including the well-seasoned Mexican fries. And marinating the beef is critical.

No one really knows who the creator of the first California burrito recipe was. Although most agree it originated in southern California and is a San Diego classic. All I know is that you have got to try it.

So put it at the top of your make ASAP list.

Ingredients

ingredients for California burrito recipe

Carne Asada

Carne asada is tender, grilled, flavorful beef. Marinating the meat before grilling it is critical. So is not overcooking it.

The best way to avoid a dry burrito is to lightly grill the meat, retaining the flavorful juices.

Use skirt or flank steak. Either cut of steak is an excellent choice in your favorite burritos. However, the steaks can be tough unless marinated and lightly grilled.

My favorite carne asada recipe starts with a flavorful marinade. The sauce for carne asada burritos combines lime juice, sugar, soy sauce, cumin, chili powder, oregano, cilantro, and a few other additions to infuse the steak with flavor.

French Fries

Skip the rice and beans and instead add crispy French fries. You can make your own fries from scratch if you have a fryer, air fryer, or want to DIY a fryer (large stockpot with oil) on the stove.

However, baking frozen fries in the oven and then seasoning them is just as good. And it is quicker. I recommend Ore-Ida’s extra crispy fast-food fries. They are perfect for this burrito.

The fries must be fresh to retain a nice crisp bite in the steaming hot burrito. So pull them out of the oven right when you are ready to build the burrito.

It can be tricky to get the fry time to match when the carne asada has finished cooking. But a little planning is all you need.

Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar is the best in a Cali burrito. However, any melty Mexican cheese is a great alternative, like Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, or Oaxaca cheese.

Guacamole and Sour Cream

bowls of guacamole, cheddar cheese, and pico de gallo

A couple of the ingredients that keep the burrito moist are creamy guacamole or sour cream (or Mexican crema). You can also combine them into an avocado crema.

Pico de Gallo

A simple combination of fresh Roma tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos brings flavor to the burrito. Fresh pico takes only a little prep, and it is worth making from scratch.

Large Flour Tortillas

A California burrito is known for its large size, like a mission burrito. Grab an extra-large tortilla for this recipe, the largest tortilla you can find in the grocery store.

Enormous is the California burritos standard. However, you can make a smaller burrito. Just use a smaller tortilla, and do not cram as much inside.

Do not use corn tortillas. They are not large enough or strong enough to hold all the ingredients.

How to Make a California Burrito

Although this is an easy California burrito recipe, the prep time is a little bit longer than usual. Marinating takes time.

Marinate the Steak

  • Zest a lime and then juice it. Mince the garlic.
  • Whisk the oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cilantro together in a small bowl to prepare the marinade.
marinating carne asada in a glass casserole dish
  • Pour the marinade over the steak in a large container or transfer the skirt steak to a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. You may find it easier to marinade in a sealed bag.
marinating carne asada in a zip-top bag
  • Move the bag’s contents around to cover the meat and refrigerate. Marinate the steak for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best.
  • Remove the steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to cook it to bring it to room temperature. This is important. Grilling room temperature steak cooks the steak evenly and leaves you with moist, tender meat.

Make the Guacamole

  • Halve, pit, and peel the avocado. Scoop the flesh into a bowl.
  • Add the lime juice and salt. Mash the avocado with a fork until it reaches the desired consistency. Then stir in the remaining guacamole ingredients.
  • Optional: Add ½ cup of sour cream or crema to the guacamole and stir well.
  • Cover the guacamole with plastic and refrigerate it until it is time to assemble the burritos.

Make the Pico de Gallo

  • Wash and chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion.
  • Use food service gloves (if you have them) to work with the jalapeno. Wash and dry the pepper.

    Cut off the stem and then cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds if you want a milder salsa. Slice the pepper into matchstick slices and then dice.
  • Stir the pico de gallo ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until it is time to assemble the burritos.

Bake the French Fries

French fries on a baking sheet
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Spread the frozen fries in a single layer on a sheet pan.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip the fries over and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Mix the salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper together.
  • Season the fries with the seasoning mixture. Toss to coat. Then set the fries aside.

Grill the Steak

carne asada in a grill pan
  • Remove the steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling it.
  • Prepare a grill for high heat cooking. Alternatively, you can use a grill pan or a large cast-iron skillet on the stove.
  • Remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry. Generously season both sides of the steak with salt and black pepper.
  • Sear the steak for 3-4 minutes. Then flip it over and cook another 3 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 130°F (55°C). Do not overcook!
  • Remove the steak from the grill, loosely tent with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.
cutting thin slices of carne asada
  • Slice the steak into thin strips. Slice against the grain, not with the grain. Don’t be fooled by the grill marks. Look for the grain of the meat before you slice.

Assemble the Burrito

  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • Lightly brush both sides of each large flour tortilla with olive oil and warm in the skillet.
melting cheese as first layer of California burrito
  • Sprinkle the tortilla with ¼ cup of cheese. Continue to heat until the cheese melts. Repeat with the other tortillas.
carne asada layer on California burrito
  • Assemble the sliced steak on top of the cheese, followed by the hot French fries, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream (or crema).
guacamole layer on California burrito
  • Tuck in the opposite sides of the warm tortilla and tightly roll the burrito. Repeat with each burrito.
folding in the side when rolling a California burrito
  • Return the burritos to the skillet to brown over medium-high heat for 2 minutes per side.
side view of California burritos on a platter
  • Cut the burritos in half, if desired, and serve. One mean California burrito coming right up.
closeup of inside of a California burrito

Pro Tips

Follow these tips to avoid feeling overwhelmed with all the parts of this California-style burrito.

  • Make the guac and pico early. Mix up the guacamole and pico right after you start marinating the steak. Then you don’t have to worry about them when juggling the fries and carne asada.
  • Serve buffet style. This is an excellent burrito to serve buffet-style. Let the family build their own burritos as soon as the meat is cut and the fries are done.

    Everything should stay warm because everyone is making their own burrito at the same time.
  • Keep the burritos in a warm oven. If you want to compose the burritos on your own, use the oven.

    Preheat a baking sheet or casserole dish in the oven at 200°F (90°C). After you build each burrito, place it in the heated pan in the oven. Then all the burritos are warm right before serving. This is especially useful when you have 6 or more burritos to make.

Substitutions

  • Make a California chicken burrito. Swap out the beef and replace it with grilled chicken.
  • Instead of French fries, use cubed potatoes or tater tots. Often cubed potatoes are used in an Arizona burrito, which is almost identical to a California burrito. Tater tots are a different but tasty twist.
  • Swap the pico de gallo with your favorite Mexican salsa or hot sauce.
  • Use a sliced California Haas avocado instead of guacamole. Sometimes it’s easier to just slice an avocado.

Variations

Want a twist on the authentic California burrito? Then try one of these variations.

  • Make California burrito bowls. Top a layer of French fries or tater tots with carne asada, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo.
  • Try a California burrito salad. Add the burrito ingredients to a bed of greens and toss with chipotle ranch dressing.
  • Make carne asada fries. After baking the fries, add carne asada, cheese, and jalapenos. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts.

FAQ

What is typically in a California burrito?

A California burrito typically has carne asada, crisp French fries, cheese, pico de gallo, and guacamole. It is wrapped in a large tortilla.

How many calories are in a California burrito?

There are approximately 700 calories in a typical Cali burrito. Nutrition information can vary depending on the size of the burrito and ingredients added or skipped.

Does a California burrito have cheese?

A California burrito has cheese. For best results, melt the cheese on the tortilla as you warm it before adding the other ingredients.

Cheddar cheese is the most popular cheese for this burrito. However, Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, or any melty cheese can work.

What’s the difference between a California burrito and an Arizona burrito?

The difference between a California and Arizona burrito is the fries. California burritos have crisp French fries in them. However, the Arizona burrito typically has cubed potatoes. All the other ingredients are usually identical.

I find that burrito shops are loose with their definitions of a California and Arizona burrito. One taco shop (in Arizona) served up identical California and Arizona burritos. Even though they were listed separately on the menu. And they used cubed potatoes, not French fries.

You may discover that having potatoes in a burrito instead of rice and beans means a taco joint can call their burrito anything they want.

How to Store Leftovers

reheated California burrito

If you have leftover burritos, wrap them in foil and refrigerate for up to three days.

There are many ways to reheat a burrito. The easiest way to reheat a single burrito is in the microwave.

Wrap the leftover burrito in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the burrito size.

If you have many burritos to reheat, consider warming them in the oven.

Can You Freeze These Burritos?

California burritos freeze well, although the crispiness of the fries is not preserved. To freeze, wrap the burritos in foil, place them in a freezer-safe zip-top bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.

To thaw, place the burrito in the fridge overnight and reheat normally.

Can You Make California Burritos Ahead?

The best burrito is fresh. You can make a Cali burrito ahead of time, but the French fries will lose their crispness.

In addition, fresh carne asada is the best-tasting carne asada. Reheating never entirely preserves the moist, juicy taste.

What to Serve with California Burritos

There are a wide variety of side dishes that pair perfectly with this California burrito recipe. Here are a few burrito side dish favorites.

Hungry for More Burritos?

Try a few of these favorite burrito recipes.

  • Copycat Taco Bell Bean Burrito. When you need a quick, no-fuss burrito, turn to this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell bean burrito recipe. Fill, roll, and dip in taco sauce for an easy weeknight dinner.

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Yield: 6 large burritos

Homemade California Burrito with French Fries

stack of open california burritos

Make an authentic California burrito recipe with juicy carne asada, crispy French fries, homemade pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream.

Marinating Time 4 hours
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

Carne Asada

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 (1½-pound) skirt steak
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Black pepper

Guacamole

  • 2 medium avocados, ripe
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion, yellow or white
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper

Pico de Gallo

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ½ white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped

French Fries

  • ½ a bag of frozen Ore-Ida’s extra crispy fast-food fries
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper

Burritos

  • 6 extra-large flour tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup of sour cream

Instructions

Marinate the Steak

  1. ZEST a lime and then juice it. Mince the garlic.
  2. WHISK the oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cilantro together in a small bowl to prepare the marinade.
  3. POUR the marinade over the steak in a large container or transfer the skirt steak to a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. You may find it easier to marinade in a sealed bag.
  4. MOVE the bag’s contents around to cover the meat and refrigerate. Marinate the steak for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best. Take the steak out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to cook it to bring it to room temperature. This is important. Grilling room temperature steak cooks the steak evenly and leaves you with moist, tender meat.

Make the Guacamole

  1. HALVE, pit, and peel the avocado. Scoop the flesh into a bowl.
  2. ADD the lime juice and salt. Mash the avocado with a fork until it reaches the desired consistency. Then stir in the remaining guacamole ingredients.
  3. OPTIONAL: Add ½ cup of sour cream or crema to the guacamole and stir well.
  4. COVER the guacamole with plastic and refrigerate it until it is time to assemble the burritos.

Make the Pico de Gallo

  1. WASH and chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion.
  2. USE hand service gloves (if you have them) to work with the jalapeno. Wash and dry the pepper. Cut off the stem and then cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds if you want a milder salsa. Slice the pepper into matchstick slices and then dice.
  3. STIR the pico de gallo ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until it is time to assemble the burritos.

Bake the French Fries

  1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. SPREAD the frozen fries in a single layer on a sheet pan.
  3. BAKE in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip the fries over and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. STIR the salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper together.
  5. SEASON the fries with the seasoning mixture. Toss to coat. Then set the fries aside.

Grill the Steak

  1. REMOVE the steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling it.
  2. PREPARE a grill for high heat cooking. Alternatively, you can use a grill pan or a large cast-iron skillet on the stove.
  3. REMOVE the steak from the marinade and pat it dry. Generously season both sides of the steak with salt and black pepper.
  4. SEAR the steak for 3-4 minutes. Then flip it over and cook another 3 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 130°F (55°C). Do not overcook!
  5. REMOVE the steak from the grill, loosely tent with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.
  6. SLICE the steak into thin strips. Slice against the grain, not with the grain. Don’t be fooled by the grill marks. Look for the grain of the meat before you slice.

Assemble the Burrito

  1. HEAT a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. LIGHTLY BRUSH both sides of each large flour tortilla with olive oil and warm in the skillet.
  3. SPRINKLE the tortilla with ¼ cup of cheese. Continue to heat until the cheese melts. Repeat with the other tortillas.
  4. ASSEMBLE the sliced steak on top of the cheese, followed by the hot French fries, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream (or crema).
  5. TUCK in the opposite sides of the warm tortilla and tightly roll the burrito. Repeat with each burrito.
  6. RETURN the burritos to the skillet to brown over medium-high heat for 2 minutes per side.
  7. CUT the burritos in half, if desired, and serve.

Notes

  • Remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno for the pico de gallo if you wish to scale back the heat.
  • Leftovers from this California burrito recipe can be wrapped in foil and refrigerated or wrapped in foil, placed in a resealable bag, and frozen for up to 3 months.

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Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1 burrito

Amount Per Serving Calories 708Total Fat 53gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 36gCholesterol 66mgSodium 1632mgCarbohydrates 42gFiber 8gSugar 5gProtein 20g

Nutrition information is an estimate only and may vary based on individual ingredients added and cooking methods used.


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