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Enchilada vs. Empanada: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on February 3, 2024
Enchiladas are Mexican tortilla rolls filled with meat and covered in chili sauce, while empanadas are pastry pockets filled with meat or other ingredients, common in Latin American and Spanish cuisine.

Key Differences

Enchiladas are a traditional Mexican dish consisting of corn tortillas rolled around a filling, typically meat, and smothered in a chili sauce. In contrast, empanadas are a type of baked or fried pastry, originating from Spain and popular in many Latin American countries, typically filled with meat, cheese, or other ingredients.
The preparation of enchiladas involves rolling the filling in tortillas, which are then covered in sauce and often baked. Empanadas, on the other hand, are made by enclosing the filling in dough, forming a pocket, which is then baked or fried.
Enchiladas are usually served hot, often with additional toppings like cheese, sour cream, or guacamole. Empanadas can be served either hot or cold and are often eaten as a snack or appetizer.
The sauces and seasonings used in enchiladas are typically based on Mexican flavors, including chili peppers and tomatoes. Empanadas have a more diverse range of flavors, influenced by various culinary traditions, from spicy to sweet fillings.
Enchiladas are primarily a main course, often accompanied by rice and beans, whereas empanadas are versatile, serving as a main dish, snack, or appetizer, and can be adapted to various meal courses.

Comparison Chart


Spanish/Latin American

Base Ingredient

Corn tortilla
Dough (wheat flour)

Cooking Method

Baked with sauce
Baked or fried

Typical Filling

Meat, cheese, beans
Meat, cheese, vegetables

Serving Temperature

Hot or cold

Enchilada and Empanada Definitions


Often served as a main course, it includes ingredients like meats, cheese, and beans.
The beef enchiladas were served with a side of rice.


A pastry pocket filled with various ingredients, common in Spanish and Latin American cuisines.
I enjoyed a beef empanada as a quick snack.


A Mexican dish of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with chili sauce.
I ordered chicken enchiladas topped with green sauce for dinner.


Fillings range from meats to cheeses, vegetables, or even fruits.
The chicken and cheese empanadas were delicious.


Traditionally baked and smothered in a red or green sauce.
She made homemade enchiladas with red chili sauce.


Can be either baked or fried, with a flaky texture.
She served baked vegetable empanadas at the party.


Can be spicy or mild depending on the sauce used.
He chose the spicy enchiladas, which were quite flavorful.


Often eaten as a snack or appetizer, sometimes served with dipping sauces.
We had empanadas with salsa as an appetizer.


Sometimes garnished with toppings like sour cream, cheese, or avocados.
The enchiladas were garnished with a dollop of sour cream.


The dough is typically made from wheat flour and sometimes cornmeal.
He made cornmeal empanadas filled with spiced pork.


A tortilla rolled and stuffed usually with a mixture containing meat or cheese and served with a sauce spiced with chili.


A Spanish or Latin American turnover with a flaky crust and a savory or sweet filling.


A Mexican dish made by wrapping a filling in a tortilla, then baking in a sauce.


Any of a variety of stuffed pastries found in Spanish, Filipino, and Latin American cuisine.


Tortilla with meat filling baked in chili-seasoned tomato sauce


What are common fillings for enchiladas?

Meats, cheese, and beans are common fillings for enchiladas.

Are enchiladas always spicy?

Not necessarily, the spiciness depends on the type of chili sauce used.

Are enchiladas served as a main dish?

Yes, enchiladas are often a main course.

What is an enchilada?

A Mexican dish consisting of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered in chili sauce.

What is an empanada?

A pastry pocket filled with various ingredients, common in Spanish and Latin American cuisines.

Can empanadas be sweet?

Yes, empanadas can have sweet fillings like fruit or sweetened cheese.

Is cheese a common ingredient in enchiladas?

Yes, cheese is often used in enchiladas.

What are common fillings for empanadas?

Meats, cheese, vegetables, and sometimes fruits.

Can empanadas be a main dish?

Yes, but they are more commonly served as snacks or appetizers.

Are empanadas part of a specific cuisine?

They are common in various cuisines, notably Spanish and Latin American.

What is the origin of empanadas?

Empanadas have Spanish origins but are popular in many Latin American countries.

Can vegetarian options be found for enchiladas?

Yes, vegetarian enchiladas with beans or vegetables are common.

Do empanadas have a sauce inside?

Sometimes, but they are often served with dipping sauces on the side.

Are there vegetarian empanadas?

Yes, empanadas can be filled with cheese, vegetables, or even fruit.

What type of dough is used for empanadas?

Typically, wheat flour dough is used, but cornmeal can also be used.

How are enchiladas cooked?

Enchiladas are typically baked in an oven.

How are empanadas cooked?

Empanadas can be either baked or fried.

What type of sauce is used in enchiladas?

Typically, red or green chili sauce is used.

What is the origin of enchiladas?

Enchiladas originated in Mexico.

Are enchiladas gluten-free?

They can be if made with corn tortillas, but it depends on other ingredients.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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