Shawarma vs. Burrito: Differences & Which is Better?

Shawarma vs burrito
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In the world of savory street food, the name of the game is fast and convenient. And, of course, it has to be tasty. This is why both shawarma and burritos are such popular choices around the world. They are fast to prepare and neat and tidy to eat, which makes it the ideal street food! But from a distance, these two dishes may appear the same. So, are there any distinctions between shawarma and burrito, and which one is better?

Typically, shawarma is roasted meat served in a flatbread while burrito can be with or without meat. Burritos typically employ numerous ingredients while the meat in shawarma takes center stage. So, burritos are more versatile while shawarma is more geared toward meat lovers.

In this article, we will go over the origins, preparations as well as the different variations you can find of these two dishes. This article will help you to decide which one to choose next time at a street food stand.

What Is the Difference Between Shawarma and Burrito?

On the surface, one can easily mistake one for the other. After all, they are both served inside some form of wrap with a filling. But typically, these two dishes are made in distinct ways that harken back to the roots of their origins.


Shawarma is a dish of Levantine origin that gained popularity during the Ottoman empire (roughly modern-day Turkey). The technique of cooking the meat in a vertical stack by roasting it on a spit dates back to this period. This is how the meat for shawarma is cooked. 

In fact, the name “shawarma” is derived from a Turkish word for “turning”. This refers to the whole process of turning the meat slowly on the spit. Due to its origins, shawarma is one of the most prominent street food in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and many other countries in the Middle East.

The invention of burritos also involves some fascinating history. The use of a tortilla (the same flatbread used in serving tacos) to wrap various ingredients dates back thousands of years to the Maya civilization. So, the concept is very ancient. But the modern-day burrito has some unclear roots.

A popular folk-tale credits a man named Juan Mendez as the inventor of modern-day burritos. The story goes like this – Mendez traveled on a donkey and sold tacos. And to keep the food warm, he would wrap it in tortillas. So, people started calling it “food of the burrito” (Spanish for donkey), and soon the name was adopted for the actual dish.

Regardless of the precise origin, the burritos are heavily linked with Mexican culture and are often found in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.


As alluded to prior, the first step of making shawarma is to prepare the meat. Traditionally, the meat is cut into thin slices, put on top of each other in a vertical stack, and then cooked on a slowly turning spit or rotisserie. Various spices and often fat are added to the meat to make them tastier.

When it is time to serve, the chef cuts a piece of meat from the rotating stack with a long knife. Then the meat is accompanied by other ingredients such as vegetables, spices, and sauces. All of these elements are rolled inside a wrap, which is usually a flatbread such as a pita or laffa. One side is left open so that eating it becomes easier.

The ingredients inside a burrito can be far more diverse. First of all, it is not always made with a meat filling. Many popular recipes do not have any meat in them all. items such as beans, cooked rice, vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, etc. are far more common. Conversely, lamb, pork, and chicken meat are also popular choices for a burrito dish.

Of course, you can mix and match the ingredients to whatever combination you prefer. This is why the burritos you will find can be much more varied than shawarmas. 

Burritos are invariably wrapped in a tortilla and they can be served both hot and cold. Often but not always, the wrap completely covers the filling.


Both shawarma and burrito are some of the most popular choices for street food all over the world. Shawarma is more predominant in Asian and Middle Eastern nations, while burritos are more prevalent in Latin American countries.

In the US, burritos are more well-known thanks to their close connection with Mexico. However, shawarma has established itself as a very popular choice in the street food culture in America.

Shawarma Vs. Burrito: Which Is Better?

There really is no clear winner here. Both dishes can be constructed with the same core ingredients. If you are a particular fan of the kebab-style preparation of meat, then shawarma will be your go-to. But burritos are more versatile and offer more variations, which can be particularly relevant for vegans and vegetarians. 

To sum up, both of these dishes offer something different for the palate. So, if you are looking for a new taste give one of them a try. Whether it is the traditionally Arabic flavor in shawarma or the Latin flare of a burrito, your palate is sure to have a rich experience.