Are you looking for the Taco Bell Chili Cheese Burrito or the Chilito? This version of the Chili Cheese Burrito recipe is a combination of beef, refried beans, and melted cheese wrapped up in a warm tortilla.
My formative years were in the ’90s. It’s my favorite music, television shows when I meet my wife and was able to buy my own food. Well, the only food I can remember, besides the Paul Bunyan Plus breakfast platter from Ram’s Horn, was the chilito from Taco Bell. I probably had one or two every day. I’m not kidding. I loved it that much. When I was in high school, I went to a vocational training center for the first part of my day. On the way back to the high school, whoever would be driving, would always stop at the Bell for lunch. And I bought a chilito or two every time.
At some point, Taco Bell changed the name of the chilito to the Chili Cheese Burrito. Apparently ‘chilito‘ means something completely different in Spanish than what Taco Bell was going for. I wonder who the marketing whiz that made that blunder was? But opposite to what the Spanish version means, this was a big burrito. It was steamed burrito packed with gooey chili and melted cheese. I thought that it was amazing and as long as Taco Bell was serving it, I was going to keep buying it.
I remember taking a road trip once with an old buddy of mine. We were bored out of our minds. So we drove from Detroit to Sandusky, Ohio where the amusement park, Cedar Point is. The thing is, once we arrived in Sandusky, we went to Taco Bell and ordered our Chili Cheese Burritos. After eating I asked, ‘Now what?’ So we gassed up and made the two-hour drive back home. That’s not all we did in Sandusky. We did walk through the mall and bought a gift card for another friend who was having a birthday. The joke was on him when he wanted to spend that gift card because he would have to drive the two hours to the mall to shop. I hope that twenty-bucks was worth it!
Maybe in the late-90’s or so, Taco Bell discontinued the burrito – at least where I live – supposedly there’s an urban legend that some areas of the country still offer it. There’s another rumor that the Chili Cheese Burrito is on Taco Bell’s ‘secret’ menu. It must be a really good secret because none of the restaurants around me make it.
There are still times when I crave the cheesy burrito. Maybe it’s when Candlebox, Soundgarden or Nirvana is playing on the radio? I’ve searched online for copycat recipes. There are a few, but I have only made two that come close to the flavor of the real thing. The one I like the most is from CigarObsession.com. They offer a 14-minute video on the recipe. It’s cumbersome to watch and get the ingredients and proper steps. They also use multiple pots and pans to finish the dish. (If you want to watch the video and see how they prepare the recipe, here is the link.) I use the same ingredients that they do, but I simplified it so it can be made in one large pot. Plus, I wrote down the recipe!
Besides tasting amazing, the recipe makes a lot. In fact, there is so much that I used some of it for an equally amazing chip dip by stirring in some salsa. If you loved the Chili Cheese Burrito from Taco Bell and have been looking for a good recipe to match it, crank up the Pearl Jam, put on reruns of Friends, and enjoy this recipe!
Chili Cheese Burrito inspired by the Taco Bell Chilito
It's gooey cheesy goodness wrapped up in a soft burrito. Taco Bell once served the chili cheese burrito 'The Chilito' near me. This recipe recreates those amazing flavors.
- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 4 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 can refried beans
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1-1/2 lbs mild cheddar cheese
- 10- inch flour tortillas
In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown the ground beef along with the diced onions. Once browned, drain the fat. Add the cayenne pepper, salt, and the chili powder to the pot. Pour in the water and make sure that the seasoning is well mixed in and dissolved. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water, then add to the pot.
Add the refried beans and tomato paste to the pot. Keep stirring the pot until the refried beans and tomato paste have become smooth and everything is well combined.
Slowly add the shredded cheese to the pot. Keep folding the cheese in until it has all melted. Reduce the heat down to medium-low. Let the pot simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so nothing sticks and burns on the bottom.
Run each of the tortillas under faucet to wet. Place the tortillas on a microwave safe plate and microwave them for 1 minute.
To serve, spoon about 3-4 tbsp on the chili cheese sauce into the center of the warmed flour tortilla. Pull one end up to the center to cover the sauce. Tuck the ends of the tortilla in and roll to close the burrito. Enjoy!
How do you make the Taco Bell-inspired Chili Cheese Burrito?
It’s pretty simple to make this burrito.
STEP 1: Brown the ground beef with the diced onions. Once browned, drain the fat and add cayenne pepper, salt, and chili powder to the pot. Pour in water and make sure that the seasoning is well mixed in and dissolved.
STEP 2: Add the refried beans and tomato paste and stir until the content are thoroughly combined and the texture is smooth.
STEP 3: Add the shredded cheese and keep folding the cheese into the beef mixture until it has melted.
STEP 4: Simmer the chili cheese sauce for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
To put the burrito together, first run each of the tortillas under the sink faucet to lightly wet. I warmed the tortillas by placing them on a microwave-safe plate, coving with a dampened paper towel, and microwaving for 1 minute.
STEP 1: Spoon about 3-4 tbsp of the chili cheese sauce into the center of the warmed flour tortilla.
STEP 2: Pull one end up to the center to cover the sauce.
STEP 3: Tuck the ends of the tortilla in.
STEP 4: Pull the opposite end down to make a finished burrito. Repeat these steps until all the burritos are made.
My family and I love this recipe. Based on how popular this recipe has been, it makes me wonder why Taco Bell doesn’t bring it back.
Let me know what you think of the recipe and the ‘chilito’ in the comments below. If you make it, please share it on your favorite social media site and tag me on Facebook @RedBeansAndEricBlog, or on Instagram or Twitter @RedBeansAndEric.
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Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.