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Enchilada vs. Tamale: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 27, 2024
An enchilada is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with sauce, whereas a tamale is a masa (dough) wrapped in corn husk and steamed.
Enchilada vs. Tamale

Key Differences

Enchiladas consist of corn tortillas rolled around a filling, typically including meats, cheese, beans, or vegetables, and then covered with a chili sauce. Tamales, on the other hand, are made from masa, a dough made from nixtamalized corn, filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, or chilies, and then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf before being steamed.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024
The preparation of enchiladas involves filling and rolling tortillas, then baking them with sauce and often cheese. Tamales require spreading masa on a husk, adding the filling, wrapping it up, and steaming until the masa is firm and cooked through.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024
Enchiladas are a traditional Mexican dish with numerous regional variations, with different fillings and sauces. Tamales, also deeply rooted in Mexican and Central American cuisine, vary widely in their fillings and styles, with each region having its unique take.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024
Enchiladas are typically served hot from the oven, often with a side of rice and beans. Tamales are steamed and can be eaten hot or cold, often served as a festive dish during celebrations like Christmas and the Day of the Dead.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024
Enchiladas, with their combination of tortillas, filling, and sauce, can be rich in carbohydrates and calories, especially when cheese is added. Tamales, depending on the filling, can be lighter, but the masa base also makes them carbohydrate-rich.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Base Ingredient

Corn tortilla.
Masa (corn dough).
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Cooking Method

Baked with sauce.
Steamed in a husk.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Typical Fillings

Meats, cheese, beans, vegetables.
Meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Serving Style

Hot from the oven, often with sides.
Eaten hot or cold, often in festivities.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Cultural Significance

Popular in Mexican cuisine with regional varieties.
A festive dish in Mexican and Central American culture.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024
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Enchilada and Tamale Definitions

Enchilada

Covered with a chili pepper sauce.
The enchilada was smothered in a spicy red sauce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

Can be filled with meats, cheeses, or vegetables.
Her favorite tamales are filled with spicy chicken.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Enchilada

A Mexican dish of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling.
She made chicken enchiladas for dinner.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

A staple in Mexican and Central American cuisines.
Tamales are a popular dish in both Mexico and Guatemala.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Enchilada

Served as a main course.
Enchiladas were the centerpiece of our Mexican-themed meal.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024
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Tamale

A traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa.
For the holiday, they made pork tamales.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Enchilada

Often baked with cheese.
The cheese melted perfectly on top of the enchiladas.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

Steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf.
Each tamale was carefully wrapped in a corn husk before steaming.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Enchilada

Can include various fillings like meat or beans.
He prefers his enchiladas filled with black beans and corn.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

Eaten as a festive or celebratory food.
Tamales are a special treat during Christmas in our family.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Enchilada

A tortilla rolled and stuffed usually with a mixture containing meat or cheese and served with a sauce spiced with chili.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

A Mexican dish made of chopped meat and crushed peppers, highly seasoned, wrapped in cornhusks spread with masa, and steamed.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Enchilada

A Mexican dish made by wrapping a filling in a tortilla, then baking in a sauce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

Mexican dish of cornmeal dough shell filled with various ingredients (e.g. chopped beef, pork, sweet filling) then steamed in corn husks.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Enchilada

Tortilla with meat filling baked in chili-seasoned tomato sauce
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

A Mexican dish made of crushed corn (cornmeal) mixed with minced meat, seasoned with red pepper, dipped in oil, and steamed.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Tamale

Corn and cornmeal dough stuffed with a meat mixture then wrapped in corn husks and steamed
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 14, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is an enchilada always spicy?

It can vary; the spiciness depends on the sauce used.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

What is an enchilada?

A Mexican dish of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered in sauce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Can enchiladas be vegetarian?

Yes, there are many vegetarian variations.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

What are common fillings for enchiladas?

Meats, cheese, beans, and vegetables.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

What is a tamale?

A dish made of masa, filled with various ingredients, and steamed in a husk.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Can tamales be eaten cold?

Yes, they can be eaten hot or cold.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Are tamales considered a festive food?

Yes, especially during celebrations like Christmas.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Can enchiladas be gluten-free?

Yes, if made with corn tortillas, they are naturally gluten-free.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Are enchiladas served with sides?

Typically, they are served with rice and beans.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Are enchiladas a part of traditional Mexican cuisine?

Yes, they are a staple in Mexican cuisine.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

What's inside a typical tamale?

Common fillings include meats, cheeses, and vegetables.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Do all tamales have the same type of masa?

The basic masa recipe is similar, but some regional variations exist.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Are enchiladas or tamales healthier?

*It depends on the fillings and preparation; both can be made healthier.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Can tamales be frozen for later use?

Yes, tamales freeze well and can be reheated.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Is it difficult to make tamales?

Making tamales can be time-consuming but is a rewarding process.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Do enchiladas originate from a specific region in Mexico?

Enchiladas have variations across different regions in Mexico.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

What is masa in tamales?

Masa is a dough made from nixtamalized corn.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

How are enchiladas different from burritos?

Enchiladas are covered in sauce and baked, whereas burritos are not.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

What type of sauce is used on enchiladas?

Typically, red or green chili sauce is used.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

How long do tamales take to steam?

It usually takes about 1-2 hours to steam tamales.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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