Keep this Easy Burrito Bar in mind for the next time you need to feed a big crew!
There is something for everyone here -- I used chicken for this batch but there is plenty for the vegetarian crew as well.
Once you spread out all the fixings you can let your peeps roll their own burrito -- they'll create their own unique masterpiece and that's how burritos should be 🙂
How To Make A Burrito Bar
Here's what the counter looked like before starting this batch:
Does that look like a lot?!
That's enough for 20 hungry people, but feel free to cut the recipe in half for smaller groups.
Here's what we're making:
That list of dishes will give your group plenty of burrito combinations -- including vegetarian versions that rely on the beans and rice.
I served chicken with this batch and brined it, but you can consider that step optional. Brining will give you loads of flavor and it takes the pressure off of additional seasoning.
To brine, add one cup of Kosher or sea salt to a large mixing bowl along with a gallon of cold water. Stir to dissolve the salt and then add the chicken, letting it brine for 30-60 minutes. I used 5 lbs. of chicken for this batch, or 10 boneless chicken breasts.
As the chicken brines, it's best to get the tomatoes and tomatillos roasting in the oven.
You'll need about 6 tomatoes and 10-12 tomatillos for the awesome Tomato Tomatillo Salsa.
I usually give them a half hour in the oven (400F) but you are welcome to roast them with your preferred method.
Once you've reached this point it's best to recruit a few helpers and give them each a dish to work on. This will make the rest go much quicker!
I'll put full instructions for these dishes in the recipe box below, but I'll go over the key points here.
Give someone the Cilantro Lime Rice first as that one will take about a half hour to come together.
Once the rice is cooked you're just adding 15-20 sprigs of freshly chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes. This will give you a light, vibrant batch of rice that is perfect for burritos.
Next, find someone who is a good chopper and let them loose on the Pico de Gallo.
Fresh Pico is awesome in burritos and it's super easy to make. You'll need:
1 small onion
15-20 sprigs cilantro
juice of 2 limes
3/4 teaspoon salt
Give it all a good chop and take a final taste for seasoning, adding more salt or lime if you think it needs it.
You'll probably recognize the Refried Beans used for these burritos. It's the same recipe I gush over on a monthly basis 🙂
Saute some onion and garlic, combine them with beans and chipotles, then give it all a whirl in a blender. You'll end up with the most flavorful batch of beans ever.
I think the chipotles are awesome when used in these beans, but in a pinch you can always substitute jalapenos for the chipotles. More info on working with chipotles in adobo.
For the Roasted Tomato Tomatillo Salsa you'll grab the roasted tomatoes and tomatillos from the oven and blend them with:
1 small onion
4 garlic cloves
2-4 jalapenos (depending how hot you want it)
15-20 sprigs cilantro
squeeze of lime
It's a great all-purpose Salsa and I make it on a regular basis.
The Easy Guacamole is also a great dish to hand out to a kitchen helper.
juice of 3-4 limes
2 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 small onion, finely diced and smooshed
It's a simple Guac that's designed to work well with others, but you are welcome to add any other ingredients to it.
Then it's just a matter of serving up all of this next to burrito-sized flour tortillas and plenty of shredded cheese.
Let your friends and family roll their own masterpiece. I'm always amazed how different everyone's burritos are from each other 🙂
Here's my default burrito, right before loading it up with plenty of cheese.
For smaller groups I try to crisp up the rolled burritos in a dry skillet over medium heat.
This is optional and can be harder to do for larger groups, but it's worth keeping it in mind as a final step.
You'll have plenty of Salsa so feel free to put some on the table so people can add more as their burritos start to disappear 🙂
Okay, I'll put the full instructions for the Easy Burrito Bar down below. Let me know if you have any questions about it!
Easy Burrito Bar
- 5 lbs. chicken (I used 10 boneless chicken breasts)
- 3 cups uncooked white rice
- 2 bunches cilantro
- 3 cans black beans
- 4 small onions
- 10 limes
- 1 garlic head
- 1 can chipotles in adobo (optional)
- 3 lbs. roma tomatoes (approx. 12-14 tomatoes)
- 1.5 lbs. tomatillos (approx. 10-12 tomatillos)
- 5 jalapenos
- 10 avocados
- black pepper
- olive oil
- 20-30 flour tortillas (burrito-sized)
- 2 lbs. cheese
- I brined and sauteed the chicken for this batch, but keep in mind you are welcome to cook the chicken however you see fit. To brine the chicken, add 1 cup Kosher or sea salt to a gallon of water (4 quarts) in a large bowl or pot. Dissolve the salt and add the chicken. Cover and let brine in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. If it won't fit in the fridge I usually just give it a shorter brine on the countertop for 30 minutes or so.
- For the Salsa you'll roast all of the tomatillos and 6 of the tomatoes. De-husk the tomatillos and give 'em a good rinse. Rinse the tomatoes as well, then de-stem both the tomatoes and tomatillos. Place 10-12 tomatillos and 6 tomatoes on a baking tray and roast in the oven at 400F for 30 minutes or so.
- Once you've reached this point I usually find it easiest to build a few cutting board stations in the kitchen and then recruit some helpers! Give them each a dish that they can see through from beginning to end. The steps below will detail how to build each dish from start to finish. You can print multiple copies of the instructions so each of your helpers has a reference.
- For the Cilantro Lime Rice start by adding 3 cups rice and a glug of olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the rice, stirring regularly, until it is starting to turn light brown. Add 4 cups water (or stock) to the pan along with 1.5 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat to a simmer and let it cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Once cooked you can remove it from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes, covered. Chop up 15-20 sprigs cilantro and add it to the rice along with the juice of 2 limes. Combine well. Note: be sure to give the cilantro a good rinse. You can use the upper stems of the cilantro, but I usually twist off and discard the bottom portion of the stems.
- For the Refried Beans, start by peeling 4 garlic cloves and roughly chopping 1 small onion. Cook the onion and garlic in a glug of oil over medium heat in a big skillet (you can leave the garlic cloves whole). Once the onion is starting to brown add 3 cans of beans (drained and rinsed), 3-5 chipotles in adobo, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1.5 teaspoons salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and 1.5 cups water (or stock). You can use less chipotles for a milder version. Let simmer for a few minutes until heated through and then add everything to a blender, combining well. Take a final taste for seasoning and heat. Add more salt if necessary and if you want more heat you can add more chipotles. I usually add the beans to a bowl, cover with foil, and let them sit on an unused part of the stove to help keep them warm. Note: you can always thicken up the blended beans by simmering them over low heat, or thin them out by adding splashes of water.
- For the Guacamole, finely chop 1/2 onion. Use the back of a fork to smoosh the onion until it turns translucent. Add the onion to a bowl along with the flesh of 10 avocados, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the juice of 3-4 limes. Mush and mix well. Taste for seasoning, adding dashes of salt and lime until you like it.
- For the Pico de Gallo, you'll need 6 tomatoes, 1 small onion, 1-2 jalapenos, 15-20 sprigs cilantro, the juice of 2 limes, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Give the tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro a good rinse, de-stemming the tomatoes and removing the bottom portion of the cilantro stems. Finely chop the tomatoes, onion, jalapenos and cilantro, adding it to a mixing bowl along with the juice of 2 limes and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Taste for salt. Use a single jalapeno for a mild version, or 2 jalapenos for a more fiery version.
- For the Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa, add the 6 roasted tomatoes and 10-12 roasted tomatillos to a blender along with 1 small onion (peeled), 4 peeled garlic cloves, 2-3 rinsed and de-stemmed jalapenos (use less for a milder version), 15-20 sprigs rinsed cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Combine well (I usually leave it a bit chunky.) Take a taste for seasoning -- to add more heat simply add more jalapeno.
- Once the chicken has brined you can drain it and pat dry, then chop it into bite-sized pieces. I usually eyeball the additional seasoning so feel free to improvise. For this batch I added the following ingredients to the chopped chicken in a large mixing bowl: the adobo sauce from the can of chipotles, a few minced chipotles, freshly cracked black pepper, olive oil. Combine well. Keep in mind that the brine gives your chicken TONS of flavor and the additional seasoning is just a bonus.
- I usually cook the chicken right at the end, but remember that you can cook the chicken however you see fit. I cooked this batch on the stovetop in two large skillets. If you want to do that, start by chopping up an onion. Add it to the pan(s) along with a glug of oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot you can add the chopped chicken pieces. Form a single layer with the chicken and leave it until the pieces are nearly cooked through, then flip and cook the second side until done. Once cooked, set the chicken aside in a serving bowl and cover with foil.
- Line up all your fixings in serving bowls: Cilantro Lime Rice, Refried Beans, Pico de Gallo, Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa, Guacamole, cheese (I shredded 2 lbs. of Jack), the cooked chicken, and the burrito-sized flour tortillas.
- Let your friends and family build their own personal burrito masterpiece! For smaller groups I like to crisp up the rolled burritos in a dry skillet over medium heat until the tortilla is forming light brown spots. This can be harder for larger groups but it's something to keep in mind for smaller groups and for leftovers 🙂
- You'll have plenty of Salsa so it's worth putting some in a bowl on the table if people want to add more as their burritos start to disappear.
- Store leftovers in the fridge and you'll be able to whip up burritos on the fly for the next few days. Enjoy!!
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