Are Flautas And Taquitos The Same Thing?

Have you ever ordered your favorite dish in a new-to-you restaurant and been surprised by what you received? Assuming your surprise is not due to poor preparation in the kitchen but instead a breakdown in communication over how the dish is defined, you may come away with a newfound favorite or a fresh level of frustration over how to order to get what you really want. Sometimes the difference comes down to regional influences in culture, cuisine, or ingredients. Other times it's due to innovative fusion cooking styles or other such creativity on the part of the chef. But there are also times when it's simply a matter of confusion of terms — either on the part of the proprietor or the customer. 

Whatever it comes down to, the most beneficial way to sidestep any future miscommunications is to look for characteristic distinctions between the dish you expected and what you received, taking note of traditional definitions and seeing if your expectations align. In situations like these, there are often common misconceptions at play — and when it comes to taquitos and flautas, the confusion is real.

Taquitos vs. flautas: What's the difference?

It's easy to see why these two crunchy, dipping-friendly Mexican-American dishes frequently get mistaken for one another. Both are rolled, deep-fried, crisp, and filled with shredded or ground meat. They're served with things like sour cream (Mexican crema), salsa, and guacamole and arranged atop or beneath a pile of shredded lettuce, garnished with tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and cheese. Both dishes satisfyingly maintain a balance between heavy, light, crispy, and juicy.

But there are real differences between the two, not the least of which is where they originate. MasterClass says that although some places in Mexico claim flautas as a signature dish, their true origins are unknown, while taquitos are rumored to be the invention of San Diego tortilla manufacturer Ralph Pesqueria Jr. (via Taste Atlas). Regardless of their beginnings, it all comes down to three common distinctions: Tortilla type, size, and shape.

Taste Atlas explains that traditionally, flautas (which means flute or flute-shaped) are made with flour tortillas, while taquitos (also known as rolled tacos or tacos dorado) are made with corn tortillas.

Fine Dining Lovers recommends looking at size, noting that flautas are usually longer and thinner, often using a "burrito-sized" tortilla. Taquitos tend to be shorter and sometimes flatter.

Lastly, and least commonly, is their shape. While both are rolled, more traditional preparations of flautas will appear more conical than cylindrical.