Mexican breakfast dishes stand out so far above traditional breakfasts of bacon and eggs. Some of the traditional meals like migas and chilaquiles have so much unique flavor that you can enjoy them at just about any time of day.
They are both unique in their own ways and yet also very similar. Migas and chilaquiles often have a reputation for being the same food, but this isn’t actually true.
These breakfast foods have a lot of similarities, but in the end, they are also very different. It takes more than similar ingredients to make food the same, right?
So what is the difference between migas and chilaquiles? The biggest difference between migas and chilaquiles is really in the way they are prepared. While migas is more of an egg scramble with fried tortilla strips, chilaquiles consists of fried tortilla strips simmered together in a sauce and topped with an array of other ingredients.
In this guide, we will break it down for you and let you know just exactly what the difference between migas and chilaquiles really is.
When we finish, you will be able to easily distinguish these two unique dishes and have a full understanding of them in comparison as well.
Keep reading to learn the difference between migas and chilaquiles and more!
The Difference Between Migas and Chilaquiles
It can certainly sometimes be challenging to discern the differences between two dishes. This is particularly true of dishes that you are not necessarily familiar with in detail but also of dishes that are very similar in nature.
It’s certainly true that migas and chilaquiles contain almost all of the same ingredients. However, that’s just about where the similarities between these two dishes end.
Those ingredients are used in very unique and different ways between these two dishes, which sets them apart considerably.
It’s our goal to share with you just what the differences are so you can obtain a better understanding and be able to quickly pinpoint just what is what.
Migas is a popular dish in Mexican, Tex-Mex, Spanish, and Portuguese cuisines.
It’s a simple dish that was originally prepared to feed a lot of people and be tasty and filling.
Originally, Spaniards made use of leftover bread to create the dish, but for the most part, this dish now contains tortillas or tortilla strips rather than bread in most places.
While this may not sound like a huge change, bread and tortillas are actually quite different and can change the entire profile of a dish.
While there are authentic migas, coming from Spain and Portugal, there are also Mexican and Tex-Mex versions of the recipe that have a twist to them.
The base of the traditional dish is the fried tortilla strips and scrambled eggs. From there, other ingredients are added to bulk it up and give it new flavors.
The Text-Mex version adds even more ingredients, which are mostly for flavor and condiment purposes more than anything else.
Mexican migas is what most people are familiar with when the term is used. Remember that it is essentially the same as authentic migas, except that bread used to be the base rather than tortilla strips.
In most of our comparison here, we are going to use Mexican and Tex-Mex migas, since these are the most common ways that migas is prepared now.
We just wanted to make you aware that classically, this was a Spanish dish with a slightly different origin.
Ingredients in Migas
Let’s talk a little bit about the ingredients of migas. In migas, the base is a mix of scrambled eggs and fried corn tortilla or perhaps corn tortilla chips or strips. If a full tortilla is used, it is often cut down into strips in order to prepare the dish.
One thing we want to point out is that this tortilla base is usually crushed up so that it simply scrambles together with the remaining ingredients in the dish when it is prepared.
This is one of the primary differences we are going to find as we continue through the details of these dishes.
Migas tend to be softer in texture when the dish is complete, compared to chilaquiles. In some cases, the tortilla strips are actually served on the side rather than scrambled into the dish, so this can make a big difference as well.
Here is a list of the most common ingredients found in a migas dish. Some of these are from the traditional dish, while some are optionally added for a Tex-Mex style dish.
Here are the ingredients usually found in migas:
- Scrambled eggs
- Fried tortillas or tortilla chips
- Fresh chili peppers
- Green peppers
- Shredded cotija cheese
- Avocado (optional)
This can of course be adjusted and adapted to your tastes. You can really add whatever you want to the mix, like hot sauce, but these are the basics.
The traditional dish did not include cheese or avocado and sometimes used salsa rather than just tomatoes. For a twist that will add some sweetness to your migas, you can even try using specialty salsas like mango salsa.
Another factor that could vary is seasoning. In this dish, the vegetables and peppers are the primary flavors, but you might choose to season it to your liking. It’s completely up to you.
How Migas are Prepared
Now that we know the ingredients, let’s talk about how this dish is prepared in general. We’re not going to walk you through a specific recipe, but we do want to focus on the general way it is made.
This dish originally was a way to toss leftovers together and create a filling and tasty dish with them. It has been adapted slightly, but the term seems to fit well.
When it comes to understanding how the two dishes are prepared, both migas and chilaquiles use chilies, eggs, and corn tortillas as primary ingredients. However, they are made differently.
How to make migas:
- When you make migas, you would first start with sautéing your vegetables, particularly your chilies, but also additions like the tomatos, onions, green peppers, and garlic that are commonly a part of the dish.
- While you are sautéing those, you can use a bowl and whisk up your eggs like you would for scrambled eggs. Season them with salt and pepper if you like, but the veggies you are sautéing is where the primary flavors should stem from.
- Once your veggies are sautéed and your eggs are whisked, pour the eggs over the veggies into the pan. Stir them until they are scrambled and mostly cooked.
- From there, you will toss in corn chips and cheese, if you like. We like cotija cheese, but some similar options include parmesan, feta, Romano, and even ricotta cheese.
- Stir everything until it is combined together and your eggs are done to the consistency that you prefer.
If you want to turn this into a Tex-Mex dish, you can remove it from the heat and add your fresh toppings like avocados, cilantro, hot sauce, salsa, and diced tomatoes.
Where migas is traditionally a Spanish or Portuguese dish, chilaquiles is traditionally a Mexican breakfast dish through-and-through.
Much like migas, this contains corn tortillas and chilies, but the processes by which they are prepared is vastly different.
In this case, the tortillas are cut into quarters and are actually often fried or even baked before they prepare the full base of the dish. This dish is often completed by being topped with salsa or red or green sauce of some sort and then simmered.
It’s not nearly the same as just scrambling eggs and sautéing veggies together. The process is slightly more involved overall.
Of course, there is more than one way to make this dish, just like any other dish out there. Chilaquiles is a breakfast or even a brunch dish, typically, but it’s made in such a way that you could enjoy it at any time of day if you want to.
This dish has been around for a very long time. The name chilaquiles comes from a translation from a Nahuatl word that roughly means chilies and greens.
It’s a very flavorful dish that again relies on the vegetables in it and the simmering process to really provide the flavor effects of the dish.
Some versions of the dish include refried beans, which is an ingredient that is not included anywhere in migas, although they might be served on the side.
It is very common for chilaquiles to be topped with an egg, usually prepared sunny-side-up.
Ingredients in Chilaquiles
Now that we know the basics of the dish and where it originates from, let’s talk about chilaquiles. This simple dish might sound like it takes additional effort and work but it really finishes up pretty quickly, taking about 15 minutes to prepare.
A lot of the ingredients are commonly found in the fridge or pantry in many homes. It’s a simple dish and people who grew up enjoying chilaquiles in their homes often crave it as a comfort food when they are no longer home.
It’s a creative dish, really, but it has a one-of-a-kind approach and flavor that no other dish can truly match. It can be made with certain variations as well.
Some people prefer it to be crisp and crunchy, while others prefer it to be almost soggy when it’s done.
This could make a difference in how you prepare it, but essentially it all prepares the same way. This dish has the same base ingredient of tortillas. However, they are cut into pieces rather than crushed in this dish.
Chilies are also an important part of this dish, much like migas.
Here are the traditional ingredients found in chilaquiles:
- Fried tortillas, cut into quarters or strips (some people prefer stale tortillas)
- Salsa or ingredients like tomatillos, serrano, and tomatoes to make a salsa mixture
- Cotija cheese
- Vegetable oil
- Crema Mexicana or crème fraîche
- Fresh epazote (Mexican tea)
- An egg for the topping
The ingredients that you add might vary. Unlike migas, there isn’t really a Tex-Mex or traditional dish.
These are pretty standard ingredients, although some people prefer to use prepared salsa rather than individual peppers. That’s totally up to your preferences.
Again, you can add some seasoning for your preferences, but the real flavor should come primarily from the salsa, veggies, and red or green sauce used for the simmering process.
How Chilaquiles are Prepared
Just like with migas, we are going to share with you a practical walkthrough of how chilaquiles are prepared in general.
This is simply to provide you with an overview of how they are made so you can see the differences in the process overall.
We are not going to walk you through a step-by-step recipe here, but we will provide you with the general details of the process so you can understand how it varies from migas and how it works to create this delightful cultural dish.
One thing you will notice is that the process is different than migas. With migas, you sauté and then scramble all the ingredients together, but chilaquiles are prepared using a simmering method instead.
Here is the process for making chilaquiles:
- For chilaquiles, you would start by putting your tomatillos, serrano peppers, and chilies into a pan and covering them with just enough water to cover them. Bring all of that to a boil on the stovetop.
- Let it simmer together for 8-10 minutes, or until those peppers and items start to soften. Once they are soft, drain the water and toss the softened ingredients into a blender to puree them. You can add garlic here and epazote as well. Blend it all to your preferred consistency.
- Now is when you really get into the process. If you want to use salsa that is already prepared, you can do that and skip that first part, if you prefer. You might also choose to use different peppers.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry your tortilla pieces in the oil. Drain them after frying. Now put your salsa combination into the pan and simmer it all together for about 10 minutes. You can add just a small amount of water and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Add the tortilla chips and let them simmer. Simmer them longer if you prefer them soft and shorter if you prefer them crisp.
Once you’ve created this base, you can then add an egg, meat, or any other toppings you prefer, like crème fraîche.
Migas Vs. Chilaquiles – Final Comparison
In summary, you will notice that while migas and chilaquiles include consistent and similar ingredients, they are very different dishes altogether.
Migas is a scrambled dish where everything is just tossed together. It has tortilla strips and was originally an authentic Spanish or Portuguese dish that has been adapted to a Mexican and Tex-Mex dish.
Chilaquiles, on the other hand, is a traditional Mexican dish and there are few variations. This dish also is all about simmering flavors together. It is less of a scramble and more of a total dish.
The primary similarity between these two dishes is that they both use corn tortillas and chilies as part of the makeup but they are pretty different from there, including ingredients and how they are prepared.
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