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This crispy chimichanga is similar to a burrito but fried to golden perfection. It’s flavorful, filling, and bound to be a favorite entree!
What is a Chimichanga?
Chimichangas are said to have originated in southern Arizona. Since it is basically a deep-fried burrito, I consider them to fall in the Mexican food category.
Just like burritos, a chimichanga can have many different types of fillings. This recipe uses Shredded Chicken, jalapeno, refried beans, and a blend of delicious seasonings.
The best part of a chimichanga, and probably the most addictive, is the crispy shell!!! The filling can vary widely, but that crispy crust is a chimichanga staple.
You can create that crisp by baking, frying, or air frying! I’ve included steps for each option.
What’s in a Chimi?
Chimichangas are filled with a variety of flavors and ingredients but most often include some of these:
- Meat – Pork, steak/Beef, or chicken
- Beans – Pinto, refried or black
- Rice – Either Mexican Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice
- Veggies – tomatoes, green chiles, avocados, onions/green onions
- Sour Cream
- Salsa – Red Salsa, Green Salsa, or Pico de Gallo
How to Make Chimichangas
This chimichanga recipe is simple, crispy, and very filling!
PREP. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.
VEGGIES. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook until softened about 3-4 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and salt, and stir to combine.
SAUCE. Add the tomato and cilantro, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
CHICKEN. Stir in the chicken and sour cream, and cook until heated through.
ASSEMBLE. To assemble the chimichangas, spread a few tablespoons of refried beans down the center of each tortilla. Top each tortilla with ⅙ of the chicken mixture, and ¼ cup of Monterey Jack cheese. Fold the sides of the tortilla toward the center, then roll each tortilla up into a burrito shape.
Serve the chimichangas hot with the toppings of your choice. Our favorites include:
This recipe for chimichangas with chicken is pan-fried for an extra crispy shell.
PREP. The oil temperature should be in the 360-365°F range when frying these Chimichangas. You can clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan to monitor it.
FRY. To fry the chimichangas, heat 1-2 inches of oil to 350°F in a heavy pot or deep fryer. Secure the chimichangas with toothpicks to prevent them from opening while frying. Fry the chimichangas 1-2 at a time for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping halfway through. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Alternative Cooking Directions
Homemade chimichangas can easily be baked!
BAKE. To bake the chimichangas, follow this Baked Chimi Recipe or brush each of the chimichangas with oil and place them on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 8 minutes, then flip and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes, until golden brown.
Air Fryer Directions
This is a great option to get an oil-fried crispness without all the oil. However, due to the smaller size of the air fryer basket, you can only cook 2 chimis at a time.
HEAT. Heat the air fryer to 400°F.
COOK. Place two chimichangas, seam side down in the basket. Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Repeat for remaining chimichangas. Cooking all 6 chimichangas will take about 25 minutes.
RECIPE VARIATIONS + SERVING SUGGESTIONS
Change It Up
Variations. Some other ingredients that you can easily use in this easy chimichanga recipe include:
- Instead of chicken, use Carnitas, Carne Asada, or Sweet Pork Barbacoa.
- Beans can be replaced with black beans or pinto beans.
- Add white rice or Spanish-style rice.
- Use white or wheat Flour Tortillas. You can also make mini chimis using smaller taco tortillas.
- Top with pico de gallo, homemade salsa, or guacamole.
Serving suggestions. Serve a fried chimichanga with some of our favorite side dishes:
Make a freezer meal. Assemble this recipe for chimichanga ahead of time to fry/bake later. Complete steps 1 and 2 as written. Wrap each folded chimichanga with plastic wrap and place them in an airtight freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 6 months.
- Thaw and cook according to the recipe directions. To bake frozen chimichangas, preheat the oven to 425°F and bake for 35-40 minutes.
STORE. Place cooled leftovers in an airtight container. They can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- For best results reheat them in the microwave for 30 seconds, or 1 minute if frozen. Then, place them in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes to finish reheating. A toaster oven or an air fryer will also heat up the chimichangas and help give a crispy tortilla.
The exact origin of chimichangas is unknown. Many restaurants, particularly ones in Tucson, Arizona, claim they were the first to create the dish. Other people credit Sonora, Mexico immigrants for the invention. No matter who, where, or how they were invested I’m grateful they were because they’re delicious.
If you don’t have a thermometer, I like to test the oil with the end of a wooden spoon. When the oil reaches the right temp, it should immediately bubble when the spoon is inserted into the oil. If it pops and sizzles too aggressively then turn the temperature down a smidge. If the oil takes a little while to bubble then turn the temperature up.
Flour tortillas are used because they are generally bigger and are easier to fill, fold, and fry without tearing.
For Other Mexican Dishes:
For the chicken filling:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 jalapeño pepper diced and seeds removed
- 1½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tomato chopped
- 2 teaspoons cilantro chopped
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 6 10-inch flour tortillas warmed
- 1 (15-ounce) can refried beans
- 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Shredded lettuce
- Sour cream
- Fresh cilantro
- Monterey Jack cheese
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and salt, and stir to combine. Add the tomato and cilantro, and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in the chicken and sour cream, and cook until heated through.
- To assemble the chimichangas, spread a few tablespoons of refried beans down the center of each tortilla. Top each tortilla with ⅙ of the chicken mixture, and ¼ cup of Monterey Jack cheese. Fold the sides of the tortilla toward the center, then roll each tortilla up into a burrito shape.
- To bake the chimichangas, brush each of the chimichangas with oil and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 8 minutes, then flip and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes, until golden brown.
- To fry the chimichangas, heat 1-2 inches of oil to 350°F in a heavy pot or deep fryer. Secure the chimichangas with toothpicks to prevent them from opening while frying. Fry the chimichangas 1-2 at a time for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
- Serve the chimichangas hot with the toppings of your choice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.