Chimichangas are crispy burritos that are easy to make at home! While frying is traditional, you can also crisp them on the griddle or bake them in the oven.
Have you ever had a chimichanga? Basically it’s a crispy burrito, usually deep fried. It’s considered Tex-Mex, Southwestern fare, but it may just be Cal-Mex as well since growing up my husband and I both saw them frequently at our local taquerias.
Chimichangas are one of my husband’s all-time favorite Mexican food meals. When we were dating and would go out for Mexican food, he would inevitably order whatever Chimichanga was on the menu. In fact for years, in Bryan’s eyes, the measure of a Mexican food restaurant was the quality of its chimichanga.
It wasn’t until we got an electric fryer that we ever tried to make them at home. Fried is pretty amazing, and of course, authentic, but we’ve come to prefer baked or toasted chimichangas as an easier and little bit healthier alternative.
What is the difference between a burrito and a chimichanga?
The burrito and the chimichanga are pretty similar, the main difference being that the chimichanga is deep-fried. Secondly, a burrito contains ingredients that are meant to be cold, such as lettuce or sour cream, while a chimichanga, or “chimi” as we call them at our house, has only hot fillings.
To compensate, chimichangas are often topped with enchilada sauce, salsa, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.
Is a chimichanga real Mexican food?
According to my research, yes. While it’s an incredibly popular Tex-Mex menu item, both The New Food Lover’s Companion and the Sunset Mexican Cookbook, circa 1977, claim that it’s a specialty of Sonora, Mexico.
How do you make a chimichanga?
Chimichangas are so easy to make, it’s laughable. If you know how to make a burrito, you can make a chimichanga.
Chimichanga filling ideas:
Spread your favorite burrito fillings down the center of a large flour tortilla. Use only the items that should be warm. Consider these:
- Healthier Refried Beans
- Homemade Pintos
- Shredded Beef
- Salsa Verde Beef
- Salsa Verde Chicken
- shredded cheese
Save the lettuce, tomato, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream for toppings.
How to roll a chimichanga the right way:
Roll over one side of the tortilla over the filling, tucking the edge under if you can.
Fold in the sides at the ends of the filling, and then roll it up.
Not sure how? Watch my famous burrito-folding video.
Can I freeze chimichangas?
I make a lot at one time, sometimes several dozen at once. I can freeze some for later as well as cook some right away.
To freeze, I just fill a ziptop freezer bag with rolled burritos/chimichangas and label the bag. I use cold ingredients when I know I’m going to freeze them so I can place the bag into the freezer right away and not risk the tortilla turning soggy.
Be sure to label the bag so you know when you made them and what’s inside.
How do you cook chimichangas?
As I mentioned before, chimichangas are traditionally fried.
How to fry chimichangas:
- Make sure that your fillings are not cold. If you’re using frozen burritos, you’ll want to make sure they thaw completely prior to frying. The outsides will burn before the inside is warmed through.
- Fill an electric fryer or heavy pot on the stove with several inches frying oil. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions for deep frying. Can’t find them? Read these deep frying tips.
- Turn on the heat until very hot, about 375 to 400 degrees.
- Submerge the burrito in the hot fat, and cook, turning once until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Drain on paper toweling and serve with toppings.
For most of us, deep frying is not an option, either for time, logistics, or health reasons. I much prefer to bake or toast my chimichangas.
Frying limits you to cooking one or two chimichangas at a time. Not fun. Using the griddle or the oven is a great way to make many at one time. They’re not as deliciously fatty as a truly fried chimichanga, but they are still incredibly good.
How to bake chimichangas:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the chimichangas (thawed, if using frozen) on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve with toppings.
How to bake chimichangas on an electric griddle:
- Heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees.
- Place the chimichangas (thawed, if using frozen) on the griddle.
- Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every minute or two so that all sides brown evenly and the filling is hot.
- Serve with toppings.
What do you top chimichangas with?
Top chimichangas with your favorite cold “fillings”, such as lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa, and sour cream. You can also pour warmed enchilada sauce over first. Yummy!
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tbsp taco seasoning mix
- 12 burrito-size flour tortillas
- 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans (4 cups)
- 8 oz cheddar cheese (shredded) (2 cups)
- hot sauce optional
- toppings for chimichangas , such as: shredded lettuce, salsa, enchilada sauce, guacamole, sour cream
- In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat, breaking up the chunks with the back of a spoon. Season with the taco seasoning mix and cook, stirring, until browned. Drain any fat.
- Lay out the tortillas and divide the beans, meat, and cheese in a line across the bottom third of the tortillas.
- Roll up the tortilla tucking in the sides as you go.
- Heat the griddle and place the rolled burritos. Cook, turning occasional until all sides are crisp..
- Serve with toppings