This recipe for Homemade Chimichangas uses shredded chicken, beans, salsa and cheese, wrapped in flour tortillas and skillet fried.
When you want a quick and easy dinner, try my recipe for Homemade Chimichangas that rivals the restaurant version but uses minimal ingredients and ready in less than 20 minutes.
What Are Chimichangas
You might have heard of chimichangas and/or even enjoyed one at one time or other but you might find its origin surprising.
Chimichangas aren’t Tex-Mex, rather a southwestern delicacy (Mexican-American) that is similar to a burrito in that it is rolled similarly like a burrito but differs because it is skillet fried, deep fried or baked to a golden brown.
It’s said to have originated in Tucson, although several other Arizona cities have laid claim to this auspicious title.
Chimichanga can be translated loosely to “trinket or thingamajig.” Rightly so. It defies definition only as a tasty morsel that one craves again and again.
Traditionally, Chimichangas can be made with chicken, turkey and beef, although you can also make them with carnitas (roasted pulled pork shoulder).
It’s usually garnished by placing it on a bed of shredded lettuce, topped with sour cream and a drizzle of homemade (or store-bought) salsa.
Cooking Tip: You can also serve this recipe with a dollop of freshly made guacamole or even a drizzle of homemade mole sauce to gently coat your chimichanga.
My recipe for Homemade Chimichangas is based off my recollection of a childhood dish that was served up during our school lunches when I lived in Tucson. Little did I realize how popular this dish would become to southwestern culinary aficionados.
My version is made with cooked, shredded chicken breast (think high protein-low fat), but you can also use cooked beef or pork, turkey, etc. as a substitute.
As for the rest of the ingredients, they are simple enough: refried beans, shredded Mexican-blend cheese and salsa.
The type of tortilla you’ll use for this recipe is flour. Use minimally the large size ones (10 inches or so), as the filling takes up quite a large space, plus you want to give yourself enough tortilla to sufficiently wrap around it.
Cooking Tip: Cooked Mexican or Spanish rice is sometimes added for an even more over-the-top version.
How to Make Homemade Chimichangas – Step by Step
Begin by chopping six green onions (approximately one cup give or take). Chop both the green stalks and white bulbs.
Place this in a bowl.
To this add one cup of your favorite salsa. This time around I used Seaquist Orchard’s Black Bean Salsa.
Put this in your bowl, along with a can of refried beans that you have warmed in the microwave for about a minute or so or heated on the stove.
Cooking Note: Authentic or original refried beans have more depth of flavor, but you can also use vegetarian or low fat versions if you so choose.
Now for the cheese….approximately one cup of shredded Mexican mix cheese.
Time to add your cooked chicken. I like the texture of chicken breast, although chicken thighs are just as tasty.
Just like the refried beans, you will want to warm your meat before shredding.
The best and fastest way to shred is to use two forks. Pull from the inside of the meat outward.
Mix all of the ingredients well.
This is your chimichanga filling.
Lay out a large flour tortilla on your cutting board or a large dinner plate and place 1/2 cup of filling in the middle.
Then, begin folding your tortilla…
First bring each side up toward the middle, one at a time.
Then, carefully fold the tortilla that is closest to you over the top and press this slightly into your filling.
Finally, roll your chimi away from you.
Place your chimichangas on a plate and finish rolling the rest of the chimis until you have used up all of your filling.
Preheat your fry pan on medium heat and then add approximately three tablespoons of olive oil.
Place your chimichangas fold down and allow them to brown slighting on the bottom before flipping over.
Be sure not to overcrowd your fry pan. So you might need to pan fry your chimichangas in two batches.
Cooking Tip: While you are cooking your second batch of chimichangas, you can keep your prior panfried batch in the oven to keep it warm or not–your choice.
Garnish your chimis with a dollop of sour cream, fresh shredded lettuce, more shredded cheese and a spoonful of salsa.
Then serve your Homemade Chimichangas to your family and friends. Enjoy!
For more delicious southwest and Tex-Mex recipes, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Recipe Section, as well as these family favorites:
- Mexican Queso Blanco Dip
- Spicy Mexican Corn Casserole
- Mexican Carnitas Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Southwest Cheesy Layered Taco Bake Casserole
- Easy Spicy White Chicken Chili Recipe
For the filling:
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast or thigh meat, shredded and warmed
- 1 cup green onions chopped stalks and bulbs
- 1 cup salsa jarred or fresh*
- 16 oz canned refried beans warmed
- 8 oz Mexican cheese mix shredded
- 10 ct large flour tortillas
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 cup lettuce shredded
- 2/3 cup salsa
- 2/3 cup sour cream
For the filling:
- Chop your green onions (green stalks and bulbs) and place in a large bowl.
- Add one cup of salsa and warmed canned refried beans.
- Next add one cup of shredded Mexican cheese.
- Warm your chicken in the microwave, approximately three minutes on high, and then shred using two forks. Use a pulling motion starting from the middle of the meat outwards.
- Place the shredded chicken in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Place a flour tortilla on plate or cutting board and scoop 1/2 cup of filling and place this in the middle of the tortilla.
- Begin folding by drawing up the sides of the tortillas.
- Then take the section of the tortilla closest to you and fold it up over the side folds away from you.
- Finally, roll the tortilla away from you to form a little packet. Place this on a plate.
- Follow these steps for all 10 tortillas.
- Heat your fry pan on medium heat for a minute and then add approximately 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- Place your chimis fold side down and fry until golden brown, approximately five minutes.
- Turn and fry the other side.
- Finally, turn your chimichangas once again so that the fold side is on the bottom and reheat for a minute or so and then remove from the heat. Plate.
- Add a dollop (a tablespoon, more or less) of sour cream and salsa, along with a light sprinkling of shredded cheese and lettuce. Serve hot. Enjoy!