published Feb 24, 2022
Chimichanga Recipe

Chimichangas are a quick and easy weeknight dinner treat.


Prep22 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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A chimichanga with sour cream, tomatoes and green garnish on top, and a salad with lettuce and tomatoes on the side.
Credit: Perry Santanachote

Tucson, Arizona, is a town famous for its enormous paper-thin flour tortillas and it was just a matter of time before someone thought to stuff and fry it. While there is dispute over who originally invented deep-fried tortilla filled with meat, beans, rice, and cheese, and when, the birth of the chimichanga has certainly become a staple of Arizona-Sonoran cuisine.

What’s the Difference Between Chimichangas and Burritos?

Both chimichangas and burritos involve a flour tortilla stuffed with a mixture of meat, beans, rice, and cheese. A burrito might also include vegetables, guacamole, and sour cream. Since a chimichanga is dee- fried, all the cold condiments are served on the side. Both of these dishes can also be served smothered in salsa.

What Is Traditionally in a Chimichanga?

While this recipe calls for shredded chicken as the meat of choice, the traditional chimichanga filling is machaca, which is marinated beef or pork that’s rubbed with spices, pounded, dried, and shredded — kind of like jerky. It’s typically rehydrated before using.

Credit: Perry Santanachote

Substitution Options

The great thing about making your own chimichangas is you can add and omit ingredients to your liking. Here are some ideas to play around with.

Chimichanga Recipe

Chimichangas are a quick and easy weeknight dinner treat.

Prep time 22 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 3 cloves


  • 3 to 4 cups

    vegetable oil for deep frying, plus 1 tablespoon for sautéing

  • 2 teaspoons

    chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 pound

    shredded or diced cooked chicken (about 3 1/2 cups)

  • 4 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 1/2 cup

    store-bought or homemade salsa verde

  • 1/4 cup

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 6

    (12-inch) burrito-size flour tortillas

  • 1 (16-ounce) can

    refried beans, or 1 1/2 cups homemade

  • 3 cups

    cooked long-grain white rice

  • 12 ounces

    shredded Mexican blend cheese (3 cups)

Serving options:

  • Shredded lettuce

  • Diced tomatoes

  • Crema or sour cream

  • Guacamole or avocado slices

  • Salsa

  • Chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Finely dice 1 small yellow onion. Mince 3 garlic cloves.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  3. Add 1 pound shredded or diced cooked chicken (about 3 1/2 cups), 4 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup salsa verde, and 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth. Stir until well combined and the cream cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

  4. Assemble the burritos one at a time: Place 1 (12-inch) flour tortilla on a work surface. Spread 1/4 cup refried beans in a 6 1/2-inch long by 3-inch wide strip across the center, stopping 2 1/2-inches from the sides of the tortilla. Spread 1/2 cup cooked long-grain white rice on the beans. Top with 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture and 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla over the filling. Starting at the bottom, fold the tortilla up and over the filling and continue rolling all the way up. Use a toothpick to pin the seam shut. Place on a baking sheet or platter.

  5. Add 3 to 4 cups vegetable oil to a deep, heavy skillet or small Dutch oven just big enough to fit 2 chimichangas until there's at least 1 inch of oil. Heat over medium-high heat until 350°F. (If you don’t have a thermometer, wait for the oil to start shimmering and test whether it’s ready for frying by dropping a little piece of tortilla into the oil. If it floats to the top and bubbles within a few seconds, it’s ready.) Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels or set up a wire rack.

  6. Fry the chimichangas 2 at a time: Carefully lower the chimichangas into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Use metal tongs to flip the chimichangas. Fry until golden brown and crispy on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to the paper towels or rack. Serve garnished with desired toppings.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The chicken filling can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Leftover chimichangas can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to 6 months. If frozen, let the chimichangas thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Reheat in a 350°F oven until the outside is crisp and the filling is heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.