How to Make a Chimichanga

Learn how to make a chimichanga by frying or baking. What is a chimichanga? This traditional deep fried Tex Mex food became popular along the southern border of the United States around the 1920’ to 1940’s. It soon took hold in some of our neighboring Mexican states like Sinaloa and Sonora. 

How to Make a ChimichangaHow to Make a Chimichanga

Due to the numerous claims for origination of the “traditional” chimichanga recipe, no one is sure who and when it was created. In most claims, it seems that it came about by accident. Two restaurant chefs I read about were in Arizona. One learned how to make a chimichanga by accidentally dropping a burrito into hot oil. Another used deep frying as a method of reheating cold burritos. Whatever is the case, chimichanga recipes are a hit all over this country. I love chimichangas!

I learned how to make a chimichanga recipe by cooking in deep hot oil. Although I have included recipes for frying and baking, I prefer them deep fried. When I make recipes, I always like to think about those who are on restricted diet. With chimichangas, of course baking would be healthier for some. To me, a baked chimichanga is like eating a burrito. I do like burritos also, but that is for “burrito time”. I do not make chimichangas too often but when I do I want the “traditional” one. That is deep fried!

When I learned how to make a chimichanga, I made them with diced chicken. Since then I have learned to use ground beef, small diced beef steak, ground turkey, and ground chicken. Sometimes I even blend in a little sausage or other pork. You can use any favorite recipe and vary the type of protein if you like.

If you are learning how to make a chimichanga consider serving them with a garnish. I prefer to line a dinner plate with finely shredded lettuce. On top of the lettuce, I like sour cream, salsa or picante sauce and guacamole. The last four items, especially the salsa and picante sauce, are best served in little cups if you have them. 

If you learn how to make a chimichanga, you will find that they make a great appetizer.  For A PARTY FOOD IDEA, I make them smaller by using a small tortilla. Use a small amount of filling but wrap them the same way as the larger ones. For special events, I like to tie them with kitchen string before frying. This keeps them in compact folds and it makes a prettier presentation. It does take extra time so I only do this for parties. Although you can serve the smaller chimichangas with the same sauces as the larger ones, I have found my guests to love my cilantro lime sauce recipe made with sour cream. My recipe is below.

Use a String to Tie Before FryingUse a String to Tie Before Frying

NOTE: For learning how to make a chimichanga, it is best to soften the tortillas before filling and folding. This helps you to make a better fold.  Your tortilla package will give you instructions on how to do it. I soften one at a time in an oiled warm skillet. For large quantities of tortillas, you might find the microwave more convenient. 

At the bottom of the page, I am adding recipes for salsa, picante sauce and guacamole. You might want to make one of both to serve with your chimichangas.


  • 1 Pound ground beef
  • 6 Ounces bulk pork sausage
  • ½ Cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • ½ Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • ¼ Cup sliced black olives
  • 12 Four tortillas
  • 1 Cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • ¾ Cup tomato salsa

Crumble sausage in skillet; cook and stir over MEDIUM heat for 5 minutes.

Crumble beef in same skillet; stir and cook 6 to 8 minutes until no longer red.

Add onion, garlic and cumin; cook until onion is soft about 4 minutes.

Drain fat from skillet; add tomato sauce and mix well.

INCREASE heat to high until boiling; REDUCE heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

UNCOVER, INCREASE heat to medium; cook and stir until liquid evaporates about 5 minutes.

Stir olives into hot mixture; soften tortillas according to the package directions.

Place about ¼ cup of the meat mixture on the bottom half of a tortilla.

Spread to within 1 ½ inches of bottom and sides; sprinkle with a full tablespoon of cheese.

Fold top half of tortilla down over the filling; fold in sides.

Roll up starting at the bottom rounded edge enclosing the filling; fasten with wooden tooth pick.

Follow the same process finishing the meat filling.

Pour oil 1 inch deep in a deep heavy pot or skillet; heat to 375F degrees.

Fry 3 chimichangas at a time turning one time until golden brown; drain on paper towels.

Keep warm until all have been fried; top with sour cream and salsa to serve.


  • 1 Pound beef, pork or mixed
  • 1 Medium finely chopped onion
  • 1 Clove minced garlic
  • ¾ Cup picante sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon oregano
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 8 Flour tortillas
  • ¼ Cup melted butter
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Brown meat with onion and garlic; drain.

Stir in picante sauce, cumin, oregano and salt; simmer until liquid is absorbed.

Brush 1 side of tortillas with butter.

On UNBUTTERED side of tortilla scoop 1/3 full cup of mixture onto the center.

Fold 2 sides over the filling; fold ends down.

Place seam side down in 9X13 inch baking pan; bake about 13 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with sour cream, additional picante sauce and guacamole.

4 Servings.


Spicy Chimichanga RecipeSpicy Chimichanga Recipe

Learn how to make a chimichanga that is spicy. Serve with delicious sauces.

  • 1 Pound ground round or chicken
  • 1 Medium finely chopped onion
  • 3 Cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Cups shredded blended Mexican cheese
  • 1 Can (16 ounces) refried beans
  • 1 Can (4.5 ounces) green chiles drained
  • 2 Tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper (Or other hot pepper)
  • ½ Cup picante sauce
  • 12 Flour tortillas
  • Cooking oil (IF FRYING)
  • Garnish; shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa, guacamole

Cook and stir meat, onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium high heat until meat is thoroughly cooked about 10 minutes.

Remove mixture from the heat and drain; stir in 1 ½ cups of the cheese, beans, chiles, jalapeno pepper and picante sauce.

TO BAKE place ¼ cup of meat mixture just below center of each tortilla.

Fold each side of tortilla over the filling to form a rectangle; secure with a toothpick.

Spray baking sheet; place folded tortillas on baking sheet.

Bake AT 425f degrees for 8 minutes; turn over and bake 5 minutes longer and serve with garnish.

TO FRY fold all sides over filling to totally enclose; secure with wooden picks.

Pour vegetable oil 2 inches deep in heavy Dutch oven; heat to 375F degrees.

Fry chimichangas a few at a time 1 ½ minutes on each side until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels; keep warm until all are fries and serve with garnish.

FOR GARNISH line plate with shredded lettuce; top with remaining shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

Make 12.

Heat Tortilla to FoldHeat Tortilla to Fold
Fill Tortilla with Cooked FillingFill Tortilla with Cooked Filling
Fold Tortilla in HalfFold Tortilla in Half
Fold Side Half WayFold Side Half Way
Fold Other Side to OverlapFold Other Side to Overlap
Fold Center Over the Two SidesFold Center Over the Two Sides
Secure with a ToothpickSecure with a Toothpick


  • 1 Ripe avocado peeled and mashed
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 Medium tomato peeled and chopped
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons fresh minced cilantro

COMBINE AND BLEND all ingredients; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Piquante Sauce RecipePiquante Sauce Recipe
  • 2 Quarts ripe tomatoes peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 Cup chopped onion
  • ½ Cup chopped hot peppers
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons salt
  • 1 ½ Cups vinegar

Combine tomatoes, onion, hot peppers, sugar and salt in a heavy pot.

Cook mixture gently while stirring frequently.

Add vinegar and simmer to desired thickness.

This makes 3 pints; store in refrigerator.

NOTE: This can be canned in hot sterilized jars; process for 15 minutes in hot water bath.


Fresh Tomato Salsa RecipeFresh Tomato Salsa Recipe
  • 2 Pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon minced cilantro
  • 1 Cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 Teaspoons lime juice
  • ¼ Teaspoon black pepper

PEEL AND CHOP tomatoes; add other ingredients and chill for 2 hours.


Cilantro Lime Sauce RecipeCilantro Lime Sauce Recipe
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 4 Tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1-2 Tablespoons minced hot pepper (Jalapeno)
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Teaspoon grated lime peel
  • ½ Teaspoon salt

COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS together in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

› Mexican Chimichangas

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