I love Mexican food and chimichangas are one of my favorite Mexican dishes besides my carne asada! This recipe takes a bit of time, but it is well worth the effort as it makes restaurant-worthy chimichangas!
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What is a Chimichanga?
So what exactly are chimichangas? A chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito, typically filled with meat, rice, beans, cheese, and salsa. Personally, I don’t add rice to mine. They supposedly originated in the southwestern United States, although their specific origins are unclear. They are topped with guacamole, salsa, cheese, cilantro, and sour cream.
The main difference between a chimichanga and a burrito is that chimichangas are typically deep-fried making a crispy outside, while burritos are not fried or crispy. But don’t worry if you don’t care for deep-fried foods, you can bake or even use the air fryer to get a similar crispy outside!
Enchiladas and chimichangas are two Mexican dishes that differ in their preparation technique. Enchiladas and chimichangas are both well-known Mexican dishes, but they differ in their cooking methods. Enchiladas are smothered in a delicious and tangy sauce and baked in a casserole dish along with other ingredients. On the other hand, chimichangas are cooked separately and can be either fried or baked until crispy before serving. However, you can create smothered chimichangas by topping them with delicious queso sauce!
Ingredients for Shredded Beef Chimichangas
The start of this recipe calls for a lot of seasonings which we’ll simmer the beef in until it’s tender for shredding!
Stew Meat – I love to use stew meat for this recipe as it really cuts down on time spent cubing my own meat! As always we usually buy our beef from a local farmer, however, I also love Farm Foods Market for getting great grass-fed meats.
Canola Oil – This is used for browning the beef as well as for deep-frying. You can also bake or use the air fryer, but you will still need a bit of oil.
Onions – I use yellow onions for my chimichangas as I almost always have some on hand.
Jalapenos – You’ll need a few of these, but I promise this recipe doesn’t get overall spicy and my kids love these! If you want to reduce the level of heat when using Jalapenos in recipes, remove and discard the seeds as they contain the majority of the heat! I usually include the seeds for one jalapeño and discard the rest. To easily remove the seeds from a jalapeño, slice them in half length-wise and use a spoon to scoop them out of each side.
Vinegar – Red wine vinegar works best but if you don’t have any on hand white vinegar works fine as well. Vinegar helps to tenderize the beef.
Beans – Both pinto and black beans are used in this recipe.
Lime Juice – Grab a few fresh limes – fresh lime juice in this recipe is key! This adds a fresh, bright flavor to the dish. We’ll also use a few lime wedges to garnish our dish!
Beef Broth – This adds flavor while we simmer the meat until tender.
Seasonings – garlic, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and fresh cilantro – all of my favorite Mexican seasonings!
Flour – Used to thicken the broth a bit.
Tortillas – to roll our filling up in to create the chimichangas. I love these tortillas from Mr. Tortilla! They’re delicious and healthier than the store-bought brands!
Shredded Cheese – I use sharp cheddar but Monterey Jack or any Mexican-style cheese will work great!
Too busy to make this right now? Pin for later to your favorite Pinterest Board!
How to Make Chimichangas
This recipe makes a lot of chimichangas but don’t worry I’ll cover what to do with leftovers and how to freeze them. It’s a great meal to cook now and freeze some for later!
The first step to making these great beef and cheese chimichangas is to combine the chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, and flour in a small bowl. In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil on medium-high heat and brown the beef in batches.
Return all the beef to the pot and add the onions, jalapeños, and minced garlic followed by the spice mixture, and sauté for a few minutes.
Add the vinegar and beef broth. Stir it all together and simmer for 2 hours covered.
When the meat is fork tender, remove the beef to a cookie sheet and shred using two forks.
Return the shredded meat to the pot with the broth and add the beans, lime juice, and half of the cilantro. Continue to cook until heated through.
While the meat mixture is heating through, steam your tortillas by layering them with damp paper towels and placing them in a 250° oven for about 10 minutes. Steaming your tortillas makes them easier to handle and less likely to break when rolling them up.
To make the chimichangas, place about 3/4 cup of the meat mixture in the center of the tortilla. Use a slotted spoon to drain as much liquid as possible when filling your tortillas. Add some cheese and roll them up!
To roll them up, fold the bottom and the top of the tortilla in towards the center, then roll from the sides as tightly as you can without breaking the tortilla. Place the rolled chimichangas on a cookie sheet.
3 Ways to Cook Chimichangas
There 3 great ways to cook chimichangas!
How to Deep Fry Chimichangas
Deep frying your chimichangas will give you the crispiest chimichanga as well as a more authentic taste. To deep-fry the chimichangas, in a cast iron skillet heat about 1/2 to 1 inch of oil to 350°. Fry each chimichanga on each side until golden brown. I like to place my chimichangas seam side down first to seal the chimichanga.
How to Bake Chimichangas in the Oven
To bake the chimichangas, brush the outside of the tortillas with a light coating of oil and place them on a cookie sheet seam side down. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, flipping them about halfway through.
How to Make Chimichangas in the Air Fryer
To air-fry chimichangas, place your chimichangas about 1 inch apart in the air fryer and fry for about 10–15 minutes or until golden brown. I also use the air fryer to re-heat my leftover chimichangas, if there are any leftovers that is!
Serve your delicious shredded beef chimichangas topped with salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, diced onion, extra cheese, sour cream, and sliced jalapeños. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro! If you want to make a smothered chimichanga, top it with cheesy queso! Add your favorite Mexican side dishes such as this Mexican Street Corn (Elotes) or delicious Mexican rice!
How to Freeze Chimichangas
While this recipe makes a lot, I love it as it not only feeds my large family, but I can freeze for another meal later! Simply wrap any uncooked chimichangas individually in plastic wrap and then in tin foil. Place them in a gallon-size ziplock bag and freeze them for up to 4 months!
I can get 4 in a gallon-size ziplock bag and usually freeze 6-8 each batch, making this a cook once and have dinner for at least 3 meals. Alternatively, you can freeze and cook individually if you are serving just one!
You can also use just what you need for the night’s dinner and freeze the leftover meat mixture in an airtight container to make chimichangas, tacos, or nachos later!
- 1 Tbls chili powder
- 1 teas cayenne powder
- 1 tbls garlic powder
- 1 teas cumin
- 1 1/2 tbls all purpose flour
- 2 tbls Canola Oil, plus additional for deep frying
- 3 lbs stew meat
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 3 whole jalapeños, unseeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/4 cups beef broth, or more if needed
- 1/4 cup red or white vinegar
- 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus extra limes for garnish
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
- 10 flour tortillas, steamed
- 2 1/2 cps shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
- Combine the chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a heavy soup pot or dutch oven, heat oil on medium high heat. Brown the stew meat in batches.
- Without removing the meat, add the onions, jalapeños, and garlic. Saute for a few minutes.
- Add the vinegar and the beef broth. Stir well and simmer for 2 hours covered.
- When the meat is fork tender, remove to a cookie sheet using a slotted spoon and shred. Return the meat to the pot with the broth.
- Add the beans, lime juice, and half the cilantro. Cook until heated through.
- Preheat the oven to 250° and steam the tortillas by layering them with damp paper towels. Steam for about 10 minutes.
- Place a tortilla on a flat surface. Using slotted spoon to drain the broth from the meat, place about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of the shredded meat mixture to the center of the tortilla and add some cheese.
- Fold the top and the bottom of the tortilla about 1 inch over the meat mixture and then roll from one side. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet. Repeat steps 8-9 until all tortillas are filled and rolled.
- To deep fry the chimichangas, heat about 1/2 to 1 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet to 350°. Starting seam side down, fry each chimichanga until golden brown about 5 minutes per side. Transfer fried chimichangas to a cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven at about 250°. Fry in batches until all chimichangas are golden brown.
- To bake chimichangas, brush each chimichanga with a light coating of oil. Place on a cookie sheet seam side down and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes flipping once half way through until golden brown.
- To air-fry chimichangas, place the chimichangas seam side down in the air fryer and fry for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve topped with lettuce, salsa, diced onions, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, guacamole. Garnish with lime wedges.
Can I freeze the chimichangas?
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 404mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 36g
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Can I freeze the chimichangas?
Yes, I usually need about 8-10 to feed my family of six (did I mention teen boys eat a TON!?!). However, I like to freeze them in packs of 4 for later. To freeze, wrap individually in plastic wrap and then tin foil. Place in a gallon-sized zip lock bag and freeze for up to 4 months.
To cook, defrost them in the fridge overnight and then cook as directed above.
You can also freeze just the meat mixture in an airtight container for up to 4 months and use it later for nachos, tacos, or chimichangas.
What else can I do with the shredded beef?
If you’d rather not make chimichangas, use the shredded beef in tacos, enchiladas, burritos, on top of nachos, or in a taco salad. You can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container or freeze it in an air tight container as well.
What about leftovers?
If you’ve already fried or baked, your chimichangas store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, it’s best to use the oven or an air fryer and cook until crispy and heated through. I do not recommend microwaving to reheat as the tortilla will not be crispy.
Final Thoughts on Beef Chimichangas
I hope you love these delicious deep-fried, baked, or air-fried chimichangas as much as my family does! While it is a labor of love, it makes a meal for a crowd or a few easy weeknight meals for later! Enjoy!