Homemade Chicken Chimichangas with Jalapeño Ranch

Homemade Chicken Chimichangas with Jalapeño Ranch

Juicy shredded chicken in a vibrant tomatillo salsa made with sautéed onions, garlic, and warm spices. Melty cheddar cheese adds a creamy component. Then it’s all wrapped up in a flour tortilla and fried until crispy and golden brown. This authentic chimichanga recipe is a must-try for Arizona Week because whether fact or fiction, Arizona claims to have invented these amazingly delicious deep-fried burritos.

This is part of my new series Taste the Nation where week by week, I will explore the foods and flavors of America and recreate the most popular recipes from all 50 states. 

I always give instructions with step-by-step photos in my posts just in case some readers have questions. But if you are just here for the recipe, click the JUMP TO RECIPE tab under the title and it will take you straight there. You can also print the recipe card with full instructions or you can click one of the SHARE BUTTONS and save it for later!

There are two main legends about the birth of the chimichanga, and both involve Arizona and a happy accident. This is my favorite version so it’s the one I will share:

The story goes that Monica Flin, the owner of El Charro Cafe in Tucson, was making a late-night snack of burritos for her family when one of her nieces or nephews bumped into her. The nudge sent a burrito tumbling right into the hot oil of the deep fryer.

Flin was startled, and almost blurted out a common Spanish curse word that starts with “ch…”  Thinking fast to avoid swearing in front of the kids, she instead exclaimed “chimichanga!” which loosely translates to “thingamajig” in Spanish.

The deep-fried burrito turned out to be a delicious success, and the “chimichanga” name stuck.

One of the original locations for El Charro Café. which fronted Broadway Road, west of Church Ave, shown ca. 1960s. Founder Monica Flin is at right. Photo courtesy of Ray Flores
One of the original locations for El Charro Café. in the 1960s. Founder Monica Flin is at right. Photo courtesy of Ray Flores

While it’s a popular story, we will never know for sure where or by whom the chimichanga was invented.  However, there’s no doubt that Arizona played a big role in introducing this mouthwatering dish to the world.

Let’s Gather Up the Ingredients for these chicken chimichangas

Organizing all your ingredients ahead of time not only streamlines the cooking process but also ensures you have everything required to complete the dish successfully. You can find the exact amounts in the recipe card below. 

  • Tender chicken (shredded or diced)- try this split chicken breast recipe roasted in the air fryer. It’s quick, easy, and turns out juicy and tender every time.

  • Tomatillo salsa– use your favorite brand, or make your own.

  • Onion– diced.

  • Garlic– minced.

  • Spices– salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder can be added to taste.

  • Jalapeño– seeds removed and diced.

  • Cilantro– chopped.

  • Cheese– I like to use sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Grate your own for best results. Pre-shredded cheese does not melt as well as freshly shredded because it is coated with anti-caking agents.

  • Flour tortillas– You will want to find the large version. Regular-size tortillas won’t be big enough to hold all of the fillings. 

  • Vegetable oil– for frying.

Now Let’s get cooking

Start by making the tender chicken filling. Cook a few chicken breasts however you prefer (baked, grilled, poached) until cooked through. Once cooled, shred or dice the chicken. 

Prepare your ingredients. Dice the jalapeños, onions, and garlic, then shred the cheese.

Use a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, to sauté the diced onion, jalapeños, and minced garlic cloves over medium heat until soft and fragrant.

Add them to a large mixing bowl along with the shredded chicken, tomatillo salsa, and chopped cilantro. Season with spices like salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder to taste. 

Let the chicken mixture cool slightly and then set up your workstation.

Warm the flour tortillas briefly to make them pliable. Place a big scoop of the chicken filling in the center of each tortilla. Top it with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. 

Fold the bottom of the tortilla up and over the filling, then fold in both sides and roll up tightly into a burrito shape.

Add an inch of vegetable oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven. Bring it to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the chimichangas in the oil seam side down.

Turn frequently until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the oil temperature. If the chimichangas start to brown too quickly, you may need to lower the heat. 

Transfer the fried chimichangas to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet to drain excess grease. You can keep them warm in a 200°F oven while you fry the remaining burritos.

Serve the hot chimichangas drizzled with Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Sauce and topped with fresh Guacamole, a dollop of sour cream, and Copycat Chipotle Pico de Gallo.

Tips for success:

  • Use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for a shortcut.
  • Keep the oil at a steady medium-high heat to get the ideal crispy texture.
  • Fry the chimichangas seam side down first to help seal them.
  • Drain on a rack or paper towels to catch any excess oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bake chimichangas instead of frying?  Yes, you can bake them at 400°F for 15-20 minutes flipping halfway through for a healthier version.

Can I prep chimichangas ahead of time? Yes, you can assemble the chimichangas in advance. Wrap them up and then either leave them at room temperature or refrigerate if it’s going to be more than a few hours. Just be sure to bring them to room temperature before frying because the time it takes to cook the exterior isn’t long enough to heat it all the way through if the filling is cold.

How do I keep chimichangas crispy after frying?
Place them on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven until ready to serve to keep them crisp.

Now that you have the basics, you can make all kinds of variations of these homemade chimichangas at home or in your RV kitchen.

  • Beef Chimichangas – Use ground beef or shredded beef instead of chicken

  • Veggie Chimichangas – Stuff with sautéed fajita veggies like bell peppers, onions, zucchini, etc.

  • Breakfast Chimichangas – Fill with scrambled eggs, chorizo, potato, cheese

  • Seafood Chimichangas – Try shrimp, crab or fish filling

  • Buffalo Chicken Chimichangas – Toss shredded chicken in buffalo sauce before rolling

  • BBQ Chicken Chimichangas – Mix chicken with BBQ sauce before frying

Serve these delicious chimichangas with homemade refried beans, and One Pot Mexican rice. And don’t forget an ice-cold beer or margarita!

Serve Chicken Chimichangas With

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Homemade Chicken Chimichangas with Jalapeño Ranch

Juicy shredded chicken in a vibrant tomatillo salsa made with sautéed onions, garlic, and warm spices. Melty cheese adds a creamy component. Then it's all wrapped up in a flour tortilla and fried until crispy and golden brown.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 500 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken chopped or shredded
  • 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa your favorite brand
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese shredded
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 inch vegtable oil
  • salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder to taste. 

Instructions
 

  • Start by making the tender chicken filling. Cook a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts however you prefer (baked, grilled, poached) until cooked through. Once cooled, shred or dice the chicken.
  • Prepare your ingredients. Dice the jalapeños, onions, and garlic, then shred the cheese.
  • Use a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, to sauté the diced onion, jalapeños, and minced garlic cloves over medium heat until soft and fragrant.
  • Add them to a large mixing bowl along with the shredded chicken, tomatillo salsa, and chopped cilantro. Season with spices like salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder to taste.
  • Let the chicken mixture cool slightly and then set up your workstation.
  • Warm the flour tortillas briefly to make them pliable. Place a big scoop of the chicken filling in the center of each tortilla. Top it with shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Fold the bottom of the tortilla up and over the filling, then fold in both sides and roll up tightly into a burrito shape.
  • Add an inch of vegetable oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven. Bring it to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the chimichangas in the oil seam side down.
  • Turn frequently until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the oil temperature. If the chimichangas start to brown too quickly, you may need to lower the heat.
  • Transfer the fried chimichangas to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet to drain excess grease. You can keep them warm in a 200°F oven while you fry the remaining burritos.
  • Serve the hot chimichangas drizzled with Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Sauce and topped with fresh guacamole, a dollop of sour cream, and Homemade Pico de Gallo.

Notes

Calorie Disclaimer:
The nutritional information provided is intended for informational purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, the actual nutritional content of recipes may vary depending on various factors, including the specific ingredients used, portion sizes, and cooking methods.
Keyword Arizona, Chicken Chimichanga, Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Sauce, Taste the Nation

We are empty nesters in our RV full-time. If you are like us or in a similar situation, this recipe can easily be cut in half.



3 thoughts on “Homemade Chicken Chimichangas with Jalapeño Ranch”

  • 5 stars
    I made these chimichangas for dinner last night and they were delicious! Definitely a new favorite at our house!

  • 5 stars
    I could not wait to make these and I am so glad that I did. They are amazing and easy to make. My husband told me he would like to have them again soon!

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