If Wesley was forced to choose his last meal, this dish would have serious contention.
And what’s not to love about it? We take an extra-large flour tortilla and stuff it with our extra-juicy, extra-flavorful beef taco filling, homemade refried beans, and melty cheddar cheese. Sounds like a great burrito, right? Just wait until you fry it to perfection. Top it with your favorite toppings for a Mexican-style dish your family will flip for!
How To Make Beef Chimichanga
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The Ingredients You Will Need
You have options for making a chimichanga. We recommend making as much from scratch as possible, but, of course, there are always shortcuts. The flavors no matter how you do it will be amazing. Here’s what we recommend you have on hand:
Oil – You’ll need a little for sautéing the onion and garlic, and then more for frying the chimichangas. We recommend olive oil for sautéing and vegetable oil for frying.
Onion – Finely chopped.
Garlic – Minced.
Ground beef – We recommend 85% lean. This provides plenty of flavor but is not too fatty. Tilt the skillet and use a spoon to remove excess grease and discard safely (not down the drain).
Classic taco seasonings – Chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, ground cayenne, salt, and pepper.
Flour – All-purpose, this helps to thicken the sauce.
Ro-tel tomatoes – These can be found with other canned tomatoes in many well-stocked supermarkets, or online. Or, go with any canned tomato and chili combination. Or, just go with canned diced tomatoes, not drained.
Beef stock – Or broth. Low sodium is a good choice.
Refried beans – Homemade is best. Or, make a trip to your favorite Tex-Mex or Mexican restaurant and purchase a side, or a pound. In a pinch, you could use canned beans, but fresh is best.
Cheese – Shredded cheddar, Colby Jack, or Monterrey Jack are all great options. Any kind of Mexican melting cheese is wonderful, too.
Flour tortillas – Get the extra-large burrito size. Found in the Hispanic section of most well-stocked supermarkets. If you’re feeling adventurous, make them from scratch!
Sauce for Toppings – Ranchero, Chili con carne gravy, Queso, or Salsa are all wonderful. Our favorite is ranchero (and can be made well in advance).
Additional garnishes – Extra shredded cheddar (or Colby Jack) cheese, pico de gallo, and/or homemade guacamole.
EXPERT TIP: You want to simmer the meat mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated, but don’t overcook it! Taco meat should be very moist, even wet. If it gets too dry, add more beef stock or broth. The sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
Tips For Making the Perfect Beef Chimichanga
Take Care When Selecting Tortillas – This may seem obvious, but choosing a good tortilla is critical to a perfect chimichanga. Hold the package and feel the tortillas. They should not feel thin or brittle. A tender, soft, and very pliable will deliver an extra crispy and delicious dish.
Homemade Is Best, When Possible – For best results, don’t use a taco seasoning package. You’ll get much better flavor if you use the seasonings and techniques in this recipe. Homemade refried beans are fantastic, but you can get great-quality at your favorite Mexican restaurant (order a pint to go!). And finally, homemade ranchero sauce takes these chimichangas to the next level.
Fry Until Crispy, But Not Too Much – Whether you are deep-frying, baking, or air-frying, you’ll want to cook the chimichangas until the tortillas are golden and crispy. But, keep a close eye on them, it’s easy to let them go too long and then slightly burn and not retain the perfect texture. A pair of metal tongs and a spatula helps to control the turning of the chimichangas in the oil.
EXPERT TIP: Be sure to roll the tortillas tightly as you are assembling them. Don’t fill the ingredients right to the edge of the tortillas, otherwise, they ‘ooze’ out the sides. Firmly tuck the ends into the chimichangas. If completely submerged in hot oil, then a couple of toothpicks are recommended to hold it together.
How To Serve
These are best served piping hot. Have your ranchero sauce ready to go and your oven preheated to 425°F. Smear just enough of the sauce to cover the top of the chimichanga and then sprinkle some cheese over the sauce. Don’t overdo it!
How To Prepare in an Air-Fryer
- Prepare the chimichangas as instructed.
- Place them (usually 2 at a time) in the basket of your air-fryer.
- Spray them liberally with cooking oil.
- Air fry them at 400°F for about 10 to 12 minutes until crispy, flipping them over halfway through.
How To Prepare in Your Oven
- Prepare the chimichangas as instructed.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place them on a baking sheet and liberally spray cooking oil all over them, or, brush with olive oil.
Bake until nice and crispy, usually about 18 to 20 minutes.
EXPERT TIP: Though it’s not as healthy as air-frying or baking, giving them a quick fry in hot oil delivers authentic flavor and taste. But, no matter how you cook them, they are guaranteed to be delicious!
Other Classic Mexican, or Tex-Mex, Recipes to Try
The following recipes are fixtures on every good Mexican/Tex-Mex menu. They are fun to make at home and unforgettably delicious. Here are some we are certain you and your family will absolutely love!
Chicken Tinga Tacos
Shrimp Dorado Tacos
Smothered Beef Burritos with Chili Carne
Chicken Enchiladas with Verde Sauce
Best-Ever Chicken Quesadilla
Classic Refried Beans
These are many of our favorite dishes without a doubt and they are even better when made from scratch at home. But, in the meantime, isn’t this gem catching your eye?
If you love Mexican food as much as we do, you and your friends and family are going to flip for these deep-fried burritos!
You can adapt the fillings to your own tastes, but, we think the combination of the ground taco beefy mixture, refried beans, and melty cheese is heavenly!
Feel free to double the recipe for an unforgettable “chimi” party! Completed chimichangas will keep warm covered with foil, and then bake them all at once on a large baking sheet at 425°F with the ranchero sauce and cheese!
Ready to make the best chimichanga in town? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!
- Large skillet with about ½ to 1-inch of oil, or a deep-fryer
- Ranchero sauce click for recipe
- Refried beans click for recipe
For the Beef Filling
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 lb ground beef 85% lean
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp oregano dried, preferably Mexican
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 15 oz.can Ro-tel tomatoes with juice, See NOTES
- 1 cup beef broth or stock
- Prepare the ranchero sauce, and if desired, refried beans (click links in Ingredients for recipes).Ranchero sauce, Refried beans
Prepare the Beef Filling
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds, stirring often.1 tbsp olive oil, 1 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic
- Add the ground beef, breaking up the meat with a large wooden spatula or spoon. Cook until no longer pink and fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Tilt the skillet and use a large spoon to remove all but about 1 tbsp of the rendered grease. Discard safely.1 lb ground beef
- Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Continue stirring and cooking until fully combined and very aromatic, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the flour until well coated. Cook for another 1 minute.2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp Kosher salt, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Stir in the tomatoes and then the broth/stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let simmer until slightly thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes (don't let it get too dry!). Set aside until ready to use.1 15 oz.can Ro-tel tomatoes, 1 cup beef broth
Prepare the Chimichangas
- Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large saucepan to 350°F and preheat your oven to 425°F.Vegetable oil
- Warm the refried beans in a saucepan until warm and bubbly. Heat the tortillas briefly in the microwave or oven, until soft and pliable.6 large flour tortillas
- Working one chimichanga at a time, place about ¼ to ½ cup of the beans one half of the tortilla, leaving about 1 inch border from the edges. Place about the same amount of beef filling over the beans and then sprinkle cheese over the top.2 cups refried beans, 2 cups cheddar
- To form the chimichanga, begin rolling the tortilla over the filling, and then fold in the sides of the tortilla over the filling, about 1 inch on each side. Then, tightly roll the chimichanga, tucking the ends inwards once it's fully rolled. If desired, secure the seam with 1 or 2 toothpicks. (See blog post or video for visual reference).
- Working in batches, use metal tongs to carefully lower 1 to 2 chimichangas into the hot oil. You may need to use your metal tongs to keep the chimichanga closed. After a couple of minutes, very carefully flip the chimichanga over and cook until golden all over. Remove the chimichangas from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate or cutting board. Continue with the remaining chimichangas.
- Spoon about ½ cup of the prepared ranchero sauce over the top of each chimichanga and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of grated cheese over the top and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melty and bubbly.2 cups Ranchero sauce
- Remove from the oven and serve at once with pico de gallo, sour cream, and salsa on the side.½ cup sour cream, 1 cup pico de gallo, salsa
POST UPDATE: This post was originally published in October 2017 but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in January 2024!