A Chimichanga is a Mexican-American fusion food. It is really a burrito prepared with a choice of protein, vegetables, and spices that is then deep-fried in oil. The exterior flour tortilla shell or wrap is crispy and bubbly similar to an eggroll. Chimichangas are mainly made with chicken, beef, or beans. I have also had them stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat.
Chimichangas are often served on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with cheese and red or green sauce. It is one of my favorite preparations of a burrito.
It is thought that the chimichanga was invented in Arizona in one of two Mexican-style restaurants. One restaurant claims the cook accidentally dropped a burrito into the deep fryer and cussed, hence the unusual name. Another cafe claims that the chef took burritos that didn’t sell one day and tossed them into the deep fryer the next day to bring new life to them. Either way, it was a good idea.
I have to admit that a deep-fried burrito is a caloric-rich indulgence that might not be part of your daily diet routine. However, you can cook frozen chimichangas in your air fryer for a healthier spin. You will need to brush some oil on the burrito so that the tortilla will crisp up. They only take a few minutes to cook.
Cooking Frozen Chimichangas in Your Air Fryer
Like frozen burritos in an air fryer, this is super easy. Just preheat your air fryer to 350°F for 5 minutes. Brush or spray the frozen chimichangas with a high smoke point oil, such as avocado oil.
Place the frozen chimichangas in the air fryer in a single layer with the seam side facing up. Cook for approximately 15 minutes total time. Turn the chimichangas over every 5 minutes so they get evenly browned. Serve with your favorite sauce and other toppings.
You can use a jarred sauce or make your own red or green chili sauce. You can prepare the sauce up to a day in advance. It will keep well in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
How Should I Serve Chimichangas?
As mentioned, chimichangas are often served on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with cheese and sauce. What I especially like about chimichangas is the crisp shell. So, I am not one who drowns my chimichangas in sauce. I actually like to prepare 2 sauces and serve them on the side with other condiments.
The sauces and condiments that I think work best are mostly those that are common in the Southwestern US. That is likely because that is what I am familiar with and I am pretty sure they would not be what you would get on a chimichanga in Mexico.
Here is what I like to serve in bowls that everyone can choose from and spoon onto their plates or over their chimichangas:
- Red chili sauce
- Green chili sauce
- Queso fresco
- Sour cream
It needs to be noted that in the southwest, especially New Mexico, there is a bit of a debate about whether red or green chili sauce is what you should have with your meal. It is customary to order your burrito, huevos rancheros, or enchiladas with one or the other. What’s the difference?
Red and green chili peppers are actually one and the same. Some peppers are picked green while others are left to ripen on the plant until they turn red. Both are roasted and peeled to be used to make chili sauce. The difference between the two sauces is in the preparation.
If the seeds and the veins of the pepper are removed the sauce won’t be as hot as if they were left intact. The heat might be the same in both sauces if the seeds and white pith are in the sauce. Red peppers are riper than green peppers so they can have a sweeter flavor. A green pepper sauce may have a more herbaceous flavor. It is simply a matter of taste.
Air Fryer Frozen Chimichangas
- 4 of your favorite frozen burritos
- Avocado oil
- Red chili sauce
- Green chili sauce
- Queso fresco
- Sour cream
Total time:20 min – Prep time:5 min – Cook time:15 min per batch – Serves:4 people
1. Preheat the air fryer at 350°F for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the wrappers from the frozen burritos. Brush them liberally with avocado oil. Place the burritos in a single layer, apart from one another, seam side up.
3. Cook for 5 minutes and turn over. Brush a little more oil on the burritos. Cook for another 5 minutes and turn over again. Continue to cook until the flour shell is golden brown and crisp, approximately another 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Serve the burritos while hot over a bed of shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce with warm red chili sauce and any other toppings you enjoy. A recipe for red chili sauce follows.
Red Chili Sauce (Gluten-Free)
- 2 ounces (about 5) dried whole red New Mexican chili peppers
- 1 cup water or chicken stock
- 1-1/2 tsps canola or avocado oil
- 1/4 medium onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 tsp sea salt (more to taste)
Total time: 30 minutes – Prep time: 5 minutes – Cook time: 25 minutes – Yield: 1 cup
1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, toast the chilis until they are warm and fragrant, approximately 1 to 2 minutes per side.
2. Remove the chilis from the skillet and set aside until cool enough to handle. Wearing rubber or latex-free gloves, break each chili pod into several pieces discarding the stems and seeds.
3. Place the chilis in a blender and pour in the water or stock. Puree until almost smooth.
4. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté several minutes until the onion is translucent.
5. Pour in the blended chili mixture, oregano, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for a total of 20 to 25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste. The sauce is ready when cooked down enough to coat a spoon thickly but still slide off of it easily.
6. Serve warm over your chimichangas or refrigerate for later use.
What to Serve with Chimichangas?
Chimichangas are a complete meal for some. They have protein, veggies, cheese, and sometimes rice all wrapped in a tortilla. Unless you are heating up a chimichanga for a quick lunch, you may want to make a complete meal for your family or guests. Of course, start with the toppings already mentioned.
You can prepare a southwestern feast starting with a pitcher of margaritas. Then add some of these side dish and dessert ideas to your chimichangas:
- Refried beans
- Crunchy fried pickles
- Southwestern cabbage slaw
- Mexican red rice
- Grilled corn on the cob with cotija cheese and lime
- Flan with caramel sauce
Leave a Reply