This chimichanga recipe is a shelf cooking dream! Use your leftover meat to whip up a delicious Mexican fiesta. Fried in oil or baked in the oven, they are easy to make and bursting with flavor! After one bite, you'll be doing a happy dance.

closeup picture of homemade chimichanga, from Shelf Cooking

Raise your hand if your favorite Mexican food is the chimichanga. Raise your hand if you just like saying “chimichanga.” 🙂 Oh, hey! Us, too.

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A Chimichanga is basically a fried burrito. Don't worry; you don't need a deep-fat fryer. Things are SO much easier if you just fry them with a little oil in a pan! Want to oven-bake them instead? No worries! We'll tell you how to do that, too, and still get a crispy coating. Score! Here we go, you guys.


Chimichangas are super versatile. You can make them with chicken, pork, or beef. Any type of shredded meat will do. Chimichangas are actually the perfect thing to make with leftover meat, so if you are in the middle of a spending freeze, you are in luck! You don't have to sacrifice flavor for frugality.

Lets taco 'bout chimichanga fillings:

There are TONS of recipes for meat you can use. Just pick your favorite. We also like to add leftover rice and/or refried beans to our chimichangas, along with shredded cheese.


woman rolling a chimichanga, from Shelf Cooking

Now, to roll up your chimichanga, you just need to:

  • Lay out a large flour tortilla and place your shredded meat (along with any other fillings, like beans, rice, or cheese) close to one side of the tortilla. Make sure to leave a little room on both sides.
  • Now fold the end up over the top of the filling.
  • Next, fold both sides in over the top. Hold them there while you roll the whole Chimichanga over.
  • Keep rolling the Chimichanga, folding the sides in as necessary. Finish with the seam side down.


Now it's time to fry the chimichangas. In a frying pan on the stove, pour about half an inch of vegetable oil. Heat over medium until the oil is hot.

You'll know oil is hot when you toss in a bread crumb, and it sizzles and turns golden brown. If it browns or burns quickly, your oil is too hot, and you'll need to turn it down a little and wait for it to cool. Otherwise, your chimichanga will get too brown on the outside and not heated in the middle.

  • Using tongs, gently place one chimichanga at a time, seam-side down, into the hot oil. You may need to keep the tongs in place or gently press down on top of the chimichanga to keep it from unrolling in the oil.
  • If desired, you can place another chimichanga in the oil. Don't try to fry more than two at a time, or the oil temperature will lower too much.
  • When the bottom has become golden brown, rotate the chimichanga to fry another side. You may need to use the tongs to hold it together if the seam starts separating from the chimichanga.
  • Continue rotating until all the sides have been fried and are golden and crispy. Remove from the oil and place on a plate to cool slightly before serving.


If you don't want to fry your chimichangas, you can bake them in the oven! Simply place them seam-side down on a baking sheet, brush with vegetable oil, and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cover your baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup!


homemade chicken chimichangas, from Shelf Cooking

After the chimichangas have cooled, you can freeze them! Just place them in an airtight plastic bag and place toss them in the freezer.


Simply reheating chimichangas in the microwave will leave you with a soggy tortilla. But trying to reheat them in the oven results in an overly-crispy outside, but not-hot inside. (Plus, it takes a long time). So for individual chimichangas, try this approach:

If the chimichanga has been stored in the refrigerator, reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds. If it is frozen, reheat in the microwave for one minute. Then place in a 350°F oven for about ten minutes, until the outer covering is crispy again. (We love using the toaster oven because it heats up really quickly).

These times are just estimates. Be sure to watch and take your chimichanga out of the oven when your desired level of golden crispiness has been achieved.


Ok, you guys. The time has come! We hope you're hungry. These are SO flavorful and different every time depending on what meat you choose to use!

closeup picture of homemade chimichanga, from Shelf Cooking

15-Minute Chimichangas

Make these Chimichangas with your leftover meat! Use chicken, pork, or beef to fill your Chimichanga, then fry or bake them up for a nice crispy tortilla.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6


  • 1 lb shredded seasoned chicken, pork, or beef
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth if needed
  • 6 large flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • oil for frying


  • Warm up your shredded meat in a frying pan, add a cup of chicken or beef broth if your meat is a little dry. Meat should be warm and moist.
  • Grab a tortilla, place it on a hard flat surface and add about ¼ cup of shredded meat to on side of the tortilla. Add cheese and other desired fillings including rice or beans if you would like.
  • Fold one end of the tortilla over the top of the filling, then fold the sides over the top. Continue folding until the chimichanga is secure and no fillings can escape.
  • Heat a ½ inch of vegetable oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Watch it close to be sure that it doesn't get too hot. Fry your chimichanga until golden on all sides! Remove from heat and let rest.
  • Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, and any other toppings you would like!
Keyword chimichangas, use leftovers

We love our chimichangas with guacamole and the best salsa ever. (The recipe is on our sister site, Fun Cheap or Free!)

So remember, the next time you make meat in the crockpot, be sure to save some so you can make these easy, super delicious chimichangas!

What are your favorite go-to recipes to use up leftovers? Drop us a comment below!

this chimichanga recipe is ready in 15-minutes, from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more clever ways to use your leftovers?

Pass the guac!