I’m bringing that crispy deep-fried restaurant style meal straight to your kitchen by teaching you How to Make Chimichangas in an Air Fryer! Best of all, they’re just as satisfying as the restaurant version, but with way less oil!
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What’s the difference between a chimichanga and a burrito?
Fact: I was all ready to call these “fried burritos” because I totally forgot what chimichangas were. Technically, they are fried burritos, but I forgot there was another name for that (HINT: it’s chimichanga).
During the course of my life, I’ve never ordered a chimichanga at a restaurant because, well, they’re deep fried burritos! Not exactly on the healthy side, right? But when made at home and not actually deep fried… now you’re talking!
To summarize: a chimichanga is a deep fried burrito. All chimichangas are burritos, but not all burritos are chimichangas. That should help clear up any confusion.
So, my chimichangas are air fried instead of deep fried…
So if they’re air fried instead of deep fried, are they still, technically, chimichangas? I honestly have no idea, but I’m sure you won’t care about all the technicalities after you’re busy eating one of these bad boys.
Once you start air frying things and realizing they taste nearly or sometimes even exactly the same as their deep fried counterparts, you will be so impressed and excited, you won’t be able to contain it. Just try listening to me and my husband explain the hashbrowns that come out of the air fryer!! Lucky for you, that’s for another post.
What kind of filling can I put in my chimichangas?
Chimichangas usually have a filling of meat, cheese, vegetables and spices. The version shown in the photos and described in the recipe below is a very simplified one, meant for you to personalize and make your own. I prefer shredded salsa chicken in my burritos (and chimichangas), so that’s what I’ve done here. I’ve also included one can of refried beans which I mixed with the salsa chicken for a super easy meat and bean filling.
Other filling ideas you can try in your chimichangas:
- Use ground turkey or ground beef instead of the salsa chicken.
- Use only 1 pound of meat and add some sauteed veggies like peppers and onions.
- Remove all the meat and sub for taco seasoned roasted vegetables.
- Do only beans and cheese with no meat.
- Use black beans instead of refried beans.
- Use enchilada sauce instead of salsa.
- Add some green chilis or other peppers.
- Add some sour cream to the filling to make it creamy.
What kind of tortillas should I use to make air fryer chimichangas?
There are two things to consider when it comes to tortillas for air fryer chimichangas:
- Size: You should definitely go with “burrito” size tortillas, as this will give you the most room to fill your chimichanga and wrap it well without splitting. If you get a smaller size tortilla, this can still work but you will have much smaller chimichangas. Two chimichangas wrapped with burrito sized tortillas fit into my air fryer at one time.
- Softness: I don’t care what brand or variety of tortillas you use, as long as they are soft and resistant to splitting. Letting your tortillas come to room temperature before wrapping up the chimichangas can help. Though not the healthiest option, white flour tortillas tend to be the softest and have never ripped for me while making chimichangas.
How do I wrap the chimichangas?
Wrapping burritos and chimichangas perfectly takes a small amount of practice, but what’s harder is not putting too much filling on to the tortilla in the first place. Overfilling the chimichanga can lead to the tortilla splitting or ripping, and the filling leaking out. Go with less filling rather than trying to make them huge.
Since a photo is worth one thousand words, here are four step-by-step photos of how to wrap the chimichangas so no filling will leak out and they can be air fried to perfection. Each photo is explained below.
Step 1: Pull the sides of the tortilla over each end of filling until tight.
Step 2: Using your thumbs, pull the bottom of the tortilla up and over the filling, covering the sides you folded over in Step 1.
Step 3: Tuck the bottom of the tortilla you folded in Step 2 into the burrito, also tucking the sides from the top and bottom of the tortilla.
Step 4: Fold the burrito over the remaining open tortilla so it covers the tucked sides and bottom.
It will look like this on the bottom, sort of like an envelope? but a delicious burrito/future chimichanga envelope:
What kind of air fryer do you use?
I own the Philips 2.75 qt Viva Air Fryer , and I absolutely love it! Frozen things that are normally baked or fried come out crispier than I’ve ever tasted. Plus you always save time by not having to heat up the oven, so that’s definitely a win.
Another bonus about air frying rather than deep frying is there is little to no mess to clean up! If your chimichangas are tightly wrapped, no filling will leak out, so your air fryer will remain pretty clean after you cook up a batch of these chimichangas.
Can these air fryer chimichangas be made ahead?
Yes! There are two main ways to make these chimichangas ahead of time. The method you prefer will depend on how you like your burritos the most!
- Completely cook the entire batch of air fryer chimichangas, then reheat individually as needed. With this method, you cook all the chimichangas, eat what you want, then store the rest in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat these chimichangas in the microwave for about two minutes. The air fryer also works for reheating, but it’s probably easier to store the uncooked chimichanga until you want to air fry it instead of air frying it twice.
- Prepare the chimichangas but do not air fry, store until ready to be eaten, then air fry. You can store un-fried chimichangas in the fridge or freezer until ready to be prepared. Add two minutes to air fry time for completely chilled chimichangas. For frozen chimichangas, wrap in foil and air fry for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. The foil will keep the outside from getting too crispy before the inside is heated through. (Another version of this method is to simply prep the filling ahead of time, then assemble and air fry the chimichangas when eating).
How long does it take to air fry a frozen burrito or chimichanga?
This will vary depending on the brand of air fryer you own, but it will take around twice as long to air fry a frozen chimichanga. I would also recommend wrapping the chimi in foil so the outsides of the tortilla don’t get over crisp or burnt before the inside is completely heated. Generally, I would recommend air frying from frozen for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Can you reheat a chimichanga after it has been air fried?
Yes, definitely. If you don’t mind losing some of the crisp, toss your already air fried chimichanga into the microwave for 2 minutes. It will still be delicious (think those burritos you get in a 12 pack in the freezer section), but will not be as crispy as straight from the air fryer.
You can also air fry the chimichanga again, or reheat in a cast iron skillet to retain crispness.
How to Make Chimichangas in an Air Fryer (2 min 13 sec):
More How-to’s from Project Meal Plan:
- How to Make Whipped Greek Yogurt
- How to Cook Quinoa in the Instant Pot
- How to Make and Freeze Homemade Pizza Sauce
I’m bringing that crispy deep-fried restaurant style meal straight to your kitchen by teaching you How to Make Chimichangas in an Air Fryer! These chimichangas work great for meal prep and are freezer friendly!
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 16-ounce can refried beans
- 6 burrito size flour tortillas
- 1 + 1/3 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
- avocado oil spray
- serve with: greens, salsa, sour cream, cheese, cilantro, etc.
Make the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Place chicken thighs in a 9×13 casserole dish and drizzle with oil. Add cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Use tongs to coat all the chicken in oil and seasonings and then arrange the chicken thighs in one flat layer. Spoon salsa over the chicken and spread the salsa to cover all the chicken completely.
- Bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F.
- Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest and cool for a few minutes, then shred the chicken using two forks.
- Add the chicken (and cooking liquid/salsa) to a large bowl. Add the refried beans and mix well.
Make the chimichangas:
- Preheat your air fryer at 360F for 3 minutes.
- Assemble the chimichangas by laying out your tortilla and spooning about 1 + 1/3 cups filling into the center of the tortilla, then sprinkling with about 1/4 cup cheese.
- Wrap tortillas and filling into a tight and secure burrito/chimichanga that holds all the filling inside (see pictures above to help). Step 1: Pull the sides of the tortilla over each end of filling until tight. Step 2: Using your thumbs, pull the bottom of the tortilla up and over the filling, covering the sides you folded over in Step 1. Step 3: Tuck the bottom of the tortilla you folded in Step 2 into the burrito, also tucking the sides from the top and bottom of the tortilla. Step 4: Fold the burrito over the remaining open tortilla so it covers the tucked sides and bottom.
- Carefully place two chimichangas into the warmed air fryer, folded side down. Spray very quickly in one swipe on top of each one with oil spray (no need to flip).
- Cook chimichangas in the air fryer on 360F for 6-10 minutes, or until browned and crispy to your liking. Continue with two more batches, making 6 chimichangas total. Enjoy now or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
- To heat frozen but assembled chimichangas, wrap in foil and air fry for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. The foil will keep the outside from getting too crispy before the inside is heated through. See more make-ahead instructions below.
MAKE-AHEAD OPTIONS: Completely cook the entire batch of air fryer chimichangas, then reheat individually as needed. With this method, you cook all the chimichangas, eat what you want, then store the rest in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat these chimichangas in the microwave for about two minutes. The air fryer also works for reheating, but if you want to air fry them, it’s easier to store the uncooked assembled chimichangas until you want to air fry them instead of air frying twice.
Prepare the chimichangas but do not air fry, store until ready to be eaten, then air fry. You can store un-fried chimichangas in the fridge (up to 4 days) or freezer (up to 2 months) until ready to be prepared. Add two minutes to air fry time for completely refrigerated chimichangas. For frozen chimichangas, wrap in foil and air fry for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. The foil will keep the outside from getting too crispy before the inside is heated through. (Another version of this method is to simply prep the filling ahead of time, then assemble and air fry the chimichangas when you want to eat them).
Feel free to use a different kind of meat instead of my baked salsa chicken mixture. Mix your meat with the salsa and beans.
I have this Philips 2.75 qt Viva Air Fryer . Please keep in mind temperatures and cook times will vary slightly based on the make and model of your air fryer. The base of this recipe is my Based Salsa Chicken Thighs. Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal. Video added 3/5/19.
- Serving Size: 1 burrito
- Calories: 497
- Fat: 17g
- Carbohydrates: 43g
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 42g
Keywords: air fryer, air fried food, chimichanga, burrito, chicken, salsa, dinner, meal prep
So can you see why the air fryer is my new favorite appliances this season? Tag me on Instagram or use #projectmealplan to share your air fryer creations with me!