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!
So, my chimichangas are air fried instead of deep fried…
Question: 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 explain the TJ’s hashbrowns that come out of the air fryer!! Lucky for you, that’s for another post.
Watch how to Make Chimichangas in an Air Fryer (2 min 13 sec):
What are the ingredients in these Air Fryer Chimichangas?
While the filling mixture is a lot more versatile ingredients-wise, I would definitely stick with burrito size tortillas so you have enough space for the filling. Here’s what I used for the chimichangas pictured in this recipe:
- boneless skinless chicken thighs – For more tender and juicy chicken in my chimichangas, I prefer to use chicken thighs, but chicken breasts would work too! You can also use a rotisserie chicken instead, or your favorite filling combo if you like something else better.
- ground cumin, garlic powder & salt – This is the seasoning for the chicken thighs, plus cooking them in salsa for a super juicy baked chicken base.
- salsa – Use your favorite salsa to cook the chicken thighs in and use as the chimichanga filling.
- refried beans – For refried bean and chicken chimichangas, I grab a can of refried beans out of the pantry and mix it up with the cooked salsa chicken.
- burrito size flour tortillas – I highly recommend using larger burrito sized tortillas so you can safely wrap up your chimichangas and they’ll stay closed.
- shredded Mexican blend cheese – Make it cheesy!!
- avocado oil spray – This is necessary for making the outside of the chimi crispy!
- serve with: greens, salsa, sour cream, cheese, cilantro, etc. make it however you want 🙂
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?
UPDATE 2021: I have upgraded my air fryer to the Cosori XL 5.8 qt Air Fryer (affiliate link!) which I love even more than the smaller Philips. I like the non-stick basket a lot better than the metal grate style.
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 to store air fryer chimichangas:
Uncooked chimichangas: 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.
How to freeze chimichangas:
Freeze uncooked but assembled chimichangas on a sheet pan in a single layer for at least 4 hours, then transfer to an airtight freezer safe container such as a large Stasher bag.
How to reheat a prepared air fryer chimichanga:
From the fridge: 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 for 6-8 minutes, or reheat in a cast iron skillet to retain crispness.
From the freezer: Wrap in foil and air fry at 360F for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. The foil will keep the outside from getting too crispy before the inside is heated through.