Although the exact origin of the chimichanga is not documented, all of the histories agree that the chimichanga (or chimi) was "invented" in Arizona. The founder of Macayo's restaurants in Phoenix claims to have invented the Chimichanga in 1946. Another less plausible story has a chef accidentally dropping a burrito into the frying oil at El Charro in Tucson in 1922.

This recipe makes a wonderful shredded beef or pork filling for chimichangas, but the meat can also be used in tamales, burros, or even in a torta (sandwich).


5 lbs. beef roast (or beef and pork, or even chicken)
3 Tb. butter or olive oil

2 or 3 chopped onions

1 small can chopped green chilis
1 jar green chili salsa
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1-2 Tb. cumin
4 to 6 Tb. flour
Meat juices

Cook the roast all day or overnight in a slow cooker, or roast in oven or a pressure cooker. Sirloin tip roast or a good brisket with the fat trimmed off are two good choices for meat. The better the cut of meat, the better these will taste. Ask the butcher about cuts of meat, because you will need one that shreds well when cooked. Cool the meat and keep the juices. If you want less fat, refrigerate the juices until the fat separates and solidifies, and remove it from the beef broth. Shred the beef. 

In a big pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil or butter, and then add the green chilis, garlic powder, salt, and cumin. 

Add the green salsa and heat thoroughly. Use a good quality mild or medium salsa, since the salsa is the major flavor component of the meat mixture.

Stir in flour, then about a cup of the meat juices and cook until thick. The mixture should almost look like a paste. 

Add the meat to the mixture and heat well. Taste the meat and adjust seasonings, add salt, etc. If the mixture seems a little dry, add some more of the reserved meat juice until the consistency seems right.

You can use the meat immediately, keep it warm in a crockpot, or refrigerate the meat at this point. The meat freezes well. 

Makes about 9 cups meat. Also great for tamale filling, served plain, or rolled up in a tortilla, fried or not fried.

To make the Chimichangas:
6 large flour tortillas

3 cups Chimichanga meat mix
Warm tortillas. Heat meat. Heat 1/2 inch oil to 400° in large, heavy skillet. Spread 1/2 cup meat in center of tortilla. Fold bottom up over meat, then both sides in, then roll up and secure the tortilla with a toothpick. Work as a team, or put together all the chimis before you start frying them. Fry two at a time for about 2 minutes or until golden and crisp on each side. Drain on a paper towel. Don't forget to remove the toothpicks before serving. Serve immediately (within 3-4 minutes) with shredded lettuce, salsa, chopped tomato, guacamole, sour cream, olives, and chopped green onions.

Baked version: After the chimis are assembled, place them in a greased pan, seam side down. You can brush them lightly with oil or butter if you want at this point. Bake them in a 425° oven for 10-15 minutes until heated and nicely brown.

{Edit added by Tiffany} This recipe can also be made with chicken--see our Chicken Chimichanga recipe and the Chicken Chimichanga Meat recipe!


  1. Thanks for the chimichanga history! This looks like a great recipe I need to make!


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