There’s nothing better than melty cheese, flavorful chicken and salsa wrapped up in a slightly crispy tortilla. The flavors meld together and are the ultimate in comfort food for my family.
You see, my boys love their Nana’s chicken and cheese chimichangas. Everyone in our extended family loves them. Our friends from high school and college love them. Anyone she’s made them for loves them. It’s become one of those comfort foods that reminds us of her. She usually makes a large batch and keeps some always on hand in the freezer. My oldest son and his cousin compete to see who can eat more in one sitting (I think his cousin holds the record at 8).
I thought the recipe was her Mexican family’s super secret recipe passed down from generations (yea, it’s that good). Luckily for me, it wasn’t and after we had my oldest son, she willingly let me in on the not-so-secret recipe from a Pace picante cookbook, this one is pretty close to her original.
I think traditionally chimichangas are fried but I like that these are baked in the oven so they are still crispy without frying. I’ve been making these for years and made tweaks to her original recipe both to save myself some time and to add some flavor. My boys still DEVOUR them.
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Tools & Ingredients I Use to Make this Recipe Easier
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Dutch Oven* (similar to the one I use)
Pyrex Glass Bakeware Set* (similar to the one I use. I use the 13×9 and smaller rectangle for this recipe)
Tortilla Keeper* to keep tortillas warm and soft so chimichangas are easy to roll (similar to the one I use)
Black and Decker Toaster Oven* for reheating chimichangas (works well to reheat biscuits, pizza, waffles and french toast too)
Avocado Pitter and Slicer* (I don’t have one but I wish I did)
Ok, enough chit chat…let’s get to the good stuff. Here’s the recipe.
- 1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded and skin removed
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack)
- 1 cup salsa (I used Pace Picante Three Pepper Restaurant Style salsa), add more to taste
- ½ to 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ to 1 tsp garlic powder
- 24 small fajita size flour tortillas
- Cooking spray
- Avocado, sour cream and extra salsa for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove skin from rotisserie chicken, take meat off the bone and shred into a large mixing bowl.
- Preheat large Dutch oven to medium heat and when heated, add a teaspoon of olive oil. Swirl to coat the bottom.
- Add chicken, salsa, cumin and garlic powder and cook until the liquid from the salsa boils down, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a griddle or skillet to medium heat.
- Cook tortillas for about 30 seconds each side to get warm enough so easy to roll chimichangas but not toasty. Keep tortillas in a tortilla keeper or on a plate covered with a paper towel in the microwave to keep warm.
- Spray a 13x9 pan and a smaller rectangular pan (preferably glass) or a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray.
- Assemble chimichangas by taking a warmed tortilla, about 2 tbsp chicken and cheese mixture in the middle, top with a little shredded cheese, roll it up and put in the prepared pan.
- Repeat until all the chicken and cheese filling is used.
- Take a cold stick of butter and lightly coat the tops and corners of each chimichanga.
- Top with any leftover cheese if desired.
- Cook in 350 degree preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes depending on how crispy you want them.
- Serve with avocado, extra salsa and sour cream on the side if desired.
This is such an easy recipe to make ahead of time which is perfect for feeding a big crowd or holiday gatherings. You can double the recipe and freeze some for later. To reheat, thaw the chimichangas if frozen and rebake them at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes and they taste good as new. Those chimichangas in the picture? They are leftovers I ate for lunch the next day after I made them. Still AH-MAZING!
The beauty of this recipe too is that you can easily modify if to suit your family’s tastes. Vegetarians can add a few cans of black beans and sauteed onions, peppers and sweet potatoes instead of the chicken. Spice lovers can add some jalapenos or habaneros. Gluten-free families can make these with corn tortillas and top with enchilada sauce or salsa or use the chicken, salsa and cheese filling on top of tortilla chips to make a killer plate of nachos (that’s how I eat it when I’m being good).
Whichever way you cut it, these Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas are sure to please your family whether you are sitting around the Christmas table, a party table or a busy weeknight dinner table. I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine does, it’s one of our favorites!
Other Crowd-Pleasing Recipes Like This You Might Enjoy:
The Secret to Easy Rotisserie Chicken You Can Make at Home + 13 Delicious Ideas for Leftovers IF You Have Any! (you can use this recipe to make your own rotisserie chicken or grab one from the grocery store or Sam’s Club)
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