History of the Chimichanga

There is a debate on how the chimichanga actually came to be, but there seems to one story that most people believe to be true. It is said that it all started in Arizona at El Charro restaurant. The owner supposedly dropped a burrito into a vat of hot oil. When he saw what happened, he went to say a Spanish swear and said “chimichanga” instead. The two words have similar letters in them, so it was an easy mistake to make.

History of the Chimichanga, Ixtapa Mexican Grill and Cantina, MassachusettsThere is another chef located in Arizona that claims he made the first chimichanga. He states that he would put unsold burritos into the deep fryer and sell them as “toasted monkeys.” They came to the conclusion that chimichanga means toasted monkey. When a chimichanga went through the deep-fryer, it would become golden-brown. This color resembled, you guessed it, a toasted monkey.

Even though there are both of these stories, the chef from El Charro doesn’t try to take credit for inventing the chimichanga. He just lets the other chef take any credit necessary for the invention. If you feel like trying to take on your own adventure creating a chimichanga, here is a delicious recipe provided by Food Network. It is a great way to create your own masterpiece in only an hour from the first spoon of butter to the placement on your plate!

 Chimichanga Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small tomato, chopped, plus more for topping
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 ½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 15-ounce can refried beans
  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese, plus more for topping
  • Mexi-sauce, for topping
  • Shredded lettuce, for topping
  • Mexican rice, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Melt the butter with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in the skillet; transfer to a bowl. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt; toast 30 seconds. Add the tomato and cilantro and cook until slightly dry, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken and sour cream and warm through. Remove from heat.

Brush a rimmed baking sheet with some of the butter-oil mixture. Spread 2 tablespoons refried beans down the center of each tortilla, leaving a 2-inch border on both ends. Top with 1 cup chicken mixture and ¼ cup cheese. Fold in the ends and roll up.

Put the chimichangas seam-side down on the baking sheet; brush with the butter-oil mixture. Bake 8-10 minutes per side, brushing again after you flip. Top with the sauce, more cheese, lettuce and tomato. Serve with rice and the remaining beans.

Make Chi-Chi’s Mexi-sauce:

Sauté ½ cup chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves in a skillet with vegetable oil. Add a pinch of each of chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt; cook 30 seconds. Stir in two 4-ounce cans of chopped green chiles (drained and rinsed); cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth and simmer until thickened, then puree. Stir in ¼ cup chopped cilantro.

Chimichangas are always a great meal to share with family and friends. When you don’t feel like cooking, come on down to Ixtapa Mexican Grill and Cantina located in Groton, Lexington, Lunenburg, and Woburn, Massachusetts. We serve authentic Mexican food and drinks, and will make sure to take care of you here!