Shaved Steak Chimichanga Recipe

As if burritos could get any better, just imagine one fried: the same delicious experience as a melty, flavorful burrito, but with a crispy shell that crunches with every bite. This is a chimichanga. Despite being deep-fried, chimichangas are hardly street food, instead being served on a bed of lettuce or with a mound of fresh toppings and salsa. A far cry from the late-night foods at Taco Bell, they're an utter delicacy.

These deep-fried, crispy burritos supposedly originated by accident when a startled restaurant owner accidentally dropped a classic burrito into hot oil. Though the multiple invention stories are a little far-fetched, we're here for a good tale — especially when it involves one of the best Tex-Mex foods of our time.

Even if you don't own a deep-fryer to "accidentally" release a burrito into, you can still make chimichangas at home with a deep pot and some oil. And with this recipe created by Michelle McGlinn, you don't have to spend hours making braised meats to stuff them with, either. This shaved steak filling is super tender and in just a half an hour tastes as flavorful and juicy as a slow-cooked pork shoulder. Yep, taco Tuesday just got way better.

Everything you need to make shaved steak chimichangas

Though the ingredients list may seem lengthy, most of the items needed for steak chimichangas are likely already in your kitchen, at least if you have a penchant for Mexican food. First up: the meat. If your store doesn't sell shaved steak and the butcher can't prepare it, grab a sirloin or strip steak and cut it very thin, or use ground beef instead. To marinate the beef, you'll need garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, and fresh lime and orange juices. 

The tangy condiment on top comes together with a few seasonings and Mexican crema, which you can replace with sour cream and/or yogurt if your store doesn't have it. Other ingredients you'll use in these chimichangas include white rice, about 2 quarts oil for frying, shredded pepper jack cheese, onion, radish, and burrito-size tortillas. Corn tortillas won't fry up the same way, so be sure to grab flour ones for this recipe.

Marinate the beef

In this multitasking-friendly recipe, you'll start by combining the garlic, lime juice, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, and a splash of oil in a large bowl. Massage the mixture into the steak, then let the meat marinate for around 20 minutes (which is about how long it will take to prepare the rice and crema). You can also do this step a few hours ahead for maximum flavor, but we recommend keeping the marination time under 8 hours.

Mix up the crema

Now for the sauce: Add the cilantro, crema, lime juice, salt, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped and the mixture is smooth, but not liquidy. If you don't have a food processor and are using a blender, gently pulse the mixture to chop the herbs. If the mixture is too sour or underseasoned, add another pinch of salt.

Cook the rice

Adding fluffiness to these chimichangas is simple white rice, cooked on the stovetop in about 15-20 minutes. For plain white rice, simply add 1 part rice and 2 parts water to a saucepan, bring to a boil, and cover and steam until the water is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. You can also use other types of rice in this recipe, such as brown rice or Mexican-style rice, or none at all: Feel free to swap the grain for black beans, refried pintos, or sautéed peppers.

Brown the meat

Much like cooking the perfect steak, searing the beef for the chimichangas will be fairly quick, especially with such thin slices. Simply place the marinated steak into a hot skillet and cook until browned, tossing only occasionally so the edges have a chance to crisp up. Once cooked, remove the steak from the heat.

Assemble the chimichangas

Assembling a chimichanga isn't so different from building a burrito, except that it's really important to close it securely. To fill the tortillas, add ¼ cup each of rice, meat, and cheese, as well as a spoonful or two of crema. This may not seem like a lot of filling at first, but after much testing, we've found this ratio to be perfect for successfully rolling and sealing the burritos. 

Roll from the bottom of the tortilla upwards, first folding in the sides and then curling the bottom into the top, pushing the fillings in while you roll. This may require some practice; just remember that the most important part is folding in the sides, which will help keep the fillings intact. Once rolled, stick two toothpicks into the tortilla to tightly fasten it closed.

Fry the chimichangas

Heat a few inches' worth of oil in a deep pot or Dutch oven to about 350 F. If you don't have a thermometer, take a small piece of tortilla and test it in the oil. When it sizzles on contact and begins to brown quickly, the oil is ready.

Working in batches of 1 or 2 at a time, gently lower each wrapped burrito into the hot oil and fry, flipping once the underside is deeply golden brown. If you're having trouble keeping the second side in the oil (the chimichangas may get heavy and roll to one side), use tongs to hold the chimichangas in place until golden. Remove once both sides are fried, and place on a wire rack to drain.

Serve the chimichangas

Chimichangas aren't filled quite the same way as burritos, since lettuce, cilantro, and other delicate add-ins would make them soggy and limp once fried. To solve this problem, the fresh ingredients are instead served on top of or underneath the chimichangas and paired with salsa or sour cream. We top our fried burritos with radish, onion, cilantro, and a good drizzle of crema for a refreshing taste and elegant presentation. If radishes or raw onions aren't your thing, you can also use lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, or shredded cheese, and pair it all with a homemade charred tomato salsa or salsa verde. 

Chimichangas are plenty satisfying on their own, but if you're looking for more of a spread, we recommend serving these with guacamole and chips, refried beans, and a classic frozen margarita recipe. These crispy chimichangas keep better than you'd expect, too: If you have an air fryer, pop the leftovers in for around 10 minutes for that perfect next-day crispness.

Shaved Steak Chimichanga Recipe
5 from 33 ratings
The chimichanga boasts the same delicious flavors of a burrito, but with a fried finish that crunches with every bite. This is your sign to make one (or four)!
Prep Time
Cook Time
steak chimichanga
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • For the marinated steak
  • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • Juice from ½ orange
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • 1 pound shaved steak
  • For the cilantro-lime crema
  • ½ cup Mexican crema
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup packed cilantro, roughly torn
  • Salt, to taste
  • For the rice
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • For frying and assembly
  • 2 quarts canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 4 burrito-sized flour tortillas
  • ½ white onion, diced, for serving
  • Radishes, thinly sliced, for serving
  1. Combine all of the steak marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix until the meat is evenly coated. Set aside for 20 minutes or for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. Meanwhile, place the cilantro-lime crema ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the rice and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, set the heat to low and cover. Steam until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes, then fluff with a fork and set aside.
  4. To sear the steak, heat a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the meat and remaining marinade. Cook until well browned, then remove from heat.
  5. To deep fry the chimichangas, add 2 quarts of oil to a large pot and bring to 350 F on the stovetop.
  6. Meanwhile, assemble the burritos. Top one tortilla with ¼ cup each of rice, shaved steak, and pepper jack cheese, as well as 2 tablespoons of cilantro-lime crema. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and roll from the bottom, wrapping the tortilla around the fillings. Once rolled, secure the ends with 2 toothpicks. Repeat with 3 more tortillas or until the fillings are gone.
  7. To fry the chimichangas, use kitchen tongs to carefully lower 1 or 2 burritos at a time into the frying oil. Cook on one side until golden brown, then flip over and continue to fry, holding in palce with tongs as necessary. Once completely golden on all sides, remove from the oil and place on a wire rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining burritos.
  8. To serve, dress the chimichangas with diced onion, radishes, and the remaining crema and cilantro.
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