A deep fried chimichanga is a crispy, fried burrito filled with meat, beans, cheese, and other fillings. Chimichangas are a popular Tex-Mex food, but their high calorie count may cause some to think twice before indulging. So just how many calories are in a deep fried chimichanga? Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Chimichanga?
A chimichanga is a fried burrito that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The word “chimichanga” means “thingamajig” or “whatchamacallit” in Spanish. Chimichangas are made by taking a flour tortilla stuffed with meat, beans, cheese, rice, and other fillings, folding it into a rectangular or triangular shape, and then deep frying it until golden brown and crispy.
Common chimichanga fillings include:
- Shredded chicken, beef, or pork
- Refried beans or black beans
- Cheese such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or queso fresco
- Onions and peppers
- Guacamole or avocado
- Sour cream
Once filled, the chimichanga is folded into a rectangular or triangular shape before being submerged in hot oil and fried until crispy and golden on all sides. Chimichangas are often served with sides like rice, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, and salsa.
Calories in a Chimichanga
The number of calories in a chimichanga can vary considerably depending on the size, specific fillings, cooking method, and amount of oil used for frying. On average, a 6-inch deep fried chimichanga contains around 500-800 calories.
Here is the calorie breakdown for a typical 6-inch deep fried chimichanga:
- Flour tortilla: 200 calories
- 2 oz shredded chicken: 140 calories
- 2 tbsp refried beans: 50 calories
- 1 oz cheddar cheese: 110 calories
- 1 tbsp guacamole: 25 calories
- Oil for frying: 150 calories
Total: Around 675 calories
Calories can quickly add up if you eat a large chimichanga, add extra fillings like rice and sour cream, or serve it with high-calorie sides.
Factors Affecting Chimichanga Calories
Several factors affect the number of calories in a chimichanga:
Larger chimichangas contain more calories. A 12-inch chimichanga may have over 1000 calories, while a smaller 3-4 inch chimichanga may have around 300 calories.
The ingredients inside the chimichanga impact calories too. Fillings like rice, cheese, sour cream and guacamole will be higher in calories than leaner fillings like chicken, veggies and beans.
A deep fried chimichanga has more calories than a chimichanga baked or pan-fried with minimal oil. Frying adds about 150 calories of oil per chimichanga.
Serving chimichangas with high-calorie sides like rice, beans, guacamole, cheese dip and chips will increase the overall calorie count of the meal.
Restaurant vs Homemade
Restaurant chimichangas are often larger and cooked with more oil, so they may contain more calories than a homemade chimichanga.
Highest Calorie Chimichanga Fillings
Certain fillings can quickly drive up the calorie count of chimichangas. Here are some of the highest calorie chimichanga fillings:
|Filling||Calories (per 2 oz)|
Lowest Calorie Chimichanga Fillings
To make a lower calorie chimichanga, opt for lean fillings like:
|Filling||Calories (per 2 oz)|
|Shredded chicken breast||70|
|Lean ground beef||90|
Making a Lower Calorie Chimichanga
Here are some tips for making a lower calorie chimichanga at home:
- Use a smaller 6-8 inch tortilla
- Choose lean fillings like chicken, veggies, black beans
- Limit high-calorie fillings like rice, sour cream, cheese
- Use just 1-2 tbsp oil for pan frying instead of deep frying
- Use just small amounts of cheese, guacamole, and sour cream
- Serve with salsa, lettuce, pico instead of rice and beans
- Share one chimichanga between two people
Healthiest Chimichanga Options
To make a healthy chimichanga, follow these nutritionist-recommended options:
- Shredded chicken or pork
- Sauteed veggies like peppers, onions, mushrooms
- Black beans or pinto beans
- Tomato salsa
Pan fry with 1-2 tbsp avocado or olive oil instead of deep frying. This saves about 150 calories of oil per chimichanga.
- Serve with tomato salsa and guacamole instead of sour cream
- Serve with a side salad instead of rice to increase veggies and fiber
- Avoid chips, queso dip, and other fried side dishes
Stick to a 6 inch chimichanga and cut leftover portions in half to control portions and calories.
Chimichanga Calories Compared to Other Foods
How do chimichanga calories compare to other popular foods?
|6″ deep fried chimichanga||675|
|Chicken burrito (chipotle)||415|
|Nachos with beef, beans, cheese||1,000|
As you can see, chimichangas are higher in calories than tacos and enchiladas due to their larger size and fried preparation, but lower in calories than nachos. When dining out, tacos or enchiladas are usually the healthiest options.
Tips for Enjoying Chimichangas Guilt-Free
Here are some tips to enjoy deep fried chimichangas more healthfully:
- Share it. Split one chimichanga between two people to control portions.
- Size down. Opt for a smaller 3-4 inch chimichanga.
- Fill up on salad first. Start your meal with a low-calorie salad with salsa dressing to help fill up.
- Avoid chips and dip. Resist the urge to add even more calories with fried tortilla chips and cheese dip.
- Swap the sides. Sub out rice and beans for a side salad or fresh veggies.
- Limit extras. Go light on toppings like guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.
- Skip the chips. Avoid the additional calories of tortilla chips by skipping appetizers.
Chimichanga Nutrition Facts
Here is the full nutrition breakdown for a 6-inch deep fried chimichanga:
As you can see, chimichangas are high in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and carbs. They offer protein and a little bit of fiber, but are lacking in other nutrients. Overall, chimichangas are a high calorie food that is best enjoyed occasionally.
Healthier Chimichanga Alternatives
If you love the taste of chimichangas but want a healthier option, consider these alternatives:
Baking chimichangas instead of frying removes about 150 calories of oil per chimichanga. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until crispy and brown.
Turn your chimichanga fillings into a burrito bowl without the fried tortilla. Top rice, beans, meat and veggies with fresh guac, salsa and a sprinkle of cheese.
Make a salad with chimichanga fillings like grilled chicken, beans, corn, peppers and top with salsa and crushed tortilla chips instead of chimichanga shell.
Healthy Chimichanga Wrap
Fill a whole wheat tortilla with chimichanga fillings, fold into a burrito shape and heat in a panini press for a crunchy, grill-marked wrap.
A deep fried chimichanga contains approximately 500-800 calories on average depending on size and fillings. Chimichangas are high in fat, carbs, and sodium since they are deep fried in oil and filled with high-calorie ingredients. To lighten them up, opt for lean fillings, bake instead of fry, control portions, and skip high-calorie sides and dips. While chimichangas are a tasty indulgence, tacos, enchiladas and burrito bowls are usually healthier Tex-Mex options.