These Southwestern Eggrolls are just like the popular appetizer at Chili’s, made with chicken, spinach, corn, and black beans. Now you don’t have to go out to get them.
One of my favorite appetizers from anywhere is Chili’s Southwestern Eggrolls. They are so good. Dipped in an avocado cream sauce, they are practically irresistible. That’s why I had to learn how to make them at home, since we now live in the UK, where are no Chili’s.
What’s in a Southwestern Eggroll?
I don’t have an inside peek at the Chili’s southwest eggroll recipe, but I have spend a lot of time deconstructing it to figure out all the essential ingredients.
The exterior shell is a wonton wrapper (or flour tortilla). Inside you’ll find chicken, corn, black beans, red bell pepper, spinach, jalapeno peppers, Monterrey Jack cheese, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Yes, it’s a lot of ingredients, and that’s not all it takes. I never said this was an easy recipe!
How to Make Southwestern Eggrolls like Chili’s
This recipe all starts with a simple spice mix. These chicken eggrolls have a flavorful chili powder and cumin spice.
The second rule is that the chicken shouldn’t be fried straight out of the refrigerator. If added to the oil cold, it will lower the temperature of the oil and lead to a less crispy exterior. So let the chicken sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before breading.
1. Mix up the spices
Combine all these spices in a bowl and mix them up, so it’s ready to go.
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2. Chop up the Ingredients
You’ll need to finely chop a few of the ingredients so they are in very small pieces. Everything should be roughly the same size so it all cooks evenly and makes the roll easy to close.
The things that need chopped are:
- Chicken breast
- Bell pepper
- Jalapeno peppers
3. Mix Everything Together
Start with a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and then saute the chicken until it’s nearly cooked through. Then add all the ingredients from above, including the spice mix. Stir it all together.
Allow it to cook for about 3 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Next, add the cheese and stir to combine. Allow it to slowly melt into the mixture.
4. Stuff the Eggrolls
The next step is to add the filling to the wonton wrappers (or flour tortillas – pictured; more on that choice later). Just be sure not to overstuff the wrapper, or it will be difficult to roll it up.
To roll, place the wrapper on a flat surface, fold the left and right edges over the ingredients on each end. Fold the flap closest to you over the top of the ingredients. Press the flap firmly against the filling and roll the wrap up tightly (like a sleeping bag).
Once the wrapper is filled and rolled, give it a light squeeze to compact the ingredients together. This helps keep the ingredients together when you cut them in half, so filling isn’t fall out.
5. Fry or Bake the Eggrolls
Some people firmly believe you need to put the prepared eggrolls in the freezer for a few hours before deep frying them. This can reduce the uptake of oil when frying. I don’t personally do this, but you can experiment with it if you like. If the oil in your fryer is at the proper temperature (350-375 degrees F), then freezing isn’t necessary.
If you have a deep fryer, you can pop these in the bubbling oil for about 4-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them and remove them when they are a nice golden brown color. If you’re using a skillet, add enough cooking oil (vegetable, canola, peanut) to the pan to form at least an 1/8in base. Test the temperature of the oil before beginning.
If you’re baking these eggrolls, put them on a baking sheet in the oven for about 8 minutes per side at 375 degrees. They should also begin to turn golden brown before you remove them.
6. The Dipping Sauce
At Chili’s, they serve these Southwestern Egg Rolls with an avocado cream sauce. The easiest way to make this sauce is by combining ranch dressing with avocado and pureeing it in the blender.
I prefer to make my own ranch dressing with the powdered mix, mayonnaise, and milk, rather than buying it pre-made, but however you like to do it is fine. Just combine the two in a blender or food processor and mix it up until it’s smooth. Then serve it on the side. You can also serve these with a pico de gallo salsa, if you don’t like creamy sauces.
Variations of an Eggroll
There are actually quite a few ways to make these awesome chicken eggrolls, so you can make adjustments based on your preferences. For example, I leave out the spinach because I’m allergic to it. Leaving out, or substituting, an ingredient or two doesn’t drastically affect the outcome.
Another adjustment I make once in a while is using flour tortillas for the wrap instead of eggroll wrappers. I always have flour tortillas around the house, so it’s possible to make these even when I don’t have eggrolls wrappers on hand.
I personally use wonton wrappers for making small eggrolls for appetizers or snacks, and I use flour tortillas when I’m making these as a meal, because they hold more. I also will fry the wonton wrappers, and bake the flour tortillas.
Finally, you can choose to fry or bake these southwest eggrolls. At Chili’s they’re deep fried. If you’re trying to achieve the same affect, you’ll also want to fry them. I’m just as happy to bake them, and it’s healthier without all the oil added in. It’s really all about your preferences.
What to Serve it With
As an appetizer, you can serve these Southwestern Eggrolls alongside homemade guacamole or a Bacon Jalapeno Cheeseball. If you’re serving it as a main meal, which I end up doing more often than not, it can be served with a Bacon and Jalapeno Corn Salad or Elote (Mexican street corn).
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For the seasoning:
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
For the Eggrolls:
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil plus extra for frying
- 1 chicken breast fillet about 6 oz
- 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/3 cup canned or fresh corn rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup canned black beans rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup red bell pepper finely chopped
- ¼ cup onion finely chopped
- ¼ cup frozen spinach thawed, pressed and chopped
- 2 tbsp jalapeno peppers diced
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro minced
- 6 wonton wrappers (or 4 6" flour tortillas)
For the dipping sauce:
- 3 tbsp Ranch dressing
- ½ avocado
- 1 tbsp milk or water
- Combine the spices in a bowl and mix well.
- Finely chop the chicken, red bell pepper, onion, and cilantro in very small pieces. Everything should be roughly the same size.
- The spinach should be thawed and squeezed of water, so it’s very dry. Then chop it finely as well.
- Use a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil and saute the chicken until it's nearly cooked through. Then add all the filling ingredients and the spice mix. Stir it all together.
- Allow it to cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat to medium-low. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Allow it to slowly melt into the mixture.
- Add the filling to the wonton wrappers (or flour tortillas). Be sure not to overstuff the wrapper.
- To roll, place the wrapper on a flat surface, fold the left and right edges over the ingredients on each end. Fold the flap closest to you over the top of the ingredients. Press the flap firmly against the filling and roll the wrap up tightly.
- Once the wrapper is filled and rolled, give it a light squeeze to compact the ingredients together.
- Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until it reaches 375 degrees. Add the eggrolls to the pan and fry on all sides for approximately 3 minutes. Keep a watchful eye so it doesn’t burn.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool. Slice in half at a diagonal to serve.
- To make the dipping sauce, add Ranch dressing and avocado to a blender or food processor. Blend for one minute. Serve in a small bowl.