Reinventing a restaurant favorite

I was browsing one of my new favorite websites the other day, (thanks to Professor Hancock) and stumbled upon a recipe for Chili’s southwest eggrolls. I order these just about every time I go to Chili’s, so you can imagine my glee at finding a recipe for them I could try on my own.  Now I’m throwing a little bit of a challenge to those of you who’ve just recently joined the world of cooking, but they’re definitely not as difficult as they appear (or taste!)  You’ll need to stock up on some ingredients, but the good news is, in my next post I’ll provide you with a recipe that you can use the leftovers in.  Forewarning to the folks scared of a little heat: these bad boys are SPICY!  You can always cut some of the ingredients, but that’s not really doing the recipe much justice, they’re meant to be hot!  These eggrolls are great for serving as appetizers if you’re having friends over, or just as a dinner for yourself.  I altered the recipe a little bit, and I’ll share my version with you below.  I also experimented with the directions and tried two different ways of making them: half fried, the other baked.  I thought the fried would taste way better; but I was pleasantly surprised when the baked tasted just as good, since it was the easier and healthier method the two.

For my slightly modified version you’ll need:

  • One boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/3 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 2 tablespoons frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley (I just used dried)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin (very important, don’t omit)
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (I used a Colby and Monterey jack combo)
  • four tortillas: the recipe calls for 5 7-inch tortillas; I used 6 halves of large tortillas because it was all I had, and it worked fine

I didn’t want to buy all the ingredients to make the avocado-ranch dipping sauce, but if you want to make it (at the restaurant, it definitely adds a great tough), then here’s the ingredients and recipe for that.  Otherwise, if you have some ranch dressing lying around, that’s a great substitute.


  1. In a pan on medium heat, cook the chicken breast thoroughly adding salt and pepper to both sides while it cooks.  
  2. While the chicken is cooking, dice the onion and jalapeno and rinse and drain the corn and the black beans to get them ready.  
  3. When the chicken is done, dice it into tiny cubes, throw it back on the heat and add the onions and crushed red pepper to the pan, letting them sizzle for a minute or so.
  4. Next (ready for this mouthful?) add the corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno, parsley, cumin, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper and let that all cook together for about 4 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from heat and add the cheese, then stir everything together (the cheese should melt into the mixture fast) and take it back off the heat
  6. Wrap the tortillas in a moist cloth and microwave for 45 seconds.  This sounds strange, but it really helps when you’re preparing the eggrolls.
  7. Now I didn’t really measure out the spoonfuls of mixture that went into each tortilla, so just kind of eyeball it.  The real recipe suggests about 1/5 into each tortilla, but since I used six I guess it would be about 1/6.

    fried eggrolls

  8. Fold the ends over and roll the tortilla up nice and tight.  If you have toothpicks in your kitchen, stick one at each end of the roll.  I of course did not have random toothpicks lying around my apartment, so I wrapped the eggrolls tightly in Saran wrap.
  9. Put them in the fridge overnight, or at least 4 hours before you’re going to fry/bake them.  I prepared them around 10 in the morning before class and then made them about 7 p.m. and they were fine.
  10. When you’re ready to make them, you have the choice of either frying, baking or both.  Like I mentioned earlier, baking them actually worked out fine, and it was far easier and less work. 
  11. To fry: Pour vegetable oil into a pan on medium heat.  You’ll need at least 2 inches at the bottom of the pan: the recipe suggests 4-6 cups (reason number one why baking is easier).  Using tongs, place the eggrolls (one at a time) into the oil and let the entire thing fry, flipping it on all sides.  They fry pretty quick, only about 2 minutes tops.

    baked eggrolls

  12. To bake: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, place all the egg rolls on a baking sheet, and stick them in for about 15-20 minutes.  Make sure you watch them, so you don’t burn them.  They should be browned and crispy (although not as dark and crispy as the fried version).
  13. No matter how you prepare them, let them sufficiently cool on a rack then cut them diagonally, so as to create triangle shapes (see the picture).

Now you’re ready to serve your appetizer!  They’re not too difficult, but they definitely give a gourmet air and I’ll bet you rack up those compliments, especially from the ones who like a little kick on their palate.

Here’s the visual guide:

Cook the chicken thoroughly


Dice the vegetables and rinse the corn and beans


Dice the chicken then put it back in the pan along with the onion and red pepper

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir


Take the pan off the heat and add the cheese, stir

Wrap the tortillas in a moist cloth and microwave

Place the mixture in the tortilla and roll and let them freeze overnight or at least four hours

To Bake:

Put the eggrolls in the oven for 15-20 minutes

To Fry:

Using tongs, place the eggrolls one at a time in oil on medium-high heat

Make sure you get each side in the oil, so the roll fries all the way around


For the fellow Chili’s lovers: check out more CopyKat recipes

Like the whole eggroll idea, but not sure about Southwest? Try one of these from


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Rick Hancock said,

    Looks good. Very good. Glad I could help with KopyCat.

  2. 2

    Kathleen Shannon said,

    MMMMM- These would go good with my favorite- “Chinese-Chicken lettuce wraps
    They’re healthier for you too- no tortilla shells.
    We’ll have an international dinner when you get home!
    You get to do all the cooking!- Thank-God…

  3. 3

    Shanghai Mike said,

    Now we’re talkin!

    Good stuff

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