Our Chicken Empanada Recipe is the best way to use leftover chicken! Empanadas de Pollo have a buttery, flaky dough and flavorful chicken filling with caramelized onions.
This easy, savory hand pie recipe is easy to make ahead of time and store in the freezer for later. Chicken empanadas are perfect for a party and the holidays!
What is an empanada?
Empanadas are baked or fried hand pies, also called turnovers, that can have either a savory or sweet filling.
You may also hear them referred to as empanaditas, empanadillas, or pastelillos, depending on where they are from.
Although the name empanada comes from the Spanish term for “wrapped in bread”, empanadas are found by different names in many cultures, from European to Latin American and Asian cuisine. Here are just a few examples:
There are endless possibilities for empanada fillings. This is the best chicken empanada recipe using shredded chicken, caramelized onions, and warm spices, all baked in a shortcrust empanada dough.
What tools do I need to make empanadas?
To make these baked empanadas, you will need:
- A skillet
- Your oven
- Two baking sheets
- Optional: Food processor, rolling pin, pastry cutter
If you will be using our homemade pie dough recipe to make these chicken empanadas, you will need a food processor and a rolling pin to roll out the dough.
Otherwise, all you will need is a skillet to cook the chicken filling, your oven, and a couple of baking sheets!
🥟 Chicken Empanada Ingredients
Our recipe for shredded chicken empanadas uses a homemade empanada dough recipe, but this is optional!
You can also use Goya discos, which are found in the frozen foods section of most grocery stores, or premade pastry dough.
This is an easy empanada recipe, whether you’re using premade dough or making your own! However, if you have the time, I recommend trying our simple pie dough recipe. It makes the best baked empanadas.
Buttery Dough Recipe
- All-purpose flour
- Unsalted butter, melted
- Cold water
Empanada Filling Recipe
- Vegetable oil
- Medium onions, diced or thinly sliced
- Garlic cloves minced
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- Ground cumin
- Salt and pepper
- Ground red chili
- Hot water
The flavor in this chicken empanadas filling makes them similar to a Peruvian chicken empanadas recipe! Peruvian empanadas have a few other ingredients, like olives. You can even add a little lime zest if you’d like!
🥟 Empanada Dough Options
When it comes to making empanadas, whether you’re making these chicken empanadas, Puerto Rican Empanadas, or any homemade empanada recipe you can think of, you have a few options for what to use!
- Make your own dough – we have an empanada dough recipe just below you can follow step-by-step to make your own dough for empanadas!
- Use store-bought pie dough – it’s true! You can use premade pie dough to make empanada shells, and it will work out perfectly.
- Use Goya discos – Goya makes frozen empanada dough discs that are perfect for using in homemade empanada recipes. You can find it in the freezer section of your grocery store along with other international foods.
🔪 How to Make Empanadas
Homemade empanadas are easy to make, from the dough to the filling. Plus, you can always use ready-made dough, like Goya discos, instead of making a pie dough recipe by hand.
But, empanada dough is easy to make, and so tasty! I recommend giving it a try for this recipe for chicken empanadas, if you have the time.
How to Make Empanada Dough
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a dough blade, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Slowly add in melted butter, followed by enough water to create a soft and smooth dough.
- Form the butter pastry dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
If using Goya discos instead of making your own empanada dough recipe, make sure to thaw them for at least 30 minutes before making the filling, so they’re ready to bake when you need them.
Making Empanada Filling
- Drizzle oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Stir in shredded chicken and season with the paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, and ground chili. Add water and cook, uncovered until most has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Make ahead tip: At this point, the filling can be refrigerated until the next day if desired.
Assembling the Empanadas
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or lightly grease.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the butter pastry dough into a thin sheet. Use 4 3/4 inch circular cutter to cut out circles of dough. If you don’t have one, use a small plate or bowl and cut around it as a guide. If using Goya discos, skip this step.
- Place about 2 tablespoons of the chicken filling in the center of each circle. Brush the edges lightly with a little beaten egg, fold the dough over the filling, and press the edges together to seal. Seal completely using the tines of a fork or create a rope appearance by pulling the edge out slightly and folding over, starting from one end and finishing at the opposite side. Repeat with remaining empanadas.
- Place the chicken empanadas two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with beaten egg and bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.
❓ Can you make empanadas ahead of time?
Yes! One of the best things about this easy empanada recipe is that you can prepare both the empanada filling and homemade dough ahead of time.
And, if you’re wondering what to do with leftover chicken, homemade empanadas are a perfect recipe to use it in. Leftover chicken recipes have never looked so good!
The pie dough recipe can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to two days in advance. After simmering the chicken empanada filling, it can also be refrigerated overnight.
This will even give the flavors more time to develop and deepen, so I recommend trying it if you want to make this recipe ahead of time.
❄ Can you freeze baked empanadas?
Yes! After assembling and sealing the chicken empanadas, you can arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, unbaked, and freeze until solid.
Transfer to a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to three months. You can bake them straight out of the freezer with a quick brushing of egg wash before placing in the oven, but you may need to add a few minutes to the baking time.
⭐ Family Foodie Tips
- If you’re not sure what to do with leftover chicken, all kinds, like shredded rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken breast, work perfectly for the empanada filling.
- Be careful not to overfill the empanadas, or the crust may become difficult to close and split open while baking.
- To seal the empanadas, I made a rope appearance by pulling the edge out slightly and folding over, starting from one end and finishing at the opposite side. You can also use a fork to crimp the edges, or an empanada press. Whichever method you use, the important part is to make sure the empanadas are completely sealed to keep the chicken filling inside.
🥗 What goes with homemade empanadas?
You can enjoy this chicken empanada recipe on its own as an easy lunch, snack, or dinner, or you can serve it with side dishes as part of a larger meal!
Serve baked empanadas with rice, beans, or corn. Vegetables are a great choice for pairing with this hand pie recipe!
- Elotes Mexicanos
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Elote Dip
- Chorizo Dip with Spinach
- Portuguese Rice or White Rice
Puerto Rican rice is a great choice to serve with these empanadas. We talk more about Puerto Rican rice in our recipe for Puerto Rican Empanadas!
You can also serve baked empanadas with a light, zesty salad. A southwest salad, for example, would be a perfect choice. Or, opt for a simple fresh vegetable salad.
If you want to enjoy a cocktail recipe with your chicken empanadas, try Moscato Sangria. Its citrusy flavor pairs well with the empanada filling! Our Fruity Coconut Rum Cocktail and Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri are great choices, too.
📖 Mexican Dinner Ideas
- Mexican Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Soup
- Mexican Lasagna Recipe with Tortillas
- Chilaquilas Rojos
- Mexican Shrimp Rice Bowl
📖 Easy Empanada Recipes
What could be better than an easy empanada recipe? Try a few more below:
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Let us know what you think of this recipe below with a comment and rating! This is one of our favorite recipes with chicken, and we would love to hear how it goes for you.
Chicken Empanada Recipe
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions diced or thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and shredded
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red chili
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 egg beaten
To make the empanada dough:
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a dough blade, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Slowly add in the melted butter, followed by enough water to create a soft and smooth dough.Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the empanada filling:
- Drizzle the oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.Stir in the shredded chicken and season with the paprika, cumin, salt, black pepper, and ground chili. Add the water, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until most of the water has evaporated, 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. At this point, the filling can be refrigerated until the next day if desired.
To assemble and bake the chicken empanadas:
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or lightly grease.On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin sheet. Use 4 3/4 inch circular cutter to cut out circles of dough.
- Place about 2 tablespoons of the cooled chicken mixture in the center of each circle. Brush the edges lightly with a little beaten egg, fold the dough over the filling, and press the edges together to seal. Seal completely using the tines of a fork or create a rope appearance by pulling the edge out slightly and folding over, starting from one end and finishing at the opposite side. Repeat with remaining empanadas.
- Place the empanadas two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the tops with beaten egg and bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.
- I made these Chicken Empanadas using a homemade pie dough, but you can easily substitute with premade Goya discos, which are found in the frozen section of most grocery stores.
- Be careful not to overfill the empanadas or the crust may become difficult to close and even break open while baking.
- To seal the empanadas, I made a rope appearance by pulling the edge out slightly and folding over, starting from one end and finishing at the opposite side. You can also use a fork to crimp the edges. Whichever technique is used, the important part is to make sure the empanadas are completely sealed along the edges to keep the chicken filling inside while baking.