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My Chicken Empanada Recipe is a deliciously buttery, flaky, and flavorful little pillow of chicken with caramelized onions. This savory chicken hand pie recipe is easy to make ahead of time and bake up for an easy celebration.
Known as empanadas de Pollo, my tasty-filled pillows are the perfect make-ahead appetizers for parties and the holidays!
- Chicken Empanadas
- What is an Empanada?
- Empanada Recipe Dough Ingredients
- Chicken Empanadas Ingredients
- How to Make Empanadas
- How to Assemble Chicken Empanadas
- Empanada Recipes Tips
- Types of Empanada Dough
- Make-Ahead Empanadas Recipe
- Empanada Recipes FAQs
- Side Dishes for Chicken Empanadas
- Best Empanada Recipes
- 📌 Pin it for later!
- 📋 Recipe
- 💬 Reviews
This is hands down the recipe my family requests over and over for every family gathering. I have made hundreds of them for the holidays and even our summer vacations. They are so perfect for a fun meal or as an appetizer.
I always make them ahead of time and reheat them when everyone arrives. It is literally impossible to have just one!
The best empanadas I have ever made! Thank you for this delicious recipe.Paul via email
What is an Empanada?
Empanadas are baked or fried hand pies that can have either a savory or sweet filling. You may also hear them referred to as empanaditas, empanadillas, or pastelillos, depending on what country they are from. They are essentially turnover pastries. The name empanada comes from the Spanish term for “wrapped in bread”, they are found by different names in many cultures.
Empanada Recipe Dough Ingredients
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- unsalted butter melted
- cold water
Chicken Empanadas Ingredients
- vegetable oil
- onions diced
- garlic cloves minced
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and shredded – shredded chicken recipe
- ground cumin
- ground black pepper
- ground red chili
- hot water
I love using leftover Thanksgiving turkey for this recipe. It’s the perfect use of leftovers!
How to Make Empanadas
- In the bowl of a food processor, 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 it in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Drizzle oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant.
- Stir in shredded chicken and season with paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, and ground chili. Add water and cook, uncovered until most has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Make-ahead tip: At this point, the chicken empanada filling can be refrigerated until the next day if desired.
How to Assemble Chicken Empanadas
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the butter pastry dough into a thin sheet. Use a 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 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 until all are folded and sealed.
Empanada Recipes Tips
- Be careful not to over-stuff the pastry, or the crust may become difficult to close and split open while baking.
- I made the edges look like a rope by pulling the edge out slightly and folding them 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 they are completely sealed to keep the chicken filling inside.
Types of Empanada Dough
Our recipe uses a homemade dough recipe, but this is optional!
- Make your own dough using our recipe.
- Use store-bought pie dough.
- Use Goya discos -You can find these in the freezer section of your grocery store along with other international foods.
We have tried this recipe using all three types of empanada dough and they are all equally delicious. The homemade empanada dough is a little more buttery and flaky, but pie dough and Goya discos also work really well when in a rush.
Follow my step-by-step instructions on how to make empanada dough.
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.
Make-Ahead Empanadas Recipe
One of the most convenient things about this recipe is you can prepare the entire recipe ahead of time and then bake it right before your guests arrive. It is a perfect party recipe.
The empanada 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.
Empanada Recipes FAQs
Yes! After assembling and sealing them, 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 them in the oven. You will need to add 8 to 10 minutes to the baking time.
Side Dishes for Chicken Empanadas
Best Empanada Recipes
For more tips on cooking the best chicken recipes, check out my Chicken Temperature Chart complete with a cooking guide!
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Chicken Empanadas Recipe
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter melted
- ½ 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
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ 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 ¾ 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.
- 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.