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Our 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, our tasty-filled pillows are the perfect make-ahead appetizers for parties and the holidays!
- What is an empanada?
- Chicken Empanadas Ingredients
- 3 Types of Empanada Dough
- How to Make Empanadas
- How to Assemble Chicken Empanadas
- Make-Ahead Baked Empanadas
- Can You Freeze Baked Empanadas?
- Empanada Recipes Tips
- Cook Chicken or Turkey and Use the Leftovers
- Side Dishes for Chicken Empanadas
- My Favorite Empanada Recipes
- 📌 Pin it for later!
- 📋 Recipe
- 💬 Reviews
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.
This recipe is always a huge hit at holiday get together along with a big pot of my chicken chili.
Chicken Empanadas Ingredients
Chicken Empanada Dough:
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- unsalted butter melted
- cold water
Chicken Empanada Filling:
- vegetable oil
- onions diced
- garlic cloves minced
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and shredded
- 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!
3 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.
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.
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 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.
Make-Ahead Baked Empanadas
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.
Can You Freeze Baked Empanadas?
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 in the oven.
You will need to add 8 to 10 minutes to the baking time.
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 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.
Cook Chicken or Turkey and Use the Leftovers
- BestTurkey Recipe
- Boneless Turkey Roast
- Grilled Turkey Recipe with the Best Turkey Rub
- Instant Pot Turkey Breast
- Buttermilk Roast Chicken
For more tips on cooking the best chicken recipes, check out my Chicken Temperature Chart complete with a cooking guide!
Side Dishes for Chicken Empanadas
My Favorite Empanada Recipes
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Let us know what you think of our Empanadas de Pollo 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.
Amazing 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.
- 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.