Making empanadas from scratch can be a labor intensive project, but there are plenty of shortcuts that can bring you from prep to table in about 45 minutes.
We start with shredded chicken. This step can be pretty quick if you use rotisserie chicken, or leftovers from another meal. This is also a good place to use some of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
If you don’t have cooked chicken on hand, you can poach the chicken in water or stock, boiling it at a low simmer for 8 – 15 minutes depending on whether the chicken is bone-in or not.
The chicken breast can also be baked in the oven at 350 degrees (177 C) until cooked through (about 25 minutes). The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees (74 C) no matter which cooking method you use.
If cooking the chicken yourself, this step can be done a day or two in advance. Be sure to keep the chicken well covered in the fridge so that it won’t dry out.
Empanada Dough Discs
There are several ways to form dough rounds to make the outer pastry for the chicken empanadas. The first is making the dough by scratch and cutting out the rounds using a form. (A recipe for empanada dough is included below).
Pre-made dough, such as for biscuits or crescent rolls, also work well. You can even cut the rounds out of pre-made pie crust. The results maybe slightly sweeter if using any of these options, so check the sugar content in any store bought dough.
Our favorite option is to just purchase pre-made discs (either in the freezer or refrigerator section at the grocery story). If using frozen just remove them about 30 minutes before use to make sure they are thawed and ready to use.
We also use plastic molds in order to fill the empanadas more easily. They come in a variety of sizes and are very handy if you also like making dumplings, ravioli or even calzones, depending on the dumpling making kit you choose.
If you don’t have a dumpling mold, it’s easy to cut the dough into rounds using a cookie mold or small bowl as a guide. It’s easiest to crimp the seams with a fork, but you can also fold them to make a pretty result.
Chicken and Cheese Empanadas
I have to admit that I really love cheese. As it turns out, so do these empanadas. To make Chicken and Cheese Empanadas, just mix in 3/4 cup (62g) of shredded cheese, such as cheddar, provolone, jack cheese (or combination of similar cheeses together) and 4 tablespoons (56g) softened cream cheese to the filling below and cook as directed. Note: Recipe will yield about 4 additional empanadas
Buffalo Chicken Empanadas
For another variation, try this buffalo chicken variation. Just substitute minced celery for the red bell pepper. Add 2 tablespoons (30ml) of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to the filling. Adjust and add a little more Frank’s hot sauce if you want to spice things up. Finally, mix in 1/2 cup (41g) shredded cheddar cheese, 4 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup (20g) blue cheese crumbles and 1 diced green onion to the filling and bake as directed. Note: Recipe will yield about 4-5 additional empanadas
Chicken Curry Empanadas
This is actually one of my favorite ways to use up leftover roasted chicken or turkey. Just add a tablespoon (6.4g) of your favorite curry powder when simmering the filling after adding the poultry.
Sauce to Serve with Chicken Empanadas
There are lots of choices for sauces (or salsas) to serve with your empanadas. We often make a simple chimichurri sauce (a nod to Argentinians, who put this salsa on the table to use with whatever they like).
It’s an a simple sauce featuring garlic, fresh parsley and olive oil that adds flavor without overwhelming the dish.
We also love this vibrant Mexican salsa chile de árbol – which brings more heat to the party.
Here are some additional Mexican Inspired Recipes you might enjoy!
- 2 Cups (280 g) Shredded Chicken Breast (about one pound raw).
- 1/2 Sweet White Onion, Finely Diced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, Finely Diced
- 2 Medium Carrots, Finely Diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3/4 Cup (180 ml) Low-Salt Chicken Stock
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons (21 g) Each of Sweet Paprika, Oregano & Cumin
- 1/4 Teaspoon (3.5 g) Cayenne Pepper (optional)
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 5 inch (12 cm) Empanada Discs (see recipe for empanada dough below if making your own)
- 1 Egg
Add Oil to a frying pan over medium heat
Once it reaches temperature, add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, until they begin brown slightly
Add the garlic, red bell peppers, carrots and spices
Sauté for 3 minutes
Add the shredded chicken and 1/2 cup (118 ml) of the chicken stock
If the mixture still appears dry, add the rest of the stock
Simmer for approximately 8 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper and spices to your liking
Allow mixture to cool before assembling the empanadas
Make an egg wash by whisking together one egg and a tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Set aside.
Empanada Assembly and Baking
Fill each disc with 2 heaping spoonfuls of filling. If using a mold, put the filling in the center of the fold and press together firmly.
If filling the empanadas without a mold, place the filling on one half of the dough disc, fold the dough over and close the edges with a fork.
If the edges of the dough are not sticking together well, you can use an egg wash or water to help moisten and seal the edges.
Place the filled empanadas on a greased cookie sheet, spacing them out evenly.
Just before placing in the oven, brush some of the egg wash mixture over the top of each empanada.
Place the cookie sheet in the center of an oven which has been preheated to 375 degrees (190 C).
Allow them to cook for 15 minutes. Check to see whether they appear to be cooking evenly. If not, you can turn the cookie sheet around in the oven so that the ones that were in front are now situated at the back of the oven.
Allow the empanadas to continue to bake until they are golden brown (about 10 - 20 minutes).
Remove and allow to cool on a baking rack.
Serve warm alongside a salsa such as chimichurri or salsa de chili àrbol.
Amount Per Serving Calories 239Total Fat 13gSodium 118mgCarbohydrates 22gProtein 7.9g
- 2 1/2 cups (312 g) all-purpose flour
- 5 oz (142 g) salted butter (cold, cut into cubes)
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) cold water
- 1 egg (beaten)
- Add the flour, butter to a food processor, using the blade attachment.
- Pulse until the butter and flour combine into pea sized lumps.
- Add the egg and pulse again a few times. Add the water slowly just until a ball is formed. You may need a little more or less water for this to occur.
- Remove the dough and kneed on a lightly floured surface until a soft smooth texture is obtained.
- Form the dough into a disc shape and cover in plastic wrap.
- Place in in the refrigerator for one hour
- Divide the dough into four pieces. Each should be enough to make 4 empanada discs.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 5 inch (12 cm) Rounds.