Healthy, Puerto-Rican Inspired Chicken Empanada Recipe

Chicken empanadas are one of the most versatile flavors you can make when making homemade empanadas. You can take almost any chicken taco recipe and use it as the filling for your empanadas.

Chicken Empanada

I like to create fresh, tangy flavors to go into my chicken empanadas, while still using simple ingredients that my kids will actually eat. No one wants to sacrifice flavor for a picky eater, which is why I don’t dumb my chicken empanada recipe down for my boys, but do use ingredients I know they already like (or can at least tolerate).

No big surprises will be found in this Puerto Rican-inspired filling, as all ingredients are easy to find in your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Play around with this recipe. Add a little cumin or coriander if you like, throw in some black beans and corn, making a hybrid with our vegetarian empanada recipe. The skies the limit when it comes to chicken, so have fun!

Chicken Empanada Filling ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 Yellow pepper, finely chopped (Orange works too)
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced (or 2 tbsp jarred garlic)
  • 2 cup chicken stock (split in half)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional)

GATHER ALL OF YOUR STAPLE INGREDIENTS RIGHT HERE

Chicken Empanada

Make the shredded chicken

  1. Grab your Instapot or crockpot.
  2. Place chicken into pot.
  3. Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
  4. Mix in 4 garlic cloves smashed (or 1 tbsp minced garlic).
  5. Put the top on and cook in an Instapot for 20 minutes (or 6 hours in slow cooker).

Chicken Empanada Filling

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, 6 cloves of minced garlic (2 tbsps) and peppers, and sauté for about 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add chicken, cilantro, tomato paste, 1 cup of chicken stock, salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer, stirring often, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate (about 10 minutes).
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature or in the fridge for 2 hours (can chill overnight in the refrigerator too).
  6. Add cilantro (optional), before adding empanada mixture to shells.

NOTE: you still may need to drain the chicken empanada mixture before you put it into your empanadas. You don’t want a lot of juices seeping out. With clean hands, squeeze each measured out amount of filling before you put it into your empanada dough, to get out excess juices.

Grab our baked empanada dough recipe

Chicken Empanada

Making Chicken Empanadas

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (you may need to drop down to 375 degrees F if you the tops are browning too fast in your oven)
  2. Prepare two baking trays, lining each with parchment paper.
  3. Take your baked empanada dough out of the fridge.
  4. Measure out smaller dough balls (about 2-3 tbsps of dough). Roll each empanada dough ball with a rolling pin or use a tortilla press to make round empanada shells.
  5. Place about 1 tbsp of chicken mixture in the center of your empanada wrapper. Don’t forget to squeeze out any excess liquid.
  6. Fold the dough in half to connect the sides, crimp the edges with a fork and place on your baking sheet.
  7. Using a pastry brush, brush a bit of egg wash (whisk together 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water) on the top once you are ready to bake your chicken empanadas.
  8. Bake for 23-25 minutes until tops are golden brown.

NOTE: you can use store bought empanada shells found in the freezer section, but we like to make our own homemade backed empanada dough.

Chicken Empanada

More Empanada Fillings to Try

Freezing Chicken Empanadas

You can either bake your empanadas first or place your raw empanadas in a freezer bag, using parchment paper to separate raw chicken empanadas. If you are freezing raw empanadas, do NOT brush with the egg wash until you are ready to bake.

Empanada side dishes

You can serve your empanadas with a side of black beans, maduros (fried sweet plantains) and mojito sauce (recipe found here). We also love to enjoy our chicken empanadas outside on the porch with Mojito cocktails in hand. The lime goes perfectly with this empanada, and I can make virgin mojitos for the kids.

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Yield: 25

Chicken Empanadas

Chicken Empanada

This easy baked empanada dough will have you whipping up flaky pastry pouches once a week to feed your entire family. All you need to figure out is which filling to spoon into each circle of dough!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 Yellow pepper, finely chopped (Orange works too)
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced (or 2 tbsp jarred garlic)
  • 2 cup chicken stock (split in half)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional)

Instructions

Make the shredded chicken

  1. Grab your Instapot or crockpot.
  2. Place chicken into pot.
  3. Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
  4. Mix in 4 garlic cloves smashed (or 1 tbsp minced garlic).
  5. Put the top on and cook in an Instapot for 20 minutes (or 6 hours in slow cooker).

Chicken Empanada Filling

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, 6 cloves of minced garlic (2 tbsps) and peppers, and sauté for about 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add chicken, cilantro, tomato paste, 1 cup of chicken stock, salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer, stirring often, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate (about 10 minutes).
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature or in the fridge for 2 hours (can chill overnight in the refrigerator too).
  6. Add cilantro (optional), before adding empanada mixture to shells.

NOTE: you still may need to drain the chicken empanada mixture before you put it into your empanadas. You don't want a lot of juices seeping out. With clean hands, squeeze each measured out amount of filling before you put it into your empanada dough, to get out excess juices.

Making Chicken Empanadas

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (you may need to drop down to 375 degrees F if you the tops are browning too fast in your oven)
  2. Prepare two baking trays, lining each with parchment paper.
  3. Take your baked empanada dough out of the fridge.
  4. Measure out smaller dough balls (about 2-3 tbsps of dough). Roll each empanada dough ball with a rolling pin or use a tortilla press to make round empanada shells.
  5. Place about 1 tbsp of chicken mixture in the center of your empanada wrapper. Don't forget to squeeze out any excess liquid.
  6. Fold the dough in half to connect the sides, crimp the edges with a fork and place on your baking sheet.
  7. Using a pastry brush, brush a bit of egg wash (whisk together 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water) on the top once you are ready to bake your chicken empanadas.
  8. Bake for 23-25 minutes until tops are golden brown.

NOTE: you can use store bought empanada shells found in the freezer section, but we like to make our own homemade backed empanada dough.

Notes

Click for our Baked Empanada Dough Recipe

MORE FILLING IDEAS:

Freezing Chicken Empanadas

You can either bake your empanadas first or place your raw empanadas in a freezer bag, using parchment paper to separate raw chicken empanadas. If you are freezing raw empanadas, do NOT brush with the egg wash until you are ready to bake.

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