Empanadas de Pollo (Chicken Empanadas)

Empanadas de Pollo: Chicken Empanadas Recipe

The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Cool/Chill: 90 mins
Total: 3 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 10 to 15 empanadas
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
661 Calories
38g Fat
60g Carbs
20g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 661
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 48%
Saturated Fat 12g 60%
Cholesterol 231mg 77%
Sodium 794mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 60g 22%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 271mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Most countries in Latin America have their own delicious version of an empanada, a handheld half-moon-shaped turnover, all wonderful and juicy. Some are baked, some are fried, most are filled with meat or chicken, some have meat and chicken (and eggs), some have dairy, some don't. It's hard to choose a favorite, and if you ask a person from each country, they will assure you their local empanadas are the best. With hundreds of empanadas to choose from, it's impossible to crown a winner, but a fair bet in the rankings is the chicken empanada, or empanada de pollo.

All empanadas follow the same premise: tasty dough, hearty filling, crunchy outside, and spicy or other complementary dipping sauces. In the United States, most people have heard of Argentinian or Chilean empanadas, but the truth is all countries from Mexico to Chile have one or more versions. Our delicious take on an empanada uses juicy chicken, caramelized onions, olives, and pieces of hard-boiled egg. But in the empanada realm, all is fair, so use your imagination, as the standard is mainly the shape and not the size or filling—although smaller is always better to allow the crust to cook and the inside to warm up.

If you're making lots of empanadas, consider cooking the filling and making the dough the day before. Some say that the overnight rest enhances the chicken flavor and that the additional rest time makes a more pliable dough—but making everything the day of still makes wonderfully flavorful empanadas. Serve the empanadas as a snack; light lunch or dinner, or as a casual appetizer—alongside spicy ají—to accompany your favorite beer.


Click Play to See This Chicken Empanadas Recipe Come Together

"The recipe for chicken empanadas had many steps but was not difficult. The dough came together nicely and was a snap to roll and shape, and the filling was easy and delicious. Before filling the empanadas, remember to taste the chicken mixture for seasoning and moisture. The chicken empanadas were excellent." —Diana Rattray

chicken empanadas, south american/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Dough:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, more for rolling

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup chilled lard, or vegetable shortening

  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1 cup water, divided

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 cube chicken bouillon

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, more for the pan

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon​ chili powder, or to taste

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 cup sliced green olives

For Brushing:

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 tablespoon water

Steps to Make It

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make empanada dough

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  2. Place the flour in a medium bowl and stir in the salt and sugar.

    flour in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the chilled lard and butter, and with the help of 2 knives or a pastry cutter, cut the fats into the flour until you have a sandy mixture.

    butter cut into flour

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 of the cup of water.

    whisking eggs in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  5. Stir 1/2 cup of the water-egg mixture into the flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough starts to come together.

    empanada dough in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  6. Knead the dough, adding more of the water-egg mixture as needed, until the dough is smooth. If the dough feels dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup of water 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough might feel shaggy but will be pliable yet firm once thoroughly chilled.

    empanada dough in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  7. Add an additional pinch of salt if you'd like savory crusts.

    empanada dough in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  8. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    empanada dough in a bowl wrapped in plastic

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  9. When ready to use, the dough should be soft and smooth, not elastic. If you poke a hole in the dough with your finger, the indentation should remain.

    empanada dough in a bowl

Poach the Chicken

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make poached chicken

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  2. Place the chicken in a medium saucepan. Crumble the bouillon on top and add the bay leaf. Cover with water and bring it to a boil.

    chicken breast in a saucepan with bay leaf

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  3. Once the liquid is boiling, lower to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes, Remove from heat and let the chicken breasts cool in the broth.

    poached chicken in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  4. Shred chicken into small pieces.

    shredded chicken in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  5. Moisten the shredded chicken with 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Set aside.

    shredded chicken in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

Make the Filling

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onions, paprika, cumin, chili powder, sugar, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

    onions and spices cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  2. Cook over low heat until the onions are soft and transparent, and the mixture has a lively orange color, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and add more chili powder if desired.

    onions and spices cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the chicken. Let the filling cool for at least 30 minutes. Some cooks choose to refrigerate overnight, but as long as the filling is not too hot, you can proceed to finish the filling and assemble the empanadas.

    onions and shredded chicken cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the hard-boiled eggs and olives to the filling.

    shredded chicken and onions cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

Assemble the Empanadas

  1. Mix the egg yolk with the water. Set aside.

    egg yolk and water in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  2. Divide the empanada dough into 10 to 15 golf ball-sized pieces. Roll each one into a smooth ball.

    balls of empanada dough on a plate

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  3. Let the divided dough rest for 5 minutes.

    empanada dough balls on a plate

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  4. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball of dough into a circular shape of about 6 inches in diameter.

    empanada dough circles

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  5. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling into the middle of the circle. You want a good amount of chicken but not enough to overfill the disc of dough.

    empanada dough circles with chicken filling

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  6. Lightly brush the edges of the dough along the bottom half of the circle with water.

    brushing the edges of empanada dough

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  7. Fold the top half of the circle over the filling to form a semicircle. Firmly press the edges together to seal.

    uncooked empanadas on a wood cutting board

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  8. Brush the pressed edge with water and fold the edge over itself, pinching and crimping as you go to make a braid-like effect.

    adding pleated edges to empanadas

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  9. Place empanadas on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush each empanada with the egg yolk and water mixture.

    empanadas on a sheet pan

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

  10. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    empanadas on a sheetpan

    The Spruce Eats/Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variations

  • For a nice flavor contrast, add 1/2 cup of raisins to the chicken mixture when you add the green olives and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Instead of poached chicken breasts, shred the meat from a plump rotisserie chicken—you'll need approximately 4 cups of shredded chicken.

Use a Different Dough

For a different version of the empanada:

  • Buy the empanada dough discs at a supermarket that sells Latin foods. The discs have the exact shape that you need and are a wonderful substitution for homemade dough.
  • Alternatively, use puff pastry. Although it isn't traditional unless you're purposely making empanadas de hojaldre (puff pastry empanadas), puff pastry discs also yield a flaky version of the empanada that's really tasty.
  • Some markets carry corn-based dough, which in most cases is meant to be fried. Heat the oil to 350 F before adding the empanadas, cook until golden brown.

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Empanadas

  • Refrigerate leftover empanadas in an airtight container or food storage bag for up to 4 days.
  • To reheat empanadas, wrap them in foil, place them on a baking sheet, and heat in a preheated 350 F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until hot. Reheated empanadas should reach an internal temperature of 165 F.

Can I Freeze the Empanadas?

Absolutely. Place the unbaked empanadas on a flat baking tray and freeze until solid. The empanadas shouldn't be touching one another during this first stage. Once they are frozen and hard, transfer them to a ziptop bag, label, and freeze for up to three months.

When ready to bake, simply preheat your oven to 325 F and transfer the frozen empanadas to a lined baking tray, brush with egg yolk and water, and cook until golden brown. As the filling is frozen, it will take 25 to 35 minutes—look for an internal temperature of 165 F.