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Chicken empanadas in a basket lined with a red and white checkered paper with hot sauce and a platter of empanadas in the background.

Chicken Empanadas

In this chicken empanadas recipe, chicken breast is cooked in tomato sauce flavored with onions, garlic, spices and olives for a salty kick.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword chicken, empanadas
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cooling Chicken Filling 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 508kcal
Author Elizabeth


Chicken Empanadas Filling Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast cut in half lengthwise to make thinner pieces
  • teaspoon Salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Small Onion finely diced
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves minced
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ cup White Wine
  • 1 8 ounce Can Tomato Sauce
  • ¼ cup Water
  • ½ cup Pitted Spanish Olives chopped

Empanada Ingredients

  • 10 Large Empanada Discs defrosted (use package directions)
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Water


  • You will also need: 2 Large baking sheets, parchment paper, pastry brush

Start the Chicken

  • Cut the chicken in half lengthwise to make two thinner pieces.
  • Season the chicken on both sides with the salt and black pepper.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, turn and cook another 3-4 minutes. Don’t worry that the chicken is not cooked through, it will finish cooking in the sauce.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and remove the chicken from the skillet. Set it on a pan or plate and cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and/or place it in the microwave or oven.

Make the tomato sauce

  • Do not wash the skillet.
  • Place the skillet back over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for 3 minutes until they’re translucent, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic, dried oregano and cumin, cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add the white wine to the skillet; cook for 1-2 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates. Stir frequently while gently scrapping any bits off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the tomato sauce, ¼ cup of water and the chopped olives and stir to combine. Place the chicken back in the skillet, along with any juices collected on the plate.
  • When the sauce returns to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through – at least 165°F at the thickest part. Turn the chicken occasionally and keep the sauce at a simmer.
  • Remove the chicken from the skillet and continue cooking the sauce, covered on low heat. Keep it barely at a simmer so it doesn’t cook away.

Shred the chicken

  • Let the chicken cool enough to handle. Place it on a cutting board or pan and shred using two forks.
  • Return the shredded chicken to the skillet and stir well until the sauce is absorbed. Taste the chicken filling and add salt, only if needed.
  • Take the shredded chicken off the heat, uncover and allow it to cool. We can’t fill the empanadas with a filling that is hot, the dough will be impossible to work with.

Make the Empanadas

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F
  • While the shredded chicken cools, prepare an empanada building station: Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, prepare a small bowl with water, prepare a small bowl with the egg and 1 tablespoon of water, beat with a fork.
  • Working with one empanada wrap at a time, add about 3-4 heaping tablespoons of the shredded chicken just a little off center on the wrap. Arrange the chicken so it’s not mounded in the middle. Don’t go all the way to the edge.
  • Use a pastry brush (or your finger) to moisten the edges of the dough with water. Go all the way around.
  • Fold the round in half, press the edges together gently.
  • Use a fork to seal the crimp the edge of the empanadas.
  • Place the empanada on the lined baking sheet. Repeat until the baking sheet is full. Cover the empanadas with a moist (not wet) paper towel so the dough does not dry out while you build the rest of the empanadas.
  • Use a paring knife or other sharp tip to make 2-3 small slits on the top of each empanada so they can vent while they bake.
  • Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash.
  • Bake the chicken empanadas for 35-40 minutes, or until they’re a nice golden color.
  • Rotate the pans, top to bottom/bottom to top, about halfway through the cooking time (more often if necessary) so that the empanadas brown evenly.


Depending on where you live you may be able to find empanada discs in the freezer section of larger food chains or Latin markets. They are round, thin dough discs that come frozen, usually ten to a pack. In Spanish they’re called Discos para Empanadas.
Defrost the discs according to package directions prior to using. If you can’t find the empanada discs, pie dough works well for baked empanadas. Use your favorite brand and bake until golden, adjust the cooking time if needed.


Serving: 2g | Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 1490mg | Potassium: 556mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 141IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 4mg