This chicken empanada recipe, known as empanadas de pollo in Spanish, starts with a delicious puff pastry stuffed with a traditional chicken filling, caramelized onions, green bell pepper and pieces of hard-cooked egg. These are a South American specialty, each Latin American country prepares them differently – whether sweet or savory or both.
There is such a variety of fillings: beef, chicken, cured meat, cheese, and plantains, to mention a few. Empanadas are really a labor of love. They take time. It´s not a complicated recipe, just many little steps to get amazing bites.
To make the chicken filling, we first sauté diced onions, green and red bell peppers for just a couple minutes. Then, we add our cooked, diced chicken, spices and tomato paste and heat through. You could also add cheese directly onto the filling before folding over the dough.
For our empanada dough, you can use homemade or store-bought puff pastry. If you have never used puff pastry dough, it is located in the freezer section of your grocery store and is wonderfully easy to work with. When baked it becomes beautifully puffy, flaky and golden, perfect to cocoon our irresistible filling.
These chicken empandas can be made and devoured in one sitting or you can freeze them before baking and store them until your cravings strike. When it’s empanada time, all you have to do is move as many empanadas as your heart desires straight from the freezer to the oven for the perfect prep-ahead appetizer, meal or snack.
spicy chicken empanadas
- one kilogram boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- two bay leaves
- three tablespoons olive oil
- two large onions, chopped
- one green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
- one red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- three tablespoons tomato paste
- two tablespoons sweet paprika
- half teaspoon cayenne pepper
- puff pastry dough
Bring chicken, bay leaves, and two cups of water to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat and cook until chicken is cooked through, about thirty minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; discard bay leaves and reserve broth. Let chicken sit until cool enough to handle, then coarsely chop.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium and cook onion and bell peppers, stirring, until tender but not browned. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in tomato paste and cook for two minutes. Add paprika and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant.
Add the reserved broth and chicken. Add salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and chill at least three hours.
Preheat oven to one hundred and ninety degrees. Let dough sit at room temperature for fifteen minutes to temper. Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface and cut rounds from the dough. Place two tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Brush water around half of outer edge of each round. Fold round over filling and pinch edges to seal. You can use a fork to crimp the edges or fold them as I have in the video below. Place the empanada on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Repeat with remaining rounds.
Bake empanadas, rotating them halfway through, until golden brown and slightly darker around the edges, twenty five to thirty minutes.