Pulled Chicken Empanadas

Pulled Chicken Empanadas - Homemade empanadas with a spicy chicken filling. This is a great make-ahead recipe, just freeze until you are ready to bake!

I was in charge of making some appetizers for a New Years party this year and while I made mostly dips like this and this, I also wanted to make something warm and more substantial.

So I made about sixty mini empanadas.

It was somewhat ambitious and there was at least one time where I was cursing at my decision. The end result was really awesome though.  Of course, you don’t have to make small versions of the empanadas. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s sort of a pain.

The cool thing about these Pulled Chicken Empanadas is that you can freeze them before baking them and then move them straight from the freezer to the oven! So while they are a bit of work up front, they then will make for many quick dinners.

Pulled Chicken Empanadas

Homemade empanadas with a spicy chicken filling. This is a great make-ahead recipe, just freeze until you are ready to bake!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Appetizers, Main Dishes
Cuisine South American
Servings 20 Servings
Yield About 60 small empanadas


Empanada Dough:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 3½ pound chicken
  • 10 dry New Mexico chile peppers
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup diced green olives optional
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese optional
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water


For Dough:

  • Mix together flour and salt in a large bowl. Cube butter and use your fingers to cut the butter into the flour until it’s in very small pieces, almost like a sand consistency.
  • Add in egg yolks and warm milk and stir dough until it comes together. Knead the dough a few times with your hands. If the dough is very dry and won’t hold together, add a bit more milk. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add more flour by the tablespoon.
  • Once the dough is a nice even consistency, split it into four even pieces, wrap them in plastic and store them in the fridge for at least an hour.

For Filling:

  • Add whole chicken, bay leaves, and chile peppers to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour until chicken is poached.
  • Remove chicken and spoon out chile peppers. Pour off and reserve cooking liquid.
  • Let chicken cool until you can handle it and then shred or chop it into tiny pieces.
  • Using a food processor, add the chile peppers (no stems but seeds are fine) plus 1 cup of cooking liquid and puree until smooth. It’s okay to add a bit more cooking liquid if it is really dry.
  • In your pot, add the olive oil over medium heat along with onions and minced garlic. Cook for about four minutes until they start to soften.
  • Add in tomatoes and chopped chicken. Add in as much of the chile puree as you want – to taste. I used all of it, but you may not want it super-spicy. I recommend starting with half of it and adjusting it to your liking.
  • Let the filling simmer for 10-15 minutes over medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Once all the flavors are combined, remove from heat and let cool. Once the filling is room temperature, stir in olives and cheese if you’re using it.

To make empanadas:

  • Work with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Then cut it into circles according to what size empanada you want. A small empanada would be a 3 inch round. A larger one would be maybe 6 inches.
  • Once your rounds are cut out, roll each round out a bit more to make it thinner. Then add a big spoonful of filling to the center of the round, leaving about 1/2 inch around the outside.
  • Brush outer edge with egg white and fold over the pocket, using a fork to crimp the edges.
  • At this point you can either cook the empanadas or freeze them for later.
  • To bake them, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes until nicely browned. I recommend baking them on parchment paper.
  • To freeze, place empanadas on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then you can transfer them to a bag and store them until needed. You can move them right from the freezer to the oven and just add on 5 minutes to the baking time.


Serving: 3empanadasCalories: 530kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 27gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 135mgSodium: 380mgPotassium: 301mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 700IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Empanadas, Pulled Chicken Recipes

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Pulled Chicken Empanadas

The Dough

The dough for these empanadas is somewhere between a pie crust and an enriched dough like you would use for cinnamon rolls or something. It has plenty of butter to make it flaky but also some eggs and milk to give it a nice texture.

The dough is pretty simple to pull together. You don’t need any fancy equipment. Just stir together your flour and salt in a large bowl. Then use your fingers to work in the butter until it’s almost a sand consistency.

Next, stir in the egg yolks and milk until the dough comes together. Knead it for a few times in the bowl until it resembles a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add more milk. If it’s very sticky, add more flour.

Then just cut the dough into four equal pieces, wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge!

dough for Pulled Chicken Empanadas

The Filling

While the dough hangs out in the fridge, you can work on the filling for these. This filling recipe makes a lot and you might have some leftover which you can use for burritos or something.

But start the filling simply by putting a whole chicken in a big pot with dried chiles and a few bay leaves.

start Pulled Chicken Empanadas
Making the stock.

Cover it with water and bring it to a simmer. Simmer the bird for about an hour until it’s cooked. The peppers will obviously give off a lot of flavor as they cook also.

When it’s done, spoon out the peppers.

done - Pulled Chicken Empanadas
After an hour or so.

Remove the stems from the peppers and process them in a small food processor with about a cup of the cooking liquid from the chicken.

This will make a very delicious puree that’s on they very spicy side. We’ll add this back to the filling later.

peppers fro Pulled Chicken Empanadas
Wonderful flavor here.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, go ahead and shred it into pieces.

These pieces were too big. Make them smaller than this!

pulled chicken for Pulled Chicken Empanadas
Chop it up a bit more than this.

Put your large pot back over medium heat and add the oil along with a diced onion and some minced garlic. Let those cook for a few minutes to soften and then add the chicken and tomatoes to the pot.

filling for Pulled Chicken Empanadas
Starting the filling.

Finally, add in the chile puree and use a few forks to continue to pull apart the chicken as it simmers.

I used all of the chile puree for my version and I thought it had just the right amount of heat. You could start with half the puree and see where that gets you though.

Also, season the filling well with salt and pepper.

done - Pulled Chicken Empanadas
So good.

It’s a good idea to let the filling cool before making the empanadas. It’s it’s hot, it’ll make the dough hard to work with.

Once the filling is room temperature though, you can stir in your olives and cheese straight into the pot.

Making and Baking

When you’re ready to make some empanadas, work with one piece of dough at a time and roll it out until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Then use a round to cut out your desired size. A 3-inch round will make a small empanada. A 6-inch round is about as big as I would go. It’s okay to re-roll the dough a few times to really maximize it also.

Once you have your dough punched into rounds, roll each round out a bit more and then add a heaping spoonful of toppings to the center of the dough. The dough is nice and stretchable, but do leave about 1/2 inch around the edges so you can seal the empanadas nicely.

making Pulled Chicken Empanadas
These are pretty small.

I added olives and cheese separately, but then I learned that it’s much easier to just stir the olives and cheese right into the filling mixture. Less steps!

Traditionally, empanadas can also have hard boiled eggs in them, but that’s not really my style so I left them out.

cheese on Pulled Chicken Empanadas
Maybe some cheese?

Once your filling is added, brush around the edges with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water) and fold the dough over.

Use a fork to really seal the edges well. Poke a few holes in the top of the empanada so steam can escape as it cooks also.

formed Pulled Chicken Empanadas
Don’t forget that egg white.

If you are baking these right away, just cook them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

They should be golden brown on top.

Pulled Chicken Empanadas Recipe from Macheesmo

The Freezing Option

The very nice thing about these empanadas is that once you’ve made them you can stick them on a baking sheet and freeze them solid. Once they are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe bag and store them for months.

When you want to cook a frozen one, just move it straight from the freezer to a 350 degree F. oven. It’ll need to cook for about 5 extra minutes, but will turn out just as delicious as you if you made them right away.

I’ll be the first to admit that these Pulled Chicken Empanadas are a bit of work, but they really were tasty and they store really nicely. If you have a spare few hours, they might be worth the effort for you!

17 Responses to “Pulled Chicken Empanadas” Leave a comment

  1. My comment shall be visible once all those layers of drool get evaporated from seeing those pictures!

    Okay I know that was gross. But seriously. I am salivating here and this looks amazing. Definitely going to try!

  2. When making this many empanadas I’ve found a press really speeds things up. I know you aren’t a fan of the one use kitchen tool but I love all forms of empanadas so it gets a lot of use. Instead of regular pie on Thanksgiving I made pumpkin and apple empanadas. Yum.

  3. Yumm, these look amazing! Id like to make a vegetarian option for myself, what would you recommend to sub for the chicken that would still work well with these flavors? I feel like I also go to shrooms but if there is something else you think may be better let me know!

  4. One of my favorite things to make in my International lab was empanadas. They’re a tricky little pastry, but the pay-off is so nice. Love the spicy chicken filling in these =)

  5. This looks awesome Nick! Just wondering if you’ve ever cooked with a stewing hen? I got one in my local meat share this week, and thought this might be a good way to cook it. Thoughts?

    1. Huh… never have. Although if it is supposed to be for stews specifically it would be perfect for this kind of recipe I would think.

      Good luck!

      1. Hey Nick,

        I thought I’d give you an update – I tried this recipe with my stewing hen, and it worked out great. I was worried when I started shredding the hen, becuase it really was quite a bit tougher than a regular chicken. However, once it was shredded and simmered for a little while with the rest of the filling ingredients, it was great!


  6. Hey Nich Have realy enjoyed your blog !!! I live in Alaska & have been wanting to try a seafood vertion of these – any sugestions ? next summer Im going to try something with crab and salmon !!

    1. Hey Beth! Thanks for reading. To be honest, I’ve never seen a seafood empanada. Of course that doesn’t mean they don’t exist but it’s off my radar! I’d say that crab would probably work well and you could do a cream cheese base?

      I think you might be on your own in that venture! Let me know if you find something that works though. Cheers!

  7. Hi there! These sound delicious. I Would love to make these but I wanted to know what I can do to make the sauce a little less spicy so my kids could eat them.

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