Spicy Chicken Empanadas

Spicy Chicken Empanadas

Spicy Chicken Empanadas

Reprinted with permission by Harper Collins; Photo credit: Gentl and Hyers

Makes 16-24 large empanadas or 32-36 small empanadas



  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, finely chopped (no seeds)
  • Salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 3/4 cups roasted chicken, finely chopped (can use rotisserie chicken!)
  • 5 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (use leaves and stems)


  • 12 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 ounces corn flour (fine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ounces butter, melted
  • 7 ounces greek yogurt, plain unsweetened
  • 2 to 3 tbsp warm water or milk (or more, depending on humidity)
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Dipping:

  • 1/2 cup of Mariana Valesquez's Roasted Tomato Onion Salsa
  • Limes


Prepare the filling:

  1. In a medium skillet, heat EVOO on medium heat. Cook the onion and peppers for 3-5 minutes until slightly brown.
  2. Add salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, and turmeric, stir well with a wooden spoon and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Lower the heat and add the chicken to the skillet. Stir well, making sure you scrape all bits and pieces stuck to the skillet. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl to cool.
  4. Once cooled, add sour cream and fresh cilantro and mix well with a fork. The filling should be moist but not too wet for perfect empanadas. 

Prepare the dough and assemble:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, corn flour, and salt very well with a whisk. Add the melted better and mix with a fork. Add the yogurt and mix again with the fork.
  2. At this point you will have flour that has not been incorporated into the wet ingredients. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time, and using your hands, incorporate all ingredients until you can form a smooth ball.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Reserve the piece you will use later in a bowl covered with a moist heavy duty paper towel so it doesn't dry up.
  4. On a floured surface, extend half of the dough with a rolling pin, pressing from the center out until it reaches a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inches.
  5. Using a round cookie cutter, press down on the dough making sure the cutter goes all the way through to the surface. Cut discs close to one another so dough isn't wasted. 
  6. Place the discs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a moist paper towel. 
  7. Form a ball with the leftover pieces of dough and extend again with a rolling pin, repeating the same steps for cutting out the dough. 
  8. Place those dough discs on the lined baking sheet, cover with moist paper towel and repeat the steps with the reserved dough.
  9. You should have 30-32 discs if you used a 3-inch cutter, and 16 discs if you used a 4-inch cutter. 
  10. Place a spoonful of the filling in the middle of each empanada disc.
  11. Use about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of filling for the 3-inch round empanadas and 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp for the 4-inch empanadas. 
  12. Make sure you don't under fill (the empanada will be too doughy) or overfill (the filling with leak out). 
  13. To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. If you're having a hard time sealing the edges, you can brush the inside edges with egg white. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges.
  14. Preheat the oven to 375F for the smaller empanadas, or 400F for the larger empanadas. 
  15. For best results, refrigerate the empanadas for 30 minutes before baking while the oven preheats. 
  16. If you want your empanadas to have a nice golden finish, you can brush them with egg wash (a whole egg whisked or egg yolk plus a few drops of water whisked).
  17. Bake anywhere from 18 to 25 minutes – the empanadas will be ready once they are golden.
  18. Let cool and enjoy by dipping each bite into Roasted Tomato Onion Salsa and adding a squeeze of lime.