Island Bites: Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de pollo)

Updated on March 5, 2017

What is an empanada?

Empanada is a tasty popular dish in Latin and Caribbean countries. It is a stuffed flaky pastry, baked or fried in shape of a half-moon. There are different fillings for the empanadas in each country, with beef and chicken being the most popular.

In Puerto Rico, empanadas (also known as empanadillas) are fried treats, never baked. Empanadilla de carne (ground beef empanada) is Puerto Rico's favorite, but fish, crab, "pizza", and chicken empanadillas are also found in every kiosk around the Island.


Rate this recipe!

3.5 stars from 39 ratings of Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 5 min
Ready in: 35 min


  1. In a big bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add oil or lard and warm water. Mix until incorporated. Use just enough water to form a dough ball.
  2. Turn empanada dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes. Cover and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs oil, lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 tsp salt
  • water, warm
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder


  1. Add oil to a big skillet. Saute sofrito in hot oil for two minutes at medium-high temperature. Add tomato sauce, olives, peppers and spices. Mix and saute for another two minutes. Add salt & pepper.
  2. Add chicken to the sauce and turn down the temperature. Cover and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the sauce and let it rest for a minute or two. Shred the chicken.
  4. Add the shredded chicken and small diced potatoes to the sauce. If necessary, add some water. Let it simmer uncovered until the sauce is reduced and the potatoes are fork tender.
  5. Let it cool completely.

Chicken filling:

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 tbs sofrito
  • 2 tbs roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8-10 olives, sliced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 can Goya tomato sauce, or 3/4 cup tomato puree, or (2 tbs tomato paste + 1/2 cup of water)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion pwder
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • Water, if neccesary

Want a beef empanada?

Check out this ground beef filling recipe:

Puerto Rican Alcapurrias


To make empanadas:

  • Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 1/8 inch layer.

  • Use a cutter or small plate to cut 5 to 6 inches circles or discs.

  • Put a scoop of the chicken filling in each dough disc, fold and seal the edges with a fork.

  • Heat two inches of oil in a skillet at medium-high temperature. Fry empanadas two or three minutes per side, until golden and crispy.


  • Pizza empanadas are also very popular among Puerto Ricans. To make pizza empanadas, just add your favorite marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese to your dough discs.
  • To seal your empanadas you could pinch or twist the borders instead of using a fork.
  • Annato oil can be added to the dough to give it color and flavor.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 13 months ago from Puerto Rico

        ElleV, that's (goya sauce) what I use too. LOL Just that many people can't find it, some don't even know what is it. I'm going to adjust the recipe, thanks.

        By the way, thanks for stopping by!

      • profile image

        ElleV 13 months ago

        Tried this recipe tonight for the second time! The first time I made it, I subbed Tomato puree for a can of Goya tomato sauce because that's what I had on hand, added a glove of garlic, and did not add cumin (too powerful of a spice for my taste.). I also seasoned with Adobo. It came out perfect!!!! SUPER tasty and it was incredible! Tried making this again tonight, but I actually used Tomato puree... I am so disappointed. It tastes very bland and toooooo tomatoey as opposed to when I used to Goya tomato sauce. That's my personal preference though =). Otherwise, this is an amazing, tasty recipe and one that I'll use from here on forward!

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 17 months ago from Puerto Rico

        That was a great idea. I'm so glad you liked it!

      • profile image

        Annie 17 months ago

        This recipe is awesome....They are delicious! I didn't have roasted peppers so but i had a fresh pepper that was turning red so, I place it on stove top and roasted it myself . Thanks for sharing your recipe.

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 18 months ago from Puerto Rico

        Hi, Veronica. Add 1/2 tsp. Thanks!

      • profile image

        Veronica 18 months ago

        How much baking powder do you add?

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 21 months ago from Puerto Rico

        I'm glad you liked it! Thanks!

      • profile image

        Gio 21 months ago

        Wow!!! These came out so good! I omitted olives because I don't like them and didn't have roasted peppers but followed the rest of the recipe. Everyone in my house loved them. Thank you!

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 2 years ago from Puerto Rico

        Glad you liked them!!

      • profile image

        Pam 2 years ago

        I just did your empanadas and they came out amazing!!!! Thank you for the recipe!

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        I've never dip empanadas in any kind of sauce, but will try the vinegar. Thanks for the comment!

      • FullOfLoveSites profile image

        FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

        I don't know if it's just me, but I'd love to dip my empanadas in vinegar. I miss them! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I've never tried cooking empanadas yet myself but I will try!

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        You're welcome!

      • OldRoses profile image

        Caren White 3 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

        Thank you for reminding me that I haven't eaten empanadas in years. I used to love them. I can't wait to try this recipe and eat empanadas again. Voted up and shared.

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        Thanks CrisSp!

      • CrisSp profile image

        CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

        I love chicken empanadas. I don't remember the last time I did this at home. Now, I really feel like it. :)

        Bookmarking and will surely try it.

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        Hope you like it! Thanks for the comment!

      • Kathryn Stratford profile image

        Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

        This looks delicious! I have heard of these, and just made dough similar to this recently. Soon I will test this one out.

        Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great day!

        ~ Kathryn

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        I hope you like it. Thanks!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

        I love this recipe idea. I will have to try it soon. Thanks for sharing from your recipe collection.

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        Thank you, guys!

      • Thief12 profile image

        Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        Me want!! :-D Voted UP!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

        This was a very different recipe. Thank you for sharing. Looks good!