Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)

Island Bites is a Puerto Rican cook with decades of experience in the kitchen. She's an expert in Latin American cuisine.

A delicious pile of empanadas.

A delicious pile of empanadas.

What Is an Empanada?

The empanada is a tasty and popular dish in Latin and Caribbean countries. It is a stuffed, flaky pastry in the shape of a half-moon that is either baked or fried. 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.

Prep timeCook timeReady in

30 min

5 min

35 min


For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons oil, lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • water, warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the chicken filling:

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

Step 1: Make the Dough

  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.

Step 2: Make the Chicken Filling

  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 2 minutes. Add salt and 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.

Step 3: Assemble the Empanadas

  1. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 1/8-inch layer.
  2. Use a cutter or small plate to cut 5- to 6-inch circles or discs.
  3. Put a scoop of the chicken filling in each dough disc, fold and seal the edges with a fork.
  4. Heat 2 inches of oil in a skillet at medium-high temperature. Fry empanadas 2 or 3 minutes per side, until golden and crispy.
Chicken Empanada

Chicken Empanada

Rate this recipe!

Notes and Tips

  • 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.
  • Annatto oil can be added to the dough to give it color and flavor.
Fried empanadas.

Fried empanadas.

Want a Beef Empanada?

Check out this ground beef filling recipe: Puerto Rican Alcapurrias.

© 2014 IslandBites


IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on April 25, 2020:

Hi! Im happy you found my recipe. I hope you like it. I have more Puerto Rican and latin recipes, You could check them out.

Buen provecho!

DaDomesticDiva on April 25, 2020:

So Quarantine has us with limited items st home. It seems in my social media feed lady week, everyone was making these. Well it's Saturday no home school so I've landed in your page. Time consuming but I'm sure worth it. I'm latina love to cook and bake so im always looking for recipes. Cannot wait to hook this up. Have my dough resting and preparing chicken and beef. Be safe.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on March 28, 2020:

Awesome. Thank you, BeckyB!

BeckyB on March 28, 2020:

I just made these empanadas and they came out so good. Thanks for the recipe. I will definitely hold onto this one to make again.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on September 10, 2019:

That's great! Im glad you liked it. Thanks for the comment!

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on September 10, 2019:

Glad you liked it!

Kdube1 on September 10, 2019:

Thank you so much for the recipe I made this for my family and they were definitely hit absolute fave I will be definitely using this recipe again in the future

Katie Anne on September 10, 2019:

I’m made these for my family and that are absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for this recipe I will definitely be making it again in the future.

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on March 05, 2017:

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!

ElleV on March 04, 2017:

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 (author) from Puerto Rico on October 29, 2016:

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

Annie on October 29, 2016:

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 (author) from Puerto Rico on October 16, 2016:

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

Veronica on October 16, 2016:

How much baking powder do you add?

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on July 21, 2016:

I'm glad you liked it! Thanks!

Gio on July 12, 2016:

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 (author) from Puerto Rico on January 02, 2016:

Glad you liked them!!

Pam on January 02, 2016:

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

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on November 01, 2014:

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

FullOfLoveSites from United States on November 01, 2014:

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 (author) from Puerto Rico on October 31, 2014:

You're welcome!

Caren White on October 31, 2014:

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 (author) from Puerto Rico on September 13, 2014:

Thanks CrisSp!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on September 13, 2014:

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 (author) from Puerto Rico on September 13, 2014:

Hope you like it! Thanks for the comment!

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on September 12, 2014:

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 (author) from Puerto Rico on May 27, 2014:

I hope you like it. Thanks!

Dianna Mendez on May 27, 2014:

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

IslandBites (author) from Puerto Rico on May 16, 2014:

Thank you, guys!

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on May 16, 2014:

Me want!! :-D Voted UP!

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 16, 2014:

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

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