Chicken Empanada With Green Chile Recipe

"Chicken empanadas," recipe developer Leah Maroney tells us, "are a labor of love, but are well worth the time and effort." The ingredients are fairly simple and shouldn't be particularly difficult to source. Maroney does say that if you're short on time, you can take a few shortcuts such as buying empanada dough that's already been formed into rounds. You could also use leftover cooked chicken (such as rotisserie chicken) rather than cooking your own and of course, you can purchase pre-made sofrito, as well. She includes all of the elements but you can pick and choose among them as you like.

Maroney does note that this recipe includes a special addition; she tells us, ”I put the sazón seasoning in the empanada dough to add the color and flavor." Some traditional recipes will color the dough with annatto seeds, which are one of the ingredients in sazón, but this blend includes other spices as well. Maroney says, "I love how it makes the dough taste." However, you can leave the seasoning out if you want a less orangey-looking dough.

Collect the ingredients for the chicken empanadas with green chile

The ingredients here are arranged into three sections, in case you only want to make either the sofrito, the filling, or the empanadas. If you do make all three from scratch, you'll find a certain amount of overlap. All in all, you will need a bell pepper, an onion, some garlic, salt, olive oil, cilantro, chicken, sazón seasoning, canned green chiles, oregano, butter, shortening, flour, and a high smoke point cooking oil such as vegetable oil that's safe for deep frying.

As for the type of chicken you use, Maroney herself feels that "chicken thighs provide the best flavor and texture." if you happen to prefer chicken breasts, you can certainly use those, instead.

Prepare the sofrito and chicken filling

Use a food processor to chop up the bell pepper, onion, garlic, salt, olive oil, and cilantro for the sofrito.

Cut the chicken into large chunks, then mix it with ⅓ cup of that sofrito you just made along with the sazón seasoning, salt, olive oil, green chiles, and dried oregano. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and marinate it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. You can keep it there for up to 12 hours or overnight if you wish.

Make the empanada dough

Use the food processor to mix the butter, vegetable shortening, flour, remaining sazón packet, and salt in until it resembles fine crumbs. Add a tablespoon of ice water at a time, mixing until you see a ball of dough. You will probably need between 4 and 8 tablespoons in all. Take the dough and wrap it in plastic, then let it sit for 20 minutes. If you're not using it right away, stick it in the fridge and leave it for up to 3 days.

After the dough has rested, divide the dough into 14 pieces, each weighing about an ounce. Roll each piece out into a ball, then flatten it into a disk. Dust all of the disks with flour.

Assemble the empanadas

Sauté the chicken over medium-high heat until it's cooked inside and has an internal temperature of 165 F. If you have a little extra time and an Instant Pot you're dying to use, Maroney suggests that you can also cook the chicken in this appliance for 30 minutes on the "Meat" setting. Once the chicken has cooled a bit, shred it up. (You can use the food processor for this, too.)

Take ¼ cup of the shredded, seasoned chicken and put it in the center of one empanada, Wet the outer edges, then fold the dough into a semi-circle. Press the edges down, then crimp them with a fork for a tight seal. As you finish filling each empanada, you can stick it back in the fridge.

Fry the empanadas

Pour 3 inches of oil into a large, heavy pot and heat the oil to 360 F. You can fry 3 to 4 empanadas at a time if these will fit without crowding. After 2 minutes, flip them over, then cook them for 2 more minutes. When they are done, they should be golden brown all over. Drain them on paper towels as you continue to cook the remaining ones.

Maroney does say you can also use an air fryer if you prefer not to fry in deep fat. Heat the mini convection oven to 400 F, then, when it reaches the proper temperature, bake the empanadas for 12 minutes. "Make sure the empanadas are in one layer," advises Maroney, "and only [bake] a few at a time."

You can eat your empanadas while they are still warm, but they're great at room temperature, too. If you like, you can dunk them in homemade salsa or any other condiment you enjoy.

Chicken Empanada With Green Chile Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
Learn how to make empanada filling and dough step by step at home and enjoy the delicious chicken-filled dish any time the craving strikes.
Prep Time
Cook Time
empanadas on white plate
Total time: 5 hours, 40 minutes
  • For the Sofrito
  • 1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small bunch cilantro‌
  • For the Filling
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ⅓ cup sofrito
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (1 packet) sazón seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • For the empanadas
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • ⅓ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (1 packet) sazón seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Make the sofrito by pulsing the bell pepper, onion, garlic, salt, olive oil, and cilantro in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into large pieces.
  3. Season the chicken with a mixture of sazón, salt, olive oil, green chiles, dried oregano, and ⅓ cup sofrito.
  4. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  5. Pulse the butter, vegetable shortening, flour, remaining sazón packet, and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form.
  6. Slowly pour in ice water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing until a ball of dough forms. (You should end up using 4 to 8 tablespoons of water.)
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 20 minutes or up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  8. Divide the dough into 14 equal pieces, each weighing about 1 ounce.
  9. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then press it into a flat disk.
  10. Dust each disk with flour.
  11. Sauté the chicken over medium-high heat until it reaches 165 F inside.
  12. Let the chicken cool slightly, then shred it in the food processor.
  13. Put ¼ cup of filling in the center of each dough disk.
  14. Wet the outer edges of the dough with water and fold the dough over into a half-moon shape.
  15. Press the edges of the dough to seal them together, then crimp them with a fork.
  16. Refrigerate each empanada as you finish filling it.
  17. Fill a pot 3 inches deep with oil and heat it to 360 F.
  18. Fry 3 to 4 empanadas at a time for 2 minutes per side until golden brown.
  19. Drain the cooked empanadas on paper towels.
  20. Empanadas can be eaten hot or at room temperature accompanied by your choice of sauce.
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