Tender, flaky pastry pockets are stuffed with a deliciously spiced and delightfully cheesy filling in these Chicken Empanadas.
Make these traditional Latin meat-and-cheese hand pies for your Cinco de Mayo celebration; Baked Empanadas take less than 30 minutes to get on the table!
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Why You’ll Love Baked Empanadas
My cheese and chicken empanadas are a favorite in our household for so many reasons. Living in sunny Southern California practically mandates that we are fans of all Mexican foods, and these tasty pastry pockets are no exception!
Here’s why I think you’ll love them as much as we do:
- Ready in just 30 minutes. From start to finish, these baked empanadas will be ready in the time it takes to watch your favorite sitcom!
- Can be eaten as an appetizer or a meal. These savory hand pies are excellent to serve as an app, but are also hearty enough to constitute a full meal! Serve them with a simple side salad and call dinner a wrap!
- Easily customizable. Shredded chicken empanadas are a great way to use up whatever cooked chicken and shredded cheese you might have in the fridge. Read on below for even more ideas on how to make them your own!
- Kid-Friendly. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love cheesy chicken or flaky pastry. Combine the two, and you have any kiddo’s dream meal!
Ingredients for Chicken & Cheese Empanadas
These weeknight-simple chicken empanadas are made with just a handful of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cooked Chicken – Feel free to use any leftover chicken you might have kicking around the fridge or a rotisserie chicken here to cut down on prep time. You can also use my simple poached chicken, chicken taco meat, slow cooker shredded chicken, or instant pot shredded chicken.
- Mexican Cheese Blend – This is usually a 4-cheese blend that you can find pre-shredded. Feel free to swap in the shredded melty cheese of your choice. Other options include spicy pepper jack, sharp cheddar, or melty queso quesadilla.
- Diced Green Chiles – If you’re not a fan of heat, don’t fret! These are very mild and earthy flavored. If you can’t find them pre-diced in the can, you can buy canned whole green peppers and chop them yourself.
- White Onion – Feel free to swap in red or yellow onion here.
- Garlic – Fresh is best, but you can easily swap in ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder in a pinch.
- Ground Cumin & Chili Powder – If you don’t have these spices on hand, you can swap in taco seasoning instead.
- Dough Discs – Most grocers carry frozen empanada dough discs these days, but don’t fret if you can’t find them. You can also use refrigerated pie crusts if needed!
- Eggs – These are technically an optional ingredient, as they are just used to brush over the empanadas to give them a beautiful, shiny crust. If you are allergic to eggs, you can substitute a milk or cream wash instead.
How To Make Baked Chicken Empanadas
Be sure to check the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions.
Baking empanadas results in gorgeously golden crusts without the fuss or added fat of frying. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Prep. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 2: Make Filling. Add chicken, cheese, chiles onion, garlic, and seasoning to a blender or food processor. Pulse until well combined.
Step 3: Stuff & Seal. Place dough discs on a flat surface and add ¼ cup of chicken mixture to each disc. Use fingers and water to wet the edges of the discs. Fold dough discs over and seal with fingers or fork.
Step 4: Egg Wash. Generously brush each assembled empanada with beaten eggs.
It honestly just depends! In our house, I prefer to bake them for a few reasons: first, I can bake off a whole tray all in one go, whereas frying requires me to make several batches. Secondly, baked empanadas are considerably healthier than deep-fried. Finally, cleaning up after baking empanadas is much simpler; all you have to do is toss the parchment paper!
If at all possible, I suggest buying (or making) rounds of empanada dough. That said, you can easily swap in pie dough in a pinch!
Shredded chicken is easier to make with boneless, skinless chicken breasts because white meat is easier to shred than dark meat. However, you can feel free to use up any cooked chicken you might have on hand! The food processor will do a fine job of breaking it down into small enough pieces.
How To Serve
These delicious chicken and cheese empanadas are a delight to eat straight from the pan, but you can also feel free to dress them up! Here are some ideas:
- Serve empanadas with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.
- Offer them as part of a larger spread of Mexican-themed snacks like flautas, nachos, tacos, and queso.
- Feel free to make your empanadas larger or smaller based on your needs! They can be as small as 2 bites if you’re making them as passed hors d’oeuvres, or as large as a street taco if you’d like them as a meal.
If you want to switch up your chicken empanada filling, try:
- Adding black beans and/or corn. Tossing some Cowboy Caviar in the mix will add texture and sweetness.
- Buffalo Chicken. Use leftover buffalo chicken, swap the Mexican cheese blend for blue cheese crumbles, and serve with some ranch dressing on the side!
- Thanksgiving Leftover Empanadas. Breathe new life into your leftovers by wrapping them up in a flaky empanada crust. I can promise they’ll give your regular turkey sandwiches a run for their money!
Baked empanadas are essentially the Latin version of a turnover, meaning they can come with all kinds of fillings… Chicken is just the beginning! Other savory options include beef & cheese, bean & cheese, or plain cheese empanadas. You can also make dessert empanadas filled with the pie filling of your choice!
Storing and Reheating
These shredded chicken hand pies are perfect for meal prep.
If they are assembled but not yet baked: you can keep them covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze them in a single layer, then move them to a zip-top bag when they are frozen through. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If they are baked: refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to a month.
To reheat: If your empanadas are frozen, allow them to defrost overnight in the fridge. If they haven’t yet been baked, simply follow the recipe instructions. If you are reheating leftovers, place them on a parchment-lined tray and bake at 250°F for 20 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Use your hand mixer for a quick way to shred the chicken meat!
- If you’re an egg-free household, swap out the egg wash for a simple milk or cream wash instead.
- Crimping not only makes your empanadas pretty, it also helps to seal all the goodness inside your shells. Use a fork, an empanada press, or use some pretty folds to do it all by hand.
- Use parchment for easy clean-up. After baking, just toss the paper in your compost. Easy peasy!
More Mexican Appetizer Recipes
Baked Chicken Empanadas
- 2 cups cooked chicken shredded
- 2 cups Mexican cheese blend shredded
- 4- ounce can diced green chiles not drained
- ½ cup white onion diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 10 frozen dough discs thawed
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 eggs beaten
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add chicken, cheese, chiles onion, garlic, and seasoning to a blender or food processor. Pulse until well combined.
- Place dough discs on flat surface and add ¼ cup of chicken mixture to each disc. Use fingers and water to wet edges of the discs. Fold dough discs over and seal with fingers or fork.
- Generously brush each assembled empanadas with beaten eggs.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.