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Easy {chicken} Empanadas


We try to eat dinner at Cuban Revolution in downtown Durham whenever we’ve got tickets to DPAC since it’s right across the street. It’s a great way to get our Cuban cuisine fix. But when we have long stretches between shows, I like to make quick empanadas at home. We all love them, and for the most part, they’re healthy. Some things, like these easy empanadas, taste best when you keep it simple. I tend to cook in ‘ish-measurements when making up recipes, so use this recipe as a guide … if the measurements work for you, keep them; if not, then adjust for your tastes.

0103040607Let’s get started!

Cook the chicken

We make a lot of homemade chicken soup and broth at our house, so the empanada chicken starts out with my usual routine:

  • 5 cups water
  • 3 – 4 chicken breasts (whatever chicken you don’t use for empanadas can be used later for soup, chicken salad, etc.)
  • 1 – 2 tsp sea salt (depending on how you’re able to handle sodium)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Add all ingredients to a large pot and cover.
  2. Bring the pot to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to low.
  3. Simmer for 2 hours.


Season the chicken

  1. Remove chicken from broth and place on cutting board.
  2. Using two forks (or whatever method you have), shred the chicken.
  3. Place about 2 cups of chicken in a large mixing bowl; reserve the rest for use later (this makes great chicken soup or salad).
  4. Add about 1/3 c of the broth to the bowl (to moisten chicken); reserve the rest for later use.
  5. Add 1 tsp chili powder; 1 Tbsp dried cilantro; 1 minced garlic clove; 1/2 tsp onion powder; 1/2 – 1 tsp Adobo. Stir well, until all of the chicken is coated.


Now for the empanadas

When I have time, I make homemade pie crusts. When I don’t, I use Immaculate Baking Company pie shells. Whatever you choose, roll one pie shell into a single ball, then cut into eight equal sections.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll each section flat and place a heaping spoonful of shredded chicken in the middle.
  3. Fold over, half-moon style, and press the edges together with a fork.
  4. Once all eight of your empanadas are formed, brush the tops with a beaten egg (this makes a pretty crust when it’s baked).
  5. Bake for 7 – 9 minutes, or until golden brown. Remember, your chicken is already cooked; you’re just baking the pie shells.

We serve empanadas with cuban black beans and a salad, and sometimes brown rice. Mmm …


For the dairy fans:

My husband loves spinach and cheese empanadas, so I figured out a way to woo him. Instead of the shredded chicken filling, I make a spinach filling by roughly chopping 1 cup of fresh baby spinach, and mixing it with 1 Tbsp sour cream, a handful of Sargento 6-Italian shredded cheese; a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 tsp chili powder. Follow the rest of the directions accordingly.


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Author: Dolly R. Sickles

Writer, mother, wife, adventurer, agent of change, advocate, ally, volunteer, instructor ... I'm never bored. I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense under the name Becky Moore, and children’s literature under the name Dolly Dozier. You can also check me out at MacMillan Publishing’s Heroes & Heartbreakers, where I’m a romance blogger. During the fall and spring, you can find me in the classroom teaching other folks how to follow their dreams or how to fund their community outreach at Wake Technical Community College, and Central Carolina Community College. During the summer and at random times during the year, I'm out adventuring with my family.

6 thoughts on “Easy {chicken} Empanadas

  1. Yes! I would often stop there for lunch or dinner. I don’t drive that far from Raleigh for work anymore so I am not sure if Sarah’s is still open but Calavera near City Market on the corner of Blount and Davie Streets has a great website and selection!

  2. Love it! Empanada restaurants are popping up all over now!

    • Did you ever eat at Sarah’s Empanadas on Hwy 54 in Durham? Years ago (like, 20’ish), when we used to work in RTP, that’s where we frequented for lunch. That, and Jamaica! Jamaica! OMG, the beans and rice with fried plantains were the bomb.

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