These warm and spicy chicken empanadas served with refreshing cilantro-lime dipping sauce make a great meal any day of the week. They are also fun as the featured dish for Sunday brunch! The great thing is that you can make them ahead of time and reheat them in the oven for those busy weekdays. We make them dinner-sized, but you can also make these smaller to serve as appetizers for party gatherings. But, did we mention that dipping sauce? Soooooo yummy!
You can make these using pre-packaged pie dough, too, but there is nothing better than a homemade crust, so if you have the time, give it a shot. We have included a great dough recipe for you right there!
For larger, meal-sized empanadas, it’s easiest to divide the dough into individual balls – as many as the number of empanadas you are making. We make about 8 with this recipe. But, if you are making these for an appetizer to pass, it’s best to make two large dough balls and use biscuit cutters to make the rounds. If you do make mini empanadas, be sure to cut down on the amount of filling for each one you make or they will be bursting at the seams!
If you wind up with extra filling, just save it to roll into a tortilla for a quick snack or to tuck into your lunch box.
You can cook the chicken breast on the grill or in the oven, or even buy pre-cooked chicken at the store. Also if you happen to have leftover chicken from another dish, just shred it and use that! Last time we made our empanadas from leftover Chicken Diavola and it was perfect in this recipe.
Chicken Empanadas with Cilantro Lime Dipping Sauce
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 sticks 6 oz. cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3-1/2 cup ice-cold water
Chicken Filling: (Can be made a day or two ahead of time and refrigerated)
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pre-cooked and shredded
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 poblano peppers stem and veins removed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro leaves
- 1 red or orange bell pepper stem, and veins removed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar or mixed Mexican cheese
- 1 egg white blended for brushing the tops of the empanadas before baking
Blend the following together in a food processor until smooth:
- 2 cups cilantro leaves loosely packed
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 6 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive
- 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled (optional – in case you love feta like we do!)
- 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
DIRECTIONS for Filling
- Heat oil in a large skillet.Add onions, garlic, poblano peppers, and bell pepper along with all of the spices, salt, and pepper, and cook over medium-low heat until onions and pepper soften and begin to get slightly browned, stirring occasionally.Turn heat down and continue to cook for 5 minutes longer.
- Remove from heat and cool.Add chicken and grated cheese to the onion mixture and toss well.Set aside or refrigerate until ready to assemble empanadas.See assembly directions below.
DIRECTIONS for Crust:
- Mix flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl.Add the cubed butter, and using a pastry cutter or cold fingertips, cut butter into flour mixture until all butter is incorporated into the flour.
- Sprinkle vinegar over the top and mix into flour-butter mixture with a fork.Add water a little at a time, mixing well and adding more as needed until dough can be formed into a big dough ball.
- Now, evenly divide the dough into 8 smaller balls.
- On a floured surface such as a cutting board, or smooth countertop, roll out each dough ball into a flat circle, approximately 6 inches in diameter.
To Assemble Empanadas
- Spoon 1/4 cup of the chicken filling (recipe follows) on one half of the dough circle.Fold the other half over and seal the semi-circle all around the edges by pressing down with your fingers.Now you can make a little pattern either by pressing down with a fork or by pulling a little dough from the bottom side of the rounded edge of the empanada up and over the top and repeating to form a twisted edge.This will seal the filling inside of the pastry.
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Or a pizza stone works well for this too.)
- Lay each empanada on the prepared baking sheet and lightly brush with egg white.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until pastry is cooked and turning golden-brown.Remove from oven and serve with Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce (recipe above).