Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)

Loaded with tender chicken breast and lots of Latin spices, these mouth-watering Puerto Rican style chicken empanadas are crispy on on the outside, juicy on the inside and absolutely packed with flavor!

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Loaded with tender chicken breast and lots of Latin spices, these mouth-watering Puerto Rican style chicken empanadas are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and absolutely packed with flavor!

Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)

Whenever I visit Puerto Rico, I make sure to eat all kinds of empanadas…or I should say empanadillas.  Puerto Ricans call these delicious pockets of pure happiness empanadillas, because empanadas refer to a completely different dish. Some of my favorite fillings are carne (ground beef), cangrejo (crab), and chapin (local fish). Chicken empanadas were never really my go-to pick.

Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)

I’ve always left chicken as a last resort, because a lot of chicken fillings I’ve tried have been…somewhat bland. And it’s a damn shame, because chicken empanadas can be amazing, if you do it right! Chicken is a blank canvas, and as such, it needs lots of flavor to be the star of an empanadilla. The chicken is definitely the star of this chicken empanada recipe. My empanadillas de pollo are definitely not bland, and absolutely packed with lots of Puerto Rican flavor!

What Ingredients Are In Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas?

There are a few key ingredients to make your chicken empanadas sing! The first, and most important, is sofrito. Without it, these just won’t have that Puerto Rican flair that makes them so freakin’ good! The next is Sazon, an all purpose Latin spice mix that’s an essential pantry staple in any Latin kitchen. Whether you use a store-bought brand or make your own, this ingredient gives the filling a beautifully appetizing golden color. Adobo, our version of all-purpose seasoning, is another Latin pantry staple. Crushed fire roasted tomatoes replaces the more traditional tomato sauce, but either one works. This recipe also uses olives, but if you don’t like olives, you can leave out.

Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)

Can I Bake Empanadas Instead Of Frying?

Yes, BUT you need to use dough that’s specifically made for baking. Goya makes a version that I love, but if you can’t find that, you can use store-bought or homemade pie dough or puff pastry dough as a substitute and cut them into circles using a cookie cutter. Once you filling and seal the empanadas, they only take about 10 minutes to air fry or bake! I usually bake my empanadas around 375 degrees F.

How To Freeze Empanadas

These chicken empanadas freeze wonderfully, so I like assembling a bunch of them, wrapping them individually in wax paper and freezing them in food storage bags. They’re perfect after school/work snacks, or delicious appetizers to serve to last minute guests!

Want More Empanada Recipes? Check out these delicious recipes from Delish D’Lites!

Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)
5 from 6 votes

Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas De Pollo)

This classic recipe for chicken empanadas will become a family favorite!

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Keyword chicken empanadas
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10
Author Delish D’Lites


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sofrito homemade is best!
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes 14.5 oz
  • 1 tsp Sazon all purpose seasoning con culantro y achiote available in the ethnic/Latin food aisle
  • 1 tsp Adobo all purpose seasoning available in the ethnic/Latin food aisle
  • 1/2 tsp powdered chicken bouillon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sugar, honey or agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp pimento stuffed olives, chopped optional
  • 3 cups cooked & shredded chicken breast about 2 large or 3 medium chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 package frozen empanada discs, defrosted (like Goya) large size, available in many supermarkets
  • canola oil for frying


  1. In a saute pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and sofrito. Saute for 1 minute, until fragrant.

  2. Add the tomatoes (with the juice), sazon, adobo, powdered chicken bouillon, cumin, sugar and chopped olives, if using.

  3. Stir to combine and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow this mixture to cook for 5-7 minutes, or until most of the liquid from the diced tomatoes has evaporated.

  4. Add the chicken, and stir thoroughly to combine. You want to make sure the chicken turns golden from the tomato/spice mixture. Cook for 1 minute to warm the chicken through,

  5. Place the chicken mixture in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool for 15-30 minutes in the fridge.

  6. Divide the chicken mixture between the defrosted empanada discs, making sure not to overfill. Crimp the edges completely with a fork.

  7. Fry the empanadas for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown.

  8. Serve hot!

Recipe Notes

Any uncooked empanadas can be frozen, just wrap them individually in wax paper and pop them into a freezer safe bag!

Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)


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19 Responses

  1. Can I make the empanadas and store them in fridge to fry the next day? Will the dough be too soggy. I was planning to use the pie crust.

  2. Do you boil the chicken or put it in crockpot, to cook it so you can shred it before adding it to sofrito and seasonings? What’s the best way to cook the chicken so it’s tender?

    1. I boil the chicken breasts in chicken broth, just until they’re cooked. Don’t overcook them or they will come out tough. You can also use a rotisserie chicken to make this recipe and just shred it.

  3. 5 stars
    The recipe looks good but if they are real Puerto Rican then they are pastellios not empandas! I usually make my own dough, when I’m not being lazy, using my grandmother’s recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    GIRLLLLLLL ( no disrespect but I just wanted you to get the full effect)
    These are AWESOME !!! I can’t really cook but wanted to try since my mom is visiting and they came out awesome. I dare say better than the ones from Havana Central. I omitted the sugar, added red peppers and onions and they are so delicious. Even my mom is impressed that I made these…lol
    Thank you SOOOOOO MUCH for Sharing this recipe. Do you have a book of recipes???
    Thank you Jannese…happy new year

    1. Hahaha I love this, thank you so much! Happy new year to you and yours! I’m publishing a book in 2020, so please sign up for my email list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s released!

    2. 5 stars
      Hello, I added red pepper and onions, as suggested from a previous reviewer, and they tasted just like my neighbor’s pastelillos that she always bought from the Puerto Rican restaurant! I have used other recipes before, but always had to add salsa to them when eating because they were so tasteless. Your version has so much flavor and herbaciousness!! I also poached my breasts in Sazon/adobo/chicken boullion water to integrate the flavors into the meat. Thank you so very much for sharing this recipe!!

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I’m Jannese, Founder of Delish D’lites

I’m a Puerto Rican girl living in paradise (Florida), and the creative mind behind Delish D’Lites. I love sharing my family recipes and travel inspired cuisine! My favorite things include collecting passport stamps, twerking to Latin music, and kissing puppies. Follow along on social.