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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas De Pollo)
This classic recipe for chicken empanadas will become a family favorite!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tbsp sofrito homemade is best!
- 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes 14.5 oz
- 1/2 tsp Sazon all purpose seasoning con culantro y achiote available in the ethnic/Latin food aisle
- 1/2 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
In a saute pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and sofrito. Saute for 1 minute, until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes (with the juice), sazon, adobo, powdered chicken bouillon, cumin, sugar and chopped olives, if using.
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.
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,
Place the chicken mixture in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool for 15-30 minutes in the fridge.
Divide the chicken mixture between the defrosted empanada discs, making sure not to overfill. Crimp the edges completely with a fork.
Fry the empanadas for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown.
Any uncooked empanadas can be frozen, just wrap them individually in wax paper and pop them into a freezer safe bag!