Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quick and Delicious Chicken Empanadas

My daughter needed 15 culture points for Spanish and asked for ideas.  I said I had always wanted to try making empanadas.  What did she think?  She loved the idea.  I wanted to find a recipe that would be super simple as we didn't have a lot of time to really cook from scratch... after school... after track practice and before bedtime on a school night.  It had to be good though.
I found a recipe from "Semi-Homemade" Sandra Lee.  It really seemed very easy and I had all the ingredients but the pie crust.

I went one step further than Sandra Lee and I bought premade pie crusts from Pillsbury.  My folks use them at Thanksgiving for their pies and they always tastes just fine.  I didn't have time to mix and roll out pie crusts

This recipe was surprisingly SO delicious we are definitely going to make them again.  It was a great mother/daughter cooking project seeing as my daughter doesn't like to cook. 

We had an assembly line.  She worked on making the filling.  While she was doing that I cut out the pie dough.  After the filling cooled I would fill the pie dough.  It was a messy affair that took finding a technique to keep the filling in as I pressed it closed.  After wetting the edge of dough using my teaspoon cookie scoop I would plop the filling on the dough.  Then I would fold the piece in mid air with the fold facing the ground.  That way I used gravity to keep the filling in the empanada as I pinch it closed.  I would first pinch the dough closest to the fold on each side.  This made a cup like structure that made all the difference in the world in keeping the filling in.  I then gently pressed up to the top of the half circle evenly on both sides.  I handed the empanada off to my daughter who then pressed the edge with a fork and forked the top of the little pastry.  She lined them on on a cookie sheets and baked them.  Using 2 packages of Pillsbury pie crust and my 2 1/2 inch cutter I got about 64 empanadas.

They were a big hit at school.  She got 25 points for her Spanish sentences about making empanadas and the class got to eat them.

Chicken Mini Empanadas (with my tweaks)


  • 2 Pillsbury Pie Crusts
  • 1 11-ounce can white chicken meat, drained
  • 1 cup chunky salsa
  • 1 3-ounce can sliced ripe olives
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken, salsa and olives. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Cool slightly.

On a lightly flour-dusted surface, unroll the dough that has been brought up to about room temperature. Using a 3-inch-round cutter (my cutter was about 2 1/2 inches), cut out 36 circles, rerolling the scraps as needed. Place about 1 teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of each circle. Moisten the edges with water. Fold the circles in half and pinch to seal. Pierce the tops with a fork.

Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot.
Lynne's note:  A couple of the empanadas didn't seal despite wetting the edge, pinching close and pressing edge with a fork.  It worked out OK as none of the filling came out.  We used these "ugly ones" to taste test.

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