Chipotle Chicken Empanadas

This post first appeared over at Real Housemoms where I’m a contributor. 

Freezer friendly, juicy, cheesy, shortcut Chipotle Chicken Empanadas doused in refreshing Avocado Dip make the best crowd pleasing appetizers, dinners or snacks and can be made ahead of time and frozen for later! 

This Chipotle Chicken Empanada recipe is loaded with smoky chipotle chicken, hearty black beans, crisp bell peppers and gooey cheese for a to live for filling and the store bought puff pastry dough makes an easy shortcut for the buttery, flaky golden pastry!

Chipotle Chicken Empanadas with Avocado Dip

What are Empanadas?

I looooove empanadas.  Empanadas are pastries most often stuffed with savory fillings such as seafood, meat, cheese and vegetables and are very popular in South America but are thought to have originated in Spain,  The word “empanada” comes from the Latin word, “empanar” which means “to bread.” In fact, I’ve heard “empanadas are to South Americans what sandwiches are to Americans,” meaning, empanadas are as common as sandwiches and equally as versatile with endless filling combinations and styles of dough!  And once you try these Chipotle Chicken Empanadas you’ll understand why.

Chipotle Chicken Empanadas with Avocado Dip with lime.

These Chipotle Chicken Empanadas are wonderfully satisfying with their golden, flaky dough giving way to the hearty, fiestalicious cheesy filling.  But what you will love almost as much as the taste is just how easy this recipe is because we use store bought puff pastry for the dough and you can prep the chicken (or the entire filling) days in advance for easy assembly.  That being said, these chicken empanadas do take some time to make, but it is simple prep with a huge flavor payoff.

To make the chicken filling, we start with my favorite recipe for chipotle chicken. This chipotle chicken recipe yields incredibly juicy, richly smoky, slightly spicy chicken that flavors the entire pastry and elevates these chicken empanadas far above those that use precooked or even braised chicken.

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Fresh baked Chipotle Chicken Empanadas.

How To make Empanadas with Chicken 

  1. What I love about this chicken empanada recipe is that it is completely flexible depending on your time. After slathering your chicken with a wet rub of Aromatic Mexican spices, you can cook the chicken right away, wait 30 minutes, or better yet, let marinate 8 hours.
Showing how to make Chipotle Chicken Empanadas cooking the chicken.

2. Next to make the empanada filling, we sauté diced red bell peppers and black beans for just a couple minutes.  Then, we add some enchilada sauce and our diced chipotle chicken back to the pan and heat through.  How easy was that?!  At this point you can refrigerator your filling to assemble later or proceed to make your chicken empanadas.

Showing how to make Chipotle Chicken Empanadas by cooking ingredients.

Shortcut Empanada Dough

For our empanada dough, we use glorious store-bought puff pastry dough.  If you have never used puff pastry dough, it is located in the freezer section of your grocery store and is wonderfully easy to work with.  When baked, it emerges beautifully puffy, flaky and golden – the perfect cocoon for our irresistible filling.  I love it so much I’ve used it in my Artichoke Dip  Bites, Cannoli Cones, and Baked Brie.

Puff Pastry dough is located in the freezer section of your grocery store.  I use Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (not a paid endorsement, just fact).  Each package comes with two sheets – and take care to purchase the puff pastry sheets and not the squares (I learned that by mistake).   Puff pastry typically takes 30 minutes to thaw, but just follow the thawing instructions on the back of the box.

Showing how to stuff Chipotle Chicken Empanadas.

What is good to eat with Empanadas?

Last but not least, the lick-your-blender-clean Avocado Dip. Its refreshing creaminess is the ideal companion to the flaky pastry and smoky chipotle chicken filling.  Together, worlds of deliciousness combine for can’t-stop-eating, don’t-ever-want-to-stop eating Chipotle Chicken Empanadas.

You can serve the Chicken Empanadas with the Avocado Dip as an appetizer with chips and guac or to make it a meal, add a side of Cilantro Lime Rice with Black Beans and a simple salad or my Southwest Salad, and/or Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Honey Lime Butter.

Fresh cooked Chipotle Chicken Empanadas with like on the side.

Can Empanadas be frozen?

YES!  I love that Chipotle Chicken Empanadas  can be made and devoured in one sitting or you can freeze them before baking and store them until your cravings strike.  When it’s empanada time, all you have to do is move as many empanadas as your heart desires straight from the freezer to the oven for the perfect prep-ahead appetizer, meal or snack!

How to Freeze Empanadas

  1. Assemble empanadas according to directions up to the point of sealing the dough and pricking holes in it.
  2. Line the unbaked empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer taking care they do not touch or the empanadas with freeze together.
  3. Place the baking tray in the freezer and freeze until solid then transfer the empanadas into a freezer size bag.
  4. You can leave the empanadas in the freezer for up to four months.
  5. When ready to eat, bake the the desired amount of empanadas WITHOUT defrosting first at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Close up of Chipotle Chicken Empanadas with a bite missing.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Freezer friendly, juicy, cheesy, shortcut Chipotle Chicken Empanadas doused in refreshingly Avocado Dip make the BEST crowd pleasing appetizers, dinners or snacks and can be made ahead of time and frozen for later!  The filling is to die for and the store bought puff pastry dough makes an easy shortcut for the buttery, flaky golden pastry!

Chipotle Chicken Empanadas with Avocado Dip

Freezer friendly, juicy, cheesy, shortcut Chipotle Chicken Empanadas doused in refreshing Avocado Dip make the best crowd pleasing appetizers, dinners or snacks and can be made ahead of time and frozen for later!  The filling of smoky chipotle chicken, hearty black beans, crisp bell peppers and gooey cheese is to die for and the store bought puff pastry dough makes an easy shortcut for the buttery, flaky golden pastry!
Servings: 20 empanadas
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins

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Ingredients

Empanadas

  • 1 Recipe Chipotle Chicken
  • 2 puff pastry sheets thawed*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup mild enchilada sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 1 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water whisked together in small bowl

Avocado Dip

Instructions

Avocado Dip

  • Add all the Avocado Dip ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. May be made 4 hours ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Empanada Filling

  • Prepare Chipotle Chicken according to recipe directions. After chicken has rested at least 5 minutes, chop into small pieces. Set aside.
  • To the same skillet you cooked your chicken (don’t clean out), heat 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil. Add bell peppers and black beans and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chicken and enchilada sauce until evenly combined. Season with salt, pepper and/or hot sauce to taste.

Empanada Dough

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large jelly roll pan with parchment paper or line 2 smaller pans with parchment paper/nonstick mats.
  • Lay out one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll out to approximate dimension of 12 x 18 inches. Cut 2 rows of 4” circles in the dough for 8 circles total. Repeat with other sheet of puff pastry. Gather dough scraps and roll out to dimensions to fit 4 additional circles. You should have a total of 20 circles.

Assemble

  • Place 1 ½ tablespoons chicken mixture in the center of each circle and top with one tablespoon of cheese. Lightly brush the edge of half of a circle with egg wash and fold over, pinch edges tightly to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining circles but DO NOT dip your brush in the egg wash again until your brush becomes dry because too much egg wash will prevent the edges from sticking.
  • Check each empanada to make sure there is about a finger width of dough sealed together before the filling starts. Crimp the edges together with a fork. Pierce each empanada two times with a fork so steam can escape while baking.

Bake

  • Spread empanadas apart so they are not touching each other on baking sheet. Brush the tops/sides evenly with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve with Avocado Dip

FREEZER OPTION

  • While empanadas are lined on baking tray before baking, transfer entire baking tray to the freezer. Once frozen, add individual empanadas to a large freezer bag.
  • When ready to bake, line desired amount of empanadas on parchment lined baking tray, and bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Notes

*Thaw puff pastry dough according to directions when your chicken is about 40 minutes away from being done cooking (this will vary depending on your chicken resting time below.

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12 Comments

  1. Judi says

    THANKS, Jen……my Christmas Eve menu is now complete….this will be perfect on a cold wintery night (and hopefully snowy!) We do lots of appetizers in front of the fireplace…this will be the perfect addition..

    Joyous Christmas!!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Judi! What a wonderful Christmas Eve traditions! Our Christmas Eve tradition includes lots of appetizers too 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  2. Jenny says

    Hi! Is there anything you could say b for the black beans? Hubster isn’t a fan of beans :/ thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jenny! You could sub kidney beans or just leave them out 🙂 Enjoy!

  3. Danica says

    These were delicious!! I just went ahead and made the empanada dough from scratch, as I didn’t have any puff pastry. My husband loved them, too. The chipotle chicken recipe is excellent and easy to follow. 5 stars.

    • Jen says

      Thank you for your awesome comment and 5 star review! I’m thrilled you loved this recipe and I’m sure it was even more delicious with your homemade empanada dough!

  4. Nancy says

    Made these empanadas today for lunch and used your chicken rub as well. Loved using puff pastry — they turned out nice and crispy and golden brown. The avocado sauce was really delicious. It is a great lunch for watching football. : )

    • Jen says

      Hi Nancy, I’m so happy these were a a hit! I love puff pastry too for so many things – makes it so extra easy! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  5. Jeanne Barilla says

    Just curious, how much hot sauce before it gets too hot????

    • Jen says

      Hi Jeanne – it is different for everyone so I suggest adding to taste. Enjoy!

  6. Christine Moore says

    Could you use some kind of beef for these, my husband does not do chicken!

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