Chicken empanadas

Chicken empanadas

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Empanadas first caught my eye as a child doing rounds of the mall with my family; the famous Filipino bakeshop Red Ribbon had a cabinet stocked with the warm, cute, crescent-shaped pies. I had one, then another … and another. I still find it hard to stop at just one.

The appeal of empanadas is the mix of sweet and savoury flavours; a little sugar is added to the flaky pastry and raisins are mixed into the chicken filling. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, find a 12 cm bowl to use as a guide. You can also make the empanadas in advance; just freeze them until needed.


Quantity Ingredient
250g chicken breasts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 leek, trimmed and sliced, white part only
1 spring onion, trimmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 carrot, finely diced
60ml dry white wine
125ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon sultanas or raisins, finely chopped
60ml pouring cream
1 egg, lightly beaten for

Shortcrust pastry

Quantity Ingredient
300g plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
150g cold unsalted butter, chopped
50g cold lard, chopped
1 egg
1-2 tablespoons iced water


  1. To make the pastry, place the flour, sugar, butter and lard in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs (there will be pea-sized bits of butter). Add the egg and iced water, and process until the mixture starts to form large clumps. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to just bring together, then shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to rest.
  2. Meanwhile, half-fill a saucepan with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool the chicken in the water for 20 minutes. Drain, roughly chop and set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek, spring onion, garlic and carrot, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring until softened. Add the wine, stock, sultanas and chicken. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated. Stir in the cream, bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Using a food processor, process the mixture to a rough paste. Transfer to a bowl, season with salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper and cool completely (this will prevent the pastry going soggy).
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. To make the empanadas, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 3 mm thick. Using a 12 cm pastry cutter, cut out 12 rounds. Refrigerate the pastry rounds to firm, if necessary. Working with one pastry round at a time, place 2 tablespoons of the filling on one side, leaving a 1 cm border at the edge. Fold over the pastry to enclose the filling, then, using a fork, crimp the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling to make 12 empanadas. Transfer to two baking trays lined with baking paper, then brush the tops with eggwash.
  5. Bake the empanadas for 20 minutes, swapping the trays halfway — when done the pastry should be golden and crisp. Cool for 10 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Where does it come from?

  • From Portugal and Spain, empanadas spread throughout Western Europe, Latin America and South East Asia, where countless variations now exist. In the Philippines, empanadas are typically small with a pork or chicken filling. Other details are flexible: pastry can be baked, fried, crumbly, flaky or dough-like, while fillings are chunky, smooth or a mix. In the Philippines’ region of Ilocos, a distinct version exists. Here, a large thin sheet of riceflour pastry is folded over bean sprouts, chopped longganisa and raw egg, deep-fried until crisp, then served piping hot.
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