Chicken Empanada

Last Tuesday I attended a Filipina friend's surprise birthday party. It was planned and hosted by her business partner, Janis, an American. Other visitors included relatives of that American, as well as some common friends of theirs. I thought it would be a good opportunity to bring the empanadas, as at our house, it is quite hard to consume even a dozen when it's only me and my sons who would eat red meat with veggies as fillings for rolls and pies. And since empanada is very Filipino (I presume), this is one good way to introduce these to the non-Filipino guests there. If they would be as fussy as my husband, at least I would have several Filipina friends who would enjoy that rare baked treat.

(With the few Filipinas that I have met, very seldom do they experiment with baking, as working with dough is not a popular thing in Filipino households for the mere fact that only a few can afford a stove with an oven. So that in the Philippines, baking is most often done by bakers using big ovens and handling massive doughs which often requires machines, and they have mastered working with yeast and quick breads and cakes. The busy mother would find it more practical to just buy the perfectly baked goods from a nearby bakery or mall on her way home from the office. That meant less hassles and less expenditure for the mother, more profit for the big bakeshops.)

After the Americans have tried the chicken empanada, they wanted the recipe! I gave them my blog address instead, to make teaching easier. Hence, my haste in posting this one. Then Janis had an idea to push through with her catering business plan, seeing that our combined efforts would be able to feed a group of 20-30 people. She and the other Americans can prepare the American dishes, our Burmese friend can prepare Oriental dishes like Lo Mein and Fried Rice and be the bartender, my friend Ana can prepare the cakes (she has mastered that art!), and I will bake the rolls and pies! We were all quite enthusiastic about it, because it will provide income opportunities for stay-at-home moms like us. Realistically speaking, it was a wishful thinking; we live so far apart that this would be impossible to do.

The original recipe shared to me by drstel used the following as filling:

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 medium o yellow onion, diced
2 1/2 lbs coarsely chopped chicken, preferably dark meat
1/2 cup cream of asparagus soup
2 diced medium potatoes
1 diced carrot

I had to make adjustments to that because I could not just go out to buy the cream of asparagus. The short notice for the party left me with very little time to include that in my list. So I thought, since the leftover meat from roasted chicken already was packed with flavors, it might not hurt to miss on the cream of asparagus, and the gravy made from the pan juices were also yummy enough and would provide a good cohesive force. The result was very good.


2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening (stel forgot to include that when I copied; I just looked at other recipes)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

ice water (enough to make a cohesive ball)

I used leftover chicken meat from roasted chicken (or sautee 1/2 lb chicken meat with 2 cloves garlic and 1 onion, diced), plus
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 carrot, diced
pan juices (1 cup) (substitute:broth)
2 tbsp chicken fat plus 2 tbsp flour(In the absence of broth, may use cream of asparagus and don't use fat and flour any more)

I mixed all dry ingredients together. Using a knife and a spoon, I cut the shortening into the flour mixture (by "cutting," flour coats the sides of the pieces of the fat, until the pieces are smaller, all coated by flour). - Update as of 3/12/09: I now just use my hands to do this. I also use my homemade pork lard.

Some use a pastry blender or two knives. Anything you can think of to do the job will be good enough.

Stop when the texture is crumbly and mealy, like cornmeal.

Teaspoon by teaspoon, add ice water (water in a pitcher with lots of ice swimming) while fluffing with a fork. After about 3- 5 teaspoons, check if the dough will form a ball. Add some more if it cannot stay cohesive yet. Use the smallest amount possible. Chill in the fridge.

(Note: This recipe will make about a dozen empanadas. The filling that I made could be used for 2 dozens empanada, but I used a different dough, a roll recipe, for that other dozen, which I prepared the next day. You may want to double this dough recipe or lessen the filling to suit your needs. I don't suggest freezing the excess filling, because frozen cooked potatoes taste awful.)

Remember my baked/roasted chicken? I chopped the leftover red meat, skin, gizzard, and heart, which amounted to about 2 cups packed. Then I got half of the pan juices (the other half I used for gravy to make sandwiches the next day), reheated it, then added cubed (half-inch cubes) of 2 medium potatoes and a carrot to cook until tender.

In a smaller saucepan, I heated 2 tbsp of chicken fat (the fat that formed on top of the pan juices which I transferred to another jar), then blended it with 2 tbsp flour to make a paste. (I got this idea from the Creamed Beans from bingbing, where she used butter and flour then milk and spices to make a creamy base for beans. I thought, when fluid like broth is added, then something like "cream of [broth flavor]" is made, especially upon addition of milk or cream).

I added the chopped meat to the simmering veggies to heat through. I then adjust the taste by adding sugar, salt and pepper as needed. This is one good way to use leftover meat (from roast chicken, ham, roast beef, etc. Chopped raisins may be added, too.)

If you don't have any leftover meat, just sautee chopped 2 cloves of garlic and
1 medium onions, add chicken pieces to brown then simmer for 10 minutes then chop. Put back into the pan and sautee with diced potatoes and carrots and chopped raisins then add the cream of asparagus (or whatever cream you want to use. Asparagus goes very well with chicken.) and simmer for another 10 minutes.

When chicken filling has cooled, you can then start working on the empanada itself. Form a piece of the chilled dough into a ball the size of pingpong. Sandwich this in between sheets of plastic (here I greased the plastic with shortening, but later I found out that sprinkling with flour is better). Maneuvering is made easier by using plastic.

Starting from the middle, work toward the sides on all directions to make a disk about 5-6 inches diameter. UPDATE: 3/12/09 - A more energy- and time-saver method would be to roll out flat a big piece then cut out using a bowl or an empanada dough press.

Peel off the plastic,

place about a tablespoonful of filling on half of the disk,

Fold over the other half of the disk by flipping the plastic and peel it off,

By small sections, fold the lower crust over the top (fluting?). You may press with fork tines to decorate and seal further). UPDATE as of 3/12/09: When using the dough press, if your dough is too floury to seal, brush the edges with eggwash then seal.

Place on greased baking sheet. Cover with the greased/floured plastic until ready to bake. When baking, pre-heat oven to 400 deg F then prepare 1 egg slightly beaten and mixed with 1 tbsp sugar plus some cream (around 1 tsp). Mix together. (or you may use 1 egg plus 1 tbsp water = eggwash. I just used the egg-sugar combination because that was what was called for in a recipe for holiday dinner rolls that I used for my excess filling).

Use this to coat the empanada before baking.

Pierce with a fork to create vents through which stem may escape during baking. (if you use different fillings, you may use the orientation of the fork marks to differentiate - e.g. horizontal for pure breast meat without veggies, vertical for the rest). Without vents, the crust may puff and create dead space inside, creating the impression that the filling was not enough ("Nagtitipid siguro!")

Bake for 20 minutes (or until golden brown; the filling is cooked already anyway), then cool on a wire rack for at least 2 minutes before serving (filling will be piping hot!)
Posted by Hello

UPDATE: 08-09-09
Para kay jayneh na nag-request ng Tagalog translation:

2 tasang harina
1/2 tasang purico (puting mantekilya; vegetable lard. )
1/2 tasang asukal
1/4 kutsaritang baking powder
1 kutsaritang asin
ice water (tama lang para makabuo ng bola ng dough)

Gumamit ako ng natirang baked chicken na mga 2 tasa ang dami (o kaya ay maggisa 1/2 lb manok sa 2 ipin ng bawang at 1 sibuyas, tinadtad)
2 medium patatas, diced
1 carrot, diced
tinadtad na raisins (1/4 tasa)
pan juices (1 cup; eto yung sabaw sa baked chicken) (pwede gumamit ng chicken broth)
2 kutsarang mantika ng manok galing sa sabaw ng baked chicken or gayatin ang balat ng pino at igisa hanggang magmantika;
2 kutsarang harina
(Kung walang broth, gumamit ng Campbell's cream of asparagus at hwag na gumamit ng taba ng manok na hinaluan ng harina)

Paraan sa paggawa ng dough:
Paghaluin ang harina, asukal, baking powder, asin (eto ang dry ingredients. Gamit ang mga kamay, ihalong maigi ang purico sa dry ingredients. Pag namumuo na ito, unti-unti idagdag ang ice water habang hinahalo ng tinidor. Pag nakapaghalo na ng mga 3-5 kutsaritang ice water, subukan kung makakabuo na ng bola. Dagdagan ng ice water kung hindi pa. Kung nakakabuo na, tama na yung ice water. Balutin ng plastic at ilagay sa refrigerator.

NOTE: Ang recipe ko sa dough ay tama para sa 12 pirasong empanada. Yung recipe ng palaman ay makakagawa ng 24. Pwede mo doblehin yung dough.

Paraan sa paggawa ng palaman:

Pakuluin ang patatas at carrots sa chicken broth hanggang lumambot (wala pang 10 minuto ito; hwag i-overcook dahil pangit naman kagatin pag masyadong malambot at baka madurog lang). Ihalo ang tinadtad na manok hanggang kumulo. Isantabi muna ito.

Sa maliit na saucepan o kaldero, pagmantikain ang balat ng manok (or kunin ang mantika galing sa pinagsabawan ng manok); sa katamtamang init, ihalo ang 2 kutsarang harina at haluin hanggang maging parang paste (roux ang tawag dito). Idagdag ang pinakuluang patatas, carrots, manok at haluing maigi hanggang maging malapot. Ayusin ang lasa sa pagdagdag ng asin, paminta, at asukal. Hayaang lumamig.

(Kung walang tirang manok, maggisa ng 2 ipin ng bawang at 1 medium sibuyas, idagdag ang manok at hayaang mag-brown, takpan at hinaan ang apoy, lutin ng 10 minuto. Tadtarin ang manok, ibalik sa pan at igisa pati ang tinadtad na carrots at patatas. Idagdag ang cream of asparagus o kung anong cream ang gusto mong ihalo, gaya ng cream of chicken. Magdagdag ng konting tubig kung masyadong tuyo ito. Pakuluin ng 10 minuto o hanggang lumambot ang patatas at carrots. Palamigin. )

Pag malamig na ang palaman, ilabas ang dough at i-flat gamit ang rolling pin, umpisahan sa gitna palabas. Mas madali kung merong wax paper or plastic sa ilalim at ibabaw ng dough. Wisikan ng harina kung masyadong madikit.
Gumamit ng bowl o empanada dough press para makahugis ng bilog. Lagyan ng 1 kutsarang palaman sa gitna. Magbati ng isang itlog at ibrush ang itlog sa gilig para magselyo ang dough pagkalagay ng palaman. pwede gamitan ng tinidor para disenyo sa gilid.

Painitin ang oven sa 400 deg F.

Pahiran ng purico ang baking sheet ("plantsa") at ilagay ang mga empanada. Pahiran ng binating itlog (egg wash - pwedeng haluan ng 1 kutsarang gatas at 1 kutsarang asukal) ang ibabaw. Tusuk-tusukin ng tinidor ang ibabaw para sumingaw ang steam at hindi lolobo. I-bake ng 20 minutes o hanggang mag-golden brown ang ibabaw.


  1. Nice pictures Manang (mine are out of sequence and I have only a few). I hope next time you try with the cream of asp.; everyone says it packs a huge flavor hit. My kids enjoy it--I think it's the slightly sweet flaky crust that makes them special. Our friends, EuroAmer.couple, just had their 3rd child and I gave them a bag of frozen empanadas--the Daddy almost jumped for joy. My little contribution to world peace ;) !

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  2. Oh I will definitely try cream of asparagus! It just so happened that I wanted to maximize my leftover chicken and pan juices, and I could not rush to the grocery store to get one item (had a very very short notice about the party!). And yes, I think it is the crust that made it special. Do you think I can use that for apple pies as well?

  3. Never tried this Crisco based crust for pies. I like my pie crusts buttery. For those who are brave, I've heard pork leaf lard is the best. I will be posting a French apple tart recipe next, tis the season right?
    Very detailed ang instructions mo, no one will go wrong. Happy cooking.

  4. Drstel, actually when I printed your recipe (good thing I did bago nawala), I noticed there was no shortening included in the dough recipe. So I researched on other pie crust recipes, read their instructions (my first time to do this!) and decided on the amount of shortening that needed 2 cups of flour.
    I also read about leaf lard in Cook's Illustrated. Best tasting daw. Came from "prok kidney fat" originally, but Cook's interviewed sources and said that it is pork fat from any part. I had ideas on making my own because my friend Ana gave me several slabs of fat back (which I originally intended to make chicharon with, but had no luck producing the crispy ones. Maybe I need a deep-frier. wish-list...haha!

  5. So sorry! I was rushing kasi...I noticed the error just before I saved everything as draft. It has since been corrected. 4 cups of flour to 1/2 cup of chilled Crisco. I have a not so good picture of the pastry blender, one of the first additions I bought to add to my hubby's paltry gadget collection after we got married. If you can find one, a marble pastry board/sangkalan?, would help to keep the dough and shortening cool. As for the pork lard, I think I'll stick to butter for now.Which one would be heart-healthier, or shall we say less harmful? Hope you can visit my blog, altho i can't post very often. Thanks for all you've done. Et cheers!

  6. drstel,
    Actually, I've been trying to go to ur site by clicking ur name, but there's no blog listed there (try doing so here).
    I have reservations as to which is the healthier choice. Dat kasi, margarine daw was better than butter. Now they say butter is better than any oil that is partially hydrogenated. Dr. Mercola's website says RAW butter is better (mainly bec of additional vitamins and antibodies naturally present). I say fat is fat is fat and we digest it to the final products of triacylglerols carried as VLDLs and chylomicrons. We use it to manufacture other lipid-based compounds in our body. The excess is stored as fat. So para sa akin, consciously limit intake pa rin to 5% (there will be inevitable unintentional sources like meat). Kaya if I can't avoid ingesting more than I need, I just shake it off by moving more, and depriving myself of fat on other days.

  7. Yes, making these treats are so matrabaho. I usually make Jamaican beef patties, which are similar to empanadas, but they're spiced with curry and habanero peppers. Pareho tayo ng technique in rolling the dough between sheets of plastic wrap, which I did for a long time, although I now prefer to use wax paper.

    Good luck with the catering business.

  8. hi, Manang! i'm so glad you posted this recipe. i told drstel that since i am no baker, i would get hubby to make it sometime. then, nawala yung site nya! now, i can always refer to your site. i bet it was so good.

  9. MsEllaNY,
    Thanks for that tip on wax paper!

    That wax paper seems very promising! Tell ur hubby (if he's the one who's going to make it) to use it instead of the plastic, coz plastic seems harder to maneuver than paper during the actual rolling. Nagugusot and it has more tendency to cling to the dough, so I often had to peel it every now and then while rolling.

  10. Actually, empanada is Spanish for Turnover or pie (literal translation is "of that made in bread"). Since Philippines was a Spanish colony for 300 some years, we have adopted many Spanish cuisine in our culinary culture. The only reason why I said that is because I know that Taco Bell sells Caramel Apple Empanadas as well too! HAHAHA... Knowing that, you can definitely use apple pie fillings (per your question). Also, my mom caters in Los Angeles, and she makes empanadas as well, and she deep fries them as oppose to baking, and I love the taste of it. I've had both, and my personal preference is definitely deep fried (no bias at all with my mom's cooking, hehehe). Have a great day!!!

  11. hi manang,

    just wondering have you ever tried making chicken empanada deep fried just like what anonymous mentioned in his comment? if so, is there any difference in taste and quality? can anonymous share his mum's recipe for the chicken empanada? i hope i get a response from you both.


  12. Hi isabelo! Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.
    I have not tried deep-frying empanadas. I am afraid of the excessive fat the flour will absorb, not to mention that the dough itself already has shortening/lard (I'm not as afraid with lumpia because of its thin wrapping). I also avoid deep-frying because I feel that a lot of oil is wasted (re-using is not much of an option because of the health controversy, plus it will already have an after-taste). Maybe for those using a dough that does not have shortening, deep-frying will work. I am quite contented with baking it; I can also see the excess fat left behind on the baking sheet.

    Yeah, I wish anonymous shared her mom's recipe for empanada, just like stel did. Who knows, maybe the links (karatig-kusina) have their own recipes; we just have to search?...

  13. it's 15/01/05 here & was very surprise to get a response from you. thank you manang. in fact, i just printed off your recipe and will try making it for the first time. i hope it turns out right... but i just realised that the recipe didn't have the amt of lard to be used. so i have to go back to the rest of the comments.

    anyway, really pleased that you responded to my email. sent one in ph to a known cooking class about her recipe i tried, but unfortunately, she never responded to my email.

    will keep you posted once i've done it. bye for now... salamat po ulit.

  14. Hi again, isabelo,

    I made the correction already. Thanks for telling me about the missing shortening. I recall that when I made this empanada using stel's recipe, that was what I printed, too. I just failed to include the correction here (I guessed at the amount when I made this empanada).

    However, after making empanada and apple pies, I got hooked to the pie crust recipe which I got from King Arthur's Flour website. I have been quite a fanatic about that procedure and have come to be at home with it, making tender and flaky pie crust every time, that even my hubby says is better than store-bought (though he never tried the empanada itself since he is not used to eating veggies mixed with red meat). Just follow the procedure at pie crust recipe; you can use the same thing with empanada. (I like the combination of lard/butter.)
    I hope you read this before your empanada-making. Happy baking!

  15. hi manang,

    my empanada is now baking in the oven, and i am awaiting outcome. i want to try making buko pie as well. however, with the KAF, i don't think they're available in tasmania, australia. is there any other subsitute for the kaf?

    let me know. thanks.

  16. hi manang,

    just eaten 2 empanadas, they weren't too bad and i enjoyed it. i will surely make some more next time.

    don't worry about my message at 9:51pm, it's okey now... i'll just use all purpose or plain flour.

    once again, thank you for the empanada recipe, will try the buko pie next time.

  17. Manang pictures pa lang nakakagutom na...Thank you for your good food recipes...Eloi

  18. anyone knows how to make chicken samoosa???

  19. penge akong recipe

  20. Anonymous 1: Sorry I have not heard of chicken samoosa.

    Anonymous 2: Which recipe do you need? This chicken empanada? If you click on comment, then "Show original post" you can copy and paste to Word.

  21. Thank you very much for the recipe. This will be great as "pambaon" for the office.

  22. just wondering if I could use ground pork or beef instead of chicken in this recipe...

  23. hi anonymous,

    I am sure it will be quite alright with the pork, but I am not too sure about beef. If I were you, I would go ahead and try. :)

  24. I haven't tried your recipe and I will. Can I use frozen pie dough?
    Or is it better to use the original dough recipe.


  25. Hi Alma,
    I have not tried the frozen dough (is that a pie frozen dough? The frozen dough that I know are the ones used for making rolls). I can only speak for homemade pie doughs, which is very good. I also suggest if you are gonna do this, sprinkling flour once in a while when you are rolling it flat will help reduce stickiness so it will be easier to handle. Goodluck!

  26. hi manang, i baked your chicken empanada from scratch (no leftover from the roast chicken, remember) and it turned out ok...i'm not 100% happy 'coz i didn't put raisins (my husband is allergic to raisins would u believe)and i overbaked...30 minutes is too much, maybe 20-25 minutes next time. but it's ok, at least i tried. and it's my first time! i'm really a neophyte when it comes to baking. never too late to learn a new skill, huh? :)

    about the procedure, i got confused in making the dough. you didn't mention when to put the sugar and the baking powder. is it before cutting the shortening into the flour or after?

    thanks also for visiting my site. what do you mean you can't read the archives? you can click on the topics just below the header image and all my posts are there. :D

  27. Hi carmel,
    I edited above to address your question and clarify my procedures; thanks for asking that. (mix dry ingredients then cut shortening into the mix).

    Re your blog, I would have wanted to browse in a chronological manner, not by topic...but I guess your links would be fine... :)

  28. hi manang!!! i tried your chicken empanada recipe and it was good!!! but instead of using cream of asparagus, i used cream of chicken and it was still good!!! tnx!! just wondering if u already tried tuna empanada and if t'was good?? tnx!!

  29. Hi Z,
    When I first tried making empanada, I actually made use of some sort of cream of chicken by mixing flour with the hot chicken fat, then adding milk and chicken broth, before I added the chopped meat and veggies. It was masarap! I tried the COA later and it was good too!

  30. manang,maraming salam po sa tagalog version nyo!tuwang tuwa po ako!sensya napo manang,dipo kasi ako fluent sa english,nagpapakatutuo lang po ako,sana po,sa ulit nyong send sa akin,yung ENSAYMADA po,gustu kopa yung soft Ensaymada.iti try konapo ito tonight para may mabahon ako bukas at mapatikim sa mga katrabaho ko,more power po sa talento at sipag at tiyaga nyo!salamat po!

  31. Hi Manang,
    I noticed it that your empanada crust recipe
    from your old kusina, it's different from this..
    mas ok ba ito?From the old kusina walang Baking powder at iba rin ang ingredients.Please advise.

  32. Hi Luz,
    Mas makapal lang pag merong baking powder, kasi magpa-puff sya pag bake mo (still airy kaya crunchy pa rin). Same taste. :)


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