Chicken Enchilada Empanadas

Chicken Enchilada Empanadas are a great weekend cooking project! The flaky layers of dough surround a mixture of chicken, bell peppers, cheese, and enchilada sauce. They freeze beautifully, too!

chicken enchilada empanada split open on a wooden board.

Nesting is in full force around here—I have a list a mile long of cleaning projects that I want to accomplish before the baby arrives next month.

I’m also just getting started on freezer meals that we can quickly heat up for dinner. And these Chicken Enchilada Empanadas fit the bill!

These hand-held savory pastries clearly fall into a “fusion” category.

Empanadas are very popular in Latin America, but are thought to have originated in Spain. Enchiladas are Mexican, though Tex-Mex cuisine has turned them into a casserole loaded with fillings and topped with cheese.

Regardless of the origin, these Chicken Enchilada Empanadas are a tasty combination!

Chicken Enchilada Empanadas on a wire rack.

They do take some time to make, so I’d suggest these as a weekend or day-off project and not a “the family is hungry, I need to make dinner” kind of project. 🙂

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Start with a homemade dough, which is similar to a pie dough. I used my food processor to make the dough, refrigerated it, and then rolled it out into circles. You can get the full how-to with photos here, or check out the recipe below for the instructions.

circle of raw empanada dough on a wooden board, next to a rolling pin.

You will also need:

  • cooked chicken thighs
  • yellow onion
  • bell pepper
  • cumin
  • cheese
  • and enchilada sauce
glass bowl filled with chicken, cheese, peppers, cumin, and enchilada sauce.

The filling gets sealed around a piece of dough, which is easier than it looks! You could use a fork to seal the edges, or I used this video to create the classic rope-like shape. Mine were definitely not perfect looking but they worked just fine and tasted the same. 🙂

Unbaked empanada on wooden board.

It’s important to refrigerate the Chicken Enchilada Empanadas before baking. Similar to refrigerating pie crust before baking, this step creates extra flaky layers.

I brushed a beaten egg over the top of the empanadas, and then baked them for about 28 minutes or until golden brown.

cooked Chicken Enchilada Empanadas on a wire rack with a white ramekin of dipping sauce.

What to do with leftover enchilada sauce

I have to admit that this recipe irks me slightly (and it’s all my fault because I created it, lol). It calls for ½ cup of enchilada sauce, which is about half of a can.

What on earth do I use the other half for? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a double batch of this recipe
  • Create a dipping sauce with several tablespoons of enchilada sauce and sour cream (see recipe below)
  • Save it for a batch of Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
hand dipping an empanada in an orange dipping sauce.

How to freeze empanadas

To freeze empanadas, place the empanadas in a single layer in a resealable freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 months.

To reheat them, thaw overnight in the fridge and bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes.

To reheat from frozen, wrap still-frozen empanadas (single layer) in foil, close the foil, and bake at 400°F for 30–40 minutes, or until warmed through. Open the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Hope you enjoy these Chicken Enchilada Empanadas as much as we did!

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!

📖 Recipe

chicken enchilada empanada split open on a wooden board.

Chicken Enchilada Empanadas

Published by Kate
Chicken Enchilada Empanadas are the perfect hand-held dinner or snack! The flaky pastry dough creates a delicious vehicle for the chicken enchilada filling. Don’t miss the sour cream dipping sauce!
4.37 from 25 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Course Entree
Cuisine Fusion
Servings 12 empanadas
Calories 223 kcal


For the dough:

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • ½ small yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ¾ cup pepper jack cheese
  • ½ cup enchilada sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg

For the dipping sauce:

  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce


For the dough:

  • Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until combined.
  • Add the cubed butter and pulse 15 times, or until the butter is approximately pea-sized or a little larger.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the egg, ice water, and vinegar. Add to the flour mixture. Pulse 6–8 times, or until the liquid is incorporated into the dough (it will look sandy and/or shaggy).
  • Place a 24 inch piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Dump the dough onto the plastic wrap. Use the edges of the plastic wrap to form the dough into a rectangle, roughly 1 inch thick.
  • Wrap the edges of the plastic wrap around the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
  • Place one of the balls on a lightly floured board. Dust a rolling pin with flour. Use the rolling pin to roll the ball into a circle, approximately ⅛ inch thick and 5 inches in diameter.
  • Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Refrigerate dough circles for 15 minutes.

For the filling:

  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Place the onion and bell pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken thighs to the skillet. Cook for 5–6 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and chop into ¼–½ inch pieces. Place in the bowl with the onion and bell pepper.
  • Add the enchilada sauce, cheese, cumin, and sea salt to the bowl. Stir gently to combine.
  • Place one dough circle on a flat surface. Place a scant two tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the center. Fold the dough over and press gently to seal.
  • Crimp the edges using this technique or the tines of a fork. Repeat with the remaining dough and chicken mixture.
  • Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush empanadas with the beaten egg. Bake for 25–28 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the dipping sauce:

  • For the dipping sauce, combine the sour cream and 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Serve with the enchiladas.


Empanada dough recipe is adapted from Epicurious.
Note that the prep time includes 1 hour and 45 minutes of refrigeration time, and only about 45 minutes of hands-on time.


Calories: 223kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 13gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 543mgPotassium: 165mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 312IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 2mg
Keyword baby meal, empanadas, freezer meal
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a star rating and comment below!

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  1. Please clarify freezing instructions: Do we bake the and then freeze them or freeze for up to 2 months before baking?
    I am going to try these for the first time and I want to make a few batches and freeze them for a party!
    Thanks so much!

  2. 5 stars
    Chicago ! Me too, yeah. Kate would you consider hosting a small class on “Kate’s Home made Empanadas” there are places in Chicago where you can rent kitchen space. You can teach maybe 3 different types of empanadas., Maybe you could be the noon cooking host on channel 9 , demo and advertise your cooking classes. we lades would of course be happy to pay a fee.
    These were so tasty and full of flavor, I took my time, fairly easy to make, Well, thanks for sharing, just an idea.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Nice to “meet” a fellow Chicagoan. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed the empanadas. I would love to do classes one day (when my kids are older, perhaps!) and I was on WGN’s midday news back in 2019 with a cooking segment! I made my Bacon Cheddar Meatloaf. Maybe they will have me back one day. Thank you for your ideas and taking the time to comment—I so appreciate that!

  3. 5 stars
    These are a big hit with my family! Everyone loves them & they are even better the next day!

    1. That’s so good to know about the next day! I’m so glad that they were a hit with your family.

    1. Hi Darla! Refrigeration will cause the dough to be flakier (cold butter hitting the hot oven expands and makes those delicious layers of flaky crust, similar to pie dough). Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Laura, I froze mine in a single layer in a plastic freezer bag. To reheat, you can either thaw them overnight in the fridge and bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes, OR you can wrap still-frozen empanadas (single layer) in foil, close the foil, and bake at 400°F for about 45 minutes (open the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking). I haven’t tried microwaving them but I suspect it may make the dough a little soggy.

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