These homemade chicken or turkey empanadas are filled with leftover shredded turkey or chicken, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, cumin, oregano and balsamic vinegar.
Empanadas are the one of the best ways to use leftovers and transform them into something different. These turkey empanadas are very easy to make, especially if you use store bought empanada discs, and will help you turn that leftover turkey from the holidays into a quick and tasty meal.Jump to Recipe
One of the many things that I love about empanadas is their versatility; you can create something completely different every time you make them by combining different ingredients each time. For these empanadas I made a filling using onions, bell peppers, garlic, and tomatoes with spices like cumin and achiote; I also added a little bit of balsamic vinegar and fresh oregano to add extra flavor to the turkey.
These empanadas can also be made with leftover chicken – great use for those times when you have leftover roasted chicken. They can also be made with ground turkey, but you will need to increase the cooking time for the filling if you use raw ground turkey. I like to serve empanadas with dipping sauces, for these I used a spicy cranberry mango sauce, other sauces that would pair well with these turkey empanadas are tree tomato aji or a quick chimichurri sauce.
Chicken or turkey empanadas
- 12-15 medium sized empanadas discs using homemade dough (see recipe below) or store-bought empanada discs
- 2 tbs butter
- ½ white onion sliced thinly
- ½ bell pepper sliced thinly
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tomatoes diced
- ½ tsp ground achiote or annatto
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 cups shredded turkey or chicken
- 2 tbs turkey gravy – you can replace this with a combination of broth and butter
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- ½ tbs fresh oregano – can be replaced with 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt to taste
- 1 egg yolk and white separated
- Melt the butter in a medium size frying pan.
- Add the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, achiote, and cumin. Cook for 10 minutes over medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Mix in the shredded turkey and stir well.
- Add the turkey gravy and balsamic vinegar; continue cooking over low heat for another 5 minutes.
- Let the turkey filling cool down, and then add in the chopped oregano.
- To assemble the empanadas spoon the turkey mixture on to the center of the each empanada disc.
- Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, you can also use water but the egg white acts as a natural “glue” that helps seal the empanada.
- Fold the empanada disc and seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers. To seal the edges further you can use a fork to press down and finish sealing the empanadas.
- Let the empanadas rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake, this will help them seal better and prevent leaks.
- Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when they bake.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, exact time will depend on the size of the empanadas and your oven.
- Serve warm.
How to make empanada dough for baking
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 oz unsalted butter (1 stick of butter = 4 oz)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water or milk adjust as needed to obtain a soft and smooth dough
Making homemade empanada dough:
- Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
- Add the butter and pulse
- Add the egg and the water or milk (in small increments) and continue pulsing until a clumpy dough forms.
- To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same instruction but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.
- Split the dough into 2 large ball, flatten slightly into the shape of disks. The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).
- Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape (doesn’t need to be perfectly round) – if you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls.
- Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator/freezer to use later.
Assembling and baking the empanadas:
- To assemble the empanadas or turnovers, place a spoonful of the filling on the middle of each empanada disc. The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed. Also, the more you make empanadas, the easier it becomes to stuff them to the max and still seal them properly.
- To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can use brush the inside edges with egg white, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges. To the repulgue or churito, the curl type seal, use your fingers to twist the curl the edges. There are also empanada molds that you can buy and will help seal the empanadas.
- For best results, I recommend refrigerating for at least 30 minutes the empanadas before baking – this also helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
- If you want your empanadas to have a nice golden finish, then you can brush them with egg wash (a whole egg whisked or egg yolk plus a few drops of water whisked).
- Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated oven. I usually bake them at 375F-400F, the temperature will vary based on the oven and the size of the empanadas. I bake the smaller sized empanadas at 375F. The baking time also varies (again based on the oven and size), but it’s in the range of 18-25 minutes – the empanadas will be ready once they are golden.
Step by step preparation photos for turkey or chicken filled empanadas