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Chicken Tinga Empanadas

Chicken Tinga Empanadas are flaky, golden brown hand pies stuffed with smoky shredded chicken. The perfect Mexican appetizers for game day or your next Taco Tuesday party.

plate of chicken tinga empanadas

Chicken Tinga Empanada Recipe

Chicken Tinga is a classic shredded chicken dish that is usually used as a taco or tostada filling. This recipe takes all that Tinga flavor and wraps it up with cheese and spices in empanada dough.

They are filled with the flavors of smoky chipotle chilies and adobo and finished off with a creamy avocado crema for dipping. Always a crowd pleaser!

Why You will Love This

When you need a little spice in your life, reach for this chicken tinga empanadas recipe. Empanadas are versatile little hand pies that make great appetizers or you can pair them with a salad for a light dinner.

If you are not familiar with empanadas, now is the time to get acquainted. Some of my favorites are Argentinian Beef Empanadas, Street Corn Empanadas, Taco Empanadas, and my sweet Caramel Apple Empanadas.

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labeled picture of smoky chipotle chicken empanada

Ingredients Needed

Ground chicken or turkey – This recipe calls for ground chicken breast or turkey, but this recipe would be ideal for using up any leftover rotisserie chicken.

Mexican Oregano – Substitute regular oregano if desired.

Chipotle sauce – This gives the empanadas a little heat. You can also use 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and finely chop them to get that spicy flavor.

Tomato sauce – You can mix 1 part tomato paste and 1 part water as a substitute for tomato sauce.

Mexican cheese blend – This is usually a combination of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero cheeses. 

Puff pastry – Use frozen puff pastry sheets or try this homemade empanada dough recipe. Look for actual empanada dough or “discos” in your grocery store to make these easier.

Mexican crema – Substitute sour cream if you can’t find it.

Cilantro – Fresh is always best!

Lime zest – Use a grater or zester to get just the bright green peel off of the lime. You don’t want the bitter white pith.

Pantry staples – Olive oil, white onion, salt, large egg, avocado.

How to make Chicken Tinga Empanadas

FIRST: Preheat the oven to 375° and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

SECOND: Cook the onion in oil in a large pan over medium heat until soft. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chipotle sauce and tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is thicker. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

THIRD: Unfold the puff pastry sheet. Cut 3 inch circles from the dough. Place spoonfuls of filling into the center of the empanada discs and add some cheese.

Wet all around the edge of the pastry circle. Fold over and seal the edges by crimping with a fork.

FOURTH: Brush empanadas with beaten egg. Place the empanadas on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

While baking, make the avocado dipping sauce. Mash the avocado in a bowl and add remaining ingredients, stirring until smooth. Serve with the empanadas. Enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

baking tray with chicken tinga empanadas with lime slices next to it

What is an Empanada?

The word empanada translates to “enbreaded”. An empanada has roots in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Similar to a hand pie with a sweet or savory filling that is wrapped in dough or coated in bread.

two plates of empanadas and a green bottle of soda

Is it better to bake or fry empanadas?

This truly depends on your preference! Baked chicken empanadas are definitely easier and you can bake a bunch of them at the same time.

Baked is also lower in calories and fat without all of that oil.

But there is certainly something about a fried empanada! If you do choose to bake your empanadas, don’t forget the egg wash because it will give it that golden brown color.

And, in the age of air frying, this is certainly an option too.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat in the oven at 350F until warmed through.
plate with a chicken empanada torn in half and some guacamole

Tapas Tips & Tricks

  • You can also substitute store bought pie crust, however it may not result in the flaky pastry crust that puff pastry is known for.
  • Spray the baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
  • Keep the puff pastry covered with a slightly damp towel as you are working to keep the dough from drying out.
  • You can use the extra dough after you cut out the empanadas, just roll it back out and cut more circles.
  • Along with the lime zest, you can also squeeze a little bit of lime juice into the avocado sauce.
  • You can also serve these with salsa or sour cream – Salsa verde would be tasty!
  • If you prefer a spicier empanada you can add chili powder or extra chipotle chile sauce to your filling.
  • If you want a creamier filling, you could replace half of the Mexican blend cheese with cream cheese. Simply stir it into the empanada filling after it has cooled a bit.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

plate with empanada torn in half on it with an avocado spread

With cooler weather coming, try this comforting recipe with its warm spices and savory, cheesy filling. The avocado crema is the perfect finishing sauce. Delicioso!

overhead picture of plate of empanadas with cilantro

Chicken Tinga Empanadas

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Onions and chicken are cooked in a chipotle sauce, then folded into a dough. A creamy avocado sauce is the perfect way to serve these.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1/2 onion (halved and thinly sliced )
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano 
  • 1/3 cup chipotle sauce or 4 chipotles in adobo sauce (finely chopped) 
  • 2/3 cup tomato sauce 
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese blend 
  • 1 package puff pastry or homemade Empanada dough 
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 large avocado (peeled, pit removed)
  • 1/2 cup Mexican Crema 
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the onion in olive oil until soft.
  3. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chipotle sauce and tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is thicker.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Unfold the puff pastry sheets. Cut 3 inch circles from the dough.
  7. Place spoonfuls of filling into the center of the empanada discs and add some cheese.
  8. Wet all around the edge of the pastry circle. Fold over and seal the edges by crimping with a fork.
  9. Brush empanadas with beaten egg.
  10. Place the empanadas on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. While baking, make the avocado dipping sauce.
  12. Mash the avocado in a bowl and add remaining ingredients, stirring until smooth.
  13. Serve with the empanadas. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can also substitute pie crust, however it may not result in the flaky crust that puff pastry is known for.
  • Spray the baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
  • Keep the puff pastry covered with a slightly damp towel as you are working to keep the dough from drying out.
  • You can use the extra dough after you cut out the empanadas, just roll it back out and cut more circles.
  • Along with the lime zest, you can also squeeze a little bit of lime juice into the avocado sauce.
  • You can also serve these with salsa or sour cream - Salsa verde would be tasty!
  • If you prefer a spicier empanada you can add chili powder or extra chipotle sauce to your filling.
  • If you want a creamier filling, you could replace half of the Mexican blend cheese with cream cheese. Simply stir it into the empanada filling after it has cooled a bit.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 16g

    This nutrition information was generated via a third party. I can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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