How to make empanadillas


Mouth watering empanadillas.

Not only are they beautiful, but it’s also the one thing that makes my stomach start rumbling every time I see them. I’m always imagining how that sticky hot cheese will spread out of the empanadilla and yup, I can even smell all that garlic in my mind.

I always thought I was the only one nuts here, but then I actually saw a guy today who had sofa pillows sewed in the form of huge empanadillas. How cute is that?

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What are empanadillas

Empanadillas are in short – a smaller version of empanadas.

The name empanadilla comes from the Spanish word “empanar” which means coated with bread. The Moorish invasions brought empanadillas to Spain and Portugal. From there they have traveled together with the Spanish colonists and immigrants to Latin America.

Empanadillas can be filled with anything from chicken to chocolate in a folded pastry coating. They can be fried or baked.

Why you’ll like them

🥟 I don’t think there’s an empanadilla in this world that is not likable. When everyone is baking Christmas cookies, I’m filling my empanadas with jam. But the taste of cheesy garlic chicken sauce wrapped in a golden buttery crust is an absolute winner.

🥟 They are simple to make. The procedure is somewhat long, but very easy and the tasty result well worth of the time. You don’t need to be a chef to make these empanadillas. Hint – half of the magic is in the filling.

🥟 You can prepare them in advance. Empanadillas will still taste divine when they are cold. You can freeze and reheat them very quickly if you have some special guest announced. They will go perfectly with a glass of white wine.

🥟 Going for a trip or preparing for a flight? These beauties can be a perfect lunch and it’s easy to pack them. Imagine the eyes of all those people with cokes and airport sandwiches in their hands, while you walk in with your own cheesy garlic-smelling chicken empanadillas. With empanadillas, you don’t need to worry about the regulations because not even one will be left before you reach the screening.

Ingredients you’ll need to make delicious cheesy empanadillas

Empanadilla ingredients

BUTTER – butter is the main ingredient that gives the dough a crunchy buttery taste that will charm your taste buds, so don’t skip it or change it for something else. You want to use it at room temperature, so you can easily incorporate it into the dough. If your butter is refrigerated, melt it on low heat so that it becomes soft enough to be fully mixed with flour.

FLOUR – I used a bag of bought flour in this recipe. Replace half of the amount of white flour if you want to make corn or buckwheat empanadillas. Also, they are delicious when made with homemade wholemeal flour.

Homemade flour really does make a difference. You can grind your own using a good coffee grinder or even better, a grain mill for home use.

CHICKEN THIGHS – I prefer to buy chicken thighs with bones and remove them myself. Chicken thighs contain more fat than chicken breasts, so they will give the filling a more juicy taste. However, you can get creative and use whatever meat you got at home, like pork, ground beef, or even ham. Just make sure you chop it into pieces small enough to fill the empanadillas.

CHEESE – I used cheese spread triangles in this recipe, they melt great when mixing them in the sauce and they will melt easily when baked. It’s the one ingredient that you’ll see spreading out of the empanadilla when taking a bite and it tastes great combined with the chicken and garlic. Cheese triangles are easily replacable with any fast melting cheese as long as it doesn’t get too liquid.

MOZZARELLA – You can buy mozzarella that is already shredded or do it yourself. Mozzarella will add sweetness to your empanadillas and that cheesy and stringy look when taking a bite.

ONIONS – I made the chicken sauce with two onions, but you can reduce the amount if you don’t like it or skip it completely. Before frying, make sure that you cut the pieces of onions small enough and that the onions have gotten the yummy golden color and become translucent before adding the chicken.

GARLIC – as you are reading a post of a garlic addict, it’s inevitable that in our recipes there are tooooons of garlic. I never spare garlic and garlic combined with cheese is my favorite. However, freely reduce the amount if you don’t like the garlicky taste or skip it entirely.

OLIVE OIL – You’ll need oil to fry the pieces of chicken thighs and cold-pressed organic olive oil works best. However, any kind of grease you got at home, like sunflower oil or butter will still do the job just fine.

SEASONING – I used only salt, black pepper and dry parsley in this recipe. Oregano is optional. You can freely adjust seasoning to taste, just make sure you try the sauce before filling the empanadillas and that the seasoning goes well with the cheese.

baked empanadillas

Empanadilla variations and substitutions

Use premade pie dough if you want your empanadillas to be made more quickly.  

Switch to gluten-free flour for gluten-free empanadillas. 

For a vegetarian version, skip the chicken, and instead add some fried spinach, cooked potatoes and cheese.

Fill the empanadillas with Nutella, shredded walnuts, homemade jam, or cottage cheese with raisins for a delightful dessert.

Also, you might want to check other recipes like mini pizzeta, our spicy black pepper focaccia, and delicious cottage cheese rolls.

Equipment you’ll need

a baking sheet

parchment paper

a rolling pin

a cooking brush

How to make empanadillas – step-by-step instructions


STEP 1: In a bowl mix the flour and salt using a spoon.

STEP 2: If your butter is at room temperature, cut it into smaller cubes and knead it into the flour using your hands. Melt the refrigerated butter before adding it to the flour. The flour should look similar to bread crumbs when the butter is kneaded into it.

STEP 3: Take one egg and separate the yolk and the egg white.

STEP 4: Whisk together the second egg, the egg yolk, and water. Add the mixture to the buttery flour and stir it well.

STEP 5: Prepare a clean place on the counter and sprinkle it with some flour so that the dough won’t stick while kneading it. Knead the dough till smooth and flexible. If the dough is too sticky add a bit more flour.  

STEP 6: Place the dough in the bowl, sprinkled with flour to prevent sticking to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.

STEP 7: Preheat the oven to 365F/180C.


STEP 8: Cut the onions, cloves of garlic, cheese, and chicken thighs into smaller pieces. Shred the mozzarella cheese if you haven’t bought the one already shredded.

STEP 9: In a pan fry the onions in hot oil till they get golden brown and translucent. Add the pieces of chicken thighs and fry the thighs while stirring frequently for another 15 minutes, until you see that nice brown color like you could eat it right away.

STEP 10: Add garlic, black pepper, and a bit of dried parsley.

STEP 11: Lastly, add the shredded mozzarella and cheese and mix them in evenly. You don’t need to cook the cheese, it will melt if the chicken is still warm.


STEP 12: Now bring the dough out of the refrigerator. Sprinkle a clean place on the counter with some flour to prevent the dough from becoming sticky and roll it out to 0.5 cm thin using a pin roller. With a bowl or a glass, about 7 cm in diameter, cut round discs out of the dough.

STEP 13: Top each piece of the dough with the chicken and cheese filling. Fold the dough over and press the edge firmly with your fingers. When you got a flat edge, hold the empanadilla in your hands, and start twisting the edge of the dough to the inside of the empanadilla, forming a wavy curly pattern. Continue all the way to the other side.

Aren’t they cute? 🙂


STEP 14: Place the empanadillas on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Mix the egg yolk left and put the egg wash on them using a baking brush.

STEP 15: Bake in the oven at 365F/180C for about 20 -25 minutes.


Tips on how to make empanadillas

🥟 If you add water when cooking the chicken, make sure it evaporates completely before filling the empanadillas. If the sauce is too liquid, it will be hard to form them. Also, it will break the crust and leak out when baked.

🥟 Make sure you don’t top the dough with too much filling. That will make it hard to form the empanadillas and they might break when baking.

🥟 It’s best if the chicken with cheese is chilled before filling the empanadillas. Hot filling will melt the butter in the dough and you might be left with some cheese leaking holes in the crust.

🥟 If you want to fry empanadillas instead of baking, do not use the same dough. The dough in this recipe contains a lot of butter and will not work well when fried.

Storing and reheating

You can store baked empanadillas in a covered bowl or airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the oven at 300F/150 C or use a microwave.

Baked empanadillas can be frozen and will last up to 3 months in the freezer if stored in a container or a bag. Thaw them at room temperature and reheat them in the oven.

Freeze unbaked empanadillas on a baking sheet. When frozen, store them in a zip-lock bag or an airtight container and bake when needed. Stored properly they will last for up to 4 months in the freezer.

You can freeze and thaw empanadillas only once.

empanadillas baked

How to make empanadillas FAQs

What to do if my dough for empanadillas is too hard to roll out?

You can add a small amount of water to the dough if it’s too hard, but make sure you don’t exaggerate as that might make the dough too soft and hard to form.

When adding the water, the dough needs to be at room temperature, and because it contains a lot of butter you need to refrigerate it again before forming the empanadillas and baking.

How to prevent empanadillas from getting burned in the oven?

If you are using an oven with a fan, it’s best to turn off the fan when baking empanadillas.

If your empanadillas are getting too dark, but are not yet fully baked, cover them with a sheet of parchment paper to prevent them from getting burned.

Can I use tortillas for empanadillas?

Yes, but you actually won’t save much on time.

Because tortillas are bigger, you will need to cut smaller round discs to make empanadillas. Also, tortillas are already fried, so you will need to use a mixture of wheat flour and water to glue the edges together.

A much better choice of premade dough is pie dough.

How long can you keep unbaked empanadillas in the fridge?

Assembled and unbaked empanadillas can last up to two days in the fridge if you want to prepare them in advance.

In case you won’t bake them, you can store them in the freezer for up to 4 months. Place them on a baking sheet till frozen and solid and then store them in the freezer in a container or a closed bag.

Can I freeze empanadilla dough?

Yes, you can prepare the empanadilla dough in advance and freeze it, Stored in a plastic bag, thoroughly wrapped in plastic foil, or stored in an airtight container it will last up to 4 months in the freezer.

Because the dough contains a lot of butter, it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before making the empanadillas.

Other tasty stuff you might like

Ham and cottage cheese crescent rolls

Black pepper focaccia

Simple phyllo pastry cabbage pie

Easy puff pastry pizza tarts


Polish goulash – gulasz wolowy

How to make empanadillas

How to make delicious cheesy chicken empanadillas, made with homemade dough and baked in the oven.
Servings 4
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes


  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 4 pieces triangle spreadable cheese
  • 2 smaller onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1,9 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup and 3 tbsp water
  • salt, black pepper, parsley
  • seasoning by choice (a pinch of origano recommended)


  • In a bowl, mix the flour and half of tbsp of salt.
  • Cut the butter into smaller cubes and knead it into the flour until you get crumbs like mixture. If the butter is too cold and solid, melt it on low temperature before adding it to the flour.
  • Take one egg and separate the yolk and the egg white.
  • Whisk together one egg, the egg yolk and water. Add the mixture to the buttery flour and knead until you get smooth and flexible dough.
  • Place the dough in a bowl, sprinkled with a little bit of flour, cover it with a plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for one hour.
  • Dice the onions and garlic and cut the chicken thighs to small pieces. Shred the mozzarella and cut the chease spread to small cubes.
  • Fry the onions on hot oil till golden brown and translucent. Add the chicken and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes while stiring frequently. Add salt and black pepper.
  • When the chicken gets brown, add parsley, oregano (optional), cheese cubes and shredded mozzarela. Do not cook the cheese, just mix it evenly in the chicken and set aside.
  • Bring the dough from the refridgerator and roll it out on a flour sprinkled counter.The dough should be about 0,5 cm thick. Using a cup or a glass cut out circles about 7 cm in diameter. Knead the leftover of the dough and use for a few more round discs.
  • Top each piece of the dough with the chicken and cheese filling. Fold the dough over and press the edge with your fingers. Hold the empanadilla in your hands and start twisting the edge to the center of the emapandilla. Continue all the way to the other end.
  • Place the empanadillas on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Apply the eggwash from the leftover egg yolk evenly using a brush.
  • Bake in the oven at 365F/180 C for about 25 minutes until golden.
  • Enjoy 😘


Replace a half amount of flour with corn flour or buckwheat flour or make healthier empanadillas from wholemeal flour. For gluten-free empanadillas use a gluten-free flour package. 
If you want to make empanadillas quickly, use premade pie crust dough.
Skip the chicken for a vegetarian version and add spinach and cooked potatoes instead. Fill the empanadillas with Nutella and ground walnuts or cottage cheese and raisins for a delicious dessert. 
Replace the triangle cheese spread with any other cheese that melts quickly. 
Make sure that the chicken with the cheese is not too liquid as it will be hard to assemble the empanadillas and the sauce might just pop out of the crust while baking. The filling should not be hot when topping up the dough pieces. 
Be careful not to top too much of the filling on the dough. That will make it hard to form the empanadillas and the crust might break while baking. 
Use another type of dough if you want to fry the empanadillas. 
Turn off the fan in the oven or cover the empanadillas with parchment paper if they look too brown but are not baked yet. 
Prepare the empanadilla dough in advance and store it for up to three days in the fridge or up to 4 months in the freezer. 
Store baked empanadillas for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer, packed in a closed bag or airtight container.  Reheat in the oven at 300F/150C or use the microwave.
Prepared, but unbaked empanadillas will last up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Freeze them on a baking sheet and when frozen and solid, pack them in a zip-lock bag or a closed food container. They will last up to 4 months in the freezer if stored properly. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. 
You can freeze and thaw empanadillas only once. 
Calories: 535kcal
Course: Appetizer, dinner, Lunch, on the go, Snack
Cuisine: Latin American, Portuguese, Spanish
Keyword: baked, cheese, chicken, empanadas, empanadilla


Calories: 535kcal

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