Chicken, Corn, and Olive Empanadas

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  30 appetizer servings (60 empanadas total)
Prep Time:  45 minutes Cook Time:  35 minutes

Chicken, Corn, and Olive Empanadas

Empanadas are savory filled pastries that originated in Spain and are popular throughout Latin America. This version is filled with a combination of chicken and vegetables, with a characteristic hint of sweetness provided by dried currants. Allow 4 hours for the dough to chill.



⅛ teaspoon saffron or annatto (achiote) powder

1½ cups water

8 cups (1040 grams) all-purpose, unbleached flour, plus more for dusting

¼ cup (51 grams) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon (18 grams) salt

3 cups (315 grams) cold non-hydrogenated margarine, Earth balance preferred, cut into ½-inch dice (see Kitchen Tip)

4 egg yolks (see Kitchen Tip)

⅓ cup olive oil



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and minced, or 8 scallions, ends trimmed and minced

2 stalks celery, leaves included, cut into ⅛-inch dice

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ⅛-inch dice

½ red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice, stem, seeds and pith discarded

1 small jalapeño pepper, finely minced, stems, seeds and pith discarded, optional (see Kitchen Tip)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Kernels of 4 ears corn (about 2 cups; see Kitchen Tip)

½ cup pitted green olives, pimientos and capers, Alcaparrado mix, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

2 pounds ground chicken, dark meat preferred

½ cup dried currants

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten



  1. Make the dough: Combine the water and saffron in a small bowl, stir gently, and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing  bowl and stir to blend. Add the margarine and, with your cold hands or a pastry cutter, work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like small peas in flour. Add the oil, egg yolks, and saffron water and mix until it is a raggedy dough. Dust a work surface with a little flour, and transfer the dough onto it. Form into 4 flat discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 4 hours, until chilled but still soft.
  2. Make the filling: In a saucepan set over high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are translucent and the edges have browned. Add the celery, carrots, red pepper, jalapeño (if using), and garlic, and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the salt and pepper, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Add the corn, olives, and oregano and stir well.
  3. Set aside to cool. Add the chicken and currants and mix to combine.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  5. Dust a work surface with flour. Remove one of the dough discs from the refrigerator, cut it into quarters, and roll one piece out to a thickness of ¼ to ⅙ inch. Cut it into 3 or 4 (5- to 6-inch) circles. With a pastry brush, brush the edges with the egg wash.
  6. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the filling into the center of one dough circle. Grasping one edge with your fingertips, fold half of the dough over the filling, creating a half moon shape. Crimp or press the edges together with a fork. Carefully lift the empanada onto the pan, cover with plastic wrap and continue to cut, roll, fill and crimp the remaining dough and filling. You will have about about 60 appetizer-sized empanadas.
  7. Bake the empanadas for 25 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Serve immediately. It’s great with chimichurri sauce (find our excellent version here) and/or tomatoes. Or guacamole (try our Easy Guacamole). Before baking, the empanadas can be frozen while on the trays and kept for up to a week.

Kitchen Tips

  1. If you don’t care for margarine, this recipe will work with coconut oil.
  2. To cut the kernels off a fresh ear of corn, shuck it well and place it on a work surface. Cut it in half crosswise. Stand it on the work surface, cut-side-down, and with a sharp knife, cut downward to remove the kernels.
  3. When separating multiple eggs, crack each one into a small bowl before adding it to the big bowl, that way if the yolk separates and falls into the white, you only ruined one egg, not the entire batch.  Also, separating is easier when the eggs are cold, so do this before bringing the eggs up to room temperature.
  4. The chemicals in chili peppers that cause that wonderful feeling of heat on the tongue can cause a not-so-wonderful feeling if it gets into your eyes (or nose)—and it can share its love with other foods on your menu. To avoid cross-contamination, avoid touching your face or eyes after cutting and trimming hot chilies. Change work surfaces and knives. Some cooks wear plastic gloves when handling hot peppers.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.