Chicken Poblano Empanadas


Tex-Mex doesn’t quite cover it.

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Bonnie Published by
  • 1 roasted chicken
  • 3-4 poblano peppers
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) shredded asadero or jack cheese
  • 2 rounds of frozen pie dough, thawed
  • 1 egg + 1 T water
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground Pepper
  • 1-2 T flour for rolling out dough

Even though I’ve lived in Texas my whole life, I still feel like a poser sometimes when I make Mexican food. Obviously, it doesn’t deter me from cooking and subsequently stuffing my face, but I’m self-conscious about labeling it “Mexican food.” If one of my Hispanic friends or relatives is in the room, I can’t help but defer to her for approval. I made these for my sister’s bachelorette party, and my friend Mia gave them the thumbs up, so I feel confident enough to share them with you. Gracias, amiga. While the authenticity of these empanadas might be questionable, the flavor is definitely not. And, honestly, I don’t like the term “Tex-Mex” because it makes me think of canned enchilada sauce and tortillas from a plastic bag. I just need a new name for the category. Any suggestions? West Tex-Mex? MexiTexan?

The How-To

Don’t even think about making these unless you have parchment paper (next to the foil and plastic wrap on the grocery shelf) or a silicone baking liner. I’ve mangled enough empanadas trying to get them off of of pans to know by now that this is a necessity. Depending on the size you want, this should make about 16-24 snack-size empanadas, or a main dish for a meal for 4-6.

Preheat oven to 400*. Skin and debone chicken (remove skin and discard, then pull meat from bone) and give it a good chop. Wash (peppers get a little dusty near the stems), seed, devein and dice poblanos. In a nonstick pan over medium heat, cook poblano bits in oil until soft but not brown. In a bowl, mix chicken, peppers and cheeses until homogenous. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should be pretty thick.

Dust a little flour on each side of a sheet of pie dough (which should make it a little easier to work with/move around). Cut pie dough into rounds. You can do this several ways–using a biscuit cutter, the rim of a wine glass, or hold a bowl upside down and trace the rim with a knife–depending on how big you want your empanadas. For consistency’s sake, we’ll go with a 4″ wine glass, because really, who besides Martha Stewart or Kathy Westmoreland would have a biscuit cutter lying around? Maybe you do. Kudos. I’m sticking with my wine glass. Cut out rounds and place on parchment or silicone-lined baking pan. Re-roll out leftover pie dough pieces and repeat until dough is gone.

Drop a heaping spoonful of chicken-poblano-cheese mixture into center of rounds, the exact amount of which will vary depending on the size of your pie dough rounds. You should be able to fold the round of dough in half over the mixture into a half-moon shape without expelling any of the mixture. Do a test one first to guage the perfect amount of mixture you’ll need for each round of dough, and then continue to drop the rest of the mixture. Fold dough rounds and crimp edge closed with a fork.

At this point you can chill or freeze empanadas for later. If not, whisk egg + 1 tablespoon water in a bowl and brush over tops of empanadas to help them get golden brown and glossy. With a sharp knife, make 2-3 slits in the top of each empanada to allow steam to escape while baking. Bake one pan at a time in the oven for about 15 minutes or until crust is a lovely golden brown. I hate to sound like a broken record, but times will vary depending on how big your empanadas are (not to mention that all ovens are different), so watch the first batch to guage timing for the rest. You can serve these warm or at room temperature.

A Note or Two

I shamelessly buy my chicken already roasted from the grocery deli. Or, if you grill earlier in the week, just throw on 3-4 more chicken breasts and use those. Just make sure you don’t put BBQ sauce or anything on them. Heck, you could probably use leftover holiday turkey, if you wanted. If you do try that, let me know how it goes. You’ll want somewhere around 3 cups chopped, whatever it is.

Also, don’t overstuff your empanadas just to use up all the chicken-pobano-cheese mixture or you’ll have a mess of overflowing empanadas on your hands. If you do end up with leftover mixture, just roll it up in a tortilla and top it with salsa verde and cheese and bake for a quickie enchilada, throw it over tortilla chips and bake for nachos, or slap it between two pieces of bread and toast in a pan for a stuffed grilled cheese sandwich.

Queso Tejano?

While goat cheese may not sound traditionally Tex-Mexican, goats arrived with the first Spanish settlers and goat farms in Texas and Mexico have been around since the 1800s. Recently in the Lone Star State small artisan goat dairies and cabrito ranches have popped up from Lubbock to Beaumont with some delicious results. You can order Texas cheeses of all kinds from my favorite queso purveyors, The Houston Dairymaids or check out your local farmer’s market. Check out for cabrito ranches near you.

4 Responses to “Chicken Poblano Empanadas”

  • Michael Rice:


  • Trent:

    I agree with Mr. Rice and that should be enough. We’re both Texi-Cans.

  • aimee:


  • Lynda:

    Tasty texmex…I was looking for an empanada recipe and this one was very easy to follow. I used a 4″ martini glass to cut the pie dough, & I was able to make 10 empandas out of the two rounds. I had a LOT of the stuffing left over, I’m going to freeze it for next time.