Really Good Chicken Empanadas (Gluten-free and not)

I did it!  I made really good gluten-free empanadas!  Those of you who do not want to hear me go on an on about how much I have missed foods encased in doughy pockets can skip down to the recipe right now!  A couple of weeks ago I made a list of all of the foods that I still have not figured out how to make without gluten and told myself that I would try to figure them all out this winter.    I started with empanadas because they are a brilliant food to make a big batch of and pack for lunch all week (if your husband doesn’t eat them all for snacks!)  Also you can be creative and flexible about how you fill them depending on what sort of leftovers you have.  This week I had poached chicken leftover from making chicken stock and spanish green olives leftover from Chicken baked with Prunes, Capers and Green Olives so I made really good chicken empanadas!
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 2  jalapeno peppers, seeded  and minced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin (or more to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup mild spanish green olives (pitted and chopped)
  • About a cup of tomato puree or chopped fresh tomatoes
  • one small chicken, poached and shredded.  For poaching directions go to The many virtues of home-made chicken stock.  You could also use the meat from a roasted chicken.
  • salt and pepper
  • a handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the onion with a bit of salt until it is translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, jalapenos, cumin and cinnamon and fry for one minute more.
  3. Add the raisins, olives and tomatoes and continue to cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Combine the chicken and the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and finish with fresh cilantro.
For a good regular empanada dough follow the recipe for the dough in the baked samosa post!
There are a lot of recipes for gluten-free empanadas on-line, most of which call for “gluten-free flour mix” as if they were all the same!  Very frustrating!   The recipe that I liked the best was on a website called No gluten? No problem!  It seems like it has a lot of great recipes and information, although even this recipe called for some sort of  gluten-free flour mix.  I was only able to find the recipe for the mix by searching for it separately.  The couple who write this blog also have a couple of cookbooks that I think I will purchase.  I am better with books than websites!
I also tried another recipe,  from another website that called for individual flours (as opposed to mystery mix).   Both recipes called for cornstarch, which I mostly avoid, so I used arrowroot starch instead.   The one from No gluten? No problem ! was more crumbly and used butter (yum).  The other recipe had a lot of tapioca flour and oil so it was a bit stretchy (a useful quality for pouches).    My husband liked the stretchy one and I preferred the buttery one.  I am going to post the buttery recipe…although I have plans for that stretchy one I think I could make a really good wonton out of it!
This recipe calls for a complicated mix of flours, but the dough behaves more or less like normal dough!  It is a bit delicate, but you pretty much make it and treat it as you would any pastry dough!
adapted from
  • 1 1/4 cups  brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup  sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp potato flour
  • 1 tsp  xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Mix all of the flours and the xanthan gum together.  Measure out 2 and 1/4 cups of the flour mixture into a large bowl.  Reserve the rest for rolling the dough out.
  2. Add the salt to 2 and 1/4 cups flour.
  3. Use your fingers of a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of peas.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, ice water and vinegar.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry using a fork to combine them
  6. Dust a clean surface with some of the reserved gluten-free flour mixture.  Turn the dough onto the surface and knead it just a few times.
  7. Form the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 15 minutes to let the fat harden up again.
  8. The recipe recommended rolling the dough out between two sheets of plastic wrap.  I was out of plastic wrap so I rolled it out on board dusted with some more of the gluten-free flour mix.  It worked just fine!
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  10. I used a bowl as a cutter and placed about 1/4 cup of filling in the center of each circle.
  11. Wet half of the outer edge of the circle with water and fold the dough in half.  Press the two edges together with your thumb.
  12. Wet the edge of the half circle again and fold the edge back on itself.  Crimp it with your fingers as shown below.
  13. Transfer the empanadas to a baking tray.  Because the dough is tender, most of the empanadas had a little tear at the fullest spot.  You can see it in the picture above.  I cut little hearts out the leftover dough and used them to patch these little tears.
  14. Brush the empanadas with a bit of heavy cream or an egg wash (1 egg whisked with  a1/4 cup of water).  Bake them for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden.  Sorry that the picture below is not so great, but the days are getting short and I work for a living during almost every minute of sunlight!


16 Comments Add yours

  1. Ingrid says:

    they look amazing, I am going to try this on friday! thank you for sharing your secrets:) Happy Thanksgiving

    1. Oh! Turkey empanadas! Good idea. Let me know how they turn out!

  2. Alicia says:

    When you make a big batch, do you cook them all at the same time and then reheat the leftovers? Or do cook them in the quantities that you will need just for that day? Thanks! They look great!

  3. I bake a big batch all at once and reheat them later. I like to pack them for lunch during the week. I find that brown rice flour based crusts are much more resistant to getting soggy than wheat flour based crusts. These actually keep quite well!


  4. Sophie33 says:

    They look really stunning & appetizing too: filling & dough! 🙂 MMM!
    Waw, even!!

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