The dough’s lovingly made from scratch and well-worth the effort. But you can also just make the filling for tacos or burritos, or buy store-bought dough. The ground cumin, oregano, and brown sugar give the filling the perfect balance of savory and sweet flavors. Make a big batch of these empanadas and freeze them for a fast meal; reheat in the oven or toaster oven. Serve these empanadas with red or green chili sauce, or salsa — the hotter the better. They can be made with ground beef, ground chicken, or beans, too. Boost your greens intake and serve with a simple salad made of spinach or arugula.


olive oil cooking spray

1 spray(s)

olive oil

2 tsp

garlic clove(s)

1 medium clove(s), minced

ground cumin

1 tsp

ground oregano

¼ tsp

table salt

½ tsp

uncooked onion(s)

1½ cup(s), finely chopped

fresh tomato(es)

1 cup(s), chopped

unpacked brown sugar

1 tsp

uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s)

1 pound(s)

canned chicken broth

¼ cup(s)


6 large, thinly sliced

frozen green peas

1½ cup(s), thawedDough

all-purpose flour

2 cup(s)

baking powder

2 tsp

table salt

1 tsp


¼ cup(s), cold

low-fat buttermilk

½ cup(s), cold


  1. To make filling, coat a very large skillet with cooking spray; add oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add garlic, cumin, oregano and salt; stir until garlic is fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds. (Do not allow garlic to burn.) Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they turn translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and sugar; cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Push vegetables to side of skillet and add chicken; brown chicken on each side, about 3 minutes total. Pour in broth; cover and cook for 10 minutes. Flip chicken; cover skillet and cook for 10 minutes more.
  3. Remove chicken from skillet; shred with a fork. Add chicken back to skillet and stir in olives and peas; warm through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  4. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  5. To make crust, in a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut lard into flour with a pastry cutter, knife or fork until pea-size lumps form. Make a well in middle of dough and add buttermilk. Work dough until it just comes together (dough should still look lumpy).
  6. Form dough into a large ball or patty; divide into 12 small balls. Place each ball on a floured surface and roll into a 4-inch circle. Top each circle with a heaping tablespoon of filling; wet edges of circles with water and fold in half to form empanadas. Place empanadas on an ungreased cookie sheet; crimp edges with tines of a fork. Bake until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Yields 1 empanada per serving.
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