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Handheld snacks and meals can be such a lifesaver for families on the go. Chicken empanadas are perfect to take along with you! Pair them with homemade avocado lime crema for a match made in heaven!
Chicken empanada recipe for kids & toddlers
Empanadas come in many different varieties throughout Latin America. Sometimes you’ll find them fried instead of baked, like in this version. You usually find them filled with shredded or ground beef, sometimes with chicken, and sometimes with beans or corn for a vegetarian presentation.
This version uses simple and accessible shortcuts that are perfect for busy parents. You can make these ahead of time and keep them in the freezer to reheat later.
Try them as a small appetizer before a meal, or as an after-school snack while dinner is in the works and the kids are doing some homework. They are also a great fit for lunchboxes (see packing notes below)!
Related: Does your little one dislike chicken? Here’s how to get your kid to eat chicken.
Tips for making chicken and cheese empanadas with potatoes
- Be sure not to skip the egg wash on top of the empanadas! It’s the key to their appetizing golden color and makes them almost look as though they’re fried.
- Try adding some cilantro to the avocado lime crema for a fresh, herby taste and some green flecks.
- Spice up the chicken a bit by adding a touch of salt, some oregano and some paprika to your family’s liking.
- Like more heat? Add your favorite hot sauce for some sizzle.
- Using leftover chicken in these empanadas can help save time and repurpose leftovers. Or, grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred that up as another timesaver!
- Vegetarian? Try black beans or refried beans as a vegetarian substitute for the chicken.
- Double the batch to make extra empanadas that you can freeze and reheat when needed.
Related: A stocked freezer is a happy freezer. Get tips on how to fill your freezer.
How to serve empanadas to toddlers & kids
Kids of all ages will love to bite into these cheesy empanadas! Break them apart into age-appropriate size for your kids, but be cautious of the filling when they first come out of the oven–it will be piping hot! Adults and older kids may enjoy these with some hot sauce. The avocado lime crema is the perfect, flavorful cooling factor to tone down that heat!
Related: Toddler won’t eat potatoes? Help teach your child to try potatoes with our guide.
Empanadas to go: how to pack them in a lunchbox
These empanadas are full of protein and packed with flavor, so they are the perfect on-the-go snack to take with you to after-school activities when your kids need a quick bite as a pick-me-up. (Make sure to bring a couple for yourself, too!)
To make a full, balanced lunch, serve three or four chicken empanadas with a sliced bell pepper and berries on the side. Pack the sauce on the side in a small container.
Is your child a fussy eater?
Including your little one in meal prep is a fun way to get them comfortable with new foods, especially if they are a picky eater. Line up all the ingredients for these empanadas and have your little one help pack them!
Chicken Empanadas with Cheese & Potatoes
- Cooking spray
- Flour as needed
- 1 (13.8-oz. / 391 g) Pillsbury Pizza Crust
- 1⅓ cup frozen diced potatoes precooked, thawed (W)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (W)
- ½ cup shredded chicken
- 1 large egg (W)
- 1 tsp. water
Avocado Lime Crema
- 1 avocado peeled and pitted (W)
- 1 cup Mexican-style crema
- 2 Tbs fresh lime juice (W)
- ½ tsp. table salt
- To make crema, in a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 205 degrees C. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
- Lightly dust a clean surface with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out pre-made pizza dough to ⅛-inch thickness. With a 3-inch round cookie cutter or the rim of a drinking glass, cut dough into 3-inch rounds. Repeat until all pizza dough has been utilized, re-rolling out as needed.
- In a mixing bowl, add the thawed potatoes, cheese and shredded chicken and combine until evenly mixed.
- Spoon about 1 Tbs. / 15 g of the chicken mixture into the center of each pizza dough round. Fold rounds in half to create an empanada shape, sealing the filling inside. Using a fork, press the edge of the empanada to seal tight. Place empanadas on a baking sheet.
- Into a small bowl, crack the egg and add water and scramble to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, coat the outside of each empanada with egg wash.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the empanadas are golden brown.
- Extra empanadas can be frozen and reheated for future lunches or dinners.
- Using beans or extra cheese instead of chicken is a great option for vegetarian-friendly meals.
- Diced potatoes can be purchased in the frozen vegetable section of your local grocery store. Shredded frozen potatoes can also be used in place of diced potatoes.
- Purchasing a precooked rotisserie chicken and shredding is a great way to simplify this recipe.
- Ingredients with a “W” next to them are WIC-eligible items. WIC is the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children in the United States. It provides food to families with pregnant or postpartum women and young children. WIC-eligible items will vary based on location.
Why we love these chicken empanadas
Empanadas are beloved and made in multiple different ways throughout Latin America. These empanadas are a delicious, quick version to make for kids and toddler with easily accessible ingredients you may already have on hand!
For more easy lunchbox recipes for kids, check out our ebook Lunchboxes: 55 Lunch Recipes for Kids.