Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing


February 24, 2011 by Dana

Sometimes, when I’m trying to figure out what to say about a particular recipe or topic, I realize that someone else has already said it perfectly.

Since Joanne from Eats Well With Others often has thoughts that are often as wacky as similar to mine, it came as no surprise that her prompt for the Brazil edition of Regional Recipes resonated so well with me:

I could use a vacation.

And from what I hear, it’s summer in Brazil right now.  That whole south of the equator thing.  It works out well sometimes.  Let’s go.

Amen, sister!

As soon as I read this, I went straight to Orbitz, found the next one way ticket to Rio de Janeiro, and booked it on the spot!


I wish.

If I didn’t have a job… or school… or any other responsibilities… and was independently wealthy, I totally would have.  But since I’m not Paris Hilton, I was forced to find another way to add a little Brazilian sunshine to my life.

These Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing were just the thing!  Seriously, how could the delicious combo of lime, caramelized onion, goat cheese, and the kick of spicy ranch dressing not make you feel like you’re in a tropical locale?


2 chicken breasts
3 limes
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
6-8 ounces spreadable goat cheese

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1.5 tablespoon water (do not beat until ready to bake)


1 cup ranch dressing, already made
1/4 teaspoon chile powder (any flavor)
1/2 teaspoon cumin

This recipe is a combination of a few from and a few from Martha Stewart’s website.  Sorry I can’t be more precise, but I used aspects of several different recipes to come up with this one.


1. Slice the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch thick strips. Place them in a crockpot, and add the chicken stock.

2. Juice the limes and add the juice to the crockpot. Stir in the chile powder.

3. Cook the chicken on low heat for 6 hours, or until chicken is tender and pulls apart easily.

4. Remove chicken pieces from crockpot and shred. Stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of the juices left in the crockpot into the shredded chicken.

5. Slice the onion into thin slices. Place the sliced onion in a skillet with the olive oil and the teaspoon of sugar, and cook over very low heat until golden caramel brown, about 25 minutes.

6. Add onions to the shredded chicken.

7. Mix goat cheese and into the chicken. Season chicken mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

8. To make the dough: In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add just enough cold water so dough comes together.

9. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide in half. Knead each half 2 or 3 times to form smooth balls.

10. Cover dough balls with plastic; let stand until slightly risen, 20 minutes.

11. Roll out half of the empanada dough very thinly, 1/4″ thick or less. Cut 4 to 5 inch circles of dough.

12. Place about 2 teaspoons of the chicken mixture inside each circle of dough. Fold the dough in half over the filling, making a half moon shape, and pinch the edges together to seal in the filling.

13. Fold curved edges under and crimp decoratively.

14. Repeat with the rest of the filling and dough (you may end up with extra dough or extra filling – it seems to work out differently each time).

15. If freezing for later use, freeze on a baking sheet until firm, 2 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic; freeze in plastic bags.

16. To bake fresh or frozen empanadas, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash, avoiding crimped edges. Bake until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 25 to 35 minutes.

17. While empanadas are baking, make dressing by Combining ranch dressing chile powder and cumin in a small bowl.  Whisk well.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes for full flavor.

18. Serve empanadas warm or at room temperature, with ranchero ranch dressing for dipping.

These empanadas were SO GOOD.  But let me just warn you… it probably would have been quicker to actually fly to Rio and pick some up.  It took me a long time to roll out the dough, and fill and assemble each empanada. If you are more accustomed to working with/rolling out dough, this probably will be less of an issue for you.  Don’t let this fact scare you…. it’s totally worth it!


30 thoughts on “Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing

  1. Roxan says:

    I also wish i could be that spontaneous… but alas I have to do so much planning before booking a trip like that. It would be nice to be able to throw caution to the wind sometimes though, wouldn’t it? These empanadas look great though. I was in argentina last september so seeing them really brings back the trip for me.

  2. RavieNomNoms says:

    That looks freakin fantastic Dana! YUM! I love empanadas and these just have an awesome combination going on here

  3. Empanadas are great and I would so love to go to Brazil right now too! But in the mean time your little delicious sunshines are a close alternative, looks amazing.

  4. yum! I just made some enchiladas last night with lime, these look even better! LOVE the sauce, thanks!

  5. Boy, these turned out perfectly! They have my name written all over them.

  6. Everything about these looks and sounds delicious — and I want an empanada mould like yours (I’m not much of a crimper);) Theresa

  7. Victoria says:

    These look awesome! I love your contraption for folding them! That’s so smart!! They look so perfect :) Also love how easy your dipping sauce is. Very nice!

  8. These sound so good! I always put more filling in anything stuffed and it always comes out the sides. You had better control than I!

  9. I’ve never actually tried empanadas…can you believe it? These look so delicious though, I love the flavors:)

  10. So awesome! I love empanadas but never made them myself. Dipping in ranchero dressing sounds delicious too.

  11. Joanne says:

    Aww thanks for the shout out! And yes I could totally use some south of the border weather AND eats. And since there’s no chance of the former…I’ll take the latter. These empanadas look great!

  12. I was sold after you mentioned the goat cheese filling…these look amazing! Is that little tool especially for empanadas?

  13. Reeni says:

    These look insanely delicious – I love the sound of the filling and the sauce! That’s a nifty little empanada maker too!

  14. Monet says:

    Smile. I know exactly how you feel. I want to book a one way ticket too sometimes! But then I wouldn’t have my kitchen to prepare all of these delicious eats. I want to make your empanadas soon. Thanks for sharing tonight, my dear. I hope you have a restful Sunday full of love and laughter!

  15. Faith says:

    These look pretty fantastic, Dana! Great new way to make chicken…and perfect with that kicked up Ranch dressing!

  16. Tes says:

    Your empanadas look so perfect and sounds so delicious :) It sounds so flavorful and simple to make. I will try this soon over the weekend :)

  17. these look seriously delicious! I wonder if you could cut out some of the prep time by using some sort of premade dough…and how cute is that press! OMG…I want one!

  18. Kristen says:

    Those are Wonderful. I have been meaning to make empanadas…but hadn’t thought about spicing them up like these. Bookmarking.

  19. I’ve never made empanadas at home, but I’d love to try it. This filling with chicken and goat cheese sounds great!

  20. I love empananadas. I may add this to the list of recipes i want to accomplish but hold the lime. Not a fan of it. Where did you get the empanada dough cutter?

  21. My aunt used to make empanadas, I miss them!

    We need to pick a class to take together!

  22. These look so so good! I definitely need to find an empanada press. :)

  23. I am going to make these over the weekend, they look so good!

    One trick I use for butter in pastry is freeze the stick of butter, then I just use a cheese grater and it works out great!

  24. I definitely need to try these! They sound really awesome. I have a similar turnover-press gadget that I need to get a lot more use out of of :)

  25. claire says:

    i seriously NEED that crimper/empanada maker!

  26. […] knew Dana’s Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing recipe would be a hit with my family. They especially liked the easy spiced up ranch […]

  27. […] Food for Thoughts’ Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing – Our kids are nuts over chicken potpie and love dipping their veggies in ranch dressing. This recipe is like a personal potpie that you get to dip in ranch dressing. It’s a perfect combination! […]

  28. Yadira says:

    Trying this recipe out tonight for an office potluck tomorrow. The smells alone of the chicken cooking in the spices and broth for the past 5 hours is driving me crazy. I planned to bake them and go to bed but its looking like a midnight empanada snack tonight, besides the sauce is just sitting in the fridge ready! Thank you for helping to fill my house with familiar smells that make my apartment feel like a casita =) ps im a novice cook and the pre made empanada discs in my supermarkets “ethnic” isle downgraded my fear factor of taking this recipe on alone without my mami in town. So glad I did!!! Thank you- Single Latina in NYC

  29. […] get around to it now that I know how good they are, though. Beef Empanadas ( using Dana’s Lime Chicken Empanada’s dough and sauce) Filling: 1 pound ground beef 1 onion, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 […]

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