As an ardent pie crust lover, it's only natural that I adore empanadas, the sweet or savory stuffed pastries from Latin America or Spain. They're usually served at parties or even as a meal, and one of my favorite fillings is chicken with olives. This quick weeknight version reimagines the handheld pastry as a skillet pie, with a bubbling layer of juicy ground chicken cooked with bell peppers, onions, and olives in a savory spiced sauce, all topped with a flaky pie crust. It's homey, satisfying, and cooks in just one pan — all things you want in a tasty weeknight dinner.
The filling starts with ground chicken, and you can use all dark meat, all white meat, or a blend of the two. Since there's a rich sauce that coats the meat, it doesn't really matter which kind of chicken you start with. Sauté the chicken with onion and plenty of spices, then use a little flour, tomato paste, and chicken broth to form a sauce to hold the filling together. Stir in some olives to add a briny pop to the mixture.
Top the filling with a store-bought or homemade pie crust and bake right in the skillet until golden-brown. While it bakes, make a green salad for an easy vegetable pairing. You don't have to fuss with rolling out empanada dough and forming individual pies for this recipe, but you get the same delicious results!
Skillet Chicken Empanada Pie
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 medium red or green bell peppers, or combination, diced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup coarsely chopped pitted green or black olives
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Meanwhile, make the filling.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch cast iron or oven-safe skillet with high, straight sides over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Drizzle in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, cumin, oregano, and paprika. Cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the bell peppers and broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the olives. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Unfold the pie crust and place over the filling, tucking the excess edges under itself inside the pan if needed. Use a sharp knife to cut a 4-inch-long X in the top of the crust to vent. Bake until the crust is golden-brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
- Make ahead: The filling can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently over low heat in the skillet before proceeding with the recipe.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.