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Taco Bell's Crispinada Is Much Better At Home | Crispinada Copycat Recipe

I am a known Taco Bell lover, but that doesn't mean I love every dish they put out. The Crispinada came and went (and maybe came back?), but I thought it was just ok. Fine enough to get by, but I want empanadas to be something I crave. I set out to make my own version, and they are a pretty amazing dish in their own right.


Prep Time: Cook Time: Serves:

30 Minutes 1.5 hours 16 Empanadas

Empanada Dough

450g ap flour

5g salt

50g lard

5ml white vinegar

200ml cold water

Chile Braised Chicken Thigh

1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thigh

1 white onion

4 cloves garlic

6 NM chiles

2 chipotles




Garlic powder


Tons of salt and pepper

Enough water to just cover

American cheese and shredded cheese to mix in

Step 1: Braise The Chicken

Thinly slice 1 white onion and remove the skin from 4 cloves of garlic. Remove the tops and seeds from 6 New Mexico chiles (or guajillo if you can't find them).

At the stove, heat a large pot over medium high and add in a little oil and then the onions. Let those soften and begin to brown, usually around 5 minutes or so. You don't need to caramelize them, you just need them slightly softened.

Add in your garlic cloves and let those sit in the heat with the onions for a couple of minutes. Add in just enough water to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom. Now you can add your deseeded chiles, 2 chipotles, and add in your package of chicken thigh. Season this with a few large pinches of salt, a bunch of cracked pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander, and garlic powder. Let this come up to a simmer, and check your liquid level, make sure there’s enough to cover the chicken, and some water if you need it. Once this has come up to a simmer, cover the pot and let it cook for around 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and unctuous.

Step 2: Make Empanada Dough

To a large bowl, add in 450g of all purpose flour and 5g of salt. Mix those together and then add 50g of cold lard. Use your fingers to break the lard into tiny pea sized pieces. To the flour and lard, add in 200ml of cold water mixed with 5ml of white vinegar. Don't overwork the mixture, think of this as something of a pie dough. Make sure this just comes together in the bowl, and you’ll finish the mixing when you roll it out later. Cover this shaggy dough and set in the fridge for now.

Step 3: Make Filling

Once the chicken is tender and falls apart, remove it from the pot and set it aside to cool. With the chicken cool enough to handle, pull it apart and remove any bits of fat that won’t be good in the final Crispinada. For the most flavorful juicy filling, let the braising liquid cool. Blend this until smooth and then run it through a sieve and you’ll have a beautiful tangy chile sauce. Return this to the stove and reduce over medium low until it’s thickened and reduced by about half. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and a pinch of sugar as needed. Place your cooled chicken into a bowl and mix in 1-2 ladles of your reduced sauce. Add in a couple handfuls of shredded mild cheddar cheese along with a little a couple of pieces of broken up American cheeses. This gives the mix an almost nacho cheese texture

Step 4: Build Empanadas

Place your dough on a floured surface and knead it slightly so the shaggy dough comes together. This is enough for around 16 crispinadas, so cut the dough into quarters, and work on each quarter one at at a time while the others stay covered. Cut the quarter into 4 more even pieces and roll them out pretty thin, but not tortilla thin. Think maybe 1/8 of an inch. These will puff up slightly in the oil, but you don’t want them exploding. Place roughly 1-2 tablespoons of the cooled filling in each one. To seal them, use a little water around the edge and then fold it in half. Try to keep your filling on only half of the dough; that makes it easier to fold. Use a fork to crimp the edges so they are totally sealed, and you can continue working through them until you’re out of filling or dough.

Step 5: Fry And Serve

Fill a dutch oven about 1/3 of the way with cooking oil, and begin heating it to around 375f. For taco bell, they manage to get this thing super crunchy, which is a little tougher at home. Place 3-4 in the oil at a time, but keep an eye on the oil temp and make sure it doesn't drop too much. These are going to rise as they go into the dutch oven, so you ay need to hold them down with tongs. Cook these until deeply golden brown, 3 minutes a side is great for these. You’re emulating something called the crispinada, so these things to need to be crazy crispy. These come out super flavorful, extra crispy, and really gooey from the cheese. So much better than the version Taco Bell put out.




Hey, I'm Cameron, and I'm glad you're here. I post new recipes every week, all intended to build your confidence in the kitchen, each one with video tutorials to help. Craving something specific? Drop me a note in my contact form! 

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