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Pollo Empanizado - Cuban Chicken Recipe

Pollo Empanizado (Crispy Breaded Chicken)

Pollo Empanizado is literally “breaded” chicken. It’s breaded chicken that is perfectly fried. It’s different than a traditional fried chicken recipe, because we are working with very thin pieces of chicken. When done right, this thin piece of chicken gets the perfect crisp. Finger licking good.

My kids affectionately call this “Abi’s chicken.” Abi is my mom’s best friend and like a grandmother to my kids. She doesn’t cook a lot, but what she does make is delicious and like every abuela, made with a lot of love.


This is not a traditional Pollo Empanizado Recipe. It is modified to make it a little more approachable for an easy, somewhat healthier, weekday meal for the family. The recipe calls for chicken tenders, so the chicken isn’t going to be as thin as the traditional Pollo Empanizado. We thought the tenders would be more fun for the family, and also keeps the chicken very moist.

Contrary to the traditional, we actually use the air fryer in this recipe. We thought the air fryer would use less oil and makes for an easier clean up. Listen, we aren’t going to tell you not to deep fry it! After all, that’s exactly what Abuela would do. Air frying keeps this recipe quick, easy, less messy and the chicken stays really moist. It’s any mom’s weeknight win

Looking for an Air Fryer? HERE is one recommended by Wirecutter.

Our Tips for Making Pollo Empanizado

  • We are using panko bread crumbs to get a super crispy and crunchy crust.
  • We kept the chicken as is- meaning we didn’t pound them thin. If you want to pound your chicken to make it thin, and crispier keep in mind you should shave 2 minutes from the cooking time so it doesn’t dry the chicken out.

Serve with the Perfect White Rice, Tostones or our Quick Congri Recipe

Pollo Empanizado (Crispy Breaded Chicken)

Recipe by Abuelas Cuban CounterCourse: EntreeCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 pounds of chicken tenders or large boneless chicken breasts cut into tender-sized strips

  • 2 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons of water for egg wash

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

  • 2 cups of seasoned panko bread crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons of sazon

  • 4 tablespoons of avocado oil 

  • 1 teaspoon of salt 


  • In a food processor, blend together all of the bread crumbs. (If you prefer the chicken to be very crunchy, blend only half of the breadcrumbs)
  • Set up your dredging stations: Set up the chicken on a platter or plate. One shallow baking dish should have the egg/water. Another baking dish should have the bread crumbs. The last baking dish should be empty so you can place the prepared chicken. 
  • Start by seasoning your chicken with the salt and sazon. Be sure both sides of the chicken are completely seasoned. 
  • Dip the chicken in the egg mixture. Don’t neglect the sides! Then dip in the bread crumbs and set aside on a plate. 
  • Brush each chicken piece with oil on both sides. Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 375 degrees with nothing inside. Then place the chicken inside the air fryer basket at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.
  • The chicken should be crispy and golden brown.