Chicken Puff Pastry (Pakistani Chicken Patties)
Creamy, flavorful chicken filling in flaky, buttery puff pastry…completely irresistible! Inspired by the bakeries of Pakistan, this Chicken Puff Pastry recipe is a sure crowd pleaser and the perfect snack/appetizer to make-ahead and freeze. Includes tips on working with store-bought pastry to get perfect puffs every time. Tested to perfection!
Chicken Puff Pastries aka Chicken Patties
A few months ago, I sent out a survey asking my email community (which you should join!) to choose one perfected recipe they’d like for Ramadan. To my surprise, among options of homemade Pakistani snack ideas like pakora and samosa, these Pakistani Chicken Patties were the most requested! (For a not so traditional Iftar item, try my Chicken Koftas.)
So many trips to Pakistan involved cautiously* eating the savory loot from bakeries. My favorites were the mini-pizzas, which were nothing like the pizza we know but inexplicably good. And of course, these Chicken-Stuffed Puff Pastries, or Chicken Patties as Pakistanis often call them.
Exactly how Chicken Patties became such an ubiquitous Pakistani bakery item, I’m not sure. But the British Raj likely had something to do with it. In fact, savory puff pastries became popular in 18th Century Britain, which may explain why these patties became prevalent in an area where tandoors were more popular than ovens.
*Cautiously because our Americanized digestive systems unfortunately can’t handle the food scene in Pakistan.
The ingredients are simple, ones you can find at any grocery store:
For Boiling Chicken:
- Chicken breast: The traditional cut, but chicken thighs also work.
- Salt & Ground black pepper: I run black peppercorns through a spice grinder to make my black pepper. Pre-ground black pepper should be fine as long as somewhat fresh.
- Garlic: A small garlic clove to add a hum of garlic flavor without the raw taste.
To Make the Roux (fancy term for the White Sauce)
- Butter & oil: Use a blend of both to add flavor without it getting too heavy from the butter.
- Cumin seeds: Optional – they aren’t too noticeable but add a bit of South Asian flare.
- Onion: I’ve used yellow but you can also use red onion.
- Serrano pepper: I use a med/large Serrano (~12g in weight) because it packs flavor without too much heat. If substituting with a spicier chili such as Thai/bird’s eye, use less in quantity. Deseed with a spoon to reduce the sharp heat.
- Flour: Used to thicken the roux.
- Whole milk: Gives the perfect flavor and consistency to the filling.
- Heavy whipping cream: Makes the sauce rich and creamy. See recipe card notes for using half and half.
- Cilantro: Optional – not an essential flavor builder, but adds freshness as herbs do.
Puff Pastry Sheets
- Egg wash (egg + water/milk): Gives a nice shine and golden color.
- Puff Pastry Sheets: The brand you use will affect the size of pastry, bake temperature & time, texture, etc. Here are a few I’ve tried:
How to make Chicken Puff Pastry
Make the Filling
- Bring the chicken to a boil, removing any scum with a slotted spoon. Instead of boiling, then removing the chicken from the broth, we’re completely cooking down the liquid so not to waste the flavor in the broth (the Desi way😇). Depending on the heat of your stovetop, you may need to add water if it evaporates while the chicken hasn’t yet cooked.
- Once the chicken has cooked down and naturally starts to shred, transfer to a stand mixer (or a cutting board to manually shred). You don’t necessarily need to cool. I like to shred it so the chicken isn’t too stringy but doesn’t resemble ground chicken. Set aside.
- Clean your saucepan and place it back over medium high heat. Sauté the whole cumin seeds, onion, and serrano in oil and butter. You want to cook out the raw taste and get the onions translucent and deeper in flavor, but resist the urge to brown them.
- Season with s&p (adding them in different stages mellows out and creates nuance in flavor).
- Sauté the flour for a minute or two to get rid of any raw taste. Then stir in the milk and cream. As you allow it to cook, it’ll naturally thicken up. Try not to get it too thick, because as it cools, it’ll thicken even more. (In the picture, it’s cooled a bit so looks a little thicker than ideal texture.) Once you add the chicken, it’ll solidify into the perfect creamy, oozy filling. If it still seems a little runny or wet, sauté out any extra moisture. Taste and add black pepper if you’d like it more pronounced.
- Cover and allow the chicken mixture to completely cool (stick it in the fridge to cool faster). Working with it while warm will melt the butter in the pastries and make the layers less flaky.
Make the Puff Pastries
Tips to work with Store-Bought Puff Pastry Dough
I’m far from a pastry chef, but I learned a few tips during my experimentations:
- Keep the puff pastry chilled/refrigerated instead of at room temperature. Not only will it be easier to work with, but you’ll maintain the distinct layers and therefore the crispy, flaky texture.
- Get the oven hot. At first I would bake at 350F, and they wouldn’t rise well, and/or end up flatter and dense. Baking at 375-385F immediately improved their rise.
- Use a sharp knife to gently cut (try not to slide the knife down) the pastry sheets. This helps maintain the integrity of the layers.
- Prepare the egg wash by whisking the egg with milk or water.
- Unwrap the pastry sheets and place directly on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet (less handling of the pastries). Brush with egg wash.
- Cut squares on the pastry sheets. This can be tricky because pastry sheets come in all sorts of sizes, often rectangles – how do you get them in equal sized squares?!
- For square pastry sheets, this should be easy. Ex: If you have 4 (9.75 X 10.5 inches) pastry sheets, cut each sheet into 3 vertical strips. Then cut each strip into 3 squares for a total of 9 squares per sheet.
- For large rectangular sheets (9×15 inches), cut 3 vertical strips, then each strip into 5 squares. You can also make large patties by cutting in half vertically, then cutting each strip into 3 squares for a total of 6 equal squares (just add more filling!).
- Lastly, remember you can make different shapes such as squares or rectangles.
Hack for rectangular pastries: Before cutting the sheets, place the filling (as seen in pictures) on one sheet. Cover with the other pastry sheet, then cut both of them together, sealing the edges.
- Add the chicken filling, then fold over, sealing the edges using a fork. Don’t worry about crimping them perfectly. I love a little filling oozing out and caramelizing.
- Brush the top once again with egg wash.
- Bake both sheets together for 30-35 minutes. Since the top sheet cooks faster, remove from oven, then move the bottom sheet to the top tray and bake until it’s also golden brown.
- Once out of the oven, allow to rest and settle, then serve warm. They’re great alone or with chutney of choice.
A Note on Round Puff Pastries
The Chicken Patties in Pakistan are round, have 3 pastry layers, and usually look like this one from Jalal Sons bakery. In the interest of not wasting puff pastry and saving time, I stick to hand-pie-like triangles (equally delicious but not as nostalgia-evoking).
If you want to make them round:
- After a brush of egg wash, use a cookie cutter with a 2.5”-3” diameter to cut circles in the pastry sheets.
- Add about 1 tbsp of the chicken to half the circles, then close the pastry with the remaining circles. Seal, egg wash, and bake as directed.
- With the remaining pastry, I just roll it back up and make some type of chicken bread (not as puffy, but waste-free!).
- Cheese!! Not traditional, but why not?
- Spices & Herbs. I tried adding garlic powder and other spices but preferred the clean, creamy flavors of the filling for this Poultry-Stuffed Puff Pastry. You could experiment and add white pepper, paprika, chaat masala, red pepper flakes, or other spices and herbs of choice.
- Vegetables: Add veggies along with chicken – corn, mushrooms, bell peppers, peas, or green onions/scallions would be great. Decrease chicken as needed to account for vegetables. And if you want to make it completely vegetarian, omit the chicken and replace with equal volume (~3 cups) of veggies.
- Seeds: After egg washing, top with nigella seeds or sesame seeds for flavor and presentation.
- Switch it up: Feel free to use the filling inside phyllo dough triangles or pastry shells (vol-au-vents).
Tried this recipe? If you have a minute, please consider leaving a comment telling me how it was! If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. I truly love hearing from you. Thank you!
Chicken Puff Pastry (Pakistani Chicken Patties)
For the Filling
- 1 lb (454 g) boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces
- 1 cup water, for boiling chicken
- 1 ½ kosher salt, divided
- 1 tsp ground black pepper, divided
- 1 garlic clove, smashed or cut into a few pieces
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp avocado oil, or other neutral oil
- 3/4 tsp cumin seeds, optional
- 1 small (~150 g) yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium to large (12 g) Serrano pepper, deseeded (to reduce heat) and finely chopped
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, sub GF flour with varied results
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, see Note 1 for using half and half
- 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped – optional
For the Puff Pastry
- 2 14-17-oz (397-490 g) packages puff pastry (see post for brands I've tried), thawed but still cold/refrigerated
- 1 small egg
- 2 tsp water or milk
- 2 standard (12 x 17") baking trays
- Boil chicken: Place the chicken, water, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and garlic clove in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring as needed to evenly cook. Allow to boil, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the water completely evaporates (~25 min). If the water evaporates too quickly, add a little water until it cooks through. If the chicken cooks and starts shedding while water remains, raise the heat to evaporate remaining water. Turn off the heat.
- Shred: Transfer the chicken with any leftover juices to an electric mixer bowl with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer ON to low-medium speed (4). Allow to mix until the chicken is shredded and no large chunks remain (~1-2 min). Alternatively, finely shred on a cutting board using 2 forks.
- Make filling: Wipe the saucepan clean and place it back over medium heat. Add the butter and oil. Once the butter melts, add the cumin seeds (if using), onion, and green chili pepper. Sauté until translucent (~6 min), taking care not to brown the onion. Season with the remaining 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
- Finish filling: Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to remove the floury taste. Pour in the milk and heavy whipping cream and bring to a gentle simmer (~1-2 min). Once it starts to thicken, turn off the heat and add the shredded chicken. Stir to combine. Mix in cilantro, if using. Taste and add more pepper, if you'd like. (Be generous with the seasoning because it will mellow out within the pastries.) Cover and allow to completely cool. You can place in the fridge to speed up chilling.
- Prep oven: Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C and place 2 oven racks toward the center of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
- Make egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk egg with water/milk.
- Prep pastry sheets: Unfold and lay 1 box of pastry sheets flat on a parchment-lined surface or directly on your baking sheet (keep the other box refrigerated). Use a pastry brush to brush the top the sheets with the egg wash. Use a sharp knife to gently cut (try not to slide the knife down) the pastry sheets into approximately 3.25" X 3.25" squares. (See Note 2)
- Add filling: Use a cookie scoop to add about 1 tbsp of the chicken to each square. Then close the pastry by folding one edge of the square over to the opposite edge, distributing the chicken toward the edges as needed. Seal the edges by indenting with a fork. Brush the top of each pastry with a light coat of egg wash. Repeat with remaining pastries.
- Bake: Place both baking sheets toward the center of your oven (keep space between them). Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastries on the top sheet are golden brown and flaky. (Note 3) Remove the top tray from the oven and shift the bottom tray to the top rack until it's also golden and flaky (~3-5 min). Serve warm (preferable) or at room temperature. (See note on Serving).
- Freeze before baking: Before applying egg wash, store in an airtight bag/container (in between parchment, if needed) or so they’re not touching. Apply egg wash and bake directly from frozen, giving extra bake time as needed. Or defrost in the fridge, then apply egg wash and bake as directed.
- Freeze after baking: Allow to cool, then store in an airtight zipper bags or containers. Thaw completely at room temperature (baking directly from frozen will leave the filling cold). Then air-fry or bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes to reheat. I prefer this method – less work, plus they get extra crispy!