Pork Picadillo Empanadas

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Pork Picadillo Empanadas

Pork Picadillo Empanadas are a perfect dish to take to a potluck or on a picnic.  Bite-sized flavor filled packets of spicy pork tucked inside a flavorful tender turnover; empanadas are easy to make and very portable.

While many consider empanadas to be Latin, they are actually made all over the world, with a variety of fillings and doughs.  The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. The filling can be made from almost anything, but most common are ground pork and ground beef.  In this recipe feel free to change the ground pork to ground beef if you like, or even ground chicken or turkey.

Empanadas are easy to make and very portable

I adapted this recipe for Pork Picadillo Empanadas from Bon Appetit’s Outdoor Entertaining cookbook.  I like the dough in Bon App’s recipe because it was one of the few I found that used Masa Harina (what they use to make corn tortillas and tamales) in it.  Most recipes used only flour and I find the addition of the masa really gives the dough a great flavor.  The dough comes together very easily and rolls out beautifully.  The original recipe called for melted butter, but you know me if it’s melted butter I will usually substitute olive oil; in this case, I did half melted butter and half mild olive oil.  You can do one or the other, or both.  These empanadas can be made shiny by brushing an egg bath on top before popping them into the oven, we were in a hurry to get them cooked as we were going to friends to watch the Oscar’s and I just plumb forgot that step…no harm, no foul, they were delish anyway. Just not shiny.

These empanadas are great when served with a chunky salsa, sour cream dip (which is what I did) or even guacamole.  

Dip, bite, enjoy


Pork Picadillo Empanadas

 Pork Picadillo Empanadas


  • For the Filling

    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounce ground pork tenderloin (grind your own, or use your food processor to pulse it into a grind, or buy very lean ground pork)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green apple (I use Granny Smith)
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (pour boiling water over and let sit for about 5 minutes. This will plump them up and remove some of their sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted blanched almonds (blanching is removing the skin. I buy mine with the skin already removed and with them already toasted. If you have to do this step, put them into boiling water for 5 minutes. Let cool then remove the skins. Bake the almonds in a 325°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until toasted)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Dough

    1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Masa Harina (corn tortilla mix, found in most grocery stores and in ALL Mexican markets)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup your favorite fat, melted (use half butter half oil, all oil, or all butter. I used half melted butter, half oil)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large eggs (1 is going into the dough the other is going to be for a wash)


Step 1

Prepare the Filling

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, apple, pork, jalapeño and garlic, cook, stirring often, until the pork is cooked. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and some salt and pepper. Stir until well incorporated; add the raisins and lime juice and cook until the lime juice has reduced to not being there. Remove from heat; stir in the almonds and sour cream. Allow to cool.

Step 2

For the Dough

Butter 2 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Step 3

In a large bowl mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt. Stir in the melted fat. In a small bowl whisk together 1 of the eggs with 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, add to the flour mixture. Knead in the bowl until a smooth, pliable dough forms, about 2 minutes. Working with half the dough at a time, roll out on a floured surface to 1/8th inch thickness. Use a 3 3/4 inch biscuit cutter to cut dough into rounds. Reroll dough scraps and cut out additional rounds; you should get about a dozen per half of the dough. Continue with the remaining dough.

Step 4

Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl to blend. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling in the center of each dough round, lightly brush the edges with the egg. Fold over, lift up and gently press the dough together over the filling. Make sure to close them well. Place on prepared sheets. Brush the empanada tops with the remaining egg wash (if you remember) and then bake for about 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Serve with sauce of your choice.

LindySez:  You can prepare the filling a day in advance if desired, refrigerate until needed.  If you prefer, you can make the whole empanada a day in advance, cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove covering before cooking.

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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Elle on March 6, 2014

    Do you live somewhere warm Linda. I want to move next door so I can scrounge your leftovers.

  2. posted by Cher on March 6, 2014

    Wow, Linda, you are truly amazing with all of this goodness you create and share! You are my favorite cookbook!

    • posted by LindySez on March 6, 2014

      Thank you Cher… almost 50 years of eating, reading, watching, cooking…must pay off after a while right? This is my favorite cookbook too – all my favs! Cheers

  3. posted by Poppy on March 6, 2014

    An apple? Interesting. These look very, very good.

    • posted by LindySez on March 6, 2014

      I always try to give my food an extra something…and apple made sense…and it’s good. Let me know how they turn out…(if your kids can cupcake they can empanada) JMHO~ Cheers

  4. posted by Jessica on March 10, 2014

    Another winner, Linda! I love this! Of course, I’m swapping out the pork for chicken, but I’m so making this this weekend!

  5. posted by rcwebr on March 10, 2014

    these sound great. I may try to play a bit with them though. I would like to reduce meat consumption and put some mashed pinto beans and diced tomatoes into it. I know, I know. changes the whole thing, but worth a try.

    • posted by LindySez on March 10, 2014

      Hey RC, thanks for stopping by. I think you could easily add some pinto or black beans to these, although I might only coarsely chop them rather than mash, just a textural thing; and of course some diced tomato could be nice, maybe omit the apple? The spices will work with either. And the masa crust will also play nicely with them. Let me know how they turn out. Cheers ~ Lindy

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  7. posted by brian on August 26, 2014

    Very good recipe especially for parties…tasty and bite size!

    • posted by LindySez on August 26, 2014

      Yep, they are great for parties. Bite sized pieces of goodness.


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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.
  • Calories
  • Fat
    7g (2g Sat, 4g Mono, 1g Poly)
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Per piece. Provided for your information, but may not be 100% scientifically accurate

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