Empanadas are a popular baked or fried pastry found in Spanish, Latin American, and Southern European cultures. These breaded turnovers come with a variety of fillings, from traditional meat to sweet fillings, allowing for endless possibilities.
If you’re looking to expand your culinary knowledge and skills by experimenting with some empanada recipes and fillings, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the 20 best empanada recipes and filling ideas for everyone to enjoy!
1. Mozzarella, Basil, And Tomato Empanadas
Tomato, basil, and mozzarella is a great combination of foods in a salad or pizza, and the same applies to empanadas.
This empanada recipe is a take on the classic caprese salad, creating a flavorful kind of grilled cheese that is perfect for lunch or dinner. This is a fried empanada recipe that is easy to follow for beginners.
Serve these empanadas with a sauce of your choice, such as a basil garlic sauce.
2. Beef And Mushroom Empanadas
Beef is arguably one of the most popular empanada fillings, especially when the ground beef is cooked with mushrooms.
The mushrooms serve to enhance the meaty flavors of the beef, and is a great way to get your kids to like mushrooms! This recipe is great for those who are new to making empanadas, thanks to the pastry and filling instructions.
These empanadas go particularly well with chimichurri sauce, which is included in the instructions.
3. Spicy Chicken Empanadas
Spicy chicken is another popular empanada filling, and it’s no wonder why! These empanadas are kind of like biting into on-the-go fajitas, with the combination of chicken breast seasoned with chili, garlic, onion, cilantro, and more.
The spice levels can be adjusted to preference, because this isn’t a mild dish!
Spicy chicken empanadas work well with salsa verde or a creamy sauce, such as sour cream.
4. Spinach And Feta Empanadas
If you’re looking for a mild empanada recipe, look no further than this spinach and feta empanadas recipe. The combination of spinach and feta works beautifully, creating a mild yet still flavorful filling for fried empanadas.
This recipe uses pre-made empanada discos (the dough), but you can also make your own if you have the time.
Spinach and feta empanadas should be served warm and with a sauce of your choice.
5. Shrimp Empanadas
Did you know that you can make empanadas with fish? Well, now you know!
Shrimp empanadas are a fantastic snack or side dish for those who love seafood, with a satisfyingly enjoyable flavor that cannot be replicated with meat or cheese fillings.
If you want to boost the savory flavor, you can even add small pieces of chorizo!
Shrimp empanadas go particularly well with a salsa dip, or something spicy like a garlic jalapeño sauce.
6. Spicy Black Bean Empanadas
Vegetarians can also enjoy empanadas with a spicy black bean filling. This is a delicious empanada recipe that is surprisingly high in protein, and just as delicious as its meaty counterparts.
In fact, the spicy black beans are reminiscent of vegetarian burritos (see also ‘33 Fantastic Burrito Recipes For When You Are Craving Mexican‘), making for a delicious Latin American-tasting dish. Keep in mind that this pastry is not vegan, though!
Serve spicy black bean empanadas with a classic creamy cilantro and lime sauce.
7. BBQ Pulled Pork Empanadas
Time to blend the traditional empanada disco with the flavors of America’s favorite way to eat pork – BBQ pulled pork (see also ‘The 20 Best Side Dishes For Pulled Pork Sandwiches‘). BBQ pulled pork empanadas are a great way to combine cultural cuisines together, and it tastes absolutely delicious.
The inclusion of cheese and aji amarillo sauce makes these empanadas satisfyingly sweet, mild, and spicy all at once.
BBQ pulled pork empanadas (see also our favorite sides to serve with pulled pork) are particularly nice with a Spanish cilantro sauce.
8. Argentinian Beef Empanadas
Argentina is known for its flavorsome empanadas, so what better way to celebrate their culture than with your own homemade Argentinian-style empanadas?
These empanadas feature a filling mixture of beef, vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs. Interestingly, these empanadas are baked instead of fried, making for a more flaky crust.
Argentinian beef empanadas are best paired with a chimichurri sauce.
9. Vegetarian Empanadas
If you want extremely flavorful empanadas, check out this vegetarian filling.
With a highly nutritious filling featuring sweet potato, chickpeas, lentils, kale, jalapeño peppers, and more, this is a super flavorsome empanada recipe that is ideal for vegetarians.
It also includes hard-boiled eggs to neutralize the spiciness and add a unique texture.
These empanadas are best served with homemade chimichurri sauce.
10. Crab Empanadas
If you want to teleport yourself to the Gulf Coast of Mexico, try out these crab empanadas. You’ll typically find these empanadas sold by vendors, served in small baskets to protect the empanadas from sand.
However, you can easily make them at home with this simple recipe! If you don’t have fresh crab, you can make do with imitation crab.
Crab (see also ‘12 Fun Side Dishes To Serve With Crab Legs‘) empanadas work well with a salsa or homemade tartar dip.
11. Chilean-Style Cheese Empanadas
If you’re a fan of grilled cheese, you’ll love these Chilean-style cheese empanadas. These empanadas are made with whole milk mozzarella that melts like a charm, but you can replace it for another meltable cheese.
The key is to fry these empanadas to ensure the cheese melts perfectly, making for a crispy and sumptuous cheesy turnover.
These cheese empanadas go particularly well with a salsa dip.
12. Spicy Butternut Squash Empanadas
If you’re making empanadas in fall, time to bring in those autumnal flavors with this spicy butternut squash filling.
The butternut squash is sautéed with hot spices and jalapeño, before being combined with melted cheese to mute the spiciness. This recipe is nothing short of warming!
These empanadas work nicely with a lime and cilantro cream dip.
13. Baked Tuna Empanadas
Another popular fish filling is tuna! This is a great way to use the canned tuna in your cupboard. The tuna is cooked into a tomato-based filling before being baked in the oven, which provides a flakier consistency to frying the dough.
Due to the strong tuna flavor, these empanadas don’t need a sauce.
14. Vegan Empanadas
Vegans can enjoy empanadas as well as meat eaters! This vegan empanada recipe contains no eggs or dairy, with the dough consisting of flour, salt, water, and vegan butter.
The filling inside is a mixture of yummy veggies and either tofu or tempeh for some added protein. These empanadas are baked rather than fried, making them a healthy alternative.
Vegan empanadas go with any sauce, but especially chimichurri or salsa verde.
15. Air Fryer Empanadas
Speaking of healthy alternatives to fried empanadas, you can also make beef empanadas in the air fryer!
The homemade beef picadillo is a standard and delicious empanada filling that is encased in the dough, which cooks to a satisfying crisp in the air fryer without the need for excessive oil.
If you’re in a rush, you can also use pre-made empanada dough!
16. Chicken And Chorizo Empanadas
Back to a totally non-vegan empanadas recipe, these empanadas are filled with chicken and chorizo – the perfect meaty combo! While the chicken is fairly mild, the chorizo adds a hint of spice that tastes fantastic.
This recipe is particularly handy for those who have never made empanadas before, as it guides you through making the dough and filling easily.
Chicken and chorizo empanadas go with any sauce, such as chimichurri and salsa.
17. S’mores Empanadas
Empanadas can also be made for dessert! These s’mores empanadas are nothing short of delightful – from the flaky pastry to the melted chocolate and marshmallow filling.
The added topping of drizzled chocolate and powdered sugar tops off what might be your family’s new favorite dessert. Just be prepared to make lots of these slices of heaven!
18. Blueberry Goat Cheese Empanadas
Blueberry and goat cheese might not sound like a good combination, but trust us when we say you’ll be begging for more of these empanadas.
The sweetness of the blueberries works beautifully with the savory and creamy goat cheese, making for a satisfying combination of both flavors. These empanadas are perfect for dessert, breakfast, and a light snack!
19. Strawberry Empanadas
Nothing screams “Summer!” quite like strawberry empanadas. These pockets of joy are kind of like bringing a fruity pie on-the-go, making for a conveniently portable and ultimately delicious sweet treat. They are also super easy to make!
20. Chocolate And Banana Empanadas
Chocolate and banana is another fantastic combination of sweet flavors that works beautifully when encased in an empanada.
However, the sweetness is met with the powerful Mexican flavors of cayenne pepper and cinnamon, making for a satisfying flavor that soothes your sweet tooth cravings.
So, there you have it! There are countless ways to make and fill empanadas, and hopefully this guide has given you some inspiration for your next experimentation with the iconic dish. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Traditionally Served With Empanadas?
Empanadas are typically served alongside other side dishes, including:
- Fried plantains (see also ‘23 Simple Plantain Recipes That Are Anything But Simple!‘)
- Mexican rice
- Corn salad
- Bean salad
- Salsa verde
- Black beans and rice
- Chimichurri sauce
- Various vegetables
- And more!
Is It Better To Bake Or Fry Empanadas?
There are pros and cons to baking and frying empanadas.
While empanadas are traditionally fried when purchased from a street vendor, making for a satisfyingly crunchy outer shell, this method isn’t too convenient when cooking a huge batch.
Still, it only takes about 5 minutes to deep-fry empanadas, so this is a quick method for making a small batch.
If you are cooking a big batch of empanadas, you’ll benefit more from baking them at once – though you’ll miss out on the distinctive taste and texture from fried empanadas.
Baking is also the healthier option as it doesn’t involve as much oil as frying. So, it mostly comes down to personal preference and how much time you’ve got on your hands!
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