Empanadas are popular in Southwest America, Latin America, and Latin Europe. The word stems from the Spanish “empanar,” which means “to bake in pastry.” This Spanish and Mexican specialty is like a turnover with pastry crusts stuffed with meat and vegetables. Less often, empanadas are filled with fruit for dessert.

If you can make your own salsa, we suggest our Papalote-Inspired Salsa recipe. The shredded Mexican cheese required in this recipe is up for interpretation, but if you want to stay true to the cuisine as much as possible, choose a Mexican-originated cheese, such as asadero, a mild-tasting fresh cheese that melts wonderfully. Substitutions would be domestic Muenster or provolone. Or, try Chihuahua, named for the Mexican state from which it originates. Also called queso menonita for the Mennonite farmers who first made this cheese, Chihuahua tastes and feels like mild cheddar when fresh, and a bit more tangy when aged. It’s good for grating and stuffing. Mild cheddar and Monterey Jack are good substitutes.

Round out this special breakfast or brunch with a Tomato, Tomatillo, and Corn Salad with Avocado Dressing, some smoky Black Beans (Frijoles Negros), and Mexican Hot Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts with Marshmallow Filling.

  • Yield: 15 empanadas
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Total: 2 hrs 
  • Active: 1 hr 

Ingredients (15)

For the pastry dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
  • 8 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For the filling:

  • 4 eggs, 1 egg set aside
  • 5 ounces chorizo
  • 1 tablespoon green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • ½ cup Mexican cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper, add to taste
  • salsa and sour cream for dipping
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour and salt. Sprinkle with the butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds, or just until the butter is slightly broken up into the flour but still in visible pieces. Then sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and process it just until the mixture starts to come together. Dump the dough onto a work surface, press it together, and divide it in half. Press each half into a disk, and cover the disk with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or up to one day, or freeze for up to 1 month.
  3. In a sauté pan on medium heat, cook the chorizo until cooked through. Add three eggs and heat through. Remove it from heat and let it cool. Add the green onion, cilantro, and cheese. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Remove the chilled dough-disk from the refrigerator. Dust a flat work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out to at least 16-by-10 inches. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out circles and place them on a new sheet pan. Place the dough circles in the refrigerator for five minutes to cool the dough again.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, add a scoop of the chorizo-egg mixture into the center of the pre-cut, pie-crust circles. Fold each circle into a half-moon shape and secure the edges by pressing firmly. Using a fork, decorate the edges of the empanada. This will also secure them better.
  6. Work in batches so that your dough does not get too warm. As each empanada is completed, place it onto a parchment lined sheet pan, and back into the fridge.
  7. After all the empanadas are finished, mix the last egg and with water and lightly paint the egg wash onto the tops of the pockets and place the pan in the oven.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven.