Curried Pork Empanadas

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Appetizer-sized empanadas, or turnovers, stuffed with a curried ground pork picadillo, and baked until golden brown.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Planning a holiday party? Consider putting these empanadas on your to-do list for appetizers!

If you are not familiar with empanadas, they are basically turnovers, usually stuffed with a savory minced meat filling, and popular throughout the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world.

In this recipe, the pastry dough is made with cream cheese, butter, and flour, resulting in a particularly scrumptious pastry. The filling is a delicious curried ground pork picadillo.

Feel free to improvise with the filling ingredients; you can use practically any stew with finely minced meat, simmered down to the point of barely any liquid, with a little cornstarch added to help soak up extra liquid.

Do you have a favorite empanada recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Curried Pork Empanadas Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 4 to 5 dozen empanada turnovers.

Many parts of this recipe can be made in advance to save time. The dough and the filling can be made 2 days ahead of time. The formed empanadas can be chilled several hours before baking. Once baked, the empanadas can be made a day ahead of time and reheated before serving.

The pastries are best made in batches, keeping the dough and dough rounds chilled in between batches to make them easier to form.


Pastry Ingredients

  • 16 ounces cream cheese (do not use light), room temperature
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten, for pastry egg wash

Filling Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped


1 Make the empanada dough: Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, until well blended. Slowly add in the flour, mixing until incorporated.

Form two balls (it will be easier to work with 2 separate pieces of dough), then flatten each into a disk. Dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2 Cook the pork: While dough is chilling, heat a large frying pan on medium high heat. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon or so of salt on the bottom of the pan. Break off bits of ground pork and add to the pan, until all the pork is added without crowding. Do not stir.

Once the pork is lightly browned on one side, use a spatula to flip the pieces to the other side so the other side can cook.

Once the pork is lightly browned on both sides, reduce the heat on the pan to medium, and remove the pork to a bowl.

3 Make the picadillo stuffing: Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to the pan. Then add the finely chopped onion. Let onions gently cook on medium heat for a few minutes until translucent.

Add the minced garlic. Cook until fragrant.

Add the finely chopped mushrooms, cooking for a few minutes more.

Add the curry powder, ground coriander, and cardamom to the pan. Mix the spices in with the onion mix.

Add the ground pork back to the pan, mixing in the seasoned onion mix.

Add the raisins. Add the sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and corn starch, mixing well.

Break bigger pieces of ground pork with the edge of a metal spatula. Remove from heat, and chill until time to stuff the pastries.

4 Roll out the dough and cut out rounds: Preheat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured, smooth, clean surface, roll out one of the dough rounds to a thin 1/8-inch thickness. (If refrigerated for more than an hour, you may need to let it sit for 10 minutes to soften it enough to roll it out more easily.)

Use a wide-mouthed jar or biscuit cutter (about 3 inches wide) to cut out rounds. Place them on a baking sheet.

During this and the next step, if the dough becomes too soft and therefore difficult to work with, put whatever you are working on in the refrigerator to chill for 5 or 10 minutes.

5 Stuff and fold the empanadas: Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the inside edge of the rounds with egg wash (to help the empanadas seal).

Place a teaspoon of meat inside each round.

Fold the round over to and press the edges to seal shut. Use the tines of a fork to flute the edges.

Place standing upright on a baking sheet, spaced an inch apart. (You can also lie them down, but with them upright, you'll fit more on a pan.)

Use a pastry brush to brush the sides (not the bottom) of the empanadas with more egg wash.

6 Bake in oven: Working in batches, cook in the 375°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.


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Inspired by a curried meat turnover recipe by Janet McCartney.


Wikipedia on empanadas

Argentina empanadas with video for special Mendoza-style empanada with "repulgue" sealed and patterned edges.

Sweet rhubarb and strawberry empanadas from Laylita's Recipes

More empanadas recipes at Food Blog Search

Showing 4 of 41 Comments / Reviews

  • Rachel

    Mmm, these sound delicious. Oddly enough, some of the best empanadas I’ve ever had were in Montreal. They called them something else, though the name escapes me. I’ve never tried making them myself, and I always assumed it was a simple butter or shortening crust. Also, what does low-fat cream cheese do that forbids it from being used? I nearly always substitute the low-fat in recipes.

    You can try this with low fat cream cheese if you want, let us know how it turns out. Low fat cream cheese has substituted some of the fat with carb-based fillers. I have no idea how they will work in a pastry crust. If you want a flaky pastry, you need the fat. ~Elise

  • Darby "The Dessert Diva"

    I remember these as a kid. My mother used to make them but they were filled with spicy linquicia, onion, egg and cheese. Sometimes she even tossed in a wee bit of potato. My Father is Full Blooded Portuguese so this was treat in our household. Mmmm. Try it with fruit (and yes, its much better than the Taco Bell version).

  • julie

    Thanks for this recipe. I would like to have them for an open house in December. My husband’s office is coming over. Do you have any ideas for what other things I could have to serve them? I like the idea of a variety of small savory items, but I draw a blank when it comes to compiling a list of those savory items.

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    I know this is heresy, but this recipe makes me want to reach into my freezer and pull out a package of discos! They are pre-made rounds of dough that are great for quick empanadas, and as I’m not a good dough maker, using discos lets me focus on creating wonderful fillings, often from bits of this and that in the refrigerator. For the pork in your recipe, I’ll substitute ground turkey, too.

  • April

    There’s a local restaurant here in Austin that serves empanadas that have a sort of beef picadillo-type filling with a chimichurri sauce to dunk them in. They’re incredible! These sound fantastic as well, and I can’t wait to give ’em a shot.

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