Curried Pork Empanadas


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.

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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

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Empanada dough resting time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes 4 to 5 dozen empanadas

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 tablespoons plus one teaspoon extra virgin 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 tablespoons 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 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. Break off bits of ground pork and add to the pan, until all the pork is added without crowding. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the pork. 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 more tablespoons of 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

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

42 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. stacey c.

    The entire family loved these. I made a small batch with the pastry written in directions and a second batch with traditional pie crust which worked just as well.


  2. Mark

    I just made these and really really liked them.

    It was my first time making anything like this because, like most guys, I don’t bake. Ya know what? I bake now! The pastry was really easy to make and it came out perfect. You can cut the recipe in half with no worries and fill them with just about anything.

    One thing I did notice was you need to make sure whatever stuffing you use it is completely dry. Any wet fillings or fatty /oily residue will cause the empanadas to open when cooked because the wet edges will not stick to each other.

    This is my new go to cooking blog.
    Thank you so much !

    Love from Boston


  3. asianfoodophile

    You call them “empanadas” but we call them “Curry Puffs” in South East Asia. They are usually deep fried and not baked. Fillings can be either curried beef, chicken or mutton with diced potatoes.
    RasaMalaysia has got a recipe for this too. I do have some recipes for the curry puffs I got from the web. You may want to try them out.
    They are great.

  4. Mandy

    I made this recipe using ground turkey instead of pork, and it was delicious! I doubled the recipe for a party, made them in the morning, and kept them in the fridge unbaked until dinnertime. Everyone raved! I had an extra tray that didn’t get baked that night, so I baked them a couple days later and they were just as good. Don’t skip out on making this homemade pastry, it was super easy to work with and way better than anything you can buy pre-made!


  5. Teresa Rivera

    I have been craving Empanadas for quite a while now. However, I was thinking more of a Columbian/Venezuelan version, and curry makes me think “Indian”. Do you think the same pastry, but with a South American ground beef filling will do (as far as tasting south american)? Or is this pastry best for this filling? If possible, can you put up a recipe for South American empanadas? The ones with ground beef, eggs, olives and raisins in the filling?

    This is a pretty standard empanada pastry recipe, so it should work with any variety of fillings. ~Elise

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