Curried Pork 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.

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


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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  • 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


  • 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!


  • Tricia

    I made these last night and they were wonderful! I used pillsbury pie crust dough instead of making it myself and it was nice and flakey. They will be a hit at my upcoming tapas party. Thanks!


  • Kristine

    I made these tonight using light cream cheese and they were flakey and delicious. You should publish a book! Everything I have made from this site has made it into my regular rotation. Thanks for teaching me so much about food!


  • 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.

  • 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

  • Erynn

    I added shredded carrots, turmeric, and added a little more of each spice, and was immediately in heaven! Thank you so much for this recipe and all of the others. You’ve really made a change in my cooking styles, and my husband is overjoyed! :) Thank you!

  • cookie

    I wish I’d paid more attention to my late Mother in-law Dorothy’s recipe for her empanadas, but I never thought I’d want to cook with tongue! LOL Does anyone have a recipe that is closer to mincemeat version? I know she used ground pork and beef, beef tongue, and I think sometimes kidney. It had raisins in it and I think I remember tasting cinnamon too. Please give details how to cook the tongue meat, as I’ve never cooked it before.

    For a lighter crust it works well to use tortilla/sopapilla dough. That’s what Dorothy used and it was great!

  • mallaika

    Back in my hometown we make it more like Amber does, except that we use a spicy prawn filling and the turnovers are given another egg wash dipped in breadcrumbs and simply pan fried with very little vegetable oil.

  • Shelley

    Awesome, awesome awesome. Everyone gobbled these up (I’m still munching on them!) I am not much of a cook and your site has so inspired me. I have tried 3 dishes so far and each one has been incredible. I am some what torn between telling everyone I know about you and keeping your site all to myself so everyone thinks I can finally cook. ;)


  • Peter Albertson

    Dear Elise,
    Back last November I asked if one could substitute commercial pizza dough in making these empanadas; you suggested I let you know how it turned out. Well, it worked pretty well. I rolled the dough as thin as possible, stuffed and sealed them. I baked half as directed, the others I did the trick of Chinese dumplings (steam-fried) and that was even better than baked. (Maybe I over-baked them, must try again.)

  • Bettina

    We have made these in my family for generations, we also call them meat pies. I often wondered how they made it into our family as we live in Louisiana and are African American / La Creole, but my mom and grandmere always said their mother made them and they didn’t know. But now after reading what buki wrote, I think it may have came from our African roots. A good tip is to use a marble roller for rolling the dough and if you have one a marble slab. Fortunately I have a slab that has been passed down three generations and it stays cool all the time so it keeps the dough cool. On the fillings we use all sorts of things, including shrimp, boudin, andoullie sausage, etc. But my favorite is ground lamb with curry powder and served with mint jelly for dipping. Oh that is another thing, we always serve them with something for dipping like melted cheese, hot sauce mixed with melted butter, sour cream, etc. depending on the filling. I love all of your family recipes, I’m going to try some this weekend. Thanks for taking the time to do this, it has inspired me to start documenting my family recipes, right now they are just in our heads.

  • jess

    There is an Empanadas joint in my town that makes Empanadas with different international fillings, including spinach, jamaican curried beef, spanish chorizo and desert style with fruit fillings. They are all delicious.

  • buki

    Where I come from in africa, we make the empanadas with minced beef and potatoes and are therefore aptly called meat pies (or where chicken is substituted, chicken pies). The pastry is made with margarine and flour but without cheese. Your recipe sounds good and am willing to try the pastry with cheese. Perhaps it will give my pies a different and better taste. And thanks for the tip on standing them on the baking sheet! Never thought of that before.

  • Annalisa

    This is my family’s recipe for empenadas:
    1 lb ground chuck or steaks cut into small cubes
    1 yellow onion small dice
    2 cloves garlic minced
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp oregano
    2 tsp chile powder
    1 8oz can tomato sauce
    1 chopped tomato small dice
    3 large potatoes small dice
    1 can whole black olives cut in half
    salt and white pepper to taste
    1 tbsp chopped cilantro

    basic shortening dough (bad i know!)
    2 1/4 cup flour
    3/4 tsp salt
    3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
    5 tbsp ice water

    Brown meat, add onions and cook till translucent, add seasonings tomato sauce and veggies along with a can (8oz) water or beef broth. Simmer until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the potatoes are tender.

    Let cool and fill dough with about 2 heaping tablespoons full and pan fry or bake (350 15 mins).

    Serve with fresh salsa and sour cream.

  • T of Balkan Style

    I just made these today and they were so tasty! My husband claims that the pastry is even better than the ones that we get at Kensington Market in Toronto. Can’t wait to make them again!

  • merd

    There’s a girl at work who makes her Costa Rican mother’s recipe for every potluck we have at work. We just pressure her until she gives in and says she’ll make them. Too delicious! There’s never any left over.

    This curried version sounds interesting. The version she makes typically has ground beef, peppers (including both sweet and hot varieties), and cream cheese. I always sneak some early in the morning before the potluck even begins. Thanks for the recipe. I’m going send her a link to this version and maybe she can make them next time. Is that wrong? :)

  • Katie

    I made this last night for a dinner party and it was a hit! Granted, I was hesitant to use such an enormous amount of cream cheese AND butter, but it was worth it. The pastry was perfectly flaky and delicious. I made both small and large sizes, and they both turned out excellent. Also, I added grated carrot and zucchini squash to my filling mix…can never go wrong with additional fiber….

  • Elle

    My father was Argentinian and my mother is Filipino, so you can imagine I ate a lot of empanadas growing up. My father’s favorite was the classic: baked with ground beef, green olives, hardboiled egg, and raisins. I liked cheese and onion. My mother’s favorite is the traditional Filipino empanada, which has a sweeter dough and is usually deep fried. She made it with pork and julliened potato; it was delicious.

    I’m definitely going to have to try this recipe, though I think I’ll use my mother’s sweeter dough, omit the raisins, add potato, and fry ’em. Thank you Elise for another wonderful recipe!

  • Amber

    Here’s my go-to empanada recipe. It’s a beef version, with a different dough than yours. I’ve incorporated your browning method, though, as I have used it in other of your recipes and it works like a charm!

    1 cup water
    3/4 cup unsalted butter
    2 3/4 cups flour
    2 tsp salt
    a pinch of paprika

    1 lb. ground beef

    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 smallish yellow onion, diced
    1 smallish red bell pepper, de-seeded and diced
    1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    1 tsp cumin
    1/3 cup golden raisins
    handful of arbequina (or other spanish green olives), pitted and sliced
    4 scallions, cleaned, trimmed and chopped

    Heat water and butter together over low heat until butter is fully melted and warm but not hot. While butter is warming, mix flour, salt, and paprika together in a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour a bit of the warm liquid into the center and use your fingers to work in some of the flour. Continue adding liquid and then working in flour, in batched, until it’s thoroughly combine and you have a wet, shiny dough. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (It can be left overnight if tightly wrapped.)

    1) Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle pan with salt. When hot, put in the ground beef, broken up into small pieces in the pan in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook about 3 minutes, until browned on one side, then turn and cook about 3 more minutes, or until browned on the other. Remove beef and set aside. Return pan to burner and reduce heat to medium.

    2) Add 2 tbsp olive oil to pan, along with onions, red bell pepper, paprika, crushed red pepper, and cumin. Stir, and cook until onions have softened, about 6-8 minutes.

    3) Add beef back into the pan and mix thoroughly, 1-2 mins. Remove from heat to a bowl to cool.

    4) Once filling is cool, add in raisins, olives, and scallions, and mix thoroughly. Add salt, and any other spices to taste.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Pull off pieces of dough and form into golf-ball size balls. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into 4-inch rounds. Put a few tbsps of dough in the center of each round, then fold dough over to form a half-moon shape. Use your fingers to sort of twist the dough into a rope-like shape to seal. You can also use a fork to crimp and seal the edges. Not quite as pretty, but it does the job just fine! You can use a couple of drops of water to help seal if needed, but I have never needed to do this, as this dough tends to be sticky enough on its own. Place empanadas on a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the outside. Makes about 12 empanadas.

    They store well in the fridge. Just re-heat at 350 for 10 mins or so. I imagine they’d freeze well, too, but we never have enough leftovers to test that theory!

  • AG Wright

    For those that are dough challenged and want something really quick egg roll wrappers are a quick way to make a light wrapper very quickly.
    It certainly won’t be as rich as the recipe.
    Also a question.
    In my family we are struggling with allergies to eggs. Could you use water to seal the edges of your empanadas?

    You could try it. In that case I would also first fold over the edges of the pastry before crimping. ~Elise

  • JA3

    After many google searches and trying several recipes, I’ve found this to be my favorite empanada dough by far:

    Feel free to mock the source of the recipe, but try the dough first. For a simple, easy filling, I like hamburger, diced potato, onion and green pepper with adobo and chili powder.

  • missbhavens

    Oooh! I always make empanadas with frozen Goya Discos (not the ones with food coloring, though, they don’t brown properly) but I’m very curious about the cream cheese pastry!

    My standard empanada filling is sweet potato, onions, red peppers, chicken sausage, cilantro and Lizano Sauce which has such a special can’t-figure-it-out flavor.

    I’ll totally try this! I love the idea of the pork with raisins!

  • Sarah

    Julie said “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.”

    Have you tried googling “savory appetizers”? I know it sounds too easy to work, but it might be a good starting point to get some ideas. Also, since this recipe makes a lot of empanadas, try cutting this filling recipe in half, and then making a different kind of filling (maybe a spicy chicken?) for the other half of the batch of dough. Try picking one “theme” (mexican, indian, whatever) or one key ingredient for all of your appetizers, so that they all tie together…it’ll seem more organized that way.

    It can be nerve wracking having your husbands boss and co-workers over…good luck! ;)

  • Cynthia

    I love empanadas. My mom makes these wonderful empanadas de manzana (apple empanadas) and pumpkin empanadas. For dinner, I’ve made empanadas with ground beef, I use a simple pie crust recipe for the dough and fill them with whatever I have on hand, it’s usually ground beef and veggies. They are delicious. I’m looking forward to trying your version. Thanks!

  • Elise Bauer

    Thought I would also share a loose recipe of the filling for the other empanada recipe I made the same time as this one, which also turned out great. I made it with moose meat, from some moose steaks that a hunting friend of mine gave me. You could use venison, or chuck or flank beef.

    Olive oil
    1 lb moose meat – ground or steaks
    1 chopped onions
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    a teaspoon each of oregano, cumin, coriander
    Pinch ground cloves
    Pinch cayenne
    1 cup canned tomatoes
    2 Tbs red wine vinegar
    2 Tbsp sherry
    1/3 cup raisins
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on high heat in large saute pan. Salt the meat. Brown the meat on high heat. Remove meat from pan, set aside. If using steaks, after browning on all sides, slice thinly against the grain, then chop into small cubes. Reduce heat to medium. Add another Tbsp olive oil to pan. Add onions, cook until translucent. Add garlic, cook until fragrant (30 sec). Add seasonings and meat back to the pan. Add tomatoes, vinegar, sherry, raisins. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to WARM on your smallest burner, and cover. Cook for 4-10 hours, depending on how tough the meat is (I cooked the moose meat picadillo at least 10 hours). You could also put this in a slow cooker and cook all day. Taste for tenderness. Once meat is extremely tender, remove cover and simmer until all noticeable liquid has boiled off. Add 1 teaspoon or two of corn starch to thicken up any remaining liquid. Adjust seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill until use for empanada filling.

  • Junita in MA

    I use a sofrito as a base for the empanada meat,yellow rice or pink beans. This is the recipe my great grandma used and has passed down.

    Saute in live oil:
    3 garlic cloves:pressed
    1 minced yellow onion (med. size)
    1 finely chopped green pepper
    1 finely chopped red pepper
    2 Tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro
    2 Tablespoons of fresh Italian parsley
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 packet of Sazon (con cilantro y achiote)
    1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
    3 Tablespoons of tomato paste

    Then I would add either meat (I use a veal,hamburg blend)3 lbs. brown it and load the pastry shells or I would transfer it to a dutch oven and add white rice to it, or I would cook about 4 Tablespoons of it with pink beans that have been soaking overnight, add a couple of cubed potatoes for some habichuelas Guisadas. Yummmm!

    Wow, that sounds delicious, thanks for sharing! ~Elise

  • Rachel

    I made empanadas once to have on hand for lunches. I made them big, so I don’t know if you can call them empanadas at that point, but they froze well and worked great for lunch. They don’t have to just be party food! I’m bookmarking this recipe to try. Sounds great! (I love anything curry.)

  • Melissa

    Ay! Ay! Ay! These empanadas sound delicious! They bring back many desert fall memories in El Paso, TX when my Abuelita did (and still does) make pumpkin empanadas. We have a ton of apples from my husband’s aunt’s tree and I was so glad to have found a recipe which uses cream cheese in the pastry part of the recipe just like my Abuelita so I can make some apple empanadas. It’s hard getting recipes from her because like many great cooks she just “feels” the dough to see if it is just right. I’m new to your site and am really liking it. Thanks, Melissa

  • Cat

    Can these be frozen and reheated with success? I was thinking for the holidays with company, great after a day of shopping or sightseeing to return home to these and some other buffet items?

    From everything I’ve read and heard (haven’t tried it myself), you should be able to freeze empanadas and reheat them successfully. I did refrigerate some and reheat them and they were great. ~Elise

  • Ellen

    I make a good cornish pasty filled with diced beef, onion, potatoes or turnip. You just reminded me I haven’t made these in a long time and they are so good!

  • Liesl

    Question, you say not to stir the pork, just to let it brown on one side, and then the other and then later add it back with the veggies. The question is, when its done with the veggies should it be fully cooked? Or will it finish cooking when its in the oven inside the empanadas?

    At that point the pork does not need to be fully cooked. It will be fully cooked by the time the empanadas are finished baking. ~Elise

  • Dawn

    ARe these freezer friendly…I would totally love to make a whole batch and freeze for later.

    According to online sources, yes, you can freeze empanadas. Wrap them first in plastic wrap or foil. ~Elise

  • Sarah

    These look delicious! Would they freeze well at any point?

    Yes, they should freeze well. ~Elise

  • HB

    I love empanadas. My favorite recipe is from the cookbook Miami Spice by Steven Raichlen

    He uses ground turkey in his recipe for picadillo. This cook book has been a staple for me for over 10 years – it’s great!

  • Peter Albertson

    Sounds wonderful but the pastry seems a bit too rich for my aged blood. Do you think I could substitute commercial pizza dough (I know, horrors!) for your pastry?

    Hi Peter, You have to roll out the dough quite thin. I have no idea how pizza dough would work, but if you try it, please let us know how it turns out! ~Elise

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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