Tortilla Empanadas are a quick and easy way to make empanadas and everyone will rave over them. You won’t believe how simple these empanadas are to make.
These Tortilla Empanadas are fun and crispy!
I love Mexican as well as Spanish foods. I love it because it’s so flavorful, requires few ingredients to make it delicious, and there’s almost always a fresh element to it that kicks the flavor up a notch. And one of my favorite dishes is empanadas, along with chips and salsa of course, and don’t forget the guac or drizzle on some cilantro lime sauce.
These pockets of goodness are traced back to Portugal, Argentina, and Spain. And the name derives its meaning from the word “empanar” which means to “wrap or coat in bread”. Traditional empanadas were originally made with a corn dough, though today many have a white or wheat flour dough. And every culture has its own version of empanadas! In Poland, they’re called pierogies. In North America, you may know them as a turnover – or if we’re going frozen fast food – a hot pocket. In Italian it’s a ravioli, in middle eastern a fatayer, a spanakopita a Greek version, the Chinese make dumplings or even wontons, and they’re all delicious. The only thing that changes is the filling and style of dough. Give these appetizers a try. And there’s a reason this style of food is so popular, they are absolutely delicious!
I’m going to show you a sweet little shortcut to making these little delights. Having homemade dough is amazing, but when you’re short on time, flour tortillas will do the trick fantastically!
Be sure to check out my Taco Cones as well, they’re fun and easy to make!
The great thing about empanadas is they can be stuffed with anything your imagination will allow – I made these with ground beef, but the possibilities are endless…
I sauteed ground beef with taco seasoning, other great options are cooked chicken, refried beans, and/or cheese.
Some easy recipes for tortilla fillings:
You can use my tip for precooked chicken which makes lots of meals easy to prepare. Or try using ground turkey or ground chicken for another twist. Pinto beans or black beans work very well for a meat-free option. You can use salsa verde or your favorite seasoning, even lemon pepper with chicken would be a great option. Don’t forget that shredded pork will be fantastic in these empanadas.
Of course, cheese is an excellent add-in for almost any dish – I’m a bit of a cheese-a-holic! Some of my favorites for Spanish and Mexican-inspired food are cheddar, cotija, or pepper jack. And then I also love to add in the sweet and smokiness of grilled corn. It adds such a nice depth of flavor, balancing any spiciness and giving the dish a hint of fresh off the grill taste.
Now that we’ve got your stomach growling, let’s turn our attention to that empanadas recipe!
Grab a pan and heat to medium/high heat. Cook your desired ground meat in a skillet until fully cooked.
Add taco seasoning and cornstarch. Add in your water, and simmer until the sauce is thick. Turn off the heat and set it aside.
In a small bowl mix flour and water to create the “glue” to seal the tortillas together.
Grab those tortillas! You want them to be fresh, but if your tortillas feel like they’ve sat on the shelf a while and are not soft and pliable, microwave them for 20-30 seconds so they regain some of their softness back and won’t crack when you go to make your empanadas. If your tortillas are dry, wrap them in damp paper towels, then microwave. This will help soften them and allow them to bend easily.
Place the glue on the edge of the tortillas, I use a spoon, don’t skimp, this is how they seal so if you don’t put enough and the “glue” dries out it’ll open and the filling will escape when you heat them.
Now, we’re going to fill our tortillas. The most important tip is not to overfill them, as they will not seal and then leak/break. Start with a spoonful of filling on one side of the tortilla. If you place the filling in the center of the tortilla it will make it more difficult to fold without putting too much pressure on the folded seam and inevitably break. If you try to fill the tortillas then add the “glue” it’ll be more difficult to get it on the edge evenly.
Once the tortillas are folded over the filling press the edges firmly with your fingertips to seal the tortillas closed.
Prepare all the tortillas this way.
Now, begin cooking.
Heat a skillet, add a tablespoon of oil and place the empanadas to cook, using a spatula to turn them over to the other side after they’ve turned golden brown. Depending on your pan size you can fit multiple in the pan at once. Be careful not to overcrowd your pan.
Alternately, you can bake them on a baking sheet in the oven. Brush each side with oil, and bake at 375° until golden brown, turning them after 5 minutes, ensuring both sides cook evenly.
Serve with your favorite toppings! You can add salsa, cilantro, sour cream, or fresh thinly sliced radishes – it’s up to your taste buds!
The above empanadas were filled with beef, refried beans and cheese, so yummy!
Can I use corn tortillas?
Unfortunately, the corn tortillas don’t fold as well, and will often break. So, I’d stick to flour.
How long will the filling keep in the fridge if I wanted to make this ahead of time?
With meat or bean leftovers, it’s suggested to use them within 3-4 days.
What if I wanted to make a dough for my empanadas?
I have a great recipe for that! Here is my regular empanadas recipe complete with dough instructions – Empanadas Recipe
With any filling you can add some cheese if desired, cheddar, cotija, or pepper jack are great options as well.
Check out my other Mexican Inspired Recipes here.
These shortcut empanadas are quick and easy, which makes them perfect for enjoying any day of the week, they reheat well so make a batch at the beginning of the week and skip the takeout and enjoy some delicious meals all week long!
These empanadas go well with:
- 10 5" flour tortillas (or similar size)
- 2 lbs ground beef (pork, chicken, or turkey)
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (I use homemade if using prepared no need to add cornstarch)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup water (for taco seating)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons water (for gluing for tortillas together)
- Cook the ground meat in a skillet until fully cooked.
- Add taco seasoning and cornstarch is using it along with water, and simmer until the sauce is thick.
- In a small bowl mix flour and water to create the "glue" to seal the tortillas together.
- If the tortillas are not soft and pliable, microwave them for 20-30 seconds so they are soft and won't crack.
- Take a spoonful of "glue" and place it around the edge of the tortilla, then fill it, fold it, press the seam closed.
- The most important tip is not to overfill the tortillas, as they will not seal and then leak/break.
- Place a spoonful of filling on one side of the tortilla, then place the glue around the edge, generous enough to seal the edges nicely.
- Press the edges firmly with your fingertips until the edge is smooth and closed.
- Prepare all the tortillas, then begin cooking.
- Heat the skillet, add a tablespoon of oil, and place the empanadas to cook on each side. Depending on your pan size you can fit multiple in the pan at once, use a spatula to turn them over.
- Or you can bake them on a baking sheet in the oven, brush each side with oil bake at 375° until golden turning them after 5 minutes ensuring both sides cook evenly.