Picadillo Empanadas Recipe

Mexican pork-filled pastries from Pati Jinich. "The balance of spices and olives paired with the delicate sweetness of the dough make it hard not to eat one after the other. One of my favourite traditional fillings, picadillo is used in empanadas and quesadillas, as well as tacos, tortas and stuffed chilies. There are many versions, but this one is at the top of my list. Raisins, almonds and green Manzanilla olives elevate the simply seasoned minced meat into something special. You can also serve picadillo alongside beans or rice."


1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the baking sheets
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp kosher or coarse sea salt
Picadillo filling (recipe follows)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Picadillo Filling
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lb. ground pork or a combination of ground pork, beef and veal
3/4 tsp kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
1-1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, chopped and puréed, or one 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes or tomato purée
2 cups canned chicken or vegetable broth, or water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Manzanilla olives



Step 1: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix for 1 minute more. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or up to 24 hours.*

Step 2: When you are ready to make the empanadas, preheat the oven to 375°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Butter two baking sheets.

Step 3: Sprinkle flour over the countertop. Divide the dough in half and roll out half the dough 1/4″ thick. Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut out rounds 4-5 inches in diameter. Repeat with scraps and the remaining dough.

Step 4: Spoon about 1-1/2 tbsp of the picadillo (see below) into the centre of each dough round. Brush the edges of each round with the beaten egg, fold it in half to make a half-moon, and seal the edges with the tines of a fork, taking care not to tear the dough.**

Step 5: Put the empanadas on the baking sheets and lightly brush the top of each with the egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Step 6: Bake the empanadas until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Picadillo Filling

Step 1: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the meat and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is lightly browned.

Step 2: Pour in the tomato purée and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the purée deepens in colour and thickens, 5-6 minutes. Add the broth, cinnamon, cumin and cloves, stir well, and cook for 15 minutes more.

Step 3: Stir in the almonds, raisins and olives and cook for another 5 minutes. The filling should still be moist, since it will dry out a little as it cools. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Let cool.

* Dough can be made up to 24 hours ahead, covered, and refrigerated.

** Uncooked empanadas can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months. Place them on baking sheets before freezing. Once they are frozen, store them in plastic bags in the freezer, then take them out as you need them. Thaw for 10 minutes at room temperature before baking.

See more recipes from Pati Jinich.

Reprinted with permission from Pati Jinich’s Pati’s Mexican Table (2013 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).