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+ servings
The finished Pork Picadillo Empanadas are ready to enjoy

Pork Picadillo Empanadas

A tasty, handheld pastry filled with a savory pork filling.
Course Mains
Cuisine Puerto Rican/Hispanic
Keyword empanada, picadillo, pork
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
chill time for the dough 30 minutes
Total Time 56 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 307kcal


  • rolling pin
  • 6qt dutch oven


Pork Picadillo

  • 1 pound ground fresh pork
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ádobo seasoning blend
  • 1 envelope Sazón seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper (from 1/2 large bell pepper)
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (from 1/2 large onion)
  • 2 small Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup recao herb paste
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 6 manzanilla olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon capers

Empanada Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons lard (or vegetable shortening)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup ice water, plus more as needed
  • lard or vegetable oil, for frying (1/2 gallon)


Make the Pork Picadillo

  • Over medium-high heat season the ground pork in a large skillet with the Ádobo, Sazón, granulated garlic, onion powder, oregano, and black pepper.
    Brown the pork over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the green pepper, onion, and garlic to the pan. Sauté the veggies for 3 minutes, or until they're glossy. Then add the diced potatoes to the pan and cook the pork picadillo mixture for another 4 or 5 minutes. The potatoes should be soft at this point. 
  • Drain the picadillo in a colander to remove the excess fat, then return the meat to the pan. 
    Stir the recao flavoring base into the pork and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. 
  • Finally, stir in the tomato sauce, olives, and capers. Once those ingredients have been incorporated, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and let the pork picadillo simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
    Cook ground pork picadillo to 160° F.
  • Once the pork filling has finished cooking, allow it to cool completely in the refrigerator.

Make the Empanada Dough

  • While you're waiting for your picadillo meat to cool down, prepare the empanada dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.
    Add the lard to the flour mixture and pinch the fat into the flour using your hand or a pastry cutter. The final mix should resemble a very coarse cornmeal. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the lightly beaten egg with ice water. Pour this into the center of the flour mixture and mix the two together until they form a stiff dough.
  • Weigh out, or guesstimate, 2 ounce portions of empanada dough. Form the portioned dough into balls.
    Put the dough balls back into the bowl you used to mix the dough and cover them with plastic wrap. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The plastic will keep the dough from drying out. 

Roll Out and Fill the Empanada Dough

  • Use your rolling pin to roll the balls of dough into round discs that are 8" in diameter. If your dough stick, sprinkle a little bit of flour onto the rolling surface to keep the dough from sticking.
    Keep the discs of dough from sticking to each other by placing a sheet of parchment paper between each as you roll them out.
  • Fill a small bowl with water to use when sealing the filled empanada.
    Spoon a 1/4 cup of the pork picadillo filling onto one half of the empanada disc. Use your fingers to brush a light layer of water onto the outer rim of half the empanada disc.
  • Fold over the piece of the dough that doesn't have the picadillo filling on it to create a half moon shape. Press the edges of the dough together to seal them.
    Use your fingers to flute the edges of the dough or crimp the edges with the tines of a fork- like a pie crust. 
    Repeat this process until all of the dough and/or filling is used up.
  • When holding the empanadas, separate them with a piece of parchment again (I just recycle the parchment I used between the discs). The pork empanadas are now ready to fry (see note).

Fry the Empanadas

  • Bring the frying oil to 350°-375°F in a 6qt dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Gently place two or three empanadas into the hot oil. When the empanadas pop back to the surface of the oil, flip them over and begin your frying timer.
  • Fry the empanadas for 3 minutes after you've flipped them. Use your tongs to flip them over and fry another 3 minutes or until they are golden brown. 
  • Transfer the fried empanadas to a dish lined with paper towels (or a cooling rack placed over a sheet pan) and allow them to drain while you fry the remaining empanadas.
    If you'd like, you can keep them in a warm oven while you cook the rest.
  • Enjoy your Pork Picadillo Empanadas fresh from the fryer, be careful! The filling will be hot.
    Reheat any leftovers in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or until the shell begins to sizzle. 


  • Once all rolled, you should have 13 pieces of dough. If you eyeballed the dough earlier, you may have more or less. Aim for at least a dozen, though.
To Make Ahead:
If you opt to store these, I recommend laying them out in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and freezing until solid. Once they're rock hard, pop them into a plastic freezer storage bag. Store the frozen empanadas for 6 months.
When you're ready to fry them, don't thaw them, just make sure there's no ice crystals on the surface. Brush any away if there are ice crystals. Add 5 minutes to the frying time when frying frozen empanadas.  
The refrigerator isn't the best place to hold the filled empanadas. The humidity causes the pastry dough to become wet and gummy, which makes frying them a nightmare. 
  • Reheat any leftovers in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or until the shell begins to sizzle. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 745mg | Potassium: 340mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 103IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 3mg