Southwestern Empanadas: Easy Appetizer for Cinco de Mayo & Other Celebrations! {Recipe}

by Melanie Edwards on April 30, 2013 · 1 comment

in Recipes

Cinco de Mayo is coming up and though this isn’t a holiday our family particularly celebrates, I know many of you may be looking for simple and easy recipes you can make to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with friends and family. A simple yet fun appetizer idea is to make empanadas! Empanadas are traditionally meat-filled patties you can eat as a snack or appetizer and are common to most Latin American and Caribbean cultures, though known by different names. In Puerto Rico, we typically call them pastelillos de carne, though parts of the island also call them empanadas.

Southwestern Empanadas, Great Appetizer for Cinco de Mayo & Other Celebrations

Empanadas are most commonly filled with ground beef, though they can also be filled with chicken, crab meat, or cheese. Growing up in Puerto Rico, I also ate many pizza-filled pastelillos! For these Cinco de Mayo inspired empanadas, I decided to give my carne molida recipe a southwestern twist, making this the perfect appetizer for your Cindo de Mayo celebration! (Truly, these southwestern empanadas are a great appetizer idea for any occasion!) Check out the simple recipe below, with most ingredients easily found at Walmart!

Southwestern Empanadas Recipe


  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp adobo
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp meat tenderizer
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sazon, 1 packet
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sofrito (or recaito)
  • 10-11 green olives (Spanish salad olives) + 1-2 tsp of olives’ liquid
  • 2-3 small potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and cubed
  • about 10 baby carrots, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • Empanada discs, 1 package thawed per instructions

Note: To see pictures and links for some of the ingredients used, read 5 Must-Have Ingredients for Cooking Puerto Rican Food.

Simple & Easy Appetizer Recipe: Southwestern Empanadas


  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Cook ground beef per this carne molida recipe (picadillo-style). You can leave the potatoes and carrots out, if you prefer.
  3. Add black beans and corn.
  4. Cover and continue cooking on low heat until black beans and corn are heated.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and spray with cooking spray.
  6. Line empanada discs on cookie sheet, leaving ample space between each one.
  7. Fill each disc with ground beef mixture in the middle. It’s up to you how much filling you want to add – use your discretion so that it’s not over-filled, but so each empanada has enough filling when eating.
  8. Fold each empanada disc half-way to make a half-moon shape and pinch closed with a fork around the edge.
  9. Brush each empanada with olive oil and bake in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with your favorite dip or sauce. I served these with this mango dipping sauce recipe I found.

Southwestern Empanadas, Simple and Easy Appetizer Recipe

What is your favorite appetizer recipe for special occasions?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

All photos © Melanie Edwards/modernmami™

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ida D. May 1, 2013 at 8:07 am

How yummy! That is my favorite brand of dough. I love that it comes in two sizes too.


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