Southwestern Recipes

Chorizo and Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Crema

Empanadas stuffed with ground pork, chiles, onion and a superb mixture of spices. An avocado, sour cream, cilantro and lime sauce is the perfect complement to these empanadas.

Chorizo and Cheese Empanadas

Prep: 25 min | Cook: 2 hr | Marinate: 12 hr | Yield: 48 to 64 servings



  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 pasilla chile peppers, or other mild dried red chiles*
  • 1 guajillo chile pepper, or other mild dried red chile*
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pound queso blanco, or other mild, semi-hard cheese, grated
  • Empanada dough, or store-bought empanada shells to make about 48 (6 inch) or 64 (5 inch) empanadas**
  • All-purpose flour, for the work surface
  • About 6 cups canola oil

Avocado Crema

  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and quartered
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, toast the chiles, turning occasionally, until blistered and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chiles to a bowl of hot water, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the chiles from the water and stem and seed them.
  4. Place the chiles, onion, vinegar and garlic in the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a blender and process to purée, scraping down the bowl or jar as needed.
  5. Transfer the chile mixture to a large bowl and add the pork, paprika, oregano, salt, coriander, cumin, pepper and cinnamon, mixing until well combined.
  6. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  7. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the pork mixture, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula, until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes.
  8. Set aside to cool slightly.
  9. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine avocado, cilantro, sour cream, lime juice and olive oil and process to purée, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  10. Add salt to taste and set aside in the refrigerator.
  11. Stir the cheese into the pork mixture.
  12. Arrange a 5- or 6-inch round of empanada dough or an empanada shell on a lightly floured work surface.
  13. Spoon 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of pork mixture on top, moisten the edges of the shell with water, and fold the shell over the filling, pressing it with a fork to seal.
  14. Repeat with the remaining shells and pork mixture, flouring the work surface as ncessary.
  15. Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  16. Arrange two or three paper towel-lined baking sheets in the oven.
  17. Pour canola oil into a large, heavy saucepan or small stockpot to 1 inch deep and warm it to 350 degrees F over medium heat.
  18. Cook the empanadas in batches, turning occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain 350 degrees F, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.
  19. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets to keep warm.
  20. Serve the empanadas with the avocado crema on the side.


* Look for dried chiles in the ethnic section of your supermarket and at Latin markets.

** Use Michelle's empanada dough recipe or look for empanada shells—preferably muy hojadrosa (“very flaky”) style—at Latin markets, at gourmet food stores, and online.

Empanadas make a deliciously different lunch or dinner and need nothing more than a crisp green salad on the side. They’re also perfect for parties, right at home with other hot or cold appetizers. To make this recipe more quickly, substitute Mexican-style chorizo for the meat mixture. If you prefer, you can bake the empanadas instead of frying them.


Recipe and photo used with permission from: National Pork Board
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michelle Bernstein.

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