Empanadas with Chimichurri Sauce

Empanadas with Chimichurri Sauce

Empanadas are one of my favorite finger foods. Savory meat stuffed pastries, they are the perfect party food. And paired with a garlicky cilantro sauce called chimichurri, it’s a match made in heaven.

Admittedly, empanadas are not the quickest appetizer to whip up, but if you make the components in stages and freeze them ahead of time, you will have something amazing to serve guests who show up out of the blue.

The meat filling is the biggest time bandit of this dish. Not at all complicated to make, the filling which is called carnitas is slow cooked for several hours. The end result is a flavorful fall apart pork that’s perfect as a filling for empanadas or simply stuffed in a tortilla and topped with all the fixin’s!

I say do both! Make a really large pork shoulder and use the carnitas meat one night served in tortillas and the next day as a stuffing for your empanadas. You really can’t go wrong with that strategy. Win-win.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Empanadas with Chimichurri Sauce
Recipe type: appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Flaky pastry dough stuffed with savory carnitas with a garlicky chimichurri sauce.
  • 1 4-5 pound pork shoulder
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh marjoram
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ground corriander
  • 2½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
Empanada Dough
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup ice water
  • 2 tsp vinegar
Chimichurri Sauce
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Cut pork into 2" cubes. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Brown meat in oil. Once browned on all sides, add onions and cook for several minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Add enough water to cover the meat by two thirds.
  4. Place in oven. Allow to cook uncovered for 2½ to 3 hours. Turn meat pieces several times while cooking. The meat is done when it falls apart.
Empanada Assembly
  1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles peas. In a small cup, combine egg, water and vinegar. Whisk together. Pour mixture into processor and pulse until mixture comes together into a ball. This could take a minute or two.
  2. Take dough ball out of processor and knead for a few minutes. Roll dough fairly thin and cut with a round cutter.
  3. Place a Tbsp of the carnitas mixture in the center of the dough circle. Using a little water, take your pinkie finger and run a little water around the edge. Fold dough in half over filling, creating a half moon. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal.
  4. Bake in a 400º oven until golden brown, 12-14 minutes.
Chimichurri sauce
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and allow to sit for at least an hour for the flavors to meld. Serve with empanadas or any grilled meats.


  1. Melanie,

    Have you ever cooked your pork on a pressure cooker? I frequently buy pork shoulders on sale, cut them in chunks with chile peppers in adobo sauce, add water and cook it on full pressure for 90 minutes. I do this with chuck roast, corned beef and anything that is tough and takes awhile to cook. I don’t have a food processor. Is there another way to make the dough or is there a subsitute for a store bought one?


    Mel J.

    • I haven’t tried the pressure cooker. I like the slow cook method because the meat gets crispy on the edges. I’m not sure if that would happen in a pressure cooker. As far as the dough goes, you can go ahead and prepare the dough in a mixing bowl just like you would any other dough. I just use the processor because it’s faster. You can actually buy empanada dough in your freezer section of the grocery store. It’s quite good! 🙂

  2. Your empanadas and chimichurri sauce both look wonderful Melanie! I can’t wait to taste these delicacies! I especially like the slow cook, crisp meat you mention above; I bet you could cook the pork shoulder in your Ninja!

    • You know, I thought of that. But the roast was huge and I don’t know that it would’ve fit. Certainly a smaller roast would’ve been pretty simple to make in the Ninja. Next time!

  3. Oh my, my mouth is watering! I saw you on tastespotting, while stocking the site to see if they accepted my submission…Congrats!!!!!

    • Thank you! They are a fickle beast over there. Sometimes I get lucky!! I really didn’t think they’d take the pic considering how dark it was. I guess they didn’t mind! 🙂

  4. This is just beautiful. We have curry puffs here that are not dissimilar, in that it’s stuffed with curried potatoes and sometimes chicken pieces. Quintessential Malaysian breakfast or tea snack. But this, this is different. I have to give this a go.

    • Oh Jayne, curried potatoes? That sounds soooo up my alley. Why did I never think of doing that? I must give that a whirl. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  5. Oh my, curried mashed potatoes with chicken (or pork) sounds marvelous! Melanie, you and Jayne must try this out for us and report out at the earliest convenience!

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