2 ratings

Pork and Pumpkin Empanadas With Black Beans and Queso Anejo

A sure-to-impressive appetizer or snack

The Culinary Institute of America for BeanInstitute.com

Do not let these small hand-held empanadas fool you. They will require some work. But their rich flavor will be well worth the wait. 

Courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America for BeanInstitute.com

Ready in
2 h and 10 m
80 m
(prepare time)
50 m
(cook time)
Calories Per Serving


For a richer filling, you can add 4 ounces of grated Jack cheese to the cooled filling.

For a simple sauce to accompany the empanadas, mix 1 cup of sour cream with the juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, and enough water to make a thick but pourable sauce. 


For the empanada filling

  • 8 Ounces tomatillos
  • 12 Ounces roma tomatoes
  • 4 garlic, cloves
  • 4-5 chipotles in adobo
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Pound pork butt, diced, 1/4"
  • 1 onion, medium, diced
  • 1/2 Cup chicken broth, or water
  • 1 Pound pumpkin or butternut squash, diced, ¼”
  • 2 Cups black beans, cooked, drained
  • 3 Ounces queso anejo, finely crumbled
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste

For the empanada dough

  • 9 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 18 Ounces butter (1½ sticks), cold
  • 7 1/2 Ounces water, cold
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt


For the empanada filling

Peel the papery husks from the tomatillos and wash them.

Place tomatillos on a sheet pan under the broiler and broil until they blacken and soften on the first side, about 5 minutes. Turn and repeat on the second side. When done they should be fully softened and charred.

Allow them to cool and then peel away the worst of the blackened skin.

Place what remains along with any juices into the blender.

Do the same with the tomatoes.

Toast the unpeeled cloves of garlic over low heat in a small sauté pan and turn them occasionally until they are softened and coloring, about 20 minutes.

Peel the garlic and place in the blender.

Add the chipotles to the blender and purée until smooth. Reserve.

In a shallow pan, sauté the pork in olive oil until light golden brown.

Add the onions and continue to cook, stirring periodically until the onions are translucent.

Add the reserved purée and ¼ cup of the broth and simmer until the pork is just tender.

If you need to add additional broth, your goal is for the pork to be tender and the liquid to be thick and flavorful, but not dry.

Add the pumpkin and cook for an additional 8 minutes under a lid until the pumpkin is tender. Let this mixture cool.

Drain the black beans and fold them into the pork-pumpkin mixture.

Add the cheese and season with salt and sugar. If you prefer this mixture to be spicier, add some of the sauce from the chipotles.

Let the mixture chill. The finished appareil should be moist and full flavored, but not runny.

For the empanada dough

Pour the flour into a food processor.

Cut the butter into 12 to 16 even-sized pieces and add them to the flour.

Pulse the food processor until the butter is about the size of peas.

In a separate, small bowl, mix the water and the egg until it is homogenous and add the mixture to the flour and butter.

Pulse until the mixture just begins to hold together when you squeeze it in your hand.

Add slightly more water, if needed, but do not over mix.

Remove the dough, flatten, and wrap it in plastic wrap.

Let chill for 1 hour or overnight.

Roll the dough out on a floured board to slightly less than 1/8 inch.

Cut the dough into rounds using a cutter, bowl, or a plate. (I prefer the empanadas large so cut the dough out about 3½ inches across.)

Top each dough round with some of the chilled empanada filling.  (When first preparing the recipe, it may be easier to seal the empanadas to avoid over filling them, but as you gain experience you can add slightly more filling.)

Moisten the edges of the dough round with a beaten egg to help them stick.

First, fold over the dough to create a turnover and then using a fork you can seal the edges further with a decorative marking. This is perhaps the simplest way to seal the pastry.

Brush the pastry with egg wash (1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) and transfer the pastry to a greased baking sheet while you complete filling the empanadas.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Place the finished empanadas in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Let cool slightly before serving.