Turkey Empanadas – A perfect nosh.

Empanada de picadillo

I was spoiled growing up, as rarely did we ever eat the same meal twice in two days. Instead, my family often showcased our knack for reinventing leftovers. You had extra roasted chicken? Make chicken enchiladas. Too much grilled steak? How about a chophouse salad? Sometimes, we even made extra of a certain dish, knowing what was in store for the surplus. Take picadillo, for example. If I knew we had picadillo for dinner last night, I’d sit in class daydreaming about the perfectly palm-sized empanadas that surely awaited me when I got home that day. One of my favorite noshers, empanadas delivered the protein-packed bite I needed after a long day hitting the books, and were small enough that they wouldn’t ruin my appetite for dinner…that is if I could contain myself to just one. The perfect study snack, many of my A-plus papers and projects were the direct result of cram sessions fueled by these satisfying hand pies.

What makes these little turnovers distinctly Cuban is their savory sweet flavor, accentuated by the nuggets of golden raisins added to the smokey picadillo. And while the home-cooks of yesteryear may have made their empanada dough from scratch, this is an instance where I like to keep things simple, and opt to take a little help from the store. Although I prefer to indulge in these flaky half-moon bites while they are still warm, they make a great addition to any potluck, as they taste sinfully good at room temperature, as well.

Turkey Empanadas
Recipe type: Nosh
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A quick and easy two-bite snack that makes the best use of leftover picadillo.
  • 1 package store bought refrigerated pie dough
  • 2 cups turkey picadillo, prepared
  • ¼ cup golden raisins, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a two-inch round cookie cutter, cut small discs of dough, and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place sheet in refrigerator for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the raisins into the picadillo, and spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each dough disc.
  4. Fold the dough over, and pinch the edges, making sure to push out any air that might fill the pocket. Crimp the edges using the teeth of a fork.
  5. Brush the egg wash over the folded hand pies, and cut ½ inch slits on the tops, so that any steam will be released during cooking. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until dough is golden brown.


3 Replies to “Turkey Empanadas – A perfect nosh.”

  1. Started reading your blog after your posting in Jewish Learning. Querida, the “ropa vieja” is not a Cuban invention… The Jews from Iberia invented it centuries ago… Then it emigrated to the colonies hence Cuba got it also by the spanish wave… In the Ladino dialect of Spain in the same name in the Ladino dialect of Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Timor, Goa, etc, we call it “Roupa Velha”.
    Roupa velha contains whatever leftovers of meat, not shereded butcut small small and mixed with leftover vegetables, potatoes etc but always contains lots of fried onions or “refogado” the classic onions and garlic fry that starts all dishes of Iberian Jews from Portugal and its colonies. The tradition of refogado is very prevalent in Angola and Brazil cooking.
    As for Cuban Empanadas, the Iberian Jews carried it out during the Inquisition to all corners of the world from Turkey to Macau passing for the colonies in Africa. They had it on their packs and they were baked in ovens together with the Pan de Sabato i o w Challah.
    I thank all the Gente da Nação (as we still identify ourselves when traveling to new places) that kept our traditions and minhagim alive so that today i can meet you in this blog and feel that I am home. Que lo Dio te bendiga sempre.

    1. Beruryah,
      Thanks for your informative comments! Isn’t it nice that throughout history, so many different countries have adapted these great recipes, and made them their own? It shows that our whole world is one big melting pot of cultures and histories.

      Thanks for reading!

      All the best,

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