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Savor the fusion of flavors with our Birria Empanadas: golden, flaky pastry envelopes filled with tender, savory birria meat, melding traditional Mexican spices with the comfort of handheld indulgence.

Birria Empanadas Recipe

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  • Author: Maxine Dubois
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Some of the most delightful dishes are born from the fusion of different cuisines. Enter this Birria Empanadas Recipe – a mouthwatering marriage of Mexican tradition and Latin American pastry expertise.



For the Birria Filling:

  • 3 pounds of pork shoulder, cut into small cubes
  • 2-3 dried guajillo chilies
  • 2-3 dried ancho chilies
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups beef broth

For the Empanadas:

  • Empanada discs (you can either make your own dough or buy pre-made ones)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped


Prepare the Chilies:

  1. Remove the stems and seeds from the dried guajillo and ancho chilies.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and toast the chilies for a minute or two until they become fragrant. Be careful not to burn them.
  3. Submerge the toasted chilies in hot water and let them soak for about 20-30 minutes until they become soft.

Make the Chili Sauce:

  1. Once the chilies are softened, drain them and place them in a blender.
  2. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, ground cumin, dried oregano, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Blend the mixture until it forms a smooth paste. If it's too thick, you can add a little beef broth to help it blend.

Cook the Pork:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat some oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the pork cubes and brown them on all sides.
  3. Pour in the chili sauce you made and stir to coat the pork evenly.
  4. Add the bay leaf and 4 cups of beef broth. Stir well.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the birria simmer for 2-3 hours or until the pork is tender and the flavors meld together. You may need to add more beef broth if the mixture becomes too thick during cooking.
  6. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the Empanadas:

  1. Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature for the empanada discs.
  2. Place a spoonful of the birria filling onto each empanada disc.
  3. Fold the discs over to create a half-moon shape and seal the edges by pressing with a fork.

Pan Fry the Empanadas:

  1. In a skillet, add a cup of oil and heat it up on medium-high heat. 
  2. Fry them 2-3 minutes per side. Add on a coloring rack. 


  1. Garnish your birria empanadas with freshly chopped cilantro.
  2. Serve them hot, and you can also serve them with additional birria sauce on the side for dipping.


  1. Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality ingredients, especially for the meat and dried chilies. The quality of your ingredients will significantly impact the flavor of the final dish.

  2. Balance the Heat: Adjust the number of dried chilies to control the spiciness of your birria sauce. Remove the seeds and veins from the chilies for a milder flavor or leave them in for extra heat.

  3. Marinating the Meat: If time allows, marinate the meat in the birria sauce for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This will infuse the meat with rich flavors.

  4. Slow Cooking: Take your time to slow-cook the meat until it's incredibly tender. Low and slow cooking ensures the best texture and flavor in the filling.

  5. Season Well: Taste the birria sauce and filling as you go and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Don't be afraid to add a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lime juice if needed.

  6. Dough Handling: If you're making your own empanada dough, handle it gently and avoid overworking it. Over-kneading can make the dough tough.

  7. Proper Sealing: Seal the empanadas tightly to prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking. Use a fork to crimp the edges or twist and fold the edges over for a decorative touch.

  8. Oil Temperature: When frying the empanadas, maintain a consistent oil temperature. Too hot, and they'll burn; too cool, and they'll absorb excess oil. Aim for around 350-375°F (175-190°C).

  9. Drain Excess Oil: After frying, place the cooked empanadas on a paper towel-lined plate or tray to drain any excess oil.

  10. Serve with Dipping Sauces: Offer a variety of dipping sauces, such as salsa, guacamole, or sour cream, to complement the flavors and enhance the overall experience.

  11. Garnish Fresh: Sprinkle fresh cilantro or other herbs over the empanadas just before serving to add a burst of color and freshness.

  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Mexican