Recipe courtesy of Thalia Patillo

Thalia's Fiesta Empanadas (Patelitos)

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 50 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 10 large or 15 small empanadas (patelitos)
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1 1/2 pounds ground turkey

1/2 tablespoons adobo seasoning, or more to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for sauteing

1/3 cup finely diced onion

1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic, or more to taste

1/4 cup peeled finely diced waxy red potato

2 tablespoons finely diced sweet red pepper

3/4 cup sofrito liquid stock base

3/4 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

4 pineapple ring slices, well drained, and finely chopped

48 ounces canola oil, for frying

10 large or 15 small round empanada shells (found in your grocer's freezer or purchased at a bakery)


  1. Fiesta Filling:
  2. Sprinkle the turkey with adobo, salt, and pepper. Mix together with hands.
  3. In a large skillet over a low flame, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, potato, and red pepper and saute. Add the meat, sofrito, and tomato paste. Break up the meat thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until the mixture is fully cooked, about 30 minutes, then stir in the cilantro.
  4. Drain excess liquid and transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the pineapple and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Frying Fiesta Empanadas:
  6. In a large skillet heat the canola oil over medium heat.
  7. If using small empanada shells put 2 heaping tablespoons (3 tablespoons for the larger shells) of the mixture into the center. Fold the dough over and seal it using a fork to crimp the edges. Repeat this process for all of the empanadas and set them aside without letting them touch each another.
  8. The oil will sizzle when you test it by dipping a corner of a completed empanada in it.
  9. Working in batches, fry the empanadas for approximately 3 minutes on each side. Don't crowd the pan. Make sure your empanadas are not touching each other while frying. When golden brown on both sides transfer them to paper towels to drain. Arrange them on a serving platter, let cool slightly and serve.

Cook’s Note

Some people like them served plain (like me I love to savor the flavors). Others prefer ketchup, hot sauce, or a cilantro olive oil sauce alongside their empanada. Buen Provecho!!!