The Meatwave

Mini Pulled Pork Empanadas

Mini Pulled Pork Empanadas View Recipe

Happy New Year Meatwavers! I just got back from a nice break in Texas, where I reveled with my mighty merry family for Christmas and New Years, with a jaunt in between making meatwads over a big fire deep in the heart of Hill Country (oh, and let's not forget the magical stop at City Market in Luling). After two weeks away, it's nice to be home, but how did NYC great me this year? With a high of 26 degrees! Now I'm not scared to be out cooking in the cold, but sometimes days like these call for staying inside and making due with barbecue I froze during the warmer months, which is how I originally came up with these superb pulled pork empanadas.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

It was around this time last year that I tackled my first empanadas, using a recipe that I saw in Cooks Illustrated. Now the filling on that recipe was kinda lackluster, but the dough was nothing short of incredible. This is probably in large part due to the massive amount of butter—12 tablespoons—that makes the final empanadas rich and flavorful.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

Keeping with my party food ways this time of year, I thought it best to make these empanadas in miniature form. Not only does this make the recipe great for parties, but you get more of that excellent shell in each bite.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

What better to fill an empanada than pulled pork, right? I have a huge store of pork in my freezer, packaged nicely with 2 cups per bag, which just happened to be the right amount to fill all of the dough.

When reheating pork from the freezer, I always like to add a little extra moisture in the form of vinegar sauce to get the pork close to it's original juicy, succulent state.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

With the pork heated and tasting great, it was then portioned out into all the rounds of dough I had cut. Here I tried to get as much pork into each empanada as possible—why wouldn't you—but that sometimes led to them being more difficult to close up. In the end I managed and found a little frustration in closing well worth it for more meaty goodness.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

After pressed closed and sealed using the tines of a fork, the empanadas were given an egg wash to make them all shiny. Only 25 minutes in the oven, and they were good to go.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

These came out as real golden beauties with a whole lot to love. The pulled pork was as smoky and tender as always, with the added tang and spice from the sauce, and the empanada crust was flaky and crisp. Together this formed a mega snack that provided comfort both as a filling meal, and the fact that I got my barbecue on without freezing my ass off, a win-win in my book.

Print Recipe

Mini Pulled Pork Empanadas

  • Yield 8-10 Servings
  • Prep 30 Minutes
  • Inactive 2 Hours
  • Cook 25 Minutes
  • Total 2 Hours 55 Minutes


  • For the Dough
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 1 tablepsoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
  • 1 1/4 cups ice water
  • 2 cups pulled pork, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup North Carolina vinegar sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)


  1. Process the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor until combined, about 6 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with butter bits no larger than small peas, about 16 pulses.
  2. Transfer the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl. Working with 1/4 cup of water at a time, sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and stir it in using a rubber spatula, pressing the mixture against the side of the bowl to form a dough, until no small bits of flour remain (you may not need to use all of the water).
  3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Press each dough half into a cohesive ball, then flatten the ball into a 6-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, about 2 hours.
  4. While the dough rests, place pulled pork in a small bowl and add enough vinegar sauce until meat is very moist (you may not need the entire 1/2 cup of sauce).
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface into an 18-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out 18 rounds and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, discarding the dough scraps. Place a heaping tablespoon of pulled pork to the middle of each round. Seal dough around filling, using tines of a fork to crimp edges shut. Repeat with second disk of dough and second prepared baking sheet.
  6. Brush empanadas with the egg. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, switching and rotating the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve with a bowl of barbecue sauce, if desired.

Dough recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

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  1. Keeley @ My Life on a Plate These are so cute! I love traditional empanadas and I love Carolina-style pulled pork, so this is right up my alley.

    I grew up in a BBQing family and my grandfather had a Carolina-style BBQ pit for my entire childhood until he passed away 10 years ago. The smell of smoky pork and vinegary sauce always reminds me of him.

    I'll admit that I cheat and make my pulled pork in the Crock Pot during the winter. I add liquid smoke and my own rub and I think it comes out fine. As a matter of fact, sometimes my grandmother would start a pork shoulder in the smoker and finish it in a slow cooker.

    I agree that pulled pork freezes really well. I like to use the leftovers for sliders made on soft, yeasty buttered rolls. Perfect finger food for a cold winter night!

  2. Chris Most excellent post of the day. I just put it on Stumbleupon and Pinterest, what a fantastic idea. I have a southwestern style pulled pork in the freezer. Guess what I'm going to make with it now.

  3. Josh @Chris What's southwestern style pulled pork?

  4. Bert Josh, i have a 3 hour drive to a party. do you think these would hold up. i plan to bake them there

  5. Josh @Bert Yes, they'll do fine traveling. It's best to keep them in cooler with ice to avoid the butter in the dough from melting.