Delectable Mojo Pork Empanadas Recipe

Empanadas have been a favorite in my family for years, especially when I had toddlers to feed. We would go to our favorite Seattle happy hour spot, La Isla, in the Ballard neighborhood a few times a month.

All of their empanadillas (Puerto Rican turnovers) were half off, as were the mojitos. It was a win for everyone.

Mojo Pork Empanadas

When I went to make my own Mojo Pork Empanadas, I wanted to combine the things I loved most into one little empanada pouch. The boys love shredded pork, but I needed some vegetables in there too.

By making a sofrito filled with finely chopped vegetables, everyone got what they liked. Add in some mojito sauce, and we could eat these for days… and sweat out garlic too.

Why Mojo Pork Empanadas?

Mojo sauce is super easy to prep. You just need to mix up your mojo sauce ingredients, marinate your meat overnight and slow roast or pop into your Instapot the next day.

Anything I can leave alone and forget about it until the end is the perfect meal for me.

Mojo pork gives you that tart citrus that goes well with pork and chicken, as well as the semi-sweetness that garlic takes on when you cook with it.

It’s a flavor I grew up on in Philadelphia and the kids have been raised on at various Putero Rican restaurants and taco trucks. While I love pernil (Puerto Rican roast pork), I haven’t had the energy to dive into that recipe in a while.

For us, mojo is a kitchen staple, while for you, it may be a great intro to Latin American cooking. Whenever you add a new global recipe to your dinner rotation, take your time and don’t worry about perfection.

Baked empanadas are tasty even if they look a mess. They also go perfectly with a cold mojito(check out our Easy Mojito recipe) on a hotel summer’s day.

Mojo Pork Empanadas

What are Empanadas?

The term “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb “empanar,” meaning to coat or to wrap in bread. You are literally making a pouch of dough to put your filling into when you make empanada dough.

The classic curled edges (or crimped with a fork), make this pastry dough easy to hold juicy filling in your hand, without it becoming a total mess.

Empanadas work with a sauce or without, as long as your filling isn’t too dry.

Mojo Pork Empanadas recipe

Freezing pork empanadas

Thankfully, empanadas freeze really well. Make your baked empanadas as usual and pop them in the freezer after they have cool.

You can leave the empanadas raw (not baked ahead of time) and freeze them too. Some people think this gives you a crispier dough. We eat them too fast in my house to notice.

You can also make your empanada dough ahead of time, rolling out your discs and placing each disc between parchment paper before you freeze the dough in a freezer-friendly container.

Just make sure you defrost your dough ahead of time or your shells will crack.

How to make Mojo Pork Empanadas

There are several steps to making mojo pork empanadas, but all of them are easy. While I’ve made empanadas several times at this point, even my first go was fairly good.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, just because the recipe is long.

Empanada making tips:

  • Don’t over stuff the empanadas until you are a crimping pro.
  • Get yourself a tortilla press. Rolling out individual dough balls is painful (especially on your wrists! I just grabbed this one and my life is already better.)
  • Let your kids help! Empanada dough is the perfect family cooking project. Your kids are more likely to eat the empanadas if they helped to make them too.
Mojo Pork Empanadas

Mojo Pork Empanada Recipe

It’s time to dive in to making your own mojo pork empanadas. Remember, just because the instructions are long, doesn’t mean this is a hard recipe. Gather your ingredients, get yourself organized and have fun!

Mojo Sauce Recipe

  • 3 lbs Pork tenderloin (Pork Roast and Pork Butt also work)
  • 3 oranges (juiced)
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 ½ tbsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper
Mojo Pork Empanadas

Mojo Pork Instructions

  1. Rinse the pork in cool water.
  2. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Transfer to a Tuperware container of zip-top bag.
  4. Make small, shallow slices into the pork tenderloin, just along the surface.
  5. Combine orange juice, lime juice, garlic, onion, cumin, salt and pepper in a food processor to make the mojo sauce
  6. Pour the mojo sauce over your pork in a Tupperware or zip-top bag to marinate overnight.
  7. Cook pork with mojo sauce in a slow cooker (crock pot) on low for 6 hours (or an Instapot for about 20 minutes)
  8. Shred pork after it is finished slow cooking
  9. Strain pork juices into a sauce pan
  10. Heat juices on medium high, allowing juices to reduce by about half.
  11. Set juices aside until assembling your empanadas

Try our slow-Cooker carnitas recipe in empanadas too!

Mojo Pork Empanadas recipe

How to make Sofrito

There are a lot of different ways you can make sofrito. For this recipe, I went quick and easy, with only a few ingredients. It’s not traditional in any way, but that’s OK. We are merging foods and cultures in this recipe.

Sofrito Ingredients

  • 1 orange or red pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper

Sofrito Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse a few times for a rough chop until pepper and cilantro is chopped up, but not a paste.
  3. Add sofrito to shredded pork, mixing in a ½ cup of the reduced mojo sauce juices too.
  4. Allow pork to sit and soak up all the new flavors for at least 30 minutes.
Empanada dough

Empanada dough for baking

  • 4 ½ cup flour
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks- chilled)
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
Empanada dough

Empanada dough instructions

  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl
  2. Cut chilled butter into cubes. Add to flour.
  3. Crumble together flour mix and butter until well combined (little lumps are normal)
  4. Whisk together egg, vinegar and water in a separate bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to butter flour mixture, using your fingers or a fork to combine.
Empanada dough

Kneading your Empanada Dough

  1. Knead the dough (push with your palms and then fold in half) four times
  2. Break dough into two balls and wrap each in plastic wrap
  3. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes to chill (will be easier to roll out, but if you are in a rush, you can use dough right away).
Mojo Pork Empanadas

Making Your Baked Pork Empanadas

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F degrees
  2. Break dough into even sized balls (about 3 tbsps in size)
  3. On a flour surface, roll your dough balls into circles (about 5 inches in diameter) using a rolling pin. Rounds will be uneven, which is OK.
  4. Separate each flat empanada with parchment paper if you want to make all discs at once.
  5. Add the pork on one half of each empanada (leaving a bit of lip on the edge)
  6. Whisk an egg white to use as “glue” on the lip of each empanada (basically, grab a pastry brush or use your finger to dip into the egg white and run along the inide edge of the empanada wrapper.)
  7. Fold empanada wrapper in half, pressing the two sides together.
  8. Curl the edge to seal (or you can use a fork to pinch it shut)
  9. Whisk an egg yolk with 2 tsp of water to create an egg wash
  10. Brush top of empanada with egg wash
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown
  12. Serve warm with mojito sauce (or chimichurri!)

NOTE: You can use pre-made empanada wrappers or a tortilla press to make your empanada discs a bit more easily.

Side dishes

When it comes to side dishes, I go very simple with my mojo pork empanadas. Some cuban-style black beans, rice or just a nice salad on the side always works.

End the meal with our key lime ice cream recipe!

Mojito Sauce Recipe

Mojito Sauce

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ head of garlic (or 4 tsp jarred minced garlic)
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until onions, garlic and cilantro break down into a paste. Store in a glass or stainless steel container.

Love it? Pin it for later!

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Mojo Pork Empanadas

Mojo Pork Empanadas

Yield: 16-18
Prep Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 days
Cook Time: 6 hours 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 days 7 hours 25 minutes

Baked mojo pork empanadas combine the fresh flavors and protein you love in a handy pastry pocket.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs Pork tenderloin (Pork Roast and Pork Butt also work)
  • 3 oranges (juiced)
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 ½ tbsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper

SOFRITO

  • 1 orange or red pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper

Instructions

    1. Rinse the pork in cool water.
    2. Pat dry with a paper towel.
    3. Transfer to a Tuperware container of zip-top bag.
    4. Make small, shallow slices into the pork tenderloin, just along the surface.
    5. Combine orange juice, lime juice, garlic, onion, cumin, salt and pepper in a food processor to make the mojo sauce
    6. Pour the mojo sauce over your pork in a Tupperware or zip-top bag to marinate overnight.
    7. Cook pork with mojo sauce in a slow cooker (crock pot) on low for 6 hours (or an Instapot for about 20 minutes)
    8. Shred pork after it is finished slow cooking
    9. Strain pork juices into a sauce pan
    10. Heat juices on medium high, allowing juices to reduce by about half.
    11. Set juices aside until assembling your empanadas

Sofrito Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse a few times for a rough chop until pepper and cilantro is chopped up, but not a paste.
  3. Add sofrito to shredded pork, mixing in a ½ cup of the reduced mojo sauce juices too.
  4. Allow pork to sit and soak up all the new flavors for at least 30 minutes.


Making your Mojo Pork Empanada

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F degrees
  2. Break dough into even sized balls (about 3 tbsps in size)
  3. On a flour surface, roll your dough balls into circles (about 5 inches in diameter) using a rolling pin. Rounds will be uneven, which is OK.
  4. Separate each flat empanada with parchment paper if you want to make all discs at once.
  5. Add the pork on one half of each empanada (leaving a bit of lip on the edge)
  6. Whisk an egg white to use as “glue” on the lip of each empanada (basically, grab a pastry brush or use your finger to dip into the egg white and run along the inide edge of the empanada wrapper.)
  7. Fold empanada wrapper in half, pressing the two sides together.
  8. Curl the edge to seal (or you can use a fork to pinch it shut)
  9. Whisk an egg yolk with 2 tsp of water to create an egg wash
  10. Brush top of empanada with egg wash
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown
  12. Serve warm with mojito sauce (or chimichurri!)

Notes

See our Baked Empanada Dough recipe for printable instructions.

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