Chorizo-Corn Empanadas are savory hand pies made with a masa harina flour blend and filled with cheese, spicy ground chorizo and sweet corn.
The melty Monterrey Jack cheese pull makes these flavorful empanadas fun to eat. You get the earthy spice of the chorizo, the sweet burst of fresh corn and creamy cheese all packed into a fluffy corn crust. These festive hand held pies are the perfect size for dipping into a creamy cilantro lime sauce.
Let’s talk about chorizo. There are many different kinds of chorizo. This recipe calls for chorizo that has the appearance of the ground beef you would find in the meat department of your grocery store. It’s flavored with a variety of Mexican spices like chilies, oregano, cumin and garlic. My favorite is made by a local company called Hempler’s and can be found at most local grocery stores.
Before I knew much about chorizo, I tried using the kind that comes in a tube. It’s what I thought chorizo was, boy was I wrong. It’s very different from the fresh ground chorizo. After placing the tube contents in my sauté pan, there was not much substance left at all, just a lot of grease. This kind of chorizo will not work in this recipe.
Ingredients in Chorizo-Corn Empanadas
- Chorizo – Hempler’s Chorizo is my favorite, please don’t buy the greasy chorizo in a tube.
- Corn – Fresh corn cut off the cob.
- Cheese – Creamy, Monterrey Jack cheese is perfect for that must have cheese pull.
- Masa Harina – Masa Harina is similar to corn meal, but finer in texture, providing a fluffy corn crust.
- Onion – Sweet, yellow onion, like Walla Walla or Vidalia.
- Lard – I save my bacon grease and use that or you can buy lard at the grocery in the Mexican aisle.
- Eggs – Always use farm fresh if you can.
- Pantry Items – Flour, I prefer unbleached, sugar and salt.
Cilantro Lime Crema
These savory empanadas taste delicious when dipped in Cilantro Lime Crema. It’s an easy 3 ingredient sauce that pairs perfectly with the spicy chorizo filling. Mexican crema can be found in most grocery stores and is a little sweeter than sour cream. If you can’t find Mexican crema, just use sour cream.
Chorizo Corn Empanadas
- 4 cups flour unbleached
- 1 1/2 cup masa corn flour – masa harina
- 4 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 large eggs
- 6 tbsp. lard or leftover bacon grease
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 16 oz. chorizo ground
- 4 ears corn cut off the cob
- 8 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese grated
Cilantro Lime Crema
- 1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- 1 lime juiced and zested
- 1/4 cup cilantro minced
- avocado oil for frying
- Combine flour, masa harina, sugar and salt in your stand mixing bowl, add eggs and lard, mix on medium until soft dough forms.
- Remove dough to a floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
- Sauté onion in a pan over medium high heat until just softened. Push onion out to side of pan and add ground chorizo. Cook chorizo until browned.
- Add corn to chorizo mixture and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Forming the Empanadas
- Remove empanada dough from the refrigerator. Roll out on a floured surface, about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a small bowl or plate that's about 5 inches in diameter, press down on dough to create small circles. You should get about 10 circles. It's a soft, sticky dough, make sure you have flour on hand.
- Place a small mound of filling, about a heaping tbsp. plus more if needed and about one tbsp. of cheese in the middle of one half of the circle, leaving room around the edges.
- Fold dough circle in half, pressing around the edges to seal. Use fork tines on edges to crimp it sealed. Repeat with remaining ingredients. You may have some filling mixture left over, which you can use to serve along side or save for another use.
- Fill a deep, wide edged frying pan with avocado oil or other high heat oil about 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep and heat at medium high. Test oil temperature by dropping a small piece of leftover dough in and seeing if it sizzles. Fry empanadas, two at a time, flipping once until golden brown on each side. Remove to a wire rack and season with salt.
- Empanadas can be eaten right away or let cool and place in freezer bags for re-heating later. They re-heat very well in an air fryer.
Cilantro Lime Crema
- Combine all ingredients together. Serve along side empanadas.