Plantain Empanadas with Cheese

Empanadas are hand pies made with sweet or savory fillings throughout Latin America. Serve these savory, cheese-filled empanadas with salsa or a creamy dipping sauce and a green salad.

Serves: 12Hands-on: 35 minutesTotal: 1 hour 20 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 12


  • 2 large yellow-ripe plantains
  • 3⁄4 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Water, as needed
  • 1 1⁄2 cups queso fresco, cut into small cubes
  • Vegetable oil, as needed


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the ends off the unpeeled plantains and then cut them in half lengthwise. Cook on a baking sheet for 40 minutes; they should be very soft. Allow them to cool until they can be handled, and remove the peel. Place the soft plantain into a food processor with the salt and garlic. Pulse several times until smooth. Add half the flour and pulse. Add the remainder of the flour and pulse until all of the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to get an even dough.
  • Prepare your work area by filling half a medium bowl with cold water. Tear three square sheets of wax paper. Set one of them aside for holding the empanadas before they’re fried. Keep your hands wet at all times. Dip your palms into the water and divide the dough into twelve equal portions. Lightly wet one side of each piece of wax paper.
  • Place one of the dough balls onto the wet side of one piece of wax paper. Place the wet side of the other sheet on top. Lightly press down on the ball until you get a circle slightly larger than your palm. Carefully peel off the top piece of wax paper. Place a tablespoon of crumbled cheese into the center of the circle. Hold the wax paper in your hand and fold it to get even sides. Carefully peel the paper away from the empanada and use the tines of a fork to press the edges together. Set the empanada aside and repeat.
  • Place your fryer over medium-high heat. The oil should be 350°F. Fry two empanadas at a time. They should be golden-brown after 1 minute on each side. Place on a rack to drain over paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse salt.