four plantain empenadas with mango salsa reicpe on a white rectangular dish

Plantain-Picadillo Empenada Recipe

Plantain Picadillo Empenada Recipe is served with Mango Salsa. It's so much fun to cook, and it's a huge hit with everyone who tries it. Plantain empenadas are subtly sweet, and with the spices and fresh ingredients, the combination is over-the-top-delicious!

*Please note that this recipe must be started the night before you want to serve it.

*Makes 3 dozen

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword appetizers for parties, Mexican dinner recipes
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Refrigeration 8 hours
Total Time 10 hours 20 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 359 kcal
Author Valentina K. Wein


For the dough

  • 5 pounds plantains, fully ripe

For the filling

  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • olive oil for the pan
  • ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons almond meal
  • cup plantain, fully ripe, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup tomatoes, seeded, finely chopped
  • cup capers, finely chopped
  • cup raisins, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ recipe Mango Salsa


For the dough

  1. Leaving the peels on, slice each plantain in half, horizontally, and place them in a pot with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the plantains are tender (you can check with a fork -- the fork should slide in and out easily when they're done), about 10 minutes. Remove the plantains from the water and once they're cool enough to touch, peel them. Place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

  2. The next day add the plantains to a food processor with the blade attachment, and blend until smooth. (You can also use a large fork or potato masher -- if you feel like a small workout!)

  3. Wet your hands with a little water or olive oil and form the mashed plantains into about 6 dozen balls, about 1¼-inches each. (I like to use my 1¼-inch cookie scoop.) The balls will not stick together, so you can pile them on top of each other until you're ready to assemble the empenadas.

For the filling

  1. Place the steak in a large pot.  Add enough water to the pot to cover the meat by a couple of inches, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is tender, (but not falling apart), about 1½ hours. Once the meat is cool enough to touch, shred it and then chop it finely.

  2. Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Then, one at a time, add the almond meal, plantains, tomatoes, capers, raisins, chipotles, cumin and the shredded, chopped steak. Let the flavors come out of each one ingredient before adding the next.  Cook everything together for about 10 minutes to fully combine all of the flavors, and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.) Cool to room temperature.

  3. To assemble, place each ball of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten them with the palm of your hand. Now you can add a bit of the Picadillo to half of the rounds of dough, right in the center -- I use the same 1¼-inch scoop, filling it about halfway. Place a second round of dough on top, and using another piece of plastic wrap, gently press it down.  

  4. Then, use a fork to press lightly along the edges.

  5. Heat up your saute pan again and add olive oil to generously coat the bottom.  Once the pan and oil are hot, add a few of the empenadas -- as many as you can fit, with a couple inches between them. You should hear a sizzling sound as they hit the pan, and if you don't, wait until the pan is hotter. Cook until the empanadas are golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain them on paper towels and serve!

Recipe Notes

You can also boil the steak, (the first step to making the filling), the night before. And, if you're up to it, the entire filling can be made up to two days in advance. This could make party day more fun.