BBQ Empanadas {Venezuelan Inspired Flavors}

It’s National Empanada Day!  We here at Extraordinary BBQ are all about diverse cooking, and today provides the most unique example.

BBQ Empanadas Recipe
My cousin Dan and his wife, Lus, with their empanada submission for the Exotic Category at Memphis in May

My cousin, Dr. Danny, married a wonderfully talented Venezuelan beauty, Lus.  She brought a whole new menu to the Haberberger family, with a highlight being empanadas, which we’ve actually competed with.

Here is the story of BBQ Empanadas, as told by Lus and my cousin, Dr. Danny.  Enjoy!

The history and origin of the empanada is debated by many. If you ask any Latin, they will probably say that empanadas originated from their country! Most Latin-American countries have their own version of empanadas tweaked to meet their local cuisine. Basically, an empanada is created from making a corn batter (corn meal and water), stuffing it with anything you can imagine (typically meats and cheeses), and deep frying or baking. Since I am Venezuelan, I will speak of the Venezuelan empanada, which of course is the best one. The Venezuelan empanada is a major staple in the Venezuelan cuisine. It not only forms part of our diet, but also our culture, and for many, it represents a source of income.

BBQ Empanadas Recipe

Venezuelans make empanadas at home, but they can also buy them at empanada stands on the street, malls, kiosks, and even at the beach. When I was growing up, my dad and mom use to make empanadas almost every weekend for breakfast. My mom made the dough, the kids stuffed the patty, and my dad fried the completed empanada. We usually stuffed them with cheese, black beans (called “caraotas” in Venezuela), left over shredded beef, or a mixture of any of these three. My favorite empanadas are the ones you can buy at the beaches in Venezuela that are sold in empanada stands where local women of the town make them with shredded white shark, called “cazón”. These cazón emapanadas are a must when going to the beach in Venezuela and are just delicious!

BBQ Empanadas Recipe
Dan and Lus finding out their empanadas received 10th place at the Memphis in May International Competition

I introduced empanadas to my husband, a typical gringo, about 10 years ago during his first trip to Venezuela (we were dating then). He loves my culture and my cuisine, so we have kept the tradition of making empanadas at home. However… we added the American twist to them! Dan loves to BBQ and he always makes 10 times more food than we need! So we always have a lot of leftovers, especially when it’s something like pulled pork. So one day, we wanted to make empanadas and had a bunch of pulled pork in the fridge, so of course we stuffed them with that and cheese. And Voila! BBQ empanadas were born and we have enjoyed them since.

BBQ Empanadas {Venezuelan Inspired!}

A basic framework for use with all types of fillings!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 405 kcal


  • Here is the basic recipe to make empanadas that you can stuff with whatever you can think of:
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of corn flour or corn meal Arena Pan is the best if you can find it at your store. Look in the international isle, it’s imported from Venezuela
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil


  • You’ll want to have a square piece of plastic wrap ready on the counter with some oil spread on it. Also, you’ll need a bowl (not for mixing) to cut the edges…see below.
  • Heat frying oil in a deep fryer or simply a pan on the stove (how it’s done in Venezuela); or heat up the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a bowl, mix the water with the sugar, salt, and oil.
  • Start adding the corn meal/corn flour slowly while mixing the ingredients by hand. Massage the mixture until it’s smooth.
  • Grab some of the mixture and form a ball of the size of your hand. Gently smash the ball onto the piece of plastic wrap to create a disc.
  • Add the preferred stuffing (cheese, beef, beans, chicken, ham, etc..) and fold the circle over using the plastic wrap to create a half moon shape. At this point you should have the empanada in the middle of the plastic wrap.
  • Now you want to cut the edges of the circular part. For this, use the bowl. Tilt the bowl, place the edge near the corner of the half moon and roll the bowl across the entire circular part of the empanada which seals it and cuts it into a nice edge at the same time.
  • Now it’s ready to be baked or fried, but it is VERY fragile. If your hands aren’t already oily, put oil on one hand, transfer the empanada from the plastic wrap to your oily hand, then to the pan for frying or rack for baking. Baking times will vary depending on the size of empanada, but look for the outside to be a crisp brown color - about 20 minutes. A Venezuelan empanada is always fried in hot vegetable oil.
Keyword BBQ Empanadas

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