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An image of the empanadas on a white platter.

Turkey Empanadas

These ground turkey empanadas are made with a simple picadillo filling made with tomato sauce flavored with onions, garlic, spices and olives. Plus, we use store-bought empanada discs making them as easy to make as they are delicious.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword empanadas, ground turkey
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Cool the meat 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 630kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion finely diced – we used a yellow onion
  • 2 Medium Carrots small dice
  • 1 Celery rib small dice
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 pound Ground Turkey use lean but not turkey breast – we used 93/7
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Salt – we used Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ cup White Wine or use chicken broth
  • 1 8 ounce can Tomato Sauce
  • ½ cup Water
  • ½ cup Pitted Spanish Olives chopped
  • 10 Large Empanada Discs defrosted to package directions
  • About 2½ cups Oil use a neutral oil with a high smoke point (we use canola oil) – how much oil to use will depend on the size of the skillet/pan used to fry


Make the filling

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook the vegetables for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring almost constantly.
  • Raise the heat to high and the ground turkey, tomato paste, salt, oregano, cumin and black pepper and immediately start to stir and break up the meat using a wooden spoon or a spatula.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes to brown the turkey while stirring and continuing to break it up.
  • When the turkey is browned, carefully add the white wine to the skillet; cook about 1-2 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and add the tomato sauce, water and olives to the skillet. Stir well to combine.
  • Cover the skillet and cook for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop and come together. Stir occasionally and keep it at a simmer. If the liquid is boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit.
  • If the picadillo is too saucy, uncover the skillet and let some of the liquid cook out. Stir often.
  • Taste the picadillo and add salt if needed. As a reference, we did not add extra salt to ours.
  • Let the meat cool some, then place it in a bowl and refrigerate until completely cooled.

Build the empanadas

  • Work with one empanada disc at a time, add about 2 ½ - 3 tablespoons of the turkey picadillo just a little off center of the disc.
  • Arrange the filling so that it is not mounded in the middle, but don’t’ go all the way to the edge.
  • Use a pastry brush (or your finger) to moisten the edges of the dough with water. Go all the way around.
  • Fold the round in half, press the edges together gently.
  • Use a fork to crimp and seal the edge of the empanada.
  • Place it on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with a damp (not wet) kitchen or paper towel so the dough does not dry out while you build the rest of the empanadas.

Fry the empanadas

  • Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large, deep skillet by about 1 inch. How much oil to use will depend on how large the skillet is.
  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat. We need the oil hot, but nowhere near smoking (about 325°F to 350°F). Add 1-2 empanadas, depending on the size of the skillet. Fry the empanadas for 1-2 minutes until golden.
  • Carefully flip them and fry for another 1-2 minutes or until golden on both sides.
  • Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a paper towel-lined plate or platter. Repeat with the remaining turkey empanadas.
  • It may be necessary to lower the heat a bit for the second, third (etc.) batch. If the oil is too hot the empanadas may brown too much, right away.


  • Picadillo is usually a saucy dish. But, for these empanadas we can’t have too much sauce. If the picadillo is too saucy, uncover the skillet and let it simmer so some of the liquid cooks away.
  • Allow the filling to cool completely, refrigerator chilled is better. If the filling is too hot the empanada dough will tear.


Calories: 630kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 1521mg | Potassium: 611mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4439IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 6mg