These bacon jalapeño cream cheese empanadas are inspired by the classic bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers that my kids are crazy about. This empanada filling combination is amazing. You have the crispy salty deliciousness that is bacon, spicy jalapeños, and tangy cream cheese – you could also use goat cheese. To top it off, I served them with a creamy avocado cilantro sauce – because avocados make everything better.
You can choose to fry or bake (or grill – on a pizza stone) the bacon jalapeño cream cheese empanadas. It was very tempting to fry them, but I decided to bake them (not really for health reasons – I mean let’s be honest about the ingredients). It was more about not having the whole house have that lingering after-smell you get from deep frying. The smell is fine at first and falls in line with the whole “cooking is happening here” atmosphere, but is not so great several hours later.
I would love to try one of those air fryers, but am currently banned from adding any cooking appliances to my collection – or I would have to give something up in exchange. The additional risk – besides the lingering fry smell – is that because they have fatty bacon they could explode if frying, so I highly recommend baking them or frying outside – or grilling them.
I used store bought empanada discs because I was in a rush and didn’t have time to make homemade dough. You can find frozen empanada discs, both for frying and baking, at most specialty Latin grocery stores. Most of the time I keep a couple of packs (usually have about 12-15 discs per pack) in the freezer for last minute parties or cravings.
I tend to make a lot of empanadas that have cheese as part of the filling. One of the challenges with cheese fillings, particularly the good melty cheeses like mozzarella, quesillo or oaxaca is that they expand during baking. This means empanada leakage, which is a little bit messy, but really means that the cheesy goodness is partly gone from that empanada. The good thing about using cream cheese, or goat cheese, is that it doesn’t leak (as much o hardly at all).
Bacon jalapeño cream cheese empanadas
For the bacon jalapeño cream cheese empanada filling:
- 1 lb 450 grams of bacon, cut into medium sized pieces
- 4 jalapeños deveined and diced for a less spicy version or sliced with the seeds for the spicier version
- 8 ounces of cream cheese can also use goat cheese
For the empanada assembly:
- ~15 empanada discs for baking or frying from homemade dough or store bought discs
- 1 egg lightly whisked to use as egg wash
Suggested dipping sauce:
- Cook the bacon until golden and crispy, drain the grease and let the crispy bacon pieces cool down completely.
- To assemble the empanadas place a spoonful of the cream cheese in the center of the empanada disc. Add a generous amount of a bacon and diced or sliced jalapeños based on the amount you prefer (I can my brother going nuts here).
- To close and seal the empanadas, fold the discs and gently seal the edges with your fingers. Twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers. For extra sealing you can use a fork to press down on the edges.
- For best results, chill the empanadas for at least an hour, this will help them seal better.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
- Brush the empanadas with the egg wash right before baking to give them a nice golden glow.
- Bake the empanadas for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
- Serve warm with avocado sauce.