Spicy Turkey and Mashed Potato Empanadas

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In between writing and erasing first lines for this post, I am pushing around cold, leftover couscous with a fork.  It’s not a mouth-watering meal, but today is one of those days when you don’t argue with leftovers.  This month is one of those months.

It is the month when the harshness of cold air hits you and forces you to fold into yourself; When the holidays– piled up like a stack of bills you must tend to but keep putting off–overwhelm you with their sudden urgency.  It is a month of deadlines, of all things natural going into hibernation for the winter as your itinerary grows so full it seems that the seams themselves will fray and your handwritten appointments will leak out.  This is a month when you wish you kept an itinerary in the first place.

And as you work yourself overtime into the oblivion of winter, you think of food.  Warm Thanksgiving dinners, bountiful spreads at holiday parties, sweet glistening sugar cookies, plates upon plates of hors d’oeuvres on New Year’s Eve–they all creep into your mind.   Sometimes they slip quietly into the crevices between the blaring DOs, NOWs, and MUSTs of the season.  More often, they are them.

Once you create one amazing, planned out, slaved over meal, the leftovers must be resigned to their Tupperware containers to await a slew of lack-luster lunches and desperate midnight snacking.  “Well that was nice,” you think momentarily, and then you move on to planning your next holiday menu. It’s exhausting, and with all of your other obligations, you might find that you don’t even have the energy to heat up your leftover couscous on a Tuesday night.  Or, you know, something like that.

But sometimes you still find the time to have fun, to think ahead, and to enjoy all that this season has to offer.  You might feel it as you lay with someone you love, with shared body warmth and entwined limbs, or maybe as you drive through a neighborhood lit up by colorful Christmas lights and glimmering garland.  You might even, like me, feel it as you cook for an upcoming holiday.

I have been beyond stressed lately over the upcoming demand of holiday meals, yet none other than a holiday meal seemed to cure my cold weather blues.  From two-day old Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes, I created spicy, flavorful empanadas that I can proudly serve to a house brimming with guests at one of the upcoming holiday soirees.  There is something liberating in taking leftovers and turning them into something fresh and delicious–something you can freeze now and reheat in a month and know that guests will eagerly grab seconds.  Maybe even thirds.  That’s how good these are.

So now that I have crossed one more “MUST” off of my itinerary (because these will most certainly make up a large portion of my Christmas Eve appetizers), I, of course, am going to share the recipe with you, so you can do the same with your Thanksgiving leftovers.


Spicy Turkey and Mashed Potato Empanadas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Take your leftovers to the next level with these empanadas.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Spanish
  • 4 cups leftover turkey, shredded
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 can chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bullion
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 20 (2 packs) Goya empanada disks
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Pour your can of chiles in adobo into a bowl. Take the chiles out and chop them, and then return them to the sauce.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet and cook the onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until the onion has become translucent.
  4. Add the shredded turkey, chiles, corn, black beans, chicken bouillon, water, and cumin to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 more minutes.
  5. Add the mashed potatoes and fold them into the mixture until evenly dispersed.
  6. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the center of each disc.
  7. Brush the edges of the discs with the egg, and then fold over the top half and press the edges together.
  8. Using the side of a fork, press around the edges of each empanada to seal.
  9. Place the empanadas onto a baking sheet and brush them with egg.
  10. Bake the empanadas until golden, about 15 minutes.
If you plan on freezing the empanadas to use later, it’s better to freeze unbaked empanadas and cook them the day of. However, if you do cook them first, that will work fine as well. In that case, you should individually wrap the empanadas in plastic wrap before freezing. Either way, empanadas can be popped in the oven straight from the freezer, but in the case of the already baked empanadas, you will only set the oven to 300 degrees F. They may require additional time to heat all the way through, so make sure you check the centers before serving.

I hope these empanadas make you feel less stressed and more eager for the happy holiday get-togethers approaching.  You can even enjoy them when you have a few friends over in between the chaos—in which case you should enjoy them with some good beer and relax.  Serve these empanadas with a light lager or Vienna lager—I recommend Victoria by Grupo Modelo S.A de C.V.

What makes you feel better when you’re overwhelmed by holiday stress?  Let me know in the comments!


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  1. says

    wow!! this is great, i think reinventing what to do with leftovers requires alot of creativity and this is awesome! we don’t celebrate thanksgiving so I don’t have turkey left overs but I’m going to try the same with chicken!


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