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Posted 12/13/18 | Posted in Travel and Dinning | By Tom Schlichter |

By Felicia Scocozza


Empanadas are a simple and tasty way to prepare and serve venison. Translated from Spanish, the name means “wrapped in bread.” Photo by Felicia Scocozza.

Delicious, lean and exceptionally versatile, venison (deer meat) lends itself well to a wide variety of cooking techniques and recipes. Being both quick and easy to prepare, this empanada dish is one of our favorites. The name derives from the Spanish verb “empanar” which, translated, actually means “wrapped in bread.”

Premade empanada dough discs can be found in the frozen food section of most supermarkets and in smaller international food stores. You can also use a rolled pie crust and cut it into 4-5” rounds using a large biscuit cutter, ramekin or mug. We make a simple homemade dough using this recipe and are always pleased with the results.



  • 1 ½ lbs. ground venison (or substitute your favorite type of ground meat)
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ each red & yellow pepper, finely chopped (you can substitute ½ green pepper for one of them)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. adobo seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • ¼ cup water
  • 12-15 empanada dough disks
  • 1 egg + 2 Tbsp. water for egg wash
  • Cooking spray



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom skillet on medium high. Heat olive oil and add onions, peppers, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground venison, additional salt and pepper if you like, and cook for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.
  4. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, oregano, adobo, and smoked paprika.
  5. Add the tomato paste and water and cook on low for 5 minutes more.
  6. Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in each empanada disc. Fold and seal each disc using a little water so it looks like a half moon. Use a fork to crimp the edges.
  7. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and place each disc on the baking sheet. Whisk together the water and egg and brush each empanada with the egg wash.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden.
  9. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa or chimichurri sauce, or use your favorite dipping sauce instead.
  10. Makes about 12-15 empanadas, depending on the side of your discs.