Corn & Black Bean Empanadas

Happy (almost) 4th of July! It’s the great holiday where we totally and unabashedly celebrate the country that so many of us refer to simply as… ‘Merica.

thought about making something all corny and red, white & blue, but there are so few foods that are naturally blue that I just gave up. The whole strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream cake has been done so many times, it really wasn’t worth the effort (and extra calories). So I simply went with the genre of food that celebrates the heritage of the western part of the United States,  because we all know that California was annexed from and shares a lot of history with our neighbor, Mexico. And interestingly, they seem to have chosen a much more food-appropriate color scheme, red white and green, as did California (on the flag, at least).

And these empanadas? SO WORTH THE EFFORT. And the extra calories. We ate these alongside some BBQ’d corn and the leftover filling. Every single bite I took I made a rather inappropriate moaning noise because they are just so.darn.good. The crust is my favorite pie dough recipe, which means it’s super flaky and full of buttery flavor that just melts in your mouth. If you’re short on time, these could easily be made with some pre-prepared phyllo dough and would probably be almost as tasty.

So basically, here’s what you do:

>> Roll out pie dough.

>> Cut into grid.

>> Top with a bit of corn & black beans.

>> Add enchilada sauce & cotija cheese.

>> Place another square of dough on top and seal shut.

Bake, then stuff into face.

And about that cotija cheese. You know those cheese blends that you buy at the store that are pre-shredded and say “Mexican Cheese” on them? Tell you what. Those cheese blends are lying to you. Bold faced outright lies. The only Mexican cheese, in my professional-mexican-cheese-judging opinion, is cotija cheese. It’s the only cheese they use at real Mexican restaurants and the only cheese that should ever top your tacos or empanadas. Period. It’s really salty, so you only need to use a bit to get the amazing flavor. And it shreds like a dream. Just use the smaller side of your grater to get those cute little curly cues you’re accustomed to seeing on your tacos.

The enchilada sauce I used here is a whole other story. It takes hours to make and my kitchen turns into a veritable disaster every time I do, but it is so, so worth it. I’ll try to come up with a way to make it that is a bit less time intensive, but until I do, just use your favorite enchilada sauce here. Homemade or store-bought both work just as well. And if you’d like to serve these to a crowd for the 4th, just add less filling to every square and fold in half to make little triangles. So cute and totally delicious. Enjoy!


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Serves: 12
An easy recipe for 4th of July appetizers, or as a meal for a smaller crowd! Black beans and fresh corn pair with enchilada sauce and a sprinkling of cotija cheese to make a truly delectable dish.


  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ear fresh corn
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
  • ½ cup enchilada sauce
  • ½ cup grated cotija cheese
  • 1 recipe pie dough*


  1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Combine with the black beans and oregano.
  2. Roll out half your pie dough into a ⅛” thick rectangle. Cut into a 3×3″ grid, as shown in the photos above.*
  3. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the corn filling into every other square. Add 1-2 tsp enchilada sauce and top with a sprinkling of cheese.
  4. Peel up an empty square and place it on top of one with the filling. Press the edges together with your fingers, then with the tines of a fork.
  5. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through. They should be nice and golden. Remove from the oven and serve piping hot topped with more enchilada sauce and cheese.


-Find the pie dough recipe at

-You can use store-bough phyllo dough, if you like, with similar results. Buy enough to make one double-crusted pie.

-To use as bite-sized appetizers, you can cut the dough into 2″ squares or simply add less to each square and fold diagonally in half to make triangle-shaped empanadas.