30 Tasty Side Dishes To Serve With Empanadas

While the world celebrates National Empanada Day on April 8th of each year, in my house we have full on empanada weekends.

Ever since my neighbor passed on her recipe and graciously showed us the process, we’ve set aside at least one weekend a month to make huge batches.

I can’t tell you how much my family loves creating these crescent-shaped pastries. I use “create” because they really are an edible work of art.

From choosing the filling like a paint palette to sculpting perfectly edged designs in the dough.

While we could easily find these delectable finger foods at street fairs, take-out places, and in the frozen food aisle, there’s something special about making them ourselves.

We get to experiment with fillings; everything from cheese and veggie combos to meat and fruit have been whipped up in our humble kitchen.

The best part is doing it as a family. I always enjoy the deep sense of connection with my brood when making these baked dumplings.

While empanadas are fabulous on their own, I like for them to last longer than a day, so I make plenty of sides to go alongside them. I’ve researched what goes with empanadas on and off for many years.

As a result, I’ve developed quite a collection of fantastic sides, sauces, salads, and even desserts.

Below you’ll find something for every mood and taste. From traditional dips like salsa and guacamole to iconic beans and rice and salads that will knock your socks off.

I’ve even thrown in a few adult beverages for the grown-ups to savor. Enjoy!

Side Dishes

1.Instant Pot Mexican Rice

Are you on the hunt for an easy-to-make, spicy rice dish that pairs perfectly with meat-based empanadas?

Look no further than this colorful Instant Pot recipe that’s made in a scant 25 minutes! It comes out super fluffy (provided you soak the rice first).

Be warned, this rice is a bit spicier than traditional Spanish rice, but you can easily adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes.

Made with the powerful kick of chili powder and cumin, the rice will take on an earthy flavor after you first sauté fresh onion and garlic right in the pot. Instead of water, chicken broth is used for an added layer of flavor.

Finish it off with some tangy tomato sauce that will add an impressive color. Once all your ingredients are in the pot, add the rice and set the timer for 15 minutes. The rice is even better the next day.

2.Black Beans And Rice

When wondering about what to eat with empanadas, one of the answers is always black beans and rice.

It’s a classic that never disappoints! This creamy vegan recipe for the popular dish will take only 20 minutes of your time and is easy, inexpensive, and healthy.

It’s not too spicy, so it’s a great way to introduce the kids to Mexican food. You can always add some personal heat to your bowl if needed.

To start, sauté an onion in some olive oil, as your rice cooks separately. Add a can of drained black beans and mix in some fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper.

The key here is to mash about half the beans to achieve a creamy texture. This protein-packed side is a lifesaver for busy weeknights!

3.Authentic Homemade Refried Beans

Once you’ve tried this refried bean recipe, you’ll never use canned beans again. The dried pinto beans can be made in about 25 minutes in an Instant Pot or for 8 hours in a slow cooker. When the beans are almost ready, sauté an onion and garlic in a pan.

Once tender, start ladeling the beans into the pan and mashing them. Mix everything together while the heat is on low. Top the mix off with some avocado, cheese, or cilantro.

You can serve these deliciously smooth beans on the side of your empanadas, smear some right on top, or, for an amazingly tasty twist, cook them ahead of time and use them as a filling.

4.Plantain Chips

Are you trying to figure out what to have with empanadas that are leftover or store-bought? You want something fresh, but aren’t in the mood for a big production?

The answer here is homemade plantain chips. Before you run at the word “homemade “, know that it only takes about 15 minutes.

Take a few ripe plantains and slice them up. Heat some good quality oil and submerse your slices. Stir them around until golden brown.

Add some salt and pepper, and you’ve created the perfect vegan treat. Serve with some guacamole on the side of your empanadas for a hearty meal.

5.Mexican Black Beans

If you’re thinking about what to serve with empanadas for dinner that has some spicy flavor, this Mexican black bean recipe is just what you need.

It’s got a bit more zip than the previous black bean recipe, so it’s great for folks who are a bit more adventurous in their pairings. This one is gluten-free, bursting with protein and calcium, and will only take 20 minutes.

You’re going to heat some oil in a pan and sauté some onions and garlic. Add a can of beans (with juice). Cook for about 20 minutes. Feel free to add as much chili powder and cumin as you like.

Finish it off with some cilantro and cotija cheese. These beans also go great with tacos and mixed into a salad.

6.Cilantro Lime Rice

This is not your average rice recipe. The layered flavors of cilantro and lime make for a refreshingly aromatic dish that will give guests the feeling they’re sitting in an authentic Mexican restaurant.

It’s so tasty it’s hard to believe it takes only 20 minutes to whip up.

The key to this one, is to rinse your rice and let it soak before cooking. This removes the starch, which helps make it fluffy later on. Simply boil the rice and when it’s done add plenty of fresh cilantro and lime.

That’s it! Your empanadas will have a delicious partner that will complement their flavor without overpowering it.

7.Oven Roasted Corn On The Cob

This easy-to-prep corn recipe has a Creole twist that will have everyone ready to dance in the streets! It’s the perfect way to spice up summer corn and makes for a deliciously unique side to any empanada filling.

Roasting the corn in the oven will ensure it’s crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside.Just place your husked corn on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Then brush with a mixture of garlic butter and Cajun seasoning. Bake for about 20 minutes. When you take the cobs from the oven, brush some more buttery Cajun mix on them.

For some extra zing, sprinkle some chili powder and Parmesan cheese on top.

8.Mexican Sweet Corn Cakes

This tasty copycat version of Chi- Chi’s iconic cornbread pudding is a great side for any Mexican meal, but its creamy smoothness is a nice contrast to crispy empanadas.

You’ll need masa harina, which is corn flour soaked in lime juice. Most grocery stores carry this, if not, a local Latin market definitely will. It takes only 10 minutes to make the batter.

Mix the flour, corn niblets, sugar, and heavy cream in a food processor. Then spread it out into a baking dish. The most important part is to place that pan into a larger pan with water before baking.

This water bath will ensure the moisture of this delicious, scoopable cake. The leftovers can be enjoyed for breakfast the next day.

9.Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Do you love stuffed peppers but need a break from your usual recipe? These bold poblanos are sure to satisfy your taste buds. Poblanos are the mildest of the hot pepper bunch.

There’s much more punch than a green bell, but not as hot as a jalapeño. As you’re roasting the sliced peppers in the oven, you’re going to cook ground beef or chorizo, with some black beans, corn, fire roasted tomatoes and green Chiles.

Sprinkle in cumin, garlic and chili powder to your taste. When the meat is just about done, add the mozzarella cheese and mix well. Take your peppers out and spoon the meat mixture onto the peppers.

This side can add just the right amount of heat and spice to your empanadas, especially if they’re not already filled with meat.

10.Mexican Corn Casserole

If you’ve ever had the joy of biting into a piece of mouthwatering Mexican street corn, then you’ll want to try this casserole that captures the essence of the popular fair food.

It’s got all the spicy flavor and wholesome corn goodness of elote but in a neater package.

It takes only 5 minutes to prepare and can be served as a starchy side to empanadas, for breakfast, or an after-dinner snack.

Grab some sweet corn, sour cream, Mayo, and cheese and mix it in a bowl. Add some garlic, chili powder, and cilantro and place it in a baking dish. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Salads

1.Black Bean Salad

The family has requested black beans, but you’re kind of meh about making the same old recipe yet again. Well, this colorful black bean salad is the perfect solution.

Loaded with refreshing ingredients like bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and corn, it will check the black bean box, give you something new to serve.

It’s also going to fulfill your family’s daily dose of protein and calcium! Spice it up by adding some cumin, jalapeños, avocado, and feta cheese.

Black bean salad is a perky, no-cook side that will help make your empanada dinner shine!

2.Simple Mexican Coleslaw

While there’s something to be said for the traditional mayonnaise-based slaw, sometimes you’re just not in the mood for the heaviness of it.

Enter this lighter, healthier version that encourages the use of bagged pre-shredded cabbage and carrots for simplicity. It also allows the vibrant colors of the veggies to shine through without the creamy shroud.

What pulls it together is the zingy dressing made with olive oil, lime, honey, garlic, and cumin. Just mix it all together, zero fuss is involved. Let it sit overnight in the fridge for even more intense flavors.

3.Mexican Street Corn Salad

If you loved the street corn casserole, you will adore this salad! It takes the essence of the casserole to make a tasty, creamy salad that is a refreshing contrast to empanadas.

You’ll be the talk of the summer picnics when you show up with this bowl of deliciousness.

The combination of fresh corn, red onion, jalapeño, mayo, and sour cream make it perfect to be used as a dip or spread for your meaty pastries.

It takes only 25 minutes to bring together and most of that time is spent cooking the corn.

4.Quinoa Salad

This crispy quinoa salad is a refreshing change to your garden variety salad. The delightful mix of cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onion, chickpeas and parsley go a long way in bringing the fillings of any empanada.

Add in the quinoa, some garlic and lemon, and you’ve got a salad that’s distinctive in appearance as well as dairy and gluten-free; and vegan to boot!

5.Mexican Potato Salad

Don’t walk – run to get the ingredients for this deliciously unique potato salad made with black bean, corn, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and the incomparable Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

It’s guaranteed to light up summer barbecues, complete a plate of empanadas, or a bucket of fried chicken. The key is to bake or grill your taters; it will give the salad a nice hint of smokiness.

Just toss the aforementioned ingredients in a bowl with some mayo, cumin, and lime, sprinkle some crushed corn chips on top, and you’ve got a potato salad exploding with flavor!

6.Tomato Avocado Salad

This colorful vegan salad is sure to become one of your summer favorites. But don’t forget to try this tasty treat with empanadas. It’s a great supporting side to the star of your dinner.

The marrying of fresh tomatoes, avocado, and onion is out if this works. Like PB&J, this combo just works.

There’s a ton of creamy, juicy, and crispy delight in every forkful. Just chop your veggies and mix in a bowl with lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add some cilantro for an even more fresh flavor!

7.Pickled Red Onions

Do you like pickled veggies, but not the waiting game that’s often involved?

Your problem is solved with these tangy pickled red onions that are ready to slather on your empanadas in under 40 minutes.

It’s a quick prep – slice the onions and make a brine of water, vinegar, salt and honey. Put everything in a mason jar (or other sealed container) and pip it in the fridge for a half hour. Add some hot peppers for even more flavor!

Sauces & Dips

1.Authentic Charred Blender Salad

This simple salsa will be loved by all for its rich flavor, color, and dipping potential. You’ll love it because it’s so very easy to make.

When you think of what sauce goes with empanadas, this fresh tomato and pepper dipper definitely fits the bill. It will take you only a few minutes to char the tomatoes and Serrano peppers in a pan.

Then you transfer them to a food processor with salt, garlic powder, and lime juice. That’s all there is to it.

This tasty treat can be used as a dip for empanadas or mixed in with the filling for extra juiciness.

2.Guacamole

Guacamole is one of those classic staples that can tie together any Mexican dish. If you love this brilliant green dip, but never made it yourself, give this recipe a whirl.

It will only take 5 minutes to mash some really ripe avocados and blend in garlic and onion powder, some cumin, salt and fresh cilantro.

Give the guacamole a few squeezes of lime before chilling it for 30 minutes. It’ll keep it from turning brown.

3.Avocado Crema

What’s the difference between guacamole and avocado crema you might ask?

Well, while the ingredients are similar, this recipe is creamier due to the addition of crema and sour cream. It’s basically guacamole but in sauce form. Like typical guacamole, it’s super quick.

Take all the basic ingredients and put them in a good processor or blender. It’s a great way to dress up empanadas.

Pour some on top with a few sprigs of cilantro, and you’ve got a delicious dish that’s pretty as well.

4.Qdoba Queso

If you’ve ever had Qdoba’s famous queso (and even if you haven’t), you’re going to love this creamy, cheesy copycat version.

It can be folded into empanadas or used as a dipper for them. It’s easy to make on the stovetop or crockpot.

With 3 cheeses, poblano peppers, tomatoes, and whipping cream, this is not your average fondue.

5.Chimichurri Sauce

In addition to its fun name, chimichurri sauce is adored for its versatility. This bright green delight has hints of garlic, citrus, spice, and tart.

This makes it perfect for a marinade, dressing, or sauce for pasta, tacos, and, of course, empanadas.

Made with cilantro, parsley, onion, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and red wine vinegar, your only labor comes from pressing the pulse button on the food processor!

You can serve it right away, but chilling it overnight will make it even better.

6.Spicy Mango Salsa

If you’re looking for something truly unique that the kids will love as well, check out this spicy mango salad. It’s a healthy snack that will go faster than you make it.

It’s an easy 15 minutes of prep that calls for you to dice fresh, ripe mango and cucumber, then add cilantro, mint leaves, lime juice and some salt and pepper.

It’s great on its own, as a chunky dip, or even as a filling for empanadas.

7.Pico De Gallo

If you’re short on time, you’ll love this tasty dip. Though pico de gallo is similar to salsa, it has less liquid and is chunkier, so it’s great if you’re looking for a nice topping for empanadas.

Made with fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice and garlic, this side is brightly colored and has refreshing earthy flavors.

Desserts

1.Tres Leches Cake

This moist and fluffy cake gets its name because it’s soaked in three types of milk after baking. Full disclosure, it will take you about an hour to make the batter, it’s a pretty delicate process to get everything just right.

But as you put the final touch of whipped cream icing on top, you’ll have an unmatched sense of accomplishment.

This is definitely a cake to consider for special occasions and celebrations if you want to both delight and impress!

2.Dulce De Leches Cheesecake

Anyone who’s had the pleasure of having this delicious cheesecake melt in their mouths will surely accuse you of having it shipped from the best bakery in New York City.

With a chocolate chip cookie crust and soft, creamy cake that’s so delicious, you’re going to need an appointment book to keep track of requests.

But the best part is the thick sweet sauce for which this cheesecake is named. Right before placing the cake in the oven for 45 minutes, drizzle the dulce de leche on top for an amazing alternative to strawberry or chocolate toppings.

3.Flan

If you’re looking for something just as creamy and decadent as cheesecake but not quite as sweet, this caramel custard makes for the perfect ending to any Mexican meal.

With only ten minutes to prepare and the 50 minutes of baking, set it and forget it, so you won’t be tied to the stove. The hardest part (which isn’t even) is caramelizing the sugar.

Once it’s done, pour it into an oven-safe pan. Then mix together some eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, cream cheese and sugar. Pour into the pan and bake. When it’s done, let it sit for ten minutes and then flip it onto a serving dish.

If you really want to turn heads, make a flavored flan by adding some coffee, coconut, or chocolate to the mix.

Drinks

1.Horchata

If you’ve never tried, or heard of horchata, there is no better time to whip up this rice-based drink than when you’re planning a dinner with empanadas.

It’s the perfect alternative to after-dinner coffee. Made with toasted almonds, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, it gets strained and blended, and the result is a rich, earthy drink with hints of smoke that can be served warm or over ice.

2.Sangria

This fruit-filled beauty makes for a majestic centerpiece when surrounded by empanadas and colorful sides.

Aesthetics and flavor aside, you’ll love this easy-to-make alcoholic beverage because gallons of it can be made with limited funds. So it’s awesome for large gatherings.

This recipe calls for you to mix red wine, brandy, sugar and fresh citrus fruit like orange, lemon, and lime.

Toss in some pineapple chunks and berries for good measure. Finish it off with a fizz – ginger ale or sparkling water. It’s guaranteed to make a big bang at your party!

3. Margaritas

When thinking about what to drink with empanadas, a good Margarita could be the perfect start to a delicious dinner filled with this Mexican fare.

While you can go with a million different flavors, when feasting on the tasty pastries, consider sticking with this classic recipe.

Mix together some nice quality tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and agave. Fill a gorgeous glass with ice, line the rim with sea salt, and get the party started!

30 Tasty Side Dishes To Serve With Empanadas

Print Recipe
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 14 minutes

Ingredients

Side Dishes

  • Instant Pot Mexican Rice
  • Black Beans And Rice
  • Authentic Homemade Refried Beans
  • Plantain Chips
  • Mexican Black Beans
  • Cilantro Lime Rice
  • Oven Roasted Corn On The Cob
  • Mexican Sweet Corn Cakes
  • Stuffed Poblano Peppers
  • Mexican Corn Casserole

Salads

  • Black Bean Salad
  • Simple Mexican Coleslaw
  • Mexican Street Corn Salad
  • Quinoa Salad
  • Mexican Potato Salad
  • Tomato Avocado Salad
  • Pickled Red Onions

Sauces & Dips

  • Authentic Charred Blender Salad
  • Guacamole
  • Avocado Crema
  • Qdoba Queso
  • Chimichurri Sauce
  • Spicy Mango Salsa
  • Pico De Gallo

Desserts

  • Tres Leches Cake
  • Dulce De Leches Cheesecake
  • Flan
  • Drinks
  • Horchata
  • Sangria
  • Margaritas

Instructions

  • Pick a side dish.
  • Add a salad.
  • Enjoy it with a drink.
  • End with a dessert!