Healthyish Empanadas with Black Beans and Turkey Taco Meat

Healthyish Empanadas with Black Beans and Turkey Taco Meat

Healthyish is my new mantra this summer. How can I stuff my face with delicious pocket foods while keeping my diet well-rounded? How can I make healthy Mexican food so I’m not wanting to undo the button on my jeans after eating? How can I use up the turkey picadillo I made earlier in the week?

Healthyish Mexican turkey taco empanadas

These healthyish empanadas with black beans and turkey taco meat were just the ticket to curb my empanada and Mexican food craving while not over-indulging. To make these pockets even better, this gluten-free empanada is a kid-friendly recipe, which is a perfect way to get your little ones helping out in the kitchen this Summer. Made with masa, these can be grilled up just like fresh tortillas on a comal, grill pan or skillet. If masa isn’t your jam, you can find our thoughts on other gluten-free empanada doughs from our experiment last fall.

Gluten-free turkey taco empanadas

After making turkey tacos and black beans earlier in the week for dinner, I was determined to make a tasty empanada recipe with my leftovers. My taco seasoning is the real money-maker here, giving you a punch of flavor in these pockets. It's included as a bonus recipe for you! It has a good heat to it, so if you don’t want it too spicy, reduce the amount of cayenne or leave it out all together. Mixing the leftover turkey picadillo with salsa over medium heat for a few minutes gives the ground meat something new to talk about and keeps the empanadas from being too dry.

Healthy and gluten-free Mexican empanadas
Turkey taco picadillo with salsa
Kid-friendly gluten-free healthy Mexican food

Healthyish Empanadas with Black Beans and Turkey Taco Meat

Taco Seasoning Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon paprika, preferably hot paprika

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne

  • 2 teaspoons onion flakes

  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

  • 2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Taco Seasoning Directions

Mix all ingredients in a jar together and shake up. Use as directed for recipes.

Note: The turkey meat in this recipe has been made previously with the taco seasoning.


Empanada Ingredients



  • 2 ¼ cups masa

  • 2 cups water

  • About 2 cups of turkey taco meat

  • 1 cup salsa

  • About ¾ cup refried black beans

  • ¾ cup cotija cheese

  • Taco seasoning

  • Cilantro

  • Hot sauce


Empanada Directions

Mix water and masa together. Knead into a dough. Form bolas, or dough balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to press out.

In a pan over medium-high heat, mix together turkey taco meat with the salsa. Heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often until warmed up and most of the liquid has evaporated or rehydrated the turkey.

To build the empanadas, use a tortilla press with a Ziploc bag to press the bolas into tortillas, about 6 inches in diameter.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of refried black beans onto the masa, followed by a heaping tablespoon of meat, sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cotija cheese and a pinch of taco seasoning.

Carefully fold over empanada in the plastic wrap and pinch edges to seal. Peel away plastic, and crimp with a fork. Peel the rest of empanada away from plastic.

Continue steps 3-5 until all empanadas are made.

To cook, heat a comal or grill pan over medium heat. Cook until golden and brown spots appear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Serve with cilantro and hot sauce.

gluten-free black bean empanada
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