Paleo Empanadas

I hate to brag, but can I? Okay, okay, I’ll hush up. But seriously, can I at least say that my pickypants Mister said these ranked up there with “the best of the best”? That is kind of major, because he is sort of, um, how do you say…”particular”? I mean I love the guy, and he will eat anything I make, but getting him to get excited over food is about as easy as getting him excited over organizing the pantry. Except, oddly enough, he LOVES organizing the pantry! But I digress….

We like to talk about the Tex-Mex transition – how to satisfy the craving without going all GMO and corn-based. (And yes, while I realize empanadas did not get their roots in Tex-Mex, for me it falls into the same category of my Latin persuasion food obsession – ask any Texan). To call it a challenge would just skim the surface. I mean this food IS corn. It IS cheese. It IS beans. And it IS rice. It’s other stuff too, but dang, Paleo is like the antithesis of these foods I love. Y’all smellin’ what I’m steppin’ in?

Well I did it. I brought the “T” in Tex-Mex. And the “ex-Mex” too for that matter. These Paleo Empanadas were killer. So I gotta share em. I feel like sharing a recipe like this might help give me extra points to get into Heaven or something.  Or at least make a few new friends.


  • 3 cups coarsely chopped yuca, peeled (chunks can be larger)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pound grass fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup carrots finely diced
  • 1/2 cup onion finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic sea salt blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin (omit for aip)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (omit for aip)
  • 1/4 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Extra avocado oil for frying
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  1. Boil the yuca in a pot of water for 25 minutes or until fork tender
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. While yuca is cooking, saute carrots and onion in a drizzle of avocado oil
  4. Once browned add ground beef and seasonings (garlic sea salt, cumin, chili powder, parsley and onion powder) and cook until no longer pink
  5. Remove meat mixture from heat and set aside
  6. Once yuca is fork tender, drain and gently transfer cooked yucca to blender (I use a Vitamix)
  7. Pour in 2 tablespoons avocado oil into blender with yuca and blend on high or until well combined and smooth
  8. Remove “dough” from blender
  9. Allow to COOL and pull out any fibrous pieces that may have been left behind (Note: if dough is sticky you may refrigerate and also grease your hands well to help work it. Try not to overcook as this will break it down further as well)
  10. Now make a “loaf” out of the dough and pull off a small handful (this will divide 12 times to make 12 empanadas)
  11. The yuca should feel dough like and allow you to work it easily with your hands. If it is sticky you can start adding in the coconut flour, one tablespoon at a time.
  12. Take 1 small handful, roll it into a ball then flatten it into a “pancake” 3-4 inches in diameter, do not make it too thin
  13. Take a spoonful of the meat mixture and place it in the center of your dough (about a tablespoon)
  14. Next fold your empanada in half and “seal” edges by pressing with a fork gently; your empanada should look like a half moon now
  15. Repeat until all 12 empanadas are made
  16. Bake for 10 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet or until dough is cooked and more stable
  17. Heat additional oil for frying over medium/high heat
  18. Remove baked empanadas from oven and fry on both sides or until browned
  19. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil
  20. Serve hot – either alone or with my 5 minute guacamole
Paleo Empanadas
Paleo Empanadas
Paleo Empanadas
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      • predominantlypaleo says

        Hi cindy, sorry I do not have the carbs/fiber info but you can likely google it since the yuca is basically the sole source of carbs. I don’t count carbs since I just stick to grain free, refined sugar free and use whole ingredients. If you are more keto though, I can understand why you’d have to dig a little deeper!

        • Cindy C says

          Thank you! Can’t wait to make these! My mom is From Costa Rica and I grew up eating yucca as a soup ingredient. My friend from the Philippines makes a cake out of yucca but I think there is dairy in it.

    • Wayne says

      When made with yucca they are called Alcapurria’ (Puerto Rico) or ‘Carimañola’ (Panamá). This is not new, it has been around for many years in the Caribbean and South America.

  1. Danielle says

    Where does one find yucca?!? I have looked everywhere here in Ohio (except Whole Foods because there is not one near me) and found nada. I’m a Puerto Rican girl and would love to make a decent, paleo empanada!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      I was able to find mine at Giant (mainstream grocery). I am not sure about in Ohio but I wonder if you have a South American/Latin market you might try? They would likely have it!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Yes! They are crispy after being fried. And the yuca is very “gluten” like in texture luckily but without the grain base or inflammatory properties!

  2. Karen Chatters says

    I need more guidance – how do you work the yuka? Is it cool? Warm? And how do you cook it? On a cookie sheet? Oil? This looks so awesome but all I have is a yuka-meaty mess! HELP!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Yes! On a cookie sheet you want to bake your empanadas before frying them. Did you let your yuca cool and form it into a loaf first? The cooling helps the yuca take on a more glutenous form and become easier to handle. Hope this helps!! You can also pat it and try to work the dough before filling it and see if that helps. Good luck!

  3. Christin says

    Well, you’ve just made a friend here! Being born in Texas, raised in Puerto Rico, and now living in Texas again married to a man from Monterrey, MX… You could say I have a Latin food obsession. I am surprised how much Mexican food is actually fresh whole food, but there are times that you really do miss tortillas and empanadas…sometimes I am reading comments on marksdailyapple where people say comments like ‘I just don’t get what is so difficult about not eating tortillas’, and I think ‘yep, they’re not from Texas!’ I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Christin you are so right! They are NOT from Texas haha! I have often said I could survive on Tacos and Queso for the rest of my life. Except I cannot survive on either because my body does not want GRAIN OR DAIRY! Hope you like these!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      I have not seen/heard of buying frozen yuca. I would imagine you could still boil it, but it might take a little longer to cook and become soft.

    • Laurie says

      I use frozen Yuca all the time for fries. I find the fiberous center difficult to work out in fresh yuca. I plan on make these empanadas next week. I am so excited! To do my fries I usually thaw the yuca out on the counter then boil it for about 6-7 min (the boil is less that it would be for fresh yuca).
      These look so amazing, I cannot wait for next week!

      • predominantlypaleo says

        Great Laurie! I have never worked with frozen yuca – will have to check it out sometime!

        • Laurie says

          Hi Jennifer, Do you remove the fibrous center of the Yuca after you boil it for this recipe? I didn’t notice it in the instructions. I want to make these exactly as directed and use the fresh yuca the first time around. Its a total bonus if I don’t have to remove that!

          • predominantlypaleo says

            Laurie, I do not remove the woody core but you can! I boil it after peeling the outside and then pull out any tough pieces after I let the dough cool. Hope this helps!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      You can try Coconut or Olive though I do not recommend frying with oil at high temps. You could also potentially use lard if you have some.

    • predominantlypaleo says

      I bake these first and they are definitely edible that way but will not become quite as crispy. You could consider brushing with some additional oil and increasing the heat in the oven to see if they will crisp up better!

  4. Nicole says

    Perhaps I’m confused here- that happens often. But, I don’t see in the recipe where you gave instructions in regards to the following ingredients and what to do with them?

    1 teaspoon garlic sea salt blend
    1/4 teaspoon cumin (omit for aip)
    1/4 teaspoon chili powder (omit for aip)
    1/4 teaspoon parsley
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder

    I am hoping they go in the meat mixture?

    So confused. Help!! Thank you. This looks amazing. I have all the ingredients, just need to know where the spices go.


      • Nicole says

        No worries! Thank you. I assumed as much. I made these yesterday and wanted to report back that they were AMAZING! I was blown away at how good the “dough” came out after being blended and how much it was like real dough.

        One tip I can share from my experience when making the “half moons”. Leave the part that you will fold over the meat mixture a bit thicker than the part you don’t fold over top. It seemed to work better that way for me so that it didn’t rip when pulling it over across the meat filling to the other side.

        Thank you for the recipe. I really enjoyed making them and my tummy enjoyed eating them too! :)

        • predominantlypaleo says

          Yay Nicole! So glad they worked out for you. I definitely think getting used to working with Yuca can take some finessing but after awhile it gets easier, don’t you think? Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sonia says

    Would a flour sub be possible? As in Casava/Yucca flour? Not sure I’ve seen the veg (in Australia here)… Still searching in Asian groccers still.. Thanks!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Sonia, you can certainly give it a shot! I cannot make any promises as I have not worked with those flours in making this recipe. Please report back if you have success! (Or even if you don’t!)

    • Pat says

      I bought some recently in Aunt Maggie’s in Melbourne, so they are around! But haven’t seen them anywhere else … yet.

  6. Kay says

    They look amazing. Do you think they will freeze ok? I got quite a large yucca for these yesterday and will probably end up with more than 3 cups and there are only 2 of us, and will probably have this as starter so 4-6 at the most. I am thinking of freezing either before or after the baking part, probably before if they hold together quite well. It will be nice to have ready lunch for the hubby.

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Kay, I have not frozen them yet to see but I would imagine if you reheat via toaster oven or conventional oven that they should maintain their integrity. I would probably not try microwaving them, however. Hope you enjoy!!

  7. Perla says

    I tried making these last night and the dough came out very sticky. It was difficult to shape the balls. Any suggestions?

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Hi Perla, did you allow the dough to cool completely? Working with the warm dough may be stickier. I think overcooking might also make the dough too sticky, but I have not come across that issue when I let the dough cool completely. You might also place it in the fridge to speed up the process to see if that helps.

  8. Jamie Miller says

    These look so delicious. But do you go to a special grocery store to find yuca?
    I’d love to use it on other recipes!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      I can find yuca at my local grocery in the “ethnic” produce section (with the plantains, mango, and papaya). I have been using it in EVERYTHING lately!

  9. Rick says

    Wondering if you could use Plantain’s as well or are they less fibrous and doughy so to speak? I made the Plantain tortillas the other night with fajitas and they held up pretty well. I was literally in disbelief as my expectations were not that high when I was making them but they taste so good, even as a snack.

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Plantains are definitely less dough-like but are great for several things. My taco shell recipe uses only plantains and my tortilla recipe uses a plantain and yucca blend. Try experimenting and see what works for you!

  10. Stacie Pratt says

    Gave these a try tonight. I think I did something wrong I have a vitamin is it possible to over blend it? Or maybe it was the coconut oil I used I place of avacado oil. Any ideas?

    • predominantlypaleo says

      You can overcook it and/or dice it too small possibly. Did you let the mixture cool completely before trying to work with it?

      • Corinne says

        This recipe look great and will be good for the upcoming Latin party for a friend. However, I do not have a Vitamix. Only the average blender and food processor. Would that work?

        • says

          A regular blender CAN work but you will want to blend in small batches as the yuca can be sticky and can overheat your machine. The blender will still turn back on after it cools but this is the complication of using a blender without a tamper. Smaller batches can help prevent this somewhat.

  11. Clarice says

    Oops, I realized after I already made these that the recipe calls for yuca (aka cassava), not yucca which are not the same. I went out and bought yucca root and used that, which turned out fine actually! I wonder whether it would have been slightly different with cassava though.

  12. erica says

    Oh my goodness! I didn’t believe they would work but they did…and my whole family LIKED them!! Thank you for putting empenadas back onto our menu! On a side note…you should have heard all the questions I got walking around the grocery store with yuca in my cart. hehehe. :)

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Haha Erica, every single time I walk through the store with my arms loaded down with yuca I get strange glances. If (most) people only new that you could yield empanadas from that funky looking root!

  13. says

    Just made these today…they turned out pretty good. Not as pretty as yours and I may have used too much oil…they seemed a little “oily” even after frying, but still, they held together well and tasted good. I’d make them again.

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Oh good Kirstin, I am glad they were tasty. I usually use paper towels to absorb excess oil and mine are not too greasy. Did you try that?

  14. Breanne says

    My family loved these! Kids wanted third helpings! A couple things to share: no question dough must be cooled. Even then it is still very sticky. My husband who is the chef in this house devised a trick; cut a gallon baggie down the sides and cut off the ziplock edges which will give you a large plastic rectangle that you can set the dough balls into and then press them into round cakes. The dough easily, but carefully, came away from the plastic allowing us to transfer dough filled pastry to baking sheet. Also, this recipe is time consuming, we made them on a rainy Saturday for lunch but this in our opinion is not a weeknight recipe. We had never eaten Yucca before but we really liked it. Great flavor and the dough turns out like the real thing. Thanks for the yummy creative paleo recipe!

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Breanne, you are absolutely right, it is not a grab and go meal! It can take a little work but we have been really happy with the end result. Also, you can try adding a couple tablespoons of coconut flour if yours is sticky as well. I have not really had this problem but I know a few people who have. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  15. Genevieve says

    I was really looking forward to these but they turned into the biggest stickiest non empanada-est mess I’ve seen in my life!

    How do you get the yuca to not act like GLUE!?

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Hi Genevieve, I am sorry these didn’t work for you. There are a few tricks that might help. One is to not overcook the yuca, the 2nd is to really let it cool down before you try working with it. And the 3rd is you can actually add a little bit of coconut flour to the yuca dough if yours is too sticky. Hope this helps!

  16. Claudia says

    Thank you soooo much for this recipe! My boyfriend LOVED these. I was feeling too lazy tonight so I made them into bite-sized sopes instead And topped them Nom Nom Paleo’s Kalua shredded pork and guac. Woah…can I say YuM???

    Btw. I live in Texas too and I was truly missing a dish like this

    • predominantlypaleo says

      Sounds like a pretty amazing combo! Give Texas a big smooch from me, I miss my home!!

  17. Jen H says

    CLEARLY this was a hit for a lot of folks and started meaningful conversation as I scrolled down past the 60 plus comments to add mine. These were DELICIOUS. Your yuca video is informative and helpful…it takes the apprehension out of working with this root. I did everything the way you described and it turned out GREAT. The yuca also cost me $1.75 with tax (yay)! Zero issues with overly sticky dough…just letting it cool for 15 minutes was all it took after blending. The flavors and texture are incredible. I will make a double recipe next time. Thank you for this gem!

  18. Krisia S says

    I was just wondering, have you or anyone ever tried making this recipe with tapioca flour?? I know that tapioca flour comes from yuca or cassava. Would it be the same turn out? It may require eggs when using this flour along with oil.

    • says

      Krisia, I have not tried yet. I think it would be possible, but I usually avoid the eggs with these yuca recipes because doing so keeps them Autoimmune Paleo friendly. I plan to experiment with tapioca flour more, but have gotten used to working well with the dough I am able to make with the actual yuca. Let me know if it works for you!

  19. Janelle says

    The ingredient list says 1/4 cup of avocado oil but the instructions say 1/2 cup. How much oil should we be using?

  20. says

    Your Paleo Empanada recipe is amazing. The yuca “dough” comes out so light and crisp, and the leftovers reheated beautifully in the toaster oven. Outstanding recipe!

  21. Becky says

    Great recipe. Thank you. It was my first time making the yuca dough and I made several mistakes (should have been a little more fork tender; don’t double the recipe or it’ll burn out my vitamix; a food processor doesn’t cut it; don’t add water thinking that it might help get things moving in the afore mentioned useless food processor), but even with all my mistakes, these were a hit! My whole family loved them and we will definitely make again…hopefully learning from my mistakes and making them even better :) Again, thank you for a great recipe.

    • says

      Becky AWESOME! I am so glad they ended up working. They are a little tricky but get MUCH easier in time. Have you watched my youtubes? They can be helpful as well for some people just getting started :)

  22. Ali_R says

    Hahaha! I overheated my Ninja blending the yuca. Guess I’m not the only one.

    Your tortilla recipe was the first time I had ever encountered yuca in my life. Loved it! Makes you wonder, who the heck dug one up and said, “Let’s eat this!”??? Glad they did though.

    Before I go and waste a bunch of yummy empanadas – in which state *do you think* they would freeze the best? Pre-baked, baked but pre-fried or totally cooked? Also, how necessary to do you feel the oil is to working the dough? I watched the video and didn’t notice you adding any oil. I ask only because the tortillas were so greasy and these are going to get fried in oil anyway.

    • says

      You can decrease the oil for sure, but I think it really helps the dough. If I were going to freeze them I think I would do so after baking, before frying. But I think someone else said they froze after frying and then reheated them.

  23. joanna says

    geez. i’m wondering if i bought the wrong yucca. it was long and brown but it was so hard to work with. way too sticky. i let it cool in the fridge for about 2 hours. the empanadas were a total mess on the baking sheet and completely fell apart. such a waste of ingredients!

      • joanna says

        no, i didn’t think of that!! they kind of turned out like open faced ground meat pizzas- i guess that’s a good way to describe them!! i started crying!! haha i just hate when i follow a recipe and it doesn’t work for me. i wasn’t able to fry them so i turned the broiler on to get the tops crispy. well, when i did that, the parchment paper caught ON FIRE! definitely not a good cooking day for me : (

  24. says

    Wow, I’m pretty darn excited to try this. My DH is allergic to eggs, nuts, & coconut so a lot of amazing Paleo recipes are a no-go for him and we have to stick with the basics of meat, veggies, & sweet potatoes. He eats organic sprouted corn tortillas just cuz he’s so darn limited on food. Thank you thank you!!!!

  25. Tifini says

    I have made these 2 times and each time the dough is not like dough at all. It is very sticky and hard to roll into a ball and even harder to flatten. What could I be doing wrong?

    • says

      Usually when people have had difficulty with the dough they either have not let it cool completely, chopped it too finely before boiling, or did not incorporate coconut flour into it afterwards. Have you watched my youtube for tips? It tends to be helpful for those who have not worked with yuca much before in this fashion. Hope this helps!

    • says

      I am a big fan of avocado oil not only for its high smoking point but also for its many health benefits. If you are adverse to it for whatever reason, you may choose an oil better suited for you.

  26. Kelli says

    Theses were absolutely fantastic!! I’ve been wanted to make these for a long time but where I lived I couldn’t find yuca! Well I moved to another state and found it at Whole Foods. Was disappointed it wasn’t organic but I was desperate to make these!! I’m in love with yuca now and can’t wait to make more things with it! I used coconut oil try fry but avocado oil when I mixed the dough. I also seasoned the coconut flour with garlic powder, salt and pepper and added that to the dough about 1/8 cup. I also changed the inside ingredients a little. I didn’t use carrots but put in onions, red bell pepper and Anaheim peppers. I also seasoned with garlic powder, cumin, chilli powder, salt and pepper. I used fresh cilantro instead of parsley. These were amazing! Thank you for all you do for AIP. I’m bad I eat cumin but it doesn’t affect me. Thank God!

  27. Mike says

    Hi I really want to make these today, but I don’t have any avocado oil handy… can I substitute coconut oil?

  28. says

    So I was very excited to find your recipes using yucca “dough”. After making it though, I find the taste to be bitter and I just can’t get past that. Is this what it is supposed to taste like? Are there any tricks or tips you can offer to rid this from the end product?

  29. says

    Hello Jennifer. My name is Dan and I am a founder of Easy Fast Recipes website. Many thanks for this fantastic Paleo Empanadas recipe! Simple and affordable ingredients, easy to follow step by step instructions. I am a Paleo diet follower myself. This is yummy easy fast recipe and it’s surely going into my bookmark list.
    I am looking forward for more easy food recipes on your site in the nearest future.
    You are welcome to visit my website >> Easy Fast Recipes for Healthy Lifestyle & Fitness. Thanks and do have a great day!

  30. says

    Hello! Yuca is SUCH an interesting food! I could not believe it literally turned into a dough — almost as crazy as spaghetti squash. 😉 The flavor of the empanadas was great, like some of the others I substituted carrots for peppers….anyway, the dough definitely crisped up a little but overall were fairly flimsy and a little soggy. Do you think I may have used too much oil? Not fried long enough? Or is that what is to be expected with the yuca dough?

    • says

      If it was soggy, consider making your oil a bit hotter before you fry them, cutting back oil in the recipe (in the dough), adding more coconut flour, or rolling the dough a bit thinner. Hope that helps! They should definitely crisp up though!

  31. Leiza says

    I have made these twice already and it definitely takes practice! The first time I used fresh yuca and this second time I used frozen and it worked just as well. I learned from the first time not to overstuff the empanadas and not to make them too thin. I was just wondering if you have any tricks to cleaning my ninja blender? LOL
    Thanks for this recipe!!! It’s amazing and worth all the work!!

    • says

      There are a few things. You can run hot soapy water in the blender on high for a minute or you can also let cold water soak in it so the yuca sort of hardens and can be removed. Both methods are pretty effective!

  32. Dena says

    These were incredible!! Thank you for sharing. Next time I make these I’m gonna add some spicy jalapeños! These will be made often :)


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