Corn and Black Bean Empanadas

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

A batch of corn and black bean empanadas on a baking tray.

thought about making something all corny and red, white, and blue, but there are so few foods that are naturally blue that I just gave up. The ever-present strawberry, blueberry, and whipped cream cake has been done so many times, I decided it really wasn’t worth the effort (or the extra calories).

A pair of hands rolls out the dough for the empanadas using a rolling pin and wooden cutting board. Top down view.

So, I simply went with the genre of food that I think best 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.

As an interesting side note, they seem to have chosen a much more food-appropriate color scheme for their flag in Mexico: (red, white, and green), as did California.

The filling being applied to dough squares for corn and black bean empanadas.

And these empanadas? SO WORTH THE EFFORT. And the extra calories.

We ate these alongside some barbecued corn with the leftover filling. Every single bite I took, I made a rather inappropriate moaning noise because they are just so. darn. good.

The top square piece of dough is being added to complete the corn and black bean empanadas.

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:

  1. Roll out pie dough with a rolling pin.
  2. Cut into grid.
  3. Top with a bit of corn and black beans.
  4. Add enchilada sauce and cotija cheese.
  5. Place another square of dough on top and seal shut.
  6. Bake, then stuff into face.

And about that cotija cheese. You know those cheese blends that you can buy at the store that are pre-shredded and say “Mexican Cheese” on them? I’ll tell you what – those cheese blends are lying to you. Bold-faced outright lies.

Mexican Cotija cheese in a plastic package.

The only Mexican cheese worth purchasing, in my professional Mexican-cheese-judging opinion, is cotija cheese. It’s one of few types of cheese used at authentic Mexican restaurants, and the only type of cheese that I think should ever top your tacos or empanadas. Period.

It’s really salty, so you only need to use a little bit to get plenty of amazing flavor. And it crumbles like a dream. Just use the smaller side of your grater to get those cute little pieces like you’re accustomed to seeing on your tacos.

A human hand dribbles enchilada sauce over the top of baked homemade corn and black bean empanadas.

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, I recommend that you just use your favorite type of enchilada sauce here.

A human hand sprinkles grated Mexican cotija cheese over the top of homemade empanadas.

Homemade or store-bought versions both work well.

And if you’d like to serve these to a crowd for the 4th, just add less filling to every square and fold it in half to make little triangles. They’re so cute, and totally delicious. Enjoy!

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A close up of homemade baked corn and black bean empanadas on a rimmed baking sheet.

Corn and Black Bean Empanadas

  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 pieces 1x


An easy recipe for appetizers for any get-together, from the 4th of July to New Year’s, or are a great crowd-pleaser for game day! They are also perfect 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 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ear fresh corn
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
  • 1 recipe pie dough


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Combine with the black beans and oregano.
  2. Roll out half of your pie dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into a 3×3″ grid, as shown in the photos above.*
  3. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the corn filling onto the center of every other square. Add 1-2 teaspoons enchilada sauce and top with a sprinkling of cheese.
  4. Gently peel up an empty square and place it on top of one with the filling. Press the edges together with your fingers, then seal with the tines of a fork.
  5. Transfer to a silicone-lined or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. They should be nice and golden. Remove from the oven and serve piping hot, topped with more enchilada sauce and cheese.


*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.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: corn, black beans, empanadas, Mexican cuisine, vegetarian

What about you? Did you love this recipe as much as we did? Let us know in the comments below and please rate the recipe!

Looking for more Mexican inspired vegetarian appetizers? Try some of these tasty starters:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on July 2nd, 2014. Last updated: July 29, 2021 at 13:31 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).

3 thoughts on “Corn and Black Bean Empanadas”

  1. Mexican food is perfect for anything and everything, including the 4th! I’d say it was a good idea that you left out anything blue. I hope you are able to share that enchilada sauce eventually too. Sounds delicious!


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