Wild Recipes

Venison Empanadas

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We traditionally fry empanadas on New Year’s Eve and after pounding down 5-6 of these delicious pockets of meat, good luck staying up until midnight.  We decided to take this recipe outdoors and use the pellet smoker instead of the typical deep frying method.  I may never fry them again.

Serving Size: 5-6     

Time To Make: 45 minutes

Special Equipment: Pellet smoker or air fryer

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1/2-lb coarse ground venison

1/2-lb venison chorizo (see Black Bean and Chorizo Venison Burger for recipe)

1 green or red bell pepper chopped

1 shallot finely chopped

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon cumin

2-3 jalapeños finely chopped

4 ounces tomato sauce

1 packet sazon

Salt/Pepper to taste

2 packs small frozen discos or dough for pastries

Dipping Sauce

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1 Tablespoon your favorite hot sauce

1 Tablespoon habanero sauce

Chopped Cilantro


  1. Preheat the pellet smoker to 450 degrees.
  2. Take the packs of discos out of the freezer and let them thaw on the counter while you brown the meat and cook the vegetables.
  3. Mix the venison and chorizo together.  Drizzle avocado oil in a cast iron skillet on high and brown meat in several batches.  
  4. Once all the meat has been browned and set aside, allow the pan to cool slightly and add the peppers. Cook for several minutes over medium heat then add the garlic and shallots.  
  5. Cook for a couple of minutes being careful not to burn the garlic, then add the tomato sauce, sazon, cumin, cilantro, and add the venison back to the skillet. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and some fresh ground black pepper.  
  6. Mix everything together and taste to see if it needs more salt.  Put the meat mixture in a bowl and allow it to cool slightly.
  7. Once the discos are pliable, but not too warm and sticky, you can begin stuffing them. Put a large spoonful of the empanada meat in the center of a discos and brush the edges with water.  Fold the discos in half and crimp the ends with a fork.  We typically use pierogi makers to stuff and crimp the dough.
  8. As soon as you have 8 or so empanadas ready and the smoker is up to temperature, lightly mist the empanadas with olive oil and lay them on the grate.  Give them about 10 minutes and then flip.  Remove when they crisp and turn golden brown. 
  9. Combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl.
  10. Serve them with black beans and dipping sauce.

John Vile

I live in NE Pennsylvania with my wife and two children. My passions include chasing whitetail deer during archery season, hunting waterfowl on local creeks, rivers, and agricultural fields, freshwater fishing, and assisting my wife with the vegetable garden. I spend almost every available minute on the water and in the woods with my kids and wife, and for us, spending time in the outdoors as a family is a way of life.

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