Tlacoyos, Or Corn Empanadas

By Melissa Pitts

Just in time for football season tlacoyos are fun little football shaped fried flattened empanadas filled with beans (and cheese). I had never heard of them until a short while ago and decided to give them a shot — and they turned out so good! They are a little labor intensive and patience is needed, if you have none that just make as bean filled empanadas and I promise no one will really care of notice.

You top the tlacoyos as you would a tostada, so pictured are two of them topped with shredded chicken, avocado, queso fresco, and salsa verde. Of course you can top with whatever you choose, either way they turn out delicious. This is a great appetizer or snack as they just the right size, but you can make them very big and have as a complete meal. Buen Provecho!

Yields: 6 servings

Preparation Time: 45 min

Cooking Time: 10 min


For the dough:

  • ½ cup masa harina (preferred Maseca)
  • ⅓ cup water (add more if the mixture is too dry)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • Refried beans, black, brown- whichever you like most, seasoned
  • 1 cup shredded cheese like Oaxaca or mozzarella (optional)


  1. Combine all the ingredients for the dough until it forms a soft ball. Add more water if the mixture is too dry and crumbles. Divide the dough into 6 equal small balls.
  2. Using a tortilla press lined with plastic or parchment paper, place a piece of dough in the middle and smash it just as you would as if you were making regular tortillas. Rotate the dough to ensure even thickness. Place 2 tablespoons beans in the middle (and cheese if using). Lift the sides of the tortillas and press the edges together like an empanada. The goal is to really make an oval but mine mostly turned out like empanadas. Press gently so you have an even, flat empanada (or oval, or whatever you come out with).
  3. Heat a dry griddle on medium heat and heat the tlacoyo until brown on both sides.
  4. Once finished, heat another pan with some cooking oil, either vegetable or canola, and fry the tlacoyo until crisp about 2 minutes each. Drain on a paper towel.
  5. Top the tlacoyos as you would a tostada. Serve immediately.

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