At first glance, it's easy to see why empanadas are popular with both foodies and casual consumers alike. Not only do they look divine when laid out on a plate and with a dipping sauce on the side, but these delightful pockets of culinary goodness have a near-universal appeal that's undeniable. Few palates, even of the pickiest sort, can resist the charm of this unique dish. Originating from the culinary traditions of Spain and Portugal, empanadas have evolved into a beloved finger food enjoyed by people in a wide array of cultures around the world. Though they are almost endlessly versatile, the true magic of empanadas lies in their simplicity — done right, they offer up the perfect blend of a crusty, flaky exterior and savory filling, from the classic beef to chicken, to cheese.
So next time you're cruising down the frozen section of your local grocery store, consider grabbing an empanada. But the truth is, not all frozen empanadas provide the same quality taste and texture. It's like the difference between macaroni and cheese brands, which can all have the same basic idea, but with wildly different execution and quality. Whether you're a seasoned empanada enthusiast or a curious first-timer, you'll want to choose the one that gives you the best bang for your buck. We've put together a list of some popular frozen empanada brands and ranked them from worst to best, drawing on customer ratings and reviews using a methodology that we'll explain further at the end of this ranking. When you find the right ones for you, you'll know it. Time to dig in.
Read more: Frozen Pizzas, Ranked From Worst To Best
11. La Fe
Despite the fact that its empanadas land at the bottom of this list, La Fe has quite an expansive catalog of foods. Distributing more than 1,400 products across the globe, this brand has no shortage of things that are bound to meet the fancy of its diverse consumer base. With offerings ranging from corn tamales to chicken croquettes, it may have hit gold in some ways. But when it comes to frozen beef empanadas, well, these leave much to be desired. It's quite unfortunate because, on the surface, these empanadas have got all the right ingredients. You can't go wrong with a mixed filling of beef, vegetables, and seasonings, right?
But according to customer reviews, these are a hard pass. One Walmart reviewer lamented that the beef empanadas tasted like downright odd. "They tasted like PLASTIC [...] like I had put them in the [oven] in a zip lock bag," they wrote. They went further, highlighting that despite attempts to cook this product in a variety of ways, the result was still the same — a plastic flavor profile that tasted unsafe. Other empanada flavors from this brand may work better for you, such as chicken, pizza, and spinach. But why settle for a dish that's less than mediocre? Save your money and taste buds on this one and move along.
10. Casa Mamita
It's kind of hard not to know about Aldi these days. Having recently ranked as the fastest-growing grocery store in America, the popular German-born supermarket chain is famous for its astonishingly low prices that not even good old Walmart can compete with. But aside from helping you save a few bucks on your next grocery bill, consumers are always curious about the variety of seasonal and novelty food items the brand carries on and off throughout the year. Every trip boasts a discovery, from pork belly to tomato garlic mussels, which, by the way, are criminally underrated.
But have you tried the frozen mini empanadas from the Aldi-exclusive Casa Mamita brand? They only appear every so often, so it's really about timing and luck if you want to get your hands on these. Unfortunately, they've garnered a negative reputation for tasting pretty awful. As always, preferences may vary, but according to a very vocal group of Redditors, Aldi's mini empanadas, which come in three flavors, chicken, beef, and vegetarian, have no flavor and are unlikely to have first-time buyers coming back for seconds. But all hope is not lost. According to Aldi Reviewer, "They're both good, but we like the chicken ones best." So for what it's worth, maybe give them a shot. Or not. As an avid Aldi shopper, they can do better. These are mediocre, at best. That's not a good look.
Goya is a household name that's well known for its iconic take on adobo seasoning and delectable black beans. Naturally, the brand would expand its culinary heights and step into frozen delights. Enter the frozen beef empanadas, a humble attempt that buyers report falls a little flat if you want a taste that'll make you squeal with delicious glee. They are okay, as online reviewers place them squarely in middle ground territory for edibility. But unfortunately, they don't share the same limelight as some of Goya's more iconic products. Still, when that empanada craving strikes, many report that these manage to hit the spot.
Though these beef empanadas do not offer an entirely authentic taste, they serve as a quick fix when you're ravaged with hunger and want something fast without any expectation of gourmet flavor. The worst offense that warrants a lower ranking for these empanadas is that the dough-to-meat ratio is imbalanced — too much dough and not enough filling. However, because of their petite size, these are easy to cook in an air fryer, creating a satisfyingly crispy experience with each bite. Again, these are pretty unremarkable regarding flavor, but they make a great snack, lunch, or dinner. Keeping these in the freezer for a last-minute meal doesn't hurt, but be sure to check out some other brands of frozen empanadas that rank higher and offer a more complete culinary experience for your palate.
8. Wild Fork Foods
Wild Fork Foods is a modern-day online market that offers affordable gourmet foods and high-quality meats. While you may not have heard of this somewhat nice brand, its take on empanadas represents a delicious and convenient solution. These offer a combination of ingredients that could satiate your hunger with a taste that makes you feel like you've stepped into Latin America. Filled with Angus beef, each bite will entice you with a healthy dose of onions, spices, and red bell peppers.
To many, this brand cares more about quality than name recognition and cheap fillers. With dough sourced from Argentina, you're getting a truly authentic taste that's savory on the inside and crispy on the outside. Wild Fork did its homework when creating this marvel, showcasing the care and finesse they put into this aromatic delicacy, one dinner table at a time. Customer reviews have been mostly positive for this product. However, some pitfalls are worth mentioning, with a few consumers expressing concerns that the empanadas don't always have enough meat to their taste or are drier than empanadas from other brands. Even so, you can count on these empanadas to give you a respectable experience you'll want to share with friends or maybe keep yourself. Not bad, Wild Fork. Not bad at all.
7. Good & Gather
As Target's flagship store brand, Good & Gather promises a delightful journey into snack-sized empanada heaven. And based on reviews, that seems to be mostly true. This flavor fiesta comes in two unique corn-based flavors: elote-inspired corn and beef and jalapeño corn. The star of this dish is undoubtedly the filling — it's savory, with a delicate touch of sweetness from the corn that creates a perfect union and tastefully complements the crispy shell.
But, there's a catch. These empanadas are more than just mini — as some customers have complained, they're downright tiny. In fact, to some, they are so small that savoring the taste is more like a fleeting romance. After the first bite, you fall in love ... and then it's gone and you're left yearning for more. It's a terrible fate if you find yourself completely enthralled by the blend of corn with cilantro, spices, and cheese, as many customers have.
The silver lining is that the empanada's petite size makes them ideal for air frying. Pop them in and, within minutes, you will have a delectable treat or appetizer. Just be prepared for the bittersweet reality that if you're after more than a tantalizing nibble, then you might want to explore larger empanada options on the market. Good things do come in small packages but, sometimes, you can't help but wish for a bit more.
6. Chef Bombay
Chef Bombay has a rich tapestry of flavors within its specialized product lineup. Rooted in Alberta, Canada, this small business began by selling samosas, before expanding its repertoire to other tasty Indian-inspired dishes like palak paneer, chicken biryani, and vegetable pakoras. Though you'll find it has a rather limited selection of frozen goods, it's easy to imagine that each product is curated with care and intention.
For many, these are a delightful twist on the classic empanada, boasting a luscious filling consisting of creamy butter chicken and cheese cocooned in a naan dough shell. This fusion masterpiece is a great appetizer or snack that will treat your taste buds to a cross-cultural culinary experience. Customers have sung the praises of these bite-sized wonders as well, highlighting the mild spices and tantalizing flavor, as well as the light and satisfying bite.
The only hiccup, as occasionally seen in other brands of mini empanadas, is that there is a bit too much dough compared to the filling. This may leave you yearning for a more balanced distribution of filling to crust, but with the enchanting flavors reported by so many reviewers, you might forgive this minor infraction. There's a sauteed chickpea and cheese version that's worth checking out as well, so what are you waiting for?
5. Dele Foods
The regular and mini versions of Dele Foods shredded beef empanadas are both best sellers on Amazon, so you already know these are likely to be good. Achieving the status of a bestseller is a challenging feat, as it indicates that the product is more than just a mediocre snack, appetizer, or quick lunch option.
According to many reviewers, the shredded beef filling is savory and adds a unique textural contrast to the crunch dough, elevating the entire experience. These empanadas showcase carefully selected onions, bell peppers, garlic, spices, and Worcestershire sauce for immense flavor packaged within these hand-sized delicacies.However, some customers have noted that the packaging might be a tad misleading, as it might make the empanadas appear to be much larger than they are. Even so, the flavor alone is enough to make these worth a try. You can even switch these up with the mini cheese empanadas, which is another solid fan favorite. So, on your quest for the best empanadas in town, you may find that these don't quite hit the top, but they make for a great contender nonetheless.
4. Cocina 54
These generously sized and individually packaged empanadas from Cocina 54 bring an authentic taste of the Latin tradition. Cocina 54 is a small family-owned brand rooted in the vibrant culinary scene of Austin, Texas. While most brands have a wide variety of products on offer, Cocina 54 has currently dedicated itself exclusively to the art of empanadas. Each empanada is made from scratch, featuring antibiotic-free meats, fresh veggies, and gluten-free ingredients.
Offered in four different flavors, you'll be hard-pressed to find a frozen empanada brand that embodies the essence of homemade more than these. Cocina 54's commitment to crafting these delectable pockets of joy shines through and the rave reviews indicate as such, with many customers reserving special praise for the freshness of the ingredients.
Others note that the dough crisps just right when you bake the empanadas in the oven and, because of their size, you'll be sure to get a lot of flavor with each bite. The dough has a crisp, almost cracker-like exterior, but the interior is chewy and holds the filling well with few issues with leaks. One look at these bad boys and your mouth will water. Pick up one, or two, or a few.
3. Clean Eatz Kitchen
The Clean Eatz Kitchen is a small online meal plan business where frozen meals meet convenience at your doorstep. Similar to meal delivery services like Factor and HelloFresh, you can select a variety of frozen cuisines and enjoy them practically hassle-free — no late-night grocery runs required. One of the most popular items in their catalog is the empanadas, which the company affectionately calls healthy Hot Pockets. These empanadas are set apart for their unique American-style taste courtesy of three distinct flavors: Buffalo chicken, pepperoni pizza, and beef and cheese. Though these seem to stray quite far from the more classic empanada tastes, the profile of these remains familiar and irresistible.
Customer reviews for the empanadas are overwhelmingly positive, with some even likening the taste to what's on offer from a local food truck — a testament to the authentic and hearty qualities these empanadas bring to the table. The flaky pastry crust serves as the perfect contrast to the deliciously seasoned protein stuffed within. Just pop them in the oven or air fryer, and you're all set. And with 14 grams of protein, these will likely leave you feeling full and content.
2. El Monterey
When it comes to Mexican-inspired frozen foods, there probably isn't a brand that is more well-known than El Monterey. Since 1964, this family-owned business has brought a diverse selection of Mexican-style dishes to tables across the nation, from burritos to taquitos to chimichangas. When you have a taste for authentic Mexican flavors but need it fast, many reviewers claim that you can't go wrong with El Monterey.
Its individually packaged empanadas are the creme da le creme of its lineup. They're also decently sized, so you get bite after bite of savory goodness before you're ready to go for seconds, and come in the classic beef or chicken flavors, so you know what to expect when it's time to dig in.
Customer reviews are near perfect, with consumers reserving special praise for the delicious taste and light, crunchy crust. El Monterey's empanadas are comforting and warm, providing the quintessential experience you want from this flakey, filling treat. It doesn't reinvent the wheel or add unusual ingredients, however, so anyone wanting novelty may be just a tad disappointed. You'll want a whole box of these stored in your deep freezer for those lazy nights when you've got a hankering for something cheesy, meaty, and oh-so-scrumptious.
1. La Paloma
La Paloma's mini beef nacho style empanadas are the undisputed champions of the frozen empanada world, earning the coveted number one spot on this list for one primary reason — flavor. What sets these little pockets of heaven apart from the other contenders is the unique nacho taste, an innovation that propels this cravings-worthy snack to the top shelf. But of course, what is a filling without the golden pastry shell to cradle all the flavors until you're ready to take your first bite? The inside is where all the magic happens, with a perfect blend of seasoned beef, and the gooey richness of melted cheddar cheese and peppers that give this treat a nice, satisfying kick.
If you were ambivalent toward empanadas before, you'll be transformed into a fervent enthusiast after you try these. And here's the best part: you can snag 'em at Costco. So why settle for just a few when you can stock up and have yourself a trove of La Paloma's empanadas at your fingertips? It's about time you leveled up your snack game with a little nacho-infused magic. Your taste buds will thank you!
To come up with our ranking of 11 popular frozen empanada brands, we consulted a wide variety of customer reviews across social media, review sites, and retailer websites for the most detailed list we could assemble. We also took into consideration the content of individual reviews to place products where they are in the ranking -- for instance, we took note if an unhappy customer left a review on an otherwise popular product, and vice versa.
Read the original article on Mashed.