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What to Serve with Empanadas: 9 Side Dishes

Maria Foster
Last Updated on
by Maria Foster

You can serve rice, salads, stirred-fried vegetables, and other traditional Mexican dishes with empanadas. We prepared a list of our favorite side dishes that go well with these hot pockets of joy.


9 Side Dishes to Serve With Empanadas

  • Rice
  • Coleslaw
  • Stir-fried Vegetables
  • Cucumber Salad
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Potato Salad
  • Arugula Salad
  • Qdoba Queso Sauce

1. Rice


Preparation Time: 25-30 minutes, depending on the recipe

Tip: Cook your rice in chicken broth for some extra flavor

You can accompany most Mexican dishes with rice, and empanadas are no exception. Serve them with any type of rice or risotto for a fulfilling meal.

You can prepare a white rice dish with beans, cilantro, and lime. If you want to add a bit more flavor, saute some tomatoes and mushrooms to add to your rice.

For a more traditional approach, serve Mexican rice cooked in a tomato base. Add jalapeno peppers into the tomato sauce for extra spiciness.

You can also add protein-packed horse beans and artichokes for a heartier rice dish.

Most recipes call for cumin and salt, but we won’t stop you if you want to season with your favorite garlic powder.

2. Coleslaw


Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Tip: Easy to make, cabbage mix can be bought pre-shredded.

If you have the ingredients, coleslaw is something that can come together even before the empanadas are fried. Just shred some cabbage and carrots and combine them with the mayonnaise of your choice.

You can add a dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to give your coleslaw that zingy kick.

If you want to make things even easier, you can buy pre-shredded coleslaw mix and add the condiments. You can also make it vegan by using vegan mayonnaise.

3. Stir-Fry Vegetables

Stir-Fry Vegetables
Stir-Fry Vegetables

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Tip: Good for using up leftover vegetables

Half a zucchini here and a quarter of a carrot there, along with a few bell peppers… Stir-fried vegetables are delicious, and they complement the subtle garlicky taste of empanadas quite well.

Dice the vegetables of your choice and cook them in a skillet with some sesame oil and soy sauce. Start with carrots and bell peppers as they take a little bit more time to cook than zucchinis.

For a less caloric meal, air-fry your vegetables after rubbing them with oil and salt.

If you don’t have the time to slice and dice veggies, you can buy ready-made stir-fry kits that come with an assortment of chopped vegetables and a sauce. All you need is the skillet, and you’re good to go!

4. Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad
Cucumber Salad

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Tip: Low in calories and rich in vitamins

For this Mediterranean classic, you need to chop tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and cucumbers into bite-size pieces. You can add some olives and feta cheese to make it extra nutritious and colorful.

If you want to add a Mexican touch, toss in some mango and avocado slices and top it all off with whole basil leaves.

5. Salsa


Preparation Time: 10-25 minutes, depending on the type of salsa

Tip: Can be served cooked or uncooked

It is a truth universally known that salsa is the best dipping sauce out there. But which salsa? Red salsa, green salsa, fresh salsa? Well, all of them!

The main ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, serrano or jalapeno peppers, onions, cilantro, and lime juice. You can make different versions by picking and choosing from these ingredients.

For a green salsa, replace tomatoes with green tomatillos. Do you want your dip to be fresh and crunchy? Serve your salsa with chopped vegetables like peppers and onions.

Do you prefer it smooth? Put everything in a blender. If you want to add smoked peppers or another vegetable you like, just cook everything and puree your ingredients into a velvety sauce.

You can freeze salsa if there are any leftovers, but it’s not likely!

See also: Can You Freeze Cilantro’s: How to Preserve Cilantro The Easy Way

6. Guacamole


Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Tip: Plant-based fat and protein

Did you know that more than 9 pounds of avocados were consumed per person in the US in 2020? That’s a lot of guacamole! This crowd favorite is a great way to use that avocado that’s starting to get mushy.

Chop some onions and tomatoes and combine them with the smushed avocadoes. Don’t forget to add some fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt to balance the nutty flavor of the avocado. Dip your empanadas into guacamole and enjoy.

7. Potato Salad

Potato Salad
Potato Salad

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Tip: You can parboil potatoes ahead of time and freeze them for a quick treat.

Potato salad has so much potential. It can be creamy or fresh, depending on the condiments. 

First, peel and boil your potatoes. Partially boiled potatoes can last up to three months in the freezer, so go ahead and make a big batch if you have a lot of potatoes.

For a rich and creamy potato salad, you can add sour cream, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, some pickles, and bell peppers to your potatoes.

For a more fresh version, make a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, grainy mustard, and a bit of maple syrup. Chop some pickles, onions, and garlic and add them to your potatoes with the dressing.

If you let your salad sit overnight, it’ll taste even better, as the vinaigrette will have more time to flavor everything else.

Slice some hard-boiled eggs for a bit more texture and added protein and season with salt, pepper, and fresh dill.

8. Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad
Arugula Salad

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Tip: Arugula is rich in potassium and calcium.

Another name for arugula is rocket. Is it because the taste is out of this world?

Don’t give up on arugula because of our bad joke; this salad is a great way to add some greens to your plate. Its peppery taste and crunchy texture can complement the buttery empanadas perfectly. 

The recipe calls for arugula tossed in some olive oil and lemon juice and topped with parmesan cheese.

You can chop some chili peppers to add spice and color to your salad. We also recommend julienne cut apple and pear slices if you don’t mind a touch of sweetness.

Smoky balsamic vinegar will highlight the vibrancy of lemon juice, giving your dressing a sweet and tangy flavor.

If you’re vegan or don’t have any parmesan on hand, try these dairy and non-dairy parmesan alternatives

9. Qdoba Queso Sauce

Qdoba Queso Sauce
Qdoba Queso Sauce

Preparation Time: 1 hour to 5 hours

Tip: Good for using up leftover cheese

Anyone who has eaten at Qdoba knows that the Qdoba queso sauce is so much more than a cheese sauce. The fast-food chain makes a mean condiment from White American, White Monterey Jack, and American cheese.

Why not make your own version at home? It may take a while for it to come together, but every single minute you spend will be worth it when you first dip your piping hot empanada into this cheesy goodness.

Combine the cheeses, heavy cream, tomatoes, and poblano pepper in a slow cooker and cook on low heat for 2-3 hours.

Grill your tomatoes on a stovetop or barbecue beforehand for more flavor. You can add other vegetables that you like; we especially recommend aubergines because they will give your sauce a smoky taste. If you don’t want to grill them, put them in the slow cooker first since they take longer to cook.

Finally, add some jalapeno juice to give your homemade queso sauce that signature spicy taste. Make sure to add it little by little, to adjust the level of spiciness to your own taste. Bon appetit!

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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