Go Back
+ servings

Crab empanadas

These crab empanadas are popular among beachgoers along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Empanada vendors carry a basket covered with a tablecloth protecting the empanadas from the sand and will offer you shrimp, fish or crab empanadas.
Course Antojitos, Appetizers
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 416kcal



  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¾ cup chopped white onion
  • 1 Lb. crabmeat
  • 2 garlic cloves finely diced
  • 1 Serrano pepper chopped
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to season


  • 2 ¼ cup All-purpose flour 300 grams
  • 5 Tbsp. vegetable shortening 60 grams
  • 1 cup of beer (any beer will do or use 1 cup water, plus 1
  • ½ tsp. baking powder)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable oil for frying the empanadas



  • Heat the oil in a medium-size frying pan and add the chopped onion. Cook for a couple of minutes and stir in the garlic and crabmeat. Keep cooking for 2 more minutes and add the Serrano pepper and chopped tomato. Stir and place the lid on, and reduce heat to allow the tomato juices to release.
  • Cook for about 7-8 minutes, season with salt and pepper and allow them to cool down. The stuffing has to be cool when you use it to fill the empanadas.


  • Place flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Next, add the shortening and, with the help of a fork, incorporate it with the flour until it resembles coarse oatmeal. Now, slowly pour the beer and stir to form the dough.
  • Place the dough on a floured work surface. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is soft and smooth.
  • Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. This resting time will release the gluten that will help you roll the dough easily.
  • After the resting time, separate the dough into 16 equal pieces. They should be about the size of a golf ball and will correspond to one empanada each. Cover them with the plastic wrap while you roll one at a time to form the empanadas.
  • Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and start rolling each piece of dough to form a 5-inch diameter circle. If you have a hard time forming a round shape, use a small bowl and place it upside down over the already-rolled dough, then gently press it down to cut the dough into a circle.
  • Once you’ve formed the circle, place 3 tablespoons of crab filling on one side of the circle and fold the empanada, making sure the edge of the top part will be about a centimeter behind the bottom edge. 
  • Using a kitchen brush, very lightly moisten the edge with water. Now, pinch and fold the edges into half-inch sections towards the center, using your thumb and your middle and index fingers, overlapping each fold until you finish at the other end of the empanada.
  • Place the empanada over a clean kitchen towel and cover with plastic wrap, then proceed to form the rest of the empanadas.
  • Once all the empanadas are ready to be fried, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the empanadas, turning once, about 4 minutes per side until they are deep golden. Do not overcrowd your frying pan; for a 12-inch pan, fry 3 or 4 at a time, giving them enough room to turn them when ready. Remember, the oil is very hot, so be careful. Once ready, place them over the paper towel to drain or over a baking rack. You can eat them cold or warm. If you want to keep them warm, place them on a baking sheet in the oven at 250 degrees until you finishing cooking the rest of the empanadas.


  • In my hometown, we usually add beer to the dough to form the batter, but you can use water and baking powder as indicated above.
  • I use almost the same process to make the dough as when I’m making flour tortillas, the only difference is using beer instead of plain water. You can use this same dough to make empanadas with other types of fillings, like potato, ground beef picadillo, cheese and ham, chicken, or anything you can imagine!


Serving: 2empanadas | Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 759mg | Potassium: 270mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 100IU | Vitamin C: 8.6mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2.3mg