Appetizer Main dish Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex fried pies

Tex Mex fried pies DSC0206

“I have four words for you,” said a friend. “Tex-Mex fried pie!”

“Isn’t that three words?” I said.

“Whatever,” he said. “But have you had one?” I replied that I had not. “You should,” he said. He then went on to explain that a Tex-Mex fried pie was like a regular fried pie, but was filled with meat and beans instead of fruit. I asked if the crust was made with masa and he said, nope—it was a regular piecrust. “If you love bean and cheese tacos, you’ll love this,” he said.

And that was that—I was intrigued.

Now, I’m no stranger to making fried pies but I was still curious to see what sort of recipes existed for this savory delicacy. So imagine my surprise when the first one I found appeared in Yankee Magazine. Yes, I said Yankee. And it was strange.

The filling was a mix of ground beef, bell peppers and crushed potato chips. Now, I could understand, maybe, crushed tortilla chips. But potato chips just seemed odd in a recipe described as “Tex-Mex.”

Tex-Mex fried pies | Homesick Texan

What was even more odd was that further research revealed that the genesis of that recipe was actually Texan, as it had come from someone at the State Fair—the center of the universe for all things fried. That said, despite its provenance, without much spice or any jalapeños it still seemed bland so I decided to just make up my own.

One thing I did like about the recipe was there was some cheese added to the crust. I kept that idea, but I completely changed the filling. For mine, I went with spicy Mexican chorizo instead of ground beef, and of course I added refried beans. And for heat, I threw in some diced jalapeños and then finished it with cheddar cheese.

The filling was rich and addictive, the sort of thing that goes well with a handful of tortilla chips, a fluffy flour tortilla or yes, a fried piecrust. And once I fried up a batch and took my first bite, I knew just what my friend had been talking about—these Tex-Mex fried pies were indeed very good. (Some of you may be asking, what’s the difference between these and an empanada? Not much, I admit, as both are pastries stuffed with a filling. Though for my empanadas, I use a different crust and I always bake them.)

Tex-Mex fried pies | Homesick Texan

You can eat them on their own, but they’re also terrific dipped into roasted salsa and sour cream. They make for a fine appetizer, a light lunch or an afternoon snack. And because they’re portable, when I head to Texas next week for my book tour, I’ll pack some with me for the plane trip, too.

Tex Mex fried pies DSC0206
5 from 1 vote

Tex-Mex fried pies

Servings 12
Author Lisa Fain


Ingredients for the crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup lard, chilled
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound Mexican chorizo
  • 2 cups refried beans or 1 (15-ounce) can
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) Cheddar cheese, shredded

Ingredients for the pies:

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salsa and sour cream for serving


  1. To make the crust, mix together the flour, salt, and Cheddar cheese. Add the lard, either with a fork, your hands or a pastry cutter. When the flour is clumped together, slowly add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is moist enough to come together. Form the dough into a ball, then wrap and place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

  2. To make the filling, heat up the oil in a large skillet on medium-low. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the Mexican chorizo from the casing (if homemade and already loose, you can skip this step) and add to the skillet along with the diced jalapeños. Cook until chorizo is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the refried beans and cook until heated. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.

  3. To make the fried pies, roll out the chilled curst until it’s no more than 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut out 4-inch diameter circles. Roll out any leftover scraps and continue to cut out 3-inch circles until all the dough has been used. You should have about 12.

  4. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each crust. Moisten the edges and fold the edge over, sealing the edges with your fingers and then press down on the edges with a fork. (If there’s any filling left over, save it for tacos or use as a dip.)

  5. In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1 inch of oil to 350° F. With a spatula, gently place 2 or 3 pies into the hot oil, cooking for about a minute on each side or until lightly browned. Drain cooked pies on a rack or a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat for the remaining pies.

  6. Serve warm with salsa, sour cream, or just by themselves.

  1. Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen

    Wow, I really need these for lunch today!

  2. Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips

    Sweet baby jesus and clutch my pearls!!!! WOW~~~~ I'm speechless, and hungry!

  3. Yummy! These are like tex-mex Cornish Pasties which as a Brit are my personal guilty pleasure. Will have to try. A

  4. Those sound amazing! I'm not sure if I'll be able to find lard at the store – would shortening or butter work in the same amount?

    Also, do you have any good pointers on how to get that size of circle? I was thinking of maybe using a soup bowl or something…

    SOO excited about these!

  5. Those are perfect for my Saturday movie night with a little salsa fuego! I'll have to slap them together.

    Speaking of yet another fabulous recipe from your book, my CSA box is going to have more tomatillos next week. I think I'll start making tomatillo jalapeno preserves for Christmas gifts.

  6. Michelle Stiles

    What a great idea. I can imagine a flaky deep fried crust filled with savory. I would imagine this as a perfect hang over food…..

  7. Being from the South, you know I love just about any kind of fried pie. My wife is from Nebraska. Out there we have Runzas, a sort of fried pie filled with hamburger, cheese, chopped up cabbage and onion. Where ever you are there is probably some kind of fried pie indigenous to the area. I'm going to have to fix your versions of Tex/Mex fried pies and I know they will be good. Thank you for the recipe.

  8. Lisa Fain

    Miss–You can have them for lunch tomorrow!

    Jessica–I've done my job well, I see!

    Allie–I never thought of that, but it makes sense!

    Amanda–I'd substitute shortening, as it holds up better than a butter crust in the hot oil. I used a small saucer, but a bowl could work, too.

    Kristen–Yep, they're wonderful with salsa fuego! And the jam makes for fine gifts!

    Michelle–It probably is!

    Corky–You're welcome. And Runzas sound very interesting. I like your regional fried pie theory.

  9. Dixie Caviar

    These look amazing! For the crust, do you use leaf lard only, or could I use the (processed) lard I find at my local Mexican grocery?

  10. Lisa Fain

    Dixie Caviar–I think leaf lard is preferable, but you can definitely use regular lard, too.

  11. EBPitcher

    Reminds me of Natchitoches Meat Pies we'd get in Louisiana. And boy were they addictive! YUM! I might have to try my hand at these!

  12. You have a good empenada recipe? please share that sometime!

  13. HZ in DF

    Those remind me of the pastes de Pachuca that are a specialty in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. I've yet to visit Hidalgo, but I've had pastes de Pachuca in the bus station here in Mexico City and they were delicious. The story goes that they originated with the arrival of Cornish miners who came to Mexico in the 1800s. Now I can try making my own!

  14. Lisa Fain

    EBPitcher–I've never had a Natchitoches pie, but have heard nothing but great things about them from Louisiana friends.

    Michah–In my book!

    HZ–How interesting!

  15. Anonymous

    I've lived in Texas for over 30 years and never heard of a Texas or Tex-Mex meat pie. It does seem to be modeled after a spicy Natchatoches meat pie (these can be found in Texas)
    Wherever it originated, the concept is definitely yummy!

  16. These look delicious!

    As a vegetarian do you think i could substitute vegetable shortening for lard in the pastry and skip the chrizo?

    Also am I right in thinking that a 3 inch diameter is quite small? Forgive me if i'm wrong- i'm from London and we don't have fried pies over here!

  17. Melissa Lee

    Lisa, I just received my copy of your new cookbook and it is fabulous! I made the Dr. Pepper Ribs for dinner last night and my husband said they are the best he ever had. From one native Texan to another….you ROCK! I have the book displayed on the island in my kitchen. My daughter said before she left for school this morning…."Mom, you really are in love with that book aren't you?". I had to say YES…..I may not live in Texas now, but my heart will always have part of it. Thank you!

  18. I'm here to say, everybody try Lisa's empanadas because they're AWESOME!

    Runzas are the Nebraska version of a filled baked meat/cabbage/onion pie which is called a bierock in Kansas. Very yummy. I've never had either of them fried, only baked. I've always thought it's funny that the same food is called by different names in states that touch each other.

  19. Lisa Fain

    Anon–Indeed it is!

    Sarah–Thank you, it's more like four inches.

    Melissa Lee–I'm so pleased y'all enjoyed the ribs! And Texas is always in our hearts!

    Celeste–Thank you! And yes, it's always interesting to see how the same dish can be called so many different names.

  20. maewestern

    I'm putting together a brunch menu and these will make the cut before I even TRY them! Yes, friends, that's how much I trust any recipe Lisa comes up with!

  21. So, question: What do you use for empanada crust? I was taught to use Goya frozen Discos para Empanada, but my grocery stores don't carry them anymore here in Kentucky. I'm desperate for a good substitution. Help?

  22. ShivonneH

    I'm going carb-less for the next week to be sure I fit into a dress for a wedding down in Texas next Saturday (I so wanted to get to one of your book signings, but I can't make it fit since this is a whirlwind trip!!) But you better believe I'm frying these babies up that following Monday!

  23. Lisa Fain

    Maewestern–Hope you enjoy them!

    Les–The recipe is in my book!

    ShivonneH–Have a great time in Texas!

  24. Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits

    Now….I've made bajillions of fried fruit pies but never a savory pie. I must correct that glaring omission right now. Thank you for the inspiration!

  25. Anonymous

    These are almost a staple in Puerto Rico. Which is very different from Mexican or Tex-Mex. They can be stuffed with a meat filling a fruit filling, just cheese or pizza one. I have been making them and eating them forever! Down there they are called empandillas or pastelios, perfect for snacking, a quick lunch or on a party platter!

  26. Just wanted to thank you for this website…I am a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Ukraine…but was born and raised a southern girl in the states. I've been trying numerous recipes for homemade tortillas and when I found yours…it finally was satisfying 🙂 thank you thank you thank you!! Today's blog post was even about it! So excited to make more of these recipes on this wonderful blog.


  27. Mmmmmm empanadas! I'm not too much a fan of chorizo but I'll totally make these with seasoned ground turkey or something. Yum!

  28. Erin @ The Speckled Palate

    Nothing beats a good fried pie, and these? Well, they sound delightful and a LOT like some of the meat pies I've had here in Louisiana. If nothing else, similar but different ingredients and spices. And I plan on surprising my husband with some of these, so thanks for posting!

  29. Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake

    You had me "tex-mex" and "fried!" These look like such a fun weekend treat – definitely bookmarking!

  30. Kristen Nelson

    OK, I gave this a try tonight. I used seasoned refried beans and a little extra chorizo. The filling was out of this world! Next I spiked the sour cream with cilantro because I thought it would offset the richness of the fried pies. Boy howdy, these are irresistable! So yummy I'll have to make these for my next party.

  31. Anonymous

    Good lord woman! you're killing me here, I will be making these tonight.

  32. I'd like to make these a few days ahead…Can I freeze them and then fry them? Would I have to defrost them first?

  33. Lisa Fain

    Jackie–Yes it is!

    Lydia–You're very welcome!

    Anon–Thanks for the information.

    Chelsea–Seasoned ground turkey sounds great!

    Kristen–Yay! I'm so glad that you enjoyed them!


    Rikki–Yep–I'd thaw them first.

    Erin–I need to try those Nachitoches pies!

    Kathryn–They're great on the weekend!

  34. So I made these last night. I was actually able to find lard at the store and this meal was super cheap and satisfying. I must have somehow done things differently as I only had enough dough for 8 pies and about double the filling needed – Maybe I didn't roll the dough out thin enough – but hey, I figure I'll use the filling in burritos or maybe chimichangas or something?
    Thanks again for a great recipe!

  35. Michelle

    This is kind of like a bigger version of the "Texas Fried Frito Pies" I had when I visited the State Fair last week. Have you heard about those little goodies? They're the talk of the fair this year 🙂 My sister and I took our sons on two airplanes and across almost 3,000 miles to show them our homeland and Big Tex! We are two fellow Homesick Texans. Have a great time on the book tour, and enjoy Texas in October (the best time of year in the Lone Star State).

  36. That filling sounds DIVINE. Guess I'll have to put the elliptical trainer on GO all day 😉

  37. My kids would love these. Have to try it.I tried your carnitas recipe. I was very skeptical but it turned out delicious! Carnitas remind me more of my hometown El Paso, although I live in Houston. Would love a good recipe for pickled red onions to go with it.

  38. Michelle C.

    I made the sweet empanadas from the book today (used the sweet potato sub for the pumpkin). Is it a good sign when your husband eats 4 of them before they're cool? 😀

    The southwestern chicken and dumplings on the blog are another of his favorites.

    Thank you for such great recipes!

  39. You had me at "Tex-Mex Fried Pie."

  40. Anonymous

    oh! I remember getting these from south and west Texas way out in the middle of no where when we'd visit my grandparents in Del Rio. They don't usually have a traditional "fried pie" look like the ones you show in the picture above – more like a fried burrito looking feel to them on the outside. sooooooooooo good.

  41. If I want to make these with pre-made (frozen) pastry, should I use short, puff, flaky etc? I want to make them for supper but won't have time to make the pastry myself today…advice much appreciated!

  42. Lisa Fain

    Amanda–Glad you're happy with them!

    Michelle–I have heard of those, sad I didn't get to try one.


    Faith–I'll get on the pickled red onions

    Michelle–I'm so glad you liked the empanadas!

    Sarah–Yep, it happens!

    Anon–The taste is indeed very similar.

    Phoebe–That's a good question! I'd go with a frozen pie crust dough that has shortening in it.

  43. Muffin Tin

    These look delicious, especially with cheese in the pastry! As with many of your readers, my thoughts turned to Natchitoches Meat Pies which are indeed wonderful. (That's my neck of the woods.) We always used the recipe in Cane River Cuisine. You can purchase small frozen pies in grocery stores down there, but I don't like them. As always, homemade is best.

  44. Anonymous

    Are these the same as Natchitoches meat pies?

  45. Lisa Fain

    Anon–I think they're similar but I don't believe refried beans are usually in Natchitoches pies.

  46. Steff @ The Kitchen Trials

    I made Natchitoches Meat Pies quite a while back and loved them (I used the recipe in "Cooking Up A Storm"). I did not, however, add refried beans to the filling or cheese to the crust. Clearly, I'll have to revisit this recipe. Well, actually, I'll have to try your recipe, Lisa, but you know what I mean. =) Thanks for the fresh inspiration!

  47. Cannot wait to try this one! This Texas gal who has transplanted to Washington State appreciates your blog soooooo much.

  48. What is that delicious looking dark red salsa in the little bowl next to the fried pie? Do you have the recipe for that on this site? LOVE YOUR SITE!!!

  49. Anonymous

    Wow these look great! Big thanks to the FLOG (Felicia Day) for sending me here!

  50. Rainbow Coloured Love

    These were so delicious. I used beef Chorizo and vegetable shortening in place of pork chorizo and lard because one of my roommates keeps kosher, but it was completely delicious.

  51. Anonymous

    Awesome meal. I got a great recommendation to get the real Mexican chorizo sausage at the mexican market. It should be chunky. That was the best part.

  52. Lisa Fain

    Carolina–Kosher salt is just a type of salt that works well in cooking, and lots of cooks use it for all kinds of foods not just kosher dishes. It's flaky and has a clean flavor. You can substitute sea salt, but if you use iodized table salt, use less at it's saltier and stronger than kosher salt.

  53. Carolina

    I got here from Felicia day's show "The Flog" it looks wonderful!
    but I have few questions:
    why does the salt is kosher? the dish itself is not a kosher one, you have cheese, meat and pork inside…
    what is the difference?

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