Molotes (Oaxacan Masa Empanadas)

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Chicken tinga molotes

We are huge fans of tacos in our home. It’s kinda funny because if you ask my three year old what he wants for dinner he always says tacos. What’s not to love about tacos? We usually have tacos as a clever way to disguise leftovers. Whether it’s leftover shredded chicken, fish, or brisket – corn tortilla tacos with an assortment of toppings works every time. Our kids love garnishing their own tacos.

As I was playing with empanda recipes in the fall I tested savory empanada recipes, but for some reason our empanada dough recipe didn’t seem to do the savory fillings justice, so I did some research. Then I read about molotes. Have you ever heard of molotes? When I heard the word molotes I thought of hair buns, because that’s what we call them. Molotes (the food) are a common street food, found in Oaxaca during Easter and Christmas time. They are made with a disk of fresh masa then usually filled with a chorizo and potato filling, fried, then topped with salsa, crema, queso fresco, and garnished with sliced radishes.

I’ve seen cigar and torpedo shaped molotes as well as balls of dough similar to hush puppies. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to test this idea with some leftover chicken tinga and the results were just short of miraculous. The masa flavor is similar to a sope and a gordita. My hubby loved them and said they reminded him of calzones. He was rattling off all kinds of filling ideas that we are both very excited about trying. So the next time you have leftovers and looking for a different way to polish them off, use your leftovers to fill these pockets of dough.

To make the molotes, the masa harina is mixed with a small amount of all-purpose flour, baking powder, shortening, and hot water. When soft dough is formed, it is divided into round balls and pressed with a tortilla press into disks. The disks are then filled with your filling of choice, deep fried to a golden brown, and served with your choice of toppings.

Molotes make the perfect party appetizer or main dish as they can be made ahead of time and frozen up to one month prior to frying.

Make them ahead of time and you’ll have a platter of crispy goodness. Once you’ve tried them, you won’t save them for a special occasion; they’re that yummy and so easy to make.

Check out some of these recipes for filling ideas:

Have you ever had a molote?

Chicken tinga molotes

Chicken Tinga Molotes

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  • In a large bowl thoroughly mix the flours and baking powder. Add the shortening and salt and mix well. Add water to give the dough the consistency of soft cookie dough. Divide into 12 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Using a tortilla press, flatten a ball of the dough between sheets of plastic to make a medium-large (5-inch) tortilla. Remove the top piece of plastic.
  • Add your desired filling to one side of the tortilla, then fold in half and press edges together with a fork creating a seal.
  • Shallow fry in a little oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.
  • Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven at about 250 degrees F. Best when served warm.


Calories: 112kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 102mg, Potassium: 162mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 41IU, Calcium: 72mg, Iron: 2mg

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