Taste: The beef empanadas are positively rich and oh so savory. Then the dessert empanadas are perfectly sweet and fresh. Texture: The crust is ridiculously buttery, flaky, and tender. The meaty filling inside with chunks of soft potatoes is to die for. Then with the dessert ones the Nutella and banana are practically melting in your mouth! Ease: Totally doable but time-consuming. Assembling is the most involved part. Luckily, every step can be done ahead of time! Appearance: Adorable hand held pastries stuffed with goodness? WHAT IS BETTER?! Pros: Perfection in every bite. Cons: Indulgent, but at least they’re not fried. Would I make this again? I’ve made these many times!
Oh am I excited to share everything empanada with you! And boy do I have a lot to share because what is better on this planet than savory OR sweet goodness encased in pastry that you don’t even need a fork and knife to eat? This post has everything you need to make savory meat-filled empanadas or sweet dessert empanadas with my best tips and tricks. So let’s get right to it!
This is simply my favorite way to make empanadas. I am not claiming it to be authentic or traditional to any country or culture. There are SO many ways to make them and practically every Latin country has its own variation. If you think about it, most cultures have some sort of dish comprised of meat encased in dough! From British pasties to meat pies, calzones, samosas, even strudels, loving this kind of food is just a part of being human!
Watch the video below to see exactly how these are made. Underneath the video are even more tips and tricks to help you make the best empanadas ever!
The dough recipe is very similar to a basic French choux but without the eggs. It may seem weird to start a dough in the saucepan if you aren’t familiar with this method, but it is seriously one of the quickest and easiest doughs to work with. It does need to chill for a minimum of 2 hours, so keep that in mind as you plan this recipe! I have not tried the dough with whole wheat flour, but feel free to start by substituting only half the all-purpose with white whole wheat flour (preferably).
The recipe below is for a very basic beef filling. Feel free to omit or change practically anything – it’s meant to be customized! Note that the filling recipe makes a generous amount, if you have leftovers feel free to store in the fridge. I like to use it for lettuce wraps, scrambling with eggs, or filling a burrito. Leftovers from other meals (like cooked meat or even mashed potatoes) also make great empanada fillings! Check out my other recipes for Breakfast Empanadas and Chorizo Empanadas! Even plain cheese empanadas are scrumptious.
Be sure not to overfill your empanadas as you assemble, which is easy to do. Use a little less than you think to prevent any holes or tears in the dough and to prevent them from bursting open as they bake.
Watch the video above to see how I assemble step-by-step. You’ll get better at it with practice. This is the most time-consuming part so turn on some tunes or grab a kitchen buddy to help! Your emapandas don’t have to look perfect – most imperfections will vanish as they bake.
That’s right! These emapanadas are baked, not fried (though no one would ever guess they’re so good). If you make empanadas that are smaller or bigger than the size created in the recipe, adjust the baking time accordingly.
Again, feel free to add any flavorings you want! I like to dip the baked empanadas in salsa, gaucamole, or even sour cream.
TO REFRIGERATE: The dough can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for one day before using. The filling can also be cooked and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a day. The assembled unbaked empanadas can also be covered in plastic and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days, no need to change the baking time.
TO FREEZE: Freeze the sheet of unbaked empanadas until solid, then transfer into a freezer bag. Frozen empanadas will keep for up to three months and can be baked straight from the freezer. Add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
Fully baked empanadas can also be frozen, though they lose a bit of their flaky texture. To prevent freezer burn, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. To reheat, unwrap as many empanadas as you want and warm in a low oven or toaster oven.
Sweet Dessert Emapanadas
Place a few slices of banana and a small dollop of Nutella on a dough round. Fold the dough over and press the edges to seal. Brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of water) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (1 tablespoon sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon). Bake as directed in the recipe.
Other sweet ideas
Feel free to go crazy here! Fill with jam or preserves, pieces of chocolate, dulce de leche, cream cheese, fresh fruit, pie filling, or peanut butter!
How to Make Empanadas with an easy homemade dough and customizable filling. These crowd-pleasers can be made ahead of time and are baked instead of fried!
For the dough:
1 1/2sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
2 3/4cups(12.4 ounces) flour
For the beef filling:
1small yellow onion, peeled and minced
1small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1/2teaspoonred pepper flakes
1/2teaspoonground white pepper
1poundground beef (85-90% lean)
Kosher salt, to taste
1small russet potato, peeled, finely diced, and boiled
3scallions, trimmed and chopped (optional)
1/2cupshredded Monterey jack cheese (optional)
For the dough:
Heat the water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Add in the salt, paprika, and flour. Remove from heat and stir with a wooden spoon until a wet and oily dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
For the filling:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onions, bell peppers, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and cumin until onions are soft. Add the beef, season to taste with salt, and cook until the beef is browned. Drain off the fat. Add in the potatoes and scallions, if using.
Preheat the oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 5-inch circles. Roll each circle slightly to further flatten before placing about 2 tablespoons of filling on each circle. Sprinkle lightly with cheese, if using. Fold over the dough and press the edges firmly to seal. Crimp with the back of a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram with #handletheheat so we can all see!
Recipe byTessa Arias
I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)
I share trusted baking recipes your friends & family will love alongside insights into the science of sweets. Learn more here.
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