Empanadas de viento or fried cheese empanadas are the most delicious traditional Ecuadorian empanadas – they are filled with cheese (and diced onions if you want), fried until crispy, and served sprinkled with sugar. These are truly my favorite empanadas of all time, the combination of the gooey cheese and onions inside a crispy fried empanada and topped with sugar is delicious. I would eat these every day if I could (probably not a healthy idea), these empanadas de viento are the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack with a hot cup of black coffee.
The most important part is making sure the empanadas are sealed well, I seal them four times: first with my fingers, next with a fork, then with my fingers twisting and folding the edges, and finally with the fork again. It also helps if the empanadas rest for about an hour in the fridge before frying them, this might seem over the top just to seal an empanada, but I have experienced them leaking while they are being fried and it is very messy.
Recipe for empanadas de viento or fried cheese empanadas, these delicious traditional Ecuadorian empanadas are filled with cheese, fried until crispy, and served sprinkled with sugar.
- 15 medium size or 25 small empanada discs - can use homemade dough (recipe below) or store bought empanada discs.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of sugar – optional (if you want a hint of sweetness in the dough)
- 1 stick of butter (4 oz), cut in 8 pieces
- ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons of orange juice
- ~2/3 cup sparkling water or still water, add more if needed
- ~2 ½ cups grated cheese (you can use quesillo, mozzarella, monterey jack, Oaxaca or any other cheese that melts well or a combination of your favorites)
- 1 cup finely chopped white onion (optional)
- ½ cup sugar for sprinkling
- Oil for frying
- Mix the flour, salt, sugar (if using), and baking powder in a food processor.
- Add the pieces of butter and pulse until mixed.
- Add the orange juice and sparkling water – start with ½ cup of water and then add more as needed, pulse and mix until clumps of dough start to form.
- To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same instruction but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.
- Form a ball with the dough and knead lightly.
- Place the dough in bowl, coat with small amount of oil, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour.
- To make the empanada discs or rounds, you can either roll out the dough into a thin layer and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). Or you can make several small balls of dough, about 1.5 oz to 2 oz in weight, then use a tortilla press or a rolling pin to roll them out – they don’t need to be perfectly round. It's really important to get the discs very thin since they cook very quickly when you fry them, if after cutting out the round shapes or pressing them with a tortilla press, they are still thick, try rolling each disc a little more until it is very thin. Some people also use a pasta machine to get the dough very thin.
- The empanada discs can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator or freezer to use later.
- You can find more details and step by step photos on the process for making empanada dough for frying here.
- Mix the grated cheese and chopped onions together.
- Spoon the cheese filling on the center of the each empanada disc.
- Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges, first pressing gently with your fingers, next use a fork to press down and seal, finally twist and fold the edges of the empanadas and then use the fork again for the final sealing.
- Chill the empanadas for at least an hour, this will help them seal better and prevent leaks.
- Fry the empanadas either in a deep fryer or in a frying pan, if using a frying pan add enough oil to cover at least half of the empanada, let the oil get very hot and fry each empanada until they are golden on each side or about a minute per side.
- Place the empanadas on paper towels to drain any excess oil, sprinkle generously with sugar and serve warm.
These fried empanadas also make a great appetizer, or according to Nicolas a great dessert. We had an argument about that, “they’re NOT a dessert” was my reply, he insisted “but they have sugar on top, so that makes them a dessert”. Anyway I wasn’t very successful, so if you would like to consider these a dessert then go ahead (but they’re not). Either way they are yummy and extremely easy to make, especially if you cheat and use the store bought empanada discs.
How to make dough for fried cheese empanadas:
Assembling and frying the cheese empanadas: