Making homemade empanada dough is not as hard as you might think, especially if you have a food processor. And even if you don’t have one, it is still pretty easy to make by hand because the dough doesn’t need be overworked, and requires minimal kneading. Empanadas, also known as turnovers or hand pies, are one of my favorite foods. They’re so versatile and can be made with an infinite number of delicious fillings – you can be as creative as you want with empanada fillings. Empanadas are also the perfect way to use leftovers, especially when a) you don’t enough for a full meal of leftovers and b) you want something different.
How to make empanada dough for baking
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 oz unsalted butter 1 ½ sticks
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water or milk adjust as needed to obtain a soft and smooth dough
Making homemade empanada dough:
- Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
- Add the butter and pulse
- Add the egg and the water or milk (in small increments) and continue pulsing until a clumpy dough forms.
- To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same instruction but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.
- Split the dough into 2 large ball, flatten slightly into the shape of disks. The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).
- Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape (doesn't need to be perfectly round) - if you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls.
- Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator/freezer to use later.
Assembling and baking the empanadas:
- To assemble the empanadas or turnovers, place a spoonful of the filling on the middle of each empanada disc. The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed. Also, the more you make empanadas, the easier it becomes to stuff them to the max and still seal them properly.
- To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can use brush the inside edges with egg white, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges. To the repulgue or churito, the curl type seal, use your fingers to twist the curl the edges. There are also empanada molds that you can buy and will help seal the empanadas.
- For best results, I recommend refrigerating for at least 30 minutes the empanadas before baking – this also helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
- If you want your empanadas to have a nice golden finish, then you can brush them with egg wash (a whole egg whisked or egg yolk plus a few drops of water whisked).
- Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated oven. I usually bake them at 375F-400F, the temperature will vary based on the oven and the size of the empanadas. I bake the smaller sized empanadas at 375F. The baking time also varies (again based on the oven and size), but it’s in the range of 18-25 minutes – the empanadas will be ready once they are golden.
If you want more empanada recipes, you can also check out my All about Empanadas: The Empanada 101 Guide
These days it is very easy to find the empanada discs already made (frozen) in Latin grocery stores, and even though I was skeptical at first, they are actually quite good. However, homemade always taste better and fresher. Another benefit of making homemade empanada dough for baking is that you can customize the dough by adding spices or herbs that will add flavor and complement or contrast with the fillings. You can also make a large batch of homemade empanada dough, roll it out and cut it into discs, then freeze the discs (separate with wax paper) for later use.
Step by step photos of how to make homemade empanada dough:
Some empanada filling recipes: