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Tuna fish empanadas {Empanadas de atún}

Tuna fish empanadas

These baked tuna fish empanadas are made with a filling of canned tuna, onions, bell peppers, garlic, olives, capers, paprika, and oregano. Tuna fish empanadas {Empanadas de atún} are especially popular around Lent and Easter time in Latin America. Personally I could eat them any time of the year – and usually make them as a quick appetizer or tapas style meal option.

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Tuna fish empanadas or empanadas de atun
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There are many variations of tuna empanadas and the filling can be adjusted based on what you have in your fridge and pantry. Some variation ideas to consider: add hard boiled eggs, omit the olives, use Spanish style roasted peppers instead of fresh bell peppers, use fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, cilantro, basil, tarragon), make a spicy variation by adding chili powder or fresh diced jalapenos, add diced tomatoes, etc.

Empanadas filled with tuna fish picadillo

I love this tuna fish filling, it works great for the empanadas, but it’s also delicious just over rice or on tostadas. As I mentioned in the tuna fish ceviche recipe (aka ceviche volquetero), in Ecuador we have a lot of love for tuna fish and its versatility. It’s a great pantry item that can be used in a lot of different dishes – including using it as less expensive substitute for other types of fish/seafood, or for last minute dishes.

Baked tuna fish empanadas

I baked these tuna empanadas, but you can also fry them if preferred. I served them with a cilantro jalapeño yogurt dipping sauce and have included a few other suggestions in the recipe section.

Tuna fish with onions, peppers, garlic, paprika, oregano, olives and capers
Baked tuna fish empanadas

Tuna fish empanadas

Easy to make recipe for homemade tuna fish empanadas made with a filling of tuna fish, onions, bell peppers, olives, capers, paprika, and oregano.
4.88 from 155 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: Ecuadorian inspired, International, Latin fusion, Spanish
Keyword: Canned tuna, Empanadas, Meatless, Tuna fish, Tuna fish empanadas
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 15 to 20 empanadas


For the tuna fish empanada filling:

  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 small yellow onion sliced
  • 2 bell peppers red and green, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 3 cans tuna fish (~ 15 ounces or 425 grams total)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • ½ cup of olives sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of capers
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For baking the empanadas:

  • 1 egg lightly whisked for egg wash


For the tuna fish filling:

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions, peppers, crushed garlic, and paprika. Cook until golden the onions and peppers are soft and start to brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the tuna fish, mix and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir as needed.
  • Add the oregano, sliced olives, capers, and lemon juice. Mix well, taste and add salt/pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes, then remove from heat and let the tuna fish mix cool down before using to fill the empanadas.

To assemble and bake the empanadas:

  • Place a large spoonful of the tuna fish filling on the center of each empanada disc.
  • Fold the empanada discs and gently seal the edges with your fingers. Twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers. You can also use a fork to press down and seal the edges.
  • Chill the empanadas for at least an hour, this will help them seal better and prevent them for opening while baking.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C).
  • Brush the empanadas with the egg wash before baking; this helps them achieve that nice golden finish when baked.
  • Bake the empanadas for 18-20 minutes or until golden on top.
  • Serve the empanadas alone or with a dipping sauce.
Ingredients for the tuna fish empanada filling

Recipe for homemade empanada dough for baking
Recipe for spicy cilantro yogurt dipping sauce 

How to make baked empanadas

How to make empanada dough for baking

Easy recipe with step-by-step photos and video for homemade empanada dough.
4.71 from 4899 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Argentina, Ecuadorian, Latin, South American
Keyword: Easy empanada recipe, Empanada dough for baking, Homemade empanada dough
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 12 -15 medium size or 20-25 small empanada discs
Author: Layla Pujol


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz unsalted butter (1 stick of butter = 4 oz)
  • 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.


Step by step preparation photos for tuna fish empanadas {Empanadas de atún}

Ingredients for tuna fish empanada filling
Heat the oil and add the onions, peppers, garlic, and paprika
Mix in the tuna fish and continue cooking
Add the olives, capers, oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper
Let the tuna filling cool down before using it
Add a generous amount of the filling to the center of each empanada disc
Brush the empanadas with egg wash before baking
Bake the empanadas at 400F for about 18-20 minutes or until golden
Baked empanadas filled with tuna fish
Tuna empanadas
Serve the empanadas alone or with a dipping sauce
Tuna fish empanadas recipe
Empanadas de atun or tuna fish empanadas

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One Comment

  1. Super tasty!! They were really nice at room temperature the next day as well. I followed your suggestion and added some boiled egg as well which was a really nice texture contrast. Fabulous recipe!

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