Empanada Dough

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Chill Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
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Wondering how to make empanada dough? You’re in the right place! Try this easy empanada dough recipe to create a flaky, tender dough for perfect empanadas every time. Watch the video for an easy tutorial on folding, too.

Unbaked empanadas stuffed and folded into shape.

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Why I Love This Empanada Dough Recipe

If you’ve never made your own empanadas, you’re missing out! Certain to become a family favorite, this surprisingly easy dough for empanadas never disappoints. We’ve been making empadas from scratch for a few years now and I’ll be honest – it’s pretty hard to eat the stuff reheated from frozen. Once you master this easy recipe, you’ll see what I mean! Here are just a few reasons this easy empanada dough recipe is a must make:

  • Outstanding Texture: This empanada dough recipe creates a flaky, buttery and golden brown masterpiece. Prepare to fall in love at first bite!
  • Simple: The easy recipe consists of only a few basic ingredients you most likely have already. All you need is butter, flour, salt, water and an egg!
  • Versatile: These are a blank canvas to fill with savory meat, veggies, or even a dessert filling of your choice. You can bake or fry them, either way is delicious!
  • Authentic: The name ’empanada’ comes from the Spanish verb ’empanar,’ which means to wrap or coat, in this case, with from scratch bread. These warm, little handmade pockets make a delicious and comforting appetizer, meal, or snack!
Ingredients for empanada dough recipe arranged in bowls, from top to bottom: salt, butter, water, flour and egg.

Key Ingredients

You only need 5 ingredients, including water, to make this empanada dough. You probably have everything in your kitchen right now! Scroll down to the recipe card below for the full ingredient list and exact amounts!

  • All Purpose Flour: Measure the flour by spooning it into a measuring cup. Don’t dip the cup straight into a bag of flour – that results in packed flour.
  • Butter: Use cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes. For a traditional empanada dough, use lard.
  • Salt: Omit if using salted butter.
  • Warm Water: It helps bind the dough. Some families use milk.
  • Egg: Whisk and bring to room temperature.
Crisp, golden and flaky empanadas after cooking on a wire cooling rack.

How to Make Empanada Dough

Homemade empanada dough is really easy to make – you don’t even need a food processor. If you own a food scale and care about even sized empanada discs, precisely weighing each ball of dough requires a bit of time, but that’s it. Below is a quick recipe overview, but please scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions.

The Dough

  • Cut the butter: Using a pastry cutter, a fork or your hands, cut the butter into the flour until it forms a crumbly consistency. Sprinkle in the salt and stir.
  • Mix: Pour in the water and egg and stir together until it forms a clumpy dough.
  • Knead: Drop the dough onto the counter and press the dough together until it forms a ball. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. To speed this up, you can use a stand mixer.
  • Chill: Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll, Fill and Fold

  • Form: Cut the dough into 22 to 25, 1.5-ounce pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then roll them out evenly into 5 to 6-inch circles with a rolling pin.
  • Fill: Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling to the center of each empanada round.
  • Fold: You have options! Use a fork to press the edges together or use an empanada press. To form a classic empanada design with your hands, see the video in the recipe card below showing how to press and twist the edges together.

Bake or Fry

  • Bake: Brush the empanadas with the beaten egg wash and bake the empanadas for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Fry: Add a little oil to a skillet and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, fry empanadas on each side until golden brown.
Discs of dough for empanadas being stuffed, shaped and sealed.

Chef’s Tips

  • Use Immediately: Once they are rolled out, it is best to use the empanadas dough as soon as you make it. If you are preparing the dough for another day, freeze them! (Freezing directions below.)
  • Chill The Dough: Don’t skip this step! Chilling the dough for a few minutes before rolling it out actually produces a lighter, flakier dough.
  • Picture Perfect: If you are baking your empanadas, it is important to use an egg wash to get glossy, golden empanadas. Brush the tops with egg and water (2 tablespoons) whisked together.
  • Remove Quickly: Use a spatula to remove the empanadas from the pan right after baking and transfer to a wire rack. This helps prevents soggy bottoms from any filling leaks.
  • Don’t Overfill: While it might seem like a good idea to add extra filling, be careful not to overfill your empanadas. If they are too stuffed to close properly, the filling will leak out and make a big mess.
Golden brown and flaky empanadas in a serving basket lined with wax paper.

Empanada Filling Ideas

Empanada dough wrapped around filing and hand folded.
4.3 from 197 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 22 to 25 empanada discs

Empanada Dough

Want to learn how to make flaky Empanada Dough? It's really easy! Fill this homemade turnover with whatever meat (or vegetarian filling) you like. Plus, watch the video below for an easy tutorial on how to fold empanadas!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Chill Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, or lard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ to ¾ cup warm water, or milk
  • 1 egg, at room temperature and whisked

Optional Egg Wash For Baking

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

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Instructions 

  • Use a pastry cutter, a fork, or your hands to cut the butter into the flour until it forms a crumbly consistency. Sprinkle in the salt and stir.
  • Pour in the 1/2 cup water and egg and stir together until it forms a clumpy dough.
  • Transfer the dough out onto a counter dusted with flour. Press the dough together until it forms a ball. If dough feels too dry, add a little extra water (up to 3/4 cup total) to the dough. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. (You can use a stand mixer to knead the dough.)
  • Cut the dough into 22 to 25, 1.5-ounce pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Roll each ball out evenly into 5 to 6-inch circles with a rolling pin on a lightly flat surface dusted with flour. (You can also place the dough ball between parchment paper and then roll flat.)

Fill, Fold and Cook

  • Fill and Fold: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling to the center of each empanada round and pinch the edges together. Use a fork (or empanada press) to press the edges together. To form a classic empanada design, press and twist the edges of dough together with your hands. (See video below for a visual of the folding technique.)
  • Oven: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk to combine the egg and water for the egg wash. Place filled empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each empanada with egg wash. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, until light and golden on top. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Fry: Add about 1 inch of oil to a deep sided skillet over medium-high heat. Fry 2 to 3 empanadas in the hot oil on each side, until golden brown. Remember the filling is already cooked, you are only cooking the empanada dough.

Video

Notes

Use Immediately: Once they are rolled out, it is best to use the dough right away. If you are preparing the dough for another day, freeze them! 
Fridge: Cover the un-rolled dough ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days before using. 20 minutes before filling and baking, remove the dough from the fridge and to let the butter warm up a bit.
Freeze: Roll out the dough and stack the empanada discs with pieces of parchment paper or wax paper in between each one to prevent sticking. Wrap the stack with plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before using in the fridge overnight.
Chill The Dough: Don’t skip this step! Chilling the dough for a few minutes before rolling it out actually produces a lighter, flakier dough.
Remove Quickly: Use a spatula to remove the empanadas from the pan right after baking and transfer to a wire rack. This helps prevents soggy bottoms from any filling leaks.
Don’t Overfill: While it might seem like a good idea to add extra filling, be careful not to overfill your empanadas. If they are too stuffed to close properly, the filling will leak out and make a big mess.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 empanada disk, Calories: 149kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 57mg, Potassium: 29mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 0.1g, Vitamin A: 234IU, Calcium: 7mg, Iron: 1mg

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Can I make these ahead of time? Like fry them up and everything for the next day? Or do the need to be baked/fried the day they will be eaten?

Jessica

Hi ML, they are always going to be best cooked fresh. They are still good the next day, but they are the best warm out of the oven or fryer!

5 stars
I have been using this recipe for a few years. The only thing I do differently is half of my liquid is vodka.

Hi can I use canned lemon or cherry pie filling ?

Jessica

Sure!

Can you use salted butter for this recipe?

Jessica

Sure! Just reduce the amount of added salt to 1/4 teaspoon instead of 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

I already left a comment about this being the best empanada dough I taught my neice and I also made dessert empanada it’s the best best recipe ever

What’s the recipe if I only want to make half a batch?

Jessica

Hi Danielle, you can hit the PRINT button in the recipe card and then there is an adjustment to make the recipe smaller or double it. Hope this helps!

I wanted to know if these empanadas can be air fried instead of oil fried?

Jessica

Of course! I would brush (or mist) them with oil first, but they can be cooked in the air fryer!

hi trying thees out not made yet i have no stick of butter i have butter in a bow! how do i mas. it out

Jessica

Hi James, you can measure it by weight. You will need 198 grams, or 14 tablespoons (which is 2 tablespoons less than a cup) of butter!

Can you use this dough successfully frying instead of baking?

Jessica

Yes!

Could you knead the dough in a mixer with a dough hook?

Jessica

Hi Tracey, yes you can!

I have not tried baking empanadas so I wasn’t sure what to expect, and with the high star rating on this recipe I decided to give it a try. The dough needed a little bit more water and was easy to roll out. Very pliable and easy to form the empanada. Didn’t need anything to keep them closed. After baking the dough did not brown even with the egg wash, just glossy. It was hard and dry. I wish I had a few left over to try frying instead.

I found the dough too dry and had to add another 2 Tablespoons of water. I used a large egg, did you use an extra large egg,?

Jessica

Hi Julia! No, I used a large egg. Depending on how your scooped your flour, you might need a little extra moisture. Flour should be fluffed and then spooned into a cup and leveled, not scooped directly from a bag. If flour is scooped from a bag, it can be more tightly packed, so you get more flour than you meant to. Hope this helps!

I like your recipe.
One thing that I find odd, is that you are using warm water.
A German chef taught years ago, that you ALWAYS use cold ice cold water.

I worked as a prep cook at Annie’s Santa Fe, A G/R restaurant. We rolled the flour/sugar/Half-n-Half dough out in one piece on a large floured table. THEN cut out the empanadas with a 6″ ring dough cutter. The filling was a Tex-Mex beef mixture or shredded Tex-Mex chicken or strawberry pie filling. Finger crimped & refrigerated & deep fried to order. The shapes were consistent crescents. All three were a real popular items

Do you have recipe for the sweet potato or pumpkin filling

Jessica

I don’t, but I will work on one! However, you could use any pumpkin pie filling (homemade or from a can) inside of empanadas!

5 stars
nice

I made this today with a ground beef filling and had rave reviews! Definitely going to make again…

How much flour do I use

Jessica

4 cups, the full printable recipe is at the bottom of the post!

These turned out really well. made chicken and taco empanadas. So easy. kids love them

Can you freeze the dough for a few days before rolling it out to stuff the empanadas?

Jessica

Yes! I stack them on top of one another with a piece of wax or parchment paper between each piece of empanada dough, then place them in a freezer bag. Then you can easily pull out however many empanada discs you need and they won’t stick together. 🙂

Thank You For Being Here!

Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.