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.
Why You’ll Adore 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. Here’s a few reasons you’re sure to agree:
- 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!
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 for exact amounts.
- All Purpose Flour: This inexpensive, reliable staple makes the best empanadas dough.
- 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.
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. Scroll to the recipe card at bottom of the post for full detailed instructions.
- 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.
Tips to ensure your homemade empanada dough turns out perfect:
- 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.
Empanada Filling Ideas
There are as many delicious filling ideas as the imagination allows. You really can’t go wrong, but here are a few good suggestions:
- Chicken: Try these homemade chicken empanadas guaranteed to please the whole family. If you like a little kick give my chipotle chicken empanadas a try! You can also stuff this empanada dough with chicken tinga.
- Beef: These cheesy beef empanadas are a family favorite, but picadillo, birria, carne molida or spicy taco meat are all great options too.
- Pork: Chorizo is a great stuffing, as well as papas con chorizo. Or go the Puerto Rican route with these pizza empanadillas!
- Vegetarian: Your favorite steamed or roasted mashed veggies and cheese are a delicious empanada filling option, like rajas (creamy roasted poblanos). Or try refried beans, vegetables, soy-rizo and cheese for added protein!
- Sweet Treat: Empanada recipes should definitely share the dessert world. Try my cinnamon apple empanadas or pineapple empanadas.
How to Store Empanada Dough
You can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze until ready to fill. Here’s how:
- 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 then 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.
- 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
- 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.
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