Empanadas are a quick handheld snack or light dinner, and this flaky homemade dough makes all the difference in taste!
This is the ultimate flaky empanada dough! This dough is easy to make and ready to stuff with any number of fillings.
I stuffed them with chicken enchilada filling, and served them with a sour cream dip. A sweet filling, like bananas and nutella, would be really delicious, too!
I love empanadas because they are the perfect one-handed meal or snack. They can be frozen and easily reheated. Oh, and they’re really delicious, too!
I stumbled on an empanada dough recipe from Epicurious, which I adapted for my own recipe. It’s buttery and super flaky—the perfect vehicle for any filling you choose!
- All-purpose flour in the best flour to use—you’ll need 2½ cups.
- A stick of butter keep the dough extra flaky. Use unsalted butter if you have it.
- You’ll need two eggs: one for the dough and one for brushing on top. Use large eggs here.
- A tablespoon of vinegar keeps the dough from becoming tough.
The process is very similar to making pie dough. Here’s how to do it:
How to make empanada dough in the food processor
First, pulse 2½ cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of salt in a food processor.
Then add ½ cup (1 stick) of COLD cubed unsalted butter. You want the butter to be fresh out of the refrigerator. Cold butter creates flaky layers!
Pulse 15 times until the butter is approximately pea-sized or a little larger. You want to see chunks of butter here. It will break down a little further when the liquid is added. The chunks of butter create the delicious flaky layers when the cold butter hits the hot oven.
Mix together 1 egg, ⅓ cup ice water, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Add to the food processor and pulse 6–8 times. The dough will look a combination of sandy and/or shaggy—this is a good thing!
Bringing the dough together
Dump the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap.
And then use the plastic wrap to form the mixture into a rectangle (this will make it easy to divide later). See the white chunks of butter? That is a very good thing for creating the flaky dough!
Wrap up the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Forming the dough
Divide the dough into 12 pieces using a sharp knife.
And roll each piece into a ball.
Lightly dust a flat surface with flour (I used a large cutting board; a clean countertop works well, too). Roll the dough into a 5-inch circle, rotating the dough 45° as you roll it out.
This is a great tutorial on how to roll pie dough (the technique works perfectly for empanada dough, too).
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want the edges to meet up when you fold it, so it can’t be super wonky looking. 🙂 Use a 4–5 inch cookie cutter if that helps!
How to crimp empanadas
Refrigerate the dough circles for 15 minute so they’re easier to work with. Then add your desired filling to the center (I made Chicken Enchilada Empanadas). Bring the bottom edge of the circle to the top edge, and press lightly with your fingers.
To seal the empanadas, you could either crimp the edges with a fork, or use the technique in this video on how to seal empanadas. I used the video technique and while they weren’t perfect looking, they stayed together nicely.
Refrigerate the empanadas for 30 minutes (this ensures a flaky crust!), and brush with a beaten egg (which creates a shiny crust).
Then, bake for 25–28 minutes at 400°F.
And that’s how to make flaky empanada dough!
What do I do if my empanada dough is too dry?
If the dough won’t stay together when pressed with your hands, add a little more ice water to the dough, 1–2 teaspoons at a time.
Why did my empanadas leak?
There are two reasons for empanadas to leak: they are overstuffed, or they were not sealed properly. The dough should easily close around the filling, so if you have to stretch the dough, there is too much filling. A folded technique is beautiful for sealing the dough, but if you want to ensure that your empanadas are sealed tightly, crimp them with a fork.
Can I freeze empanadas?
To freeze empanadas, place them in a single layer on a pan that fits in your freezer. Freeze for 30 minutes, then transfer them to a resealable freezer bag.
How do I reheat empanadas?
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Place empanadas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8–10 minutes, or 15–17 minutes if frozen.
We adored these Chicken Enchilada Empanadas, but the filling options are endless! How about beef stew or chicken curry? Nutella and bananas would make a really yummy dessert empanada!
How to Make Empanada Dough
For the dough:
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup ice water
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
For egg wash:
- 1 egg, beaten
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until combined.
- Add the cubed butter and pulse 15 times, or until the butter is approximately pea-sized or a little larger.
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg, ice water, and vinegar. Add to the flour mixture. Pulse 6–8 times, or until the liquid is incorporated into the dough (it will look sandy and/or shaggy).
- Place a 24 inch piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Dump the dough onto the plastic wrap. Use the edges of the plastic wrap to form the dough into a rectangle, roughly 1 inch thick.
- Wrap the edges of the plastic wrap around the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
- Place one of the balls on a lightly floured board. Dust a rolling pin with flour. Use the rolling pin to roll the ball into a circle, approximately ⅛ inch thick and 5 inches in diameter.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Refrigerate dough circles for 15 minutes.
- Place one dough circle on a flat surface. Place a scant two tablespoons of filling in the center. Fold the dough over and press gently to seal.
- Crimp the edges using this technique or the tines of a fork. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush empanadas with the beaten egg. Bake for 25–28 minutes, or until golden brown.