Empanadas are a quick handheld snack or light dinner, and homemade dough makes all the difference in taste!
When I was dreaming up baby meals and freezer meals to make for the upcoming arrival of our little one, I knew empanadas would make a great snack or easy dinner. They can be frozen and easily reheated, and they’re easy to eat one-handed. Oh, and they’re really delicious, too!
This was my first time making empanadas from scratch, so I searched online for some direction. I stumbled on this recipe from Epicurious, which I adapted for my own recipe. It’s buttery and super flaky—the perfect vehicle for any filling you choose!
The process is really similar to making pie dough. Here’s how to make empanada dough:
Making the dough in the food processor
First, pulse 2 ½ cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of salt in a food processor.
Then add ½ cup (1 stick) of cubed unsalted butter. Pulse 15 times until the butter is approximately pea-sized or a little larger.
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). 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. 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!
Filling and shaping the 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. 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!), brush with a beaten egg (which creates a shiny crust) and then bake for 25–28 minutes at 400°F.
And that’s how to make empanada dough!
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.