How to Make Flaky Empanada Dough

Learn how to make flaky empanada dough with this easy tutorial! The recipe creates a buttery, flaky exterior for delicious baked empanadas.

baked empanadas on a wire rack.

This is the ultimate recipe for flaky empanada dough! It’s buttery, flaky, easy to make, and ready to stuff with any number of fillings.

First things first—don’t be intimidated by making empanada dough from scratch! If you’ve made pie dough before, you’ll find that the process is similar.

If not, well, just follow the instructions, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how NOT intimidating it is.

Below you’ll find a step-by-step tutorial on how to make flaky empanada dough in a food processor. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry! I’ll cover how to make the dough without one, too.

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Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour is 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.

How to make empanada dough in a food processor

First, pulse 2½ cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of salt in a food processor.

flour 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.

flour and butter in a food processor.

Whisk 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!

empanada dough in a food processor.

You did it! You just made empanada dough in a food processor. Next up, making the dough into empanadas!

Forming the dough

Dump the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap.

loose dough on 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.

large rectangle of dough on plastic wrap.

Rolling the dough

Divide the dough into 12 pieces using a sharp knife.

pieces of empanada dough on a cutting board.

And roll each piece into a ball.

balls of empanada dough on a cutting board.

Lightly dust a flat surface with flour (I used a large cutting board; a clean countertop works well, too). Use a rolling pin to 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 dough into a uniform circle.

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 uneven. Use a 4–5 inch cookie cutter if that helps!

circle of empanada dough next to a rolling pin.

Folding techniques

Refrigerate the dough circles for 15 minute so they’re easier to work with. Then add your desired filling to the center (I made Baked Chicken Empanadas).

Bring the bottom edge of the circle to the top edge, and press lightly with your fingers.

sealed empanada on a cutting board.

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.

crimped empanada on a cutting board.

Baking instructions

Before baking, refrigerate the empanadas for 30 minutes. This ensures an extra flaky crust!

Then, brush them gently with a beaten egg (which creates a shiny crust).

unbaked empanadas on a sheet pan.

Next, bake for 25–28 minutes at 400°F.

Chicken Enchilada Empanadas on wire rack

Transfer to a wire rack, and let the baked empanadas cool slightly before serving.

And that’s how to make flaky empanada dough for easy baked empanadas!

How to make empanada dough without a food processor

If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this recipe.

To make the dough by hand, place the flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Cut the butter into small cubes, and use a fork or pastry blender to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture. You want pea-sized pieces of butter.

You can also use your fingers for this, but the goal is to keep the dough as cold as possible, so I like using a fork so the butter doesn’t warm up from the heat of my hands.

Then, use a spatula to stir in the ice water, vinegar, and beaten egg. From there, you can follow the instructions as written in the recipe below.

Flaky Empanada Dough: Frequently Asked Questions

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.

How do I reheat leftover empanadas?

For best results, reheat leftover empanadas on a sheet pan for 8–10 minutes in a 400°F.

Can empanadas be made ahead of time?

To make baked empanadas ahead of time, fill and seal the empanadas. Place them in a single layer on a sheet pan and cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap. They can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before baking. When ready to bake, brush the empanadas with a beaten egg and bake for 25–28 minutes at 400°F.

Freezing and reheating instructions

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 and seal tightly. The empanadas will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

To reheat baked empanadas, preheat the 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.

baked empanada with chicken on a wooden cutting board.

Empanada filling ideas

The filling options for baked empanadas are endless. Here are a few ideas including a few options for dessert empanadas!

  • Cooked ground beef & shredded cheese
  • Leftover beef stew
  • Leftover chicken curry
  • Carnitas
  • Diced ham & cheese (this is great for leftover ham from the holidays)
  • Scrambled eggs & cheese (add bacon if you’d like!)
  • Nutella & banana slices
  • Apple pie filling or cherry pie filling

I made my empanadas with a mixture of chicken, cheese, and enchilada sauce to create Baked Chicken Empanadas. Along with a sour cream dipping sauce, they were a delicious dinner with a big green salad on the side.

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!

📖 Recipe

chicken enchilada empanadas on a wire rack.

How to Make Flaky Empanada Dough

Published by Kate
Create perfectly flaky empanadas with this empanada dough, made in a food processor!
4.42 from 124 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Fusion
Servings 12 empanadas
Calories 106 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the dough:

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

For egg wash:

  • 1 egg, beaten

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Dough recipe adapted from Epicurious.
Need a filling idea? These Baked Chicken Empanadas are a winner! 
To freeze empanadas, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to a resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. 
To reheat baked empanadas, preheat the 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1empanadaCalories: 106kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 205mgPotassium: 38mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 40IUCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mg
Keyword homemade empanadas, how to make empanada dough
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a star rating and comment below!

29 Comments

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it—thanks for taking the time to leave a 5-star review!

    1. In my experience, a stand mixer doesn’t do a great job incorporating the butter into the flour into pea-sized lumps. I would do that part by hand (with a fork or pastry blender) and then you could finish the dough in the mixer. But if you tried it and it worked for you, let me know!

  1. 5 stars
    This dough tastes great. It’s flaky but not too flaky…texture is just perfect….. I did have to add 2-3T addtl’ water to bring the dough together. It rolled out wonderfully and was easy to work with. I used a cheese grater and grated my butter in, which worked great.. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. It’s my new go to dough recipe!!!

    1. Thank you so much for your detailed review—I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. 5 stars
    I don’t like a tough dough. I’ve tried other flaky empanada dough recipes. Your recipe is perfect in my opinion. I used salted butter and still kept the amount of salt called for in your recipe. After rolling into balls, I refrigerated again (covered) for at least 20 min. . I then dusted the dough balls with flour ( if need be )and then after that I press the discs, I have a cast iron tortilla press but the dough is so beautiful that you can just roll them out by hand. I put parchment paper squares in between the discs and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate again, sealed in a bag until I need them. This dough has a wonderful feel to it. It seals well. I wish I could post a picture. Thanks so much!

    1. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it—thank you for sharing your process! (And I wish I could see a picture, too.)

  3. I am excited to try this. I have been looking for a great flaky and an easy one to make .
    Thank you !!!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe was so much easier than I thought it would be! First attempt gave me beautiful golden empanadas. My husband actually took a picture of them to send to a friend. The pastry was light, flaky, and delicious! I wish I could post a picture but I’m not sure how.

    1. That is so wonderful to hear—thank you for sharing! The comments unfortunately don’t allow for photos. 🙁 So glad you enjoyed them!

  5. I made these beauties for dinner today and they were so tasty. I highly recommend this recipe!

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