Learn how to make flaky empanada dough with this easy tutorial! The recipe creates a buttery, flaky exterior for delicious baked empanadas.
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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- 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.
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.
The dough will look a combination of sandy and/or shaggy—this is a good thing!
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.
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.
Rolling 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). 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!
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.
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.
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).
Next, bake for 25–28 minutes at 400°F.
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
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.
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.
For best results, reheat leftover empanadas on a sheet pan for 8–10 minutes in a 400°F.
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.
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
- 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!
How to Make Flaky 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.