Delicious Handmade Empanadas for Every Occasion

If you’ve ever wondered whether you can master the art of making empanadas or samosas, then look no further! Get ready to embark on a culinary adventure with these delicious handmade treats that are perfect for any occasion. From savory fillings like beef, chicken, and vegetables, to sweet options like Nutella and dulce de leche, the possibilities are endless. So grab your apron and prepare to impress your friends and family with these mouthwatering delicacies that are sure to leave everyone coming back for more.

Types of Empanadas

Empanadas are a beloved dish that can be found in many different cultures around the world. These tasty turnovers consist of a delicious filling encased in a dough, which is then either baked or fried to golden perfection. There are various types of empanadas, each with its own unique characteristics and flavors. Whether you prefer meat, vegetarian, or sweet fillings, there is an empanada for every palate.

Meat Empanadas

Meat lovers rejoice! Meat empanadas are a staple in many traditional recipes. The most popular meat filling is typically made with ground beef, seasoned to perfection with spices such as cumin, paprika, and garlic. However, other variations can include shredded pork, diced chicken, or even spicy chorizo. These empanadas are hearty and satisfying, making them a favorite choice for those craving a savory and meaty treat.

Vegetarian Empanadas

For those who prefer a plant-based diet or simply enjoy vegetarian options, vegetarian empanadas are the way to go. These empanadas are filled with a flavorful assortment of vegetables and other meatless ingredients. A classic vegetarian filling includes a combination of sautéed onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms, seasoned with herbs like thyme and oregano. Some recipes also incorporate ingredients like spinach, cheese, or even sweet potatoes to add an extra burst of flavor. Vegetarian empanadas are a delicious and nutritious alternative that will satisfy even the most discerning taste buds.

Sweet Empanadas

Empanadas aren’t limited to savory fillings; there is also a delightful array of sweet empanadas that are perfect for dessert or a sweet snack. Sweet empanadas often feature fruit fillings, such as apple, peach, or cherry. These fillings are mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes a touch of lemon juice to create a luscious and sweet filling. Some sweet empanadas also incorporate creamy elements like cream cheese or dulce de leche, adding a decadent twist to the traditional treat. Whether enjoyed warm or at room temperature, sweet empanadas are a delightful way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Classic Empanada Fillings

While empanadas can be filled with an endless variety of ingredients, there are some classic fillings that have stood the test of time. These fillings have become staples in many cultures and are beloved by empanada enthusiasts worldwide.

Beef Empanadas

Beef empanadas are a classic choice that has become synonymous with traditional empanadas. The combination of seasoned ground beef, onions, peppers, and spices creates a savory and satisfying filling that is hard to resist. You can also add some olives or raisins for an extra burst of flavor. Beef empanadas are perfect for those who enjoy a hearty and robust filling.

Chicken Empanadas

Chicken empanadas offer a lighter alternative to their beef counterparts. The tender and juicy chicken, flavored with spices and herbs like cumin, paprika, and cilantro, creates a flavorful and aromatic filling. You can also add some bell peppers, onions, or even corn for added texture and taste. Chicken empanadas are a versatile option that appeals to both meat lovers and those seeking a lighter option.

Spinach and Cheese Empanadas

For vegetarians or those looking for a flavorful meatless option, spinach and cheese empanadas are an excellent choice. The combination of sautéed spinach, crumbled feta cheese, and herbs like parsley and dill creates a filling that is both creamy and satisfying. The flavors of the spinach and cheese meld together perfectly, creating a deliciously gooey filling that is sure to please. Spinach and cheese empanadas offer a burst of freshness and make for a delicious vegetarian option.

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Creative Empanada Fillings

While classic fillings are tried and true, sometimes it’s fun to get creative and experiment with unique and unexpected flavors. These creative empanada fillings offer a fresh twist on the traditional recipes and are sure to impress your taste buds.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Empanadas

Who said empanadas are just for lunch or dinner? This breakfast-inspired filling brings the beloved combination of bacon, egg, and cheese into the world of empanadas. The smoky bacon, fluffy scrambled eggs, and melted cheese create a filling that is packed with flavor and perfect for a lazy weekend morning. These empanadas are a great way to start the day or as a crowd-pleasing option for brunch.

Mushroom and Truffle Empanadas

For those who enjoy the earthy and rich flavors of mushrooms, this filling is a winner. Sautéed mushrooms are combined with truffle oil, garlic, and herbs, creating a filling that is both aromatic and luxurious. The truffle oil adds a depth of flavor that takes these empanadas to the next level. Mushroom and truffle empanadas are a sophisticated option that is sure to impress even the most discerning palates.

BBQ Pulled Pork Empanadas

If you’re a fan of barbecue, you’ll love these BBQ pulled pork empanadas. Tender and succulent pulled pork, slow-cooked in a smoky and tangy barbecue sauce, is the star of this filling. The combination of sweet, savory, and slightly spicy flavors creates a filling that is lip-smackingly delicious. Whether enjoyed on their own or accompanied by a dipping sauce, BBQ pulled pork empanadas are a surefire crowd-pleaser.

Dough Variations

Now that we’ve explored the wide range of fillings, let’s shift our focus to the dough. Empanada dough is a crucial component of these tasty turnovers and provides the perfect vehicle for all the delectable fillings. While the classic empanada dough is widely used, there are also variations that cater to different dietary preferences and requirements.

Traditional Empanada Dough

The traditional empanada dough is a classic favorite that provides the perfect balance of flakiness and tenderness. Made with flour, butter, water, and salt, this dough is easy to work with and yields a beautifully golden and crispy crust. The key to achieving the perfect texture is ensuring the butter is cold and the dough is properly rested. The traditional empanada dough is versatile and pairs well with both savory and sweet fillings.

Whole Wheat Empanada Dough

For those looking to incorporate healthier options into their diet, whole wheat empanada dough is a great choice. By using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, you add a nutty and wholesome element to the dough. The result is a slightly denser and heartier crust that pairs well with both savory and sweet fillings. Whole wheat empanada dough is a great way to amp up the nutritional content of your empanadas without compromising on taste.

Gluten-Free Empanada Dough

For individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, gluten-free empanada dough is a game-changer. By using gluten-free flour blends, such as almond flour, rice flour, or a combination of several gluten-free flours, you can create a dough that is just as delicious and versatile as its gluten-containing counterparts. The key is to find the right blend of flours to achieve the desired texture and taste. Gluten-free empanada dough opens up a world of possibilities for those who need to avoid gluten but still want to enjoy this beloved dish.

How to Make Empanada Dough

Now that we’ve explored the different variations of empanada dough, let’s dive into how to make it from scratch. Making empanada dough at home is a rewarding experience that allows you to customize the dough to your preferences.

Ingredients for Empanada Dough

To make empanada dough, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or the flour of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice-cold water

Step-by-Step Dough Preparation

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until well combined.
  2. Add the butter to the flour mixture and use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually add the ice-cold water, a few tablespoons at a time, and mix with a fork until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and gently knead it a few times to bring it together into a smooth ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
  5. Flatten the ball of dough into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax and the dough to firm up.
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Tips for Perfect Empanada Dough

  • Ensure that the butter is cold before incorporating it into the flour. Cold butter creates air pockets during the baking process, resulting in a flaky crust.
  • Handle the dough gently and avoid overworking it. Overworking the dough can lead to a tough and dense crust.
  • Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax and the dough to become more pliable and easier to roll out.
  • If the dough becomes too soft while rolling, you can place it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up before continuing.
  • Don’t roll the dough too thin, as it may tear or become too crispy. Aim for a thickness of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Empanada Folding Techniques

Once you have your dough prepared and your filling ready, it’s time to tackle the art of folding the empanadas. There are various folding techniques that you can choose from, each resulting in a unique and visually appealing empanada.

Traditional Fold

The traditional fold is perhaps the most common and straightforward technique. To achieve this fold, follow these steps:

  1. Roll out the empanada dough and cut it into circles using a round cutter or a glass.
  2. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each dough circle.
  3. Fold the dough in half to create a half-moon shape, enclosing the filling.
  4. Seal the edges by pressing them together gently with your fingers.
  5. If desired, use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges for a decorative finish.

Braided Edge Fold

For a more intricate and visually stunning empanada, the braided edge fold is a great option. Here’s how to achieve this fold:

  1. Roll out the empanada dough and cut it into circles.
  2. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each dough circle.
  3. Fold the dough in half to create a half-moon shape, enclosing the filling.
  4. Instead of sealing the edges together, use your fingers to twist and braid the edges of the dough.
  5. Pinch the ends of the braid together to secure it and prevent it from unraveling.

Seamed Pocket Fold

If you prefer a more compact and pocket-like empanada, the seamed pocket fold is a great option. Here’s how to achieve this fold:

  1. Roll out the empanada dough and cut it into circles.
  2. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each dough circle.
  3. Fold the dough in half to create a half-moon shape, enclosing the filling.
  4. Use your fingers to pinch and fold the edges of the dough, creating multiple small seams.
  5. Press the seams together firmly to seal the empanada and prevent any leakage during baking.

Baking vs. Frying Empanadas

One of the ongoing debates in the empanada world is whether to bake or fry them. Both methods have their pros and cons, and the choice ultimately depends on personal preference.

Benefits of Baking Empanadas

Baking empanadas offers several benefits that make it an appealing option for many. One of the main advantages is that baking is a healthier cooking method as it requires less oil compared to frying. Baking also produces a lighter and flakier crust, allowing the flavors of the filling to shine through. Additionally, baking allows for easy batch cooking, as you can bake multiple empanadas at once on a baking sheet. It’s also a more hands-off method since empanadas can be placed in the oven and left to cook while you attend to other tasks.

Benefits of Frying Empanadas

Frying empanadas, on the other hand, yields a different texture and flavor profile that some may find irresistible. When empanadas are fried, the crust becomes crispy and golden, creating a delightful contrast to the moist and flavorful filling. Frying also results in a shorter cooking time, as the empanadas cook quickly in the hot oil. This method is ideal for those who enjoy a slightly richer and decadent empanada experience.

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Choosing the Right Cooking Method

Ultimately, the choice between baking and frying empanadas comes down to personal preference and dietary considerations. If you prefer a lighter and healthier option, baking is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a more indulgent and crispy treat, frying is the perfect method. Whichever method you choose, rest assured that both options will result in delicious empanadas that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

Serving Suggestions

Empanadas are a crowd-pleasing dish that can be enjoyed on their own or paired with various accompaniments. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your empanada experience:

Dips and Sauces

Empanadas are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed with a wide array of dips and sauces. Salsa, chimichurri, and guacamole are classic options that complement both savory and vegetarian empanadas. Spicy mayo, sriracha aioli, or chipotle sauce add a creamy and slightly spicy kick. For sweet empanadas, a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce, or a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, takes them to a whole new level of indulgence. The choice of dip or sauce depends on your personal taste preferences and the flavors of the empanadas you’re serving.

Side Dish Pairings

Empanadas can be a meal in themselves, but if you’re looking to make it a more substantial spread, consider pairing them with side dishes. A simple green salad with a tangy vinaigrette adds freshness and balance to the empanadas. Rice and beans, Spanish-style potatoes, or roasted vegetables are also delicious options that complement the flavors of the empanadas. Experimenting with different side dish pairings allows you to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

Empanada Party Platter Ideas

Empanadas are perfect for parties and gatherings, and displaying them on a festive platter can take your presentation to the next level. Here are some ideas for creating an eye-catching empanada party platter:

  • Arrange empanadas in a circular pattern, alternating different flavors and colors for an appealing visual display.
  • Use small bowls or ramekins to hold various dips or sauces, placing them in the center of the platter for easy access.
  • Garnish the platter with fresh herbs, sliced citrus, or edible flowers to add a pop of color and freshness.
  • Consider adding a variety of empanada sizes, such as bite-sized mini empanadas, to cater to different appetites and allow guests to try different flavors.
  • For a themed party, decorate the platter with flags or banners representing the country or region associated with the empanadas you’re serving.

Empanadas for Special Occasions

Empanadas aren’t just for casual meals; they can also be a standout feature at special occasions and celebrations. Here are some ideas for incorporating empanadas into different events and gatherings:

Holiday Empanadas

Empanadas can be a festive addition to holiday celebrations. Whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday, you can customize the fillings to suit the occasion. For example, during the holiday season, you can make empanadas filled with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce or indulge in sweet empanadas filled with pumpkin or pecan pie filling. Adding a touch of holiday flair, such as decorative dough cut-outs in the shape of snowflakes or holiday-themed sprinkles, will make your holiday empanadas even more special.

Game Day Empanadas

If you’re hosting a game day gathering or attending a tailgate party, empanadas can be a convenient and crowd-pleasing option. They are easy to transport and can be made well in advance, allowing you to focus on enjoying the festivities. Fillings like BBQ pulled pork, buffalo chicken, or even cheeseburger empanadas are sure to be a hit with sports fans. Serve them alongside other game day favorites like nachos, sliders, and wings, and you’ll have a winning spread.

Vegetarian Empanada Options for Parties

When hosting parties or gatherings where guests may have varying dietary preferences, offering vegetarian empanadas ensures that everyone can enjoy the tasty treats. Vegetarian empanadas can be just as flavorful and satisfying as their meat-filled counterparts. Fillings such as roasted vegetable medleys, black bean and corn salsa, or even a spicy vegan “meat” substitute provide an abundance of options. By offering a variety of vegetarian empanadas, you’ll cater to the needs of all your guests while impressing them with delicious and creative flavors.


Empanadas are a true culinary delight that combines a flaky crust with a delicious filling of your choice. Whether you opt for classic fillings like beef, chicken, or spinach and cheese, or get creative with bacon, egg, and cheese or BBQ pulled pork, there is an empanada to suit every taste preference. With various dough variations and folding techniques, you can customize your empanadas to your liking. Baking or frying them offers different textures and flavors, and both methods have their merits. Whether enjoyed on their own, paired with dips and sauces, or served with side dishes, empanadas are always a hit. From holiday celebrations to game day parties, empanadas can be a standout feature at special occasions. So, embrace the versatility of empanadas, experiment with flavors and fillings, and enjoy the perfect handmade empanada, made with love and care.

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Jenny Jones

About the Author: Jenny Jones

Driven by her desire to share her newfound love for air frying and healthy cooking, Jenny decided to start her own blog. Through her platform, she shares mouthwatering recipes, insightful tips, and step-by-step tutorials, all geared towards helping her readers make healthier choices without compromising taste.