Make Empanadas at Home (2024)

Make Empanadas at Home (1)

What’s your favorite merienda? For most Pinoys, it must be filling, convenient, and affordable. It can be light or heavy, sweet or savory. It doesn’t have to be special halo-halo every time because a simple lugaw or even instant pansit will suffice. But do you know what snack ticks all the boxes? Empanadas!

These portable hand pies are lifesavers when hunger pangs strike. You can eat them on the go, and they barely put a dent in your daily budget. Plus, you’ll find them everywhere – cafes, neighborhood bakeries, or street vendors. A ton of variations are out there! They come in all shapes, sizes, fillings, and cooking methods. Read on to learn more about these golden pastries.

A Brief History of Empanadas

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The exact origins of the empanada recipe are unclear. Many consider Galicia, a Northwestern region in Spain, as its birthplace. It eventually travelled the world through Spanish colonizers and integrated into Latin American and Filipino cuisines.

Its name comes from the verb “empanar,” which means to coat or wrap. It alludes to the method of filling a flattened dough with various ingredients, including sardines, tuna, chorizo, pork loin, and vegetables. Just like American turnovers, it can have sweet fillings, like fruits and chocolate. And similar to Italian calzones, the snack can contain a tomato-garlic sauce or a handful of herbs and spices.

Empanada Ingredients

Did you know that the traditional empanada recipe features fish and a tomato-based sauce? The variations in flavors and fillings result from the regional availability of ingredients. Here’s what you can expect from the Pinoy version.

Empanada filling

The hand pies sold in many parts of the country contain ground meat (pork, chicken, or beef) sautéed with bell peppers, peas, potatoes, and raisins. Modern adaptations do away with tomato sauce to avoid spoilage. Instead, you can use soy sauce andKnorr Chicken Cubesas flavorings.

Other filling options includechicken curry, ham and cheese, beef taco, spicy tuna, andpork humba. For a healthier take, go for all veggies. You can also replace minced meat with umami-filled mushrooms and spinach for a nutritious pie.

Empanada dough

Mastering the pastry dough is an essential part of learning how to make empanadas. The standard recipe uses flour, salt, eggs, cold butter, and water. A quick tip is to mix the dough, then wrap it in aluminum foil and cling film. You can keep this in the freezer for 3 to 6 months. Having pre-made dough cuts down prep work drastically.

Fried vs. Baked Empanadas

There are two common methods to cook these treats. You can fry them, like when making crispy Ilocos empanada or empanada de kaliskis. Or you can bake them until tender or crumbly. Each method has its pros and cons:


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  • How to fry:Fill a pot with vegetable oil. Drop the pies and fry until crispy and golden. Make sure to keep the oil’s temperature between 320° to 350°F (160° to 175°C). Don’t forget to strain between batches.
  • Pros:This method is more accessible and convenient. It helps to use a thermometer, but you can always fry without special tools and equipment. A fried empanada recipe also requires a shorter cooking time, approximately 15 minutes per batch.
  • Cons:The dough requires immediate cooking and consumption to keep it from becoming watery or soggy. You can still reheat the snack but expect changes in taste and texture.


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  • How to bake:Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Brush pastries with egg wash to achieve that shiny, golden color. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then allow them to cool on a wire rack before serving.
  • Pros:This is a healthier technique as it doesn’t require oil. It’s also more economical in the long run. Baked pastries have a longer shelf life. You can keep them chilled or frozen, then reheat them in the oven or toaster.
  • Cons:You need to invest in baking tools and equipment, like an oven with a thermostat and a timer. A baked empanada recipe also calls for a longer cooking time.

Both cooking methods produce delicious empanadas. If you want a healthier merienda, bake them in the oven. If you’re working with less time, frying them is the way to go. Try both and ask your loved ones to vote on their favorite. Ultimately, the technique you select will come down to personal preference.

Make Empanadas at Home (2024)


Which is better baked or fried empanadas? ›

Both cooking methods produce delicious empanadas. If you want a healthier merienda, bake them in the oven. If you're working with less time, frying them is the way to go. Try both and ask your loved ones to vote on their favorite.

How long do homemade empanadas last? ›

If empanadas have been baked, shelf-life up to 7 days refrigerated (we don't recommend freezing them after baking.)

Is it better to freeze empanadas before or after baking? ›

Freeze the sheet of unbaked empanadas until solid, then transfer into a freezer bag. Frozen empanadas will keep for up to three months and can be baked straight from the freezer. Add a few extra minutes to the cooking time. Fully baked empanadas can also be frozen, though they lose a bit of their flaky texture.

What is empanada dough made of? ›

Today we're making homemade empanada dough that can be used to make pastelillos, empanadas, and so much more! It's made with just 5 ingredients (flour, butter, salt, egg, and water) and comes together in less than an hour.

How do you keep empanadas crispy after frying? ›

Remove the empanadas to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to cool and drain. (Also, hold each empanada above the oil for a few moments to allow excess oil to run off and out of the empanada before moving them to the baking sheet.)

What is the best oil for frying empanadas? ›

Oil that is too cool will make your fried empanadas greasy and sad. I normally use canola oil for fried empanadas because it's flavorless and has a high smoke point. Lard tastes better, but you end up frying very close to lard's smoke point, which is tricky; when oil gets too hot it will taste acrid.

Are empanadas unhealthy? ›

While it's quite tasty, it isn't the healthiest meal you can consume. The great news is you can still get your empanada fix with all the flavor, but less calories, fat, and more nutrition with healthier versions.

How to tell if empanadas are bad? ›

You'll know your empanadas have gone bad if they have a foul smell, if there's any visible mold, or if the texture seems off, such as if the pastry is soggy. Also, if the filling has a strange color or smell, it's likely gone off.

What are three types of empanadas? ›

Argentine empanadas with beef, cheese, or chicken. Chilean empanadas with beef, cheese, or seafood. Mexican empanadas with spicy beef, potato, or pumpkin.

Can I make empanadas the day before? ›

To make empanadas ahead of time: cover the tray of unbaked empanadas and refrigerate for up to two days. When you're ready to eat, bake them at 400° for 40 minutes. They'll emerge perfectly golden and steaming from the oven just as if you had baked them the same day.

How much does it cost to make an empanada? ›

and the cost comes out to about $0.15 per empanada. the grand total for ingredients comes out to just under a dollar. at about ninety seven cents per empanada. this of course. is only my cost of goods and does not include the time I spent to make them.

What do you serve with empanadas? ›

Check our Mexican rice, Spanish rice, cilantro rice, yellow rice, salsa verde pinto beans, slow cooker black beans, refried beans, street corn salad (esquites from elote) and street corn skillet. Also, avocado salad and black bean and corn salad. We have fried plantains, too!

What premade dough can I use for empanadas? ›

Prepare flavorful homemade empanadas easily with convenient GOYA® Tapas Criollas – Dough for Turnover Pastries, which are perfect for baking or frying. They have a round disk shape and are made from wheat flour and margarine.

Can I make empanadas using pizza dough? ›

And while we love traditional empanadas, fussy pastry dough is a lot to tackle on a busy weeknight. Here, we use our favorite dough hack, ready-made pizza dough, for a quick-ready-to-roll crust. It's crisp and tender and works perfectly to enclose the grass-fed ground beef, bell pepper, and golden raisin filling.

Why put vinegar in empanada dough? ›

Adding a little vinegar to your dough will result in a tender, pliable, and flaky crust because it slightly inhibits gluten development, leading to a crust that is flakier and easier to work with. The great thing about vinegar is that you really only need a little bit of it to help your pie/empanada dough.

Is it better to fry or bake? ›

Because ovens heat air, and air has no calories, baking in an oven does not add additional calories or fat to the foods you cook. This is why baking is a smarter option when working on controlling calorie, cholesterol or fat intake, as you are left only with the calories and fat from the foods in the pan.

Is baking better than deep frying? ›

deep frying food is generally more tastier than the baked one but the truth is that baked food cuts down the calorie consumption and that's equally tastier and maintain healthy weight & diet . it also results in minimum loss of vitamin C.

Are baked empanadas healthy? ›

Empanadas usually are served hot and blistered from the deep fryer, but home cooks will be glad that these baked healthier handpies offer similar pleasures without a trip into a vat of bubbling oil. The simple dough, similar to pie crust, comes together in a jiffy in the food processor.

Can I bake goya empanadas instead of frying? ›

Famous for their flavorful filling, these Argentinean-style empanadas are made with ground beef perfectly seasoned with GOYA® Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning with Pepper, garlic, raisins, onions, eggs, and chopped olives. Wrap the mixture in GOYA® Empanada Dough-Puff Pastry for Baking and bake. They'll be a total hit!

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