Empanada Dough

Empanadas with homemade Empanada Dough are very popular with my friends and family.  We enjoy them with all kinds of different fillings.  I like to fill them with ground beef, shredded pork, or chilis and cheese.  I’ve even made a chicken pot pie empanada!  I like to make a batch or two at time, since  we usually just eat a few and freeze the rest. 

I typically make large empanadas to be eaten as a meal with a side salad, but you can make small ones as appetizers.  This empanada dough works well when making dessert empanadas too.  Of course, we love anything wrapped in dough!

Empanada Dough is easy to make

This recipe makes 12 large empanadas or 20 small empanadas.  I like to make my empanada dough by hand since I prefer to feel the dough.  You can make it in a food processor, if you like. The secret is to keep your butter cold.  This will give you a flakey crust.

Add the water in small increments to the dough.  You want the dough to just come together.  You might not need all the water; it just depends on the humidity where you live.

Empanadas are classified as a type of hand pie

We tend to view empanadas as a type of South American fare, but many cultures have examples of food wrapped in dough.  You can classify these various examples as hand pies.  Many types of hand pies were created as a way that people could eat on the go; however, with one hand free you can even eat and work at the same time.   

You may have heard of Italian calzones or Chinese bao buns, but there are many pastry wrapped treats.  In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, they make a form of empanada called the pasty.  Think of them as being quite similar to the South American empanada, but they’re actually based on a Cornish recipe. In conclusion, I like to think good food knows no geographic boundaries.  

Empanada Dough

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Margaret Sanfelippo Course: Baked goodsCuisine: SpanishDifficulty: Medium


large empanadas
Prep time


Chilling Time


Total time





This dough is easy to pull together. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it (for a day or two) or freezer it for later use.


  • 3 cups 3 all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 1 stick 1 cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  • 1 1 egg

  • 1/4 – 3/4 cup 1/4 – 3/4 cup water

  • 1 recipe 1 ground beef empanada filling or your favorite empanada filling


  • Mix the flour and salt in a bowl (or food processor, if using).
  • Add the butter. 
  • Rub the pieces of the cold butter between your thumbs and fingers until it is the size of peas (or pulse the food processor to get the same result).
  • Add the egg and water (in small increments) and mix together (or pulse until a clumpy dough forms).  You need just enough water to bring the dough together. 
  • Shape the dough into a flatten square.  Cover with plastic wrap and  refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before use (or up to 2 days).  You can freeze it for later use, if you like.
  • Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.  Shape one piece into a ball.  Then roll out the piece of dough into a thin circle on a lightly floured surface. Be careful not to get too much flour on the dough as it will make it hard to seal the empanada.  
  • Assemble the empanada (per the instructions below).
  • Leave the other pieces of dough in the refrigerator, taking one at a time to roll out and assemble the empanadas.  
  • Directions to Assemble and Bake the Empanadas
  • To assemble the empanadas, place a spoonful of the beef filling on the middle of the circle of dough leaving about an inch around the outside of the dough.  The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada .  It is easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed.  
  • To seal the empanadas, fold the dough and seal the edges by pressing the top of a fork against the edges.  
  • Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.
  • Once you have finished making the empanadas, put them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill the dough again.
  • Before baking, brush your empanadas with an egg wash (1 egg and 1 tsp of water whisked together).  This will give them a nice golden color.
  • Bake the empanadas in an oven pre-heated to 400F.  Bake approx 30 minutes until the outside is golden brown.


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