How to make empanada dough for frying

How to make homemade empanada dough for frying

En Español

This is my easy recipe for homemade empanada dough for frying. The process to make this empanada dough for frying is very similar to the empanada dough for baking. A few differences are that this dough doesn’t include egg, has a little bit less butter, but adds baking powder and little bit of orange juice. The orange juice gives the dough a nice flavor, while the baking powder give the empanadas that light fluffy texture when you fry them. You can use the regular baking empanada dough and fry it, however I prefer the texture that you get from this variation when making fried empanadas. I mainly make this dough to prepare empanadas de viento or fried cheese empanadas, but it can also be used to make any type of fried empanada with the filling of your choice. This is mainly a savory fried empanada dough, though if you want you can add a small amount (~1 tablespoon) of sugar to give the dough a slightly sweeter taste. This will work well with fillings like cheese or cheese and jam/fruit preserves.

Fried empanadas

Homemade empanada dough for frying Homemade fried empanadas

How to make empanada dough for frying

Yield: 12-15 medium size empanadas or 20-25 small empanadas

How to make empanada dough for frying

Easy recipe for making homemade empanada dough for frying.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar – optional (if you want a hint of sweetness in the dough)
  • 1 stick of butter (4 oz), cut in 8 pieces
  • ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons of orange juice
  • ~2/3 cup sparkling water or still water, add more if needed
  • Your choice of filling(s)
  • Oil for frying


  1. Mix the flour, salt, sugar (if using), and baking powder in a food processor.
  2. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until mixed.
  3. Add the orange juice and sparkling water – start with ½ cup of water and then add more as needed, pulse and mix until clumps of dough start to form.
  4. Form a ball with the dough and knead lightly.
  5. Place the dough in bowl, coat with small amount of oil, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour.
  6. To make the empanada discs or rounds, you can either roll out the dough into a thin layer and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). Or you can make several small balls of dough, about 1.5 oz to 2 oz in weight, then use a tortilla press or a rolling pin to roll them out – they don’t need to be perfectly round. It's really important to get the discs very thin since they cook very quickly when you fry them, if after cutting out the round shapes or pressing them with a tortilla press, they are still thick, try rolling each disc a little more until it is very thin. Some people also use a pasta machine to get the dough very thin.
  7. The empanada discs can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator or freezer to use later.
  8. To fill, assembly, and fry the empanadas:
  9. Use a spoon to place your choice of filling on to the center of each empanada disc.
  10. Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges, first pressing gently with your fingers, then use your fingers to gently twist the edges of the empanada. You can also use a fork to press down and seal, or one of those empanada molds if you have one.
  11. If you have time, I recommend chilling the empanadas for 30 minutes to an hour (or longer if you are making them ahead of time), before frying them.
  12. The empanadas can be fried either a deep fryer or a simple frying pan, just make sure to have enough oil to cover at least half the empanada if using a pan. Heat the oil, it should bubble when you add the empanadas to the oil, and fry each empanada until they are golden on each side. Don’t overcrowd the pan and if any of them break/leak remove it immediately from the oil.
  13. Place the fried empanadas on paper towels to drain any extra oil.
  14. Serve warm.


To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same instruction but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.

Mix the flour with the salt and the baking powder Butter, orange juice, and sparkling water for empanada dough

Add the butter and mix well Add the liquids and mix until clumps of dough start to form

Remove the dough from the food processor, form a ball, and let it rest for about an hour You can either roll out a thin sheet of dough or form the dough into several small balls

Roll each ball out into a circle form You can also use a tortilla press to make the empanada discs Making empanada discs with a tortilla press Add your choice of filling to the empanada discs Empanada dough for frying You can make larger empanadas or minitiure bite sized ones Fry the empanadas in hot oil until golden on each side Place the fried empanadas on paper towels to remove excess oil

Fried cheese empanadas


  1. I am originally from Ecuador but have lived in England for a long time. I love your site because it brings memories of the good things of our beautiful country.

    I have tried to cook Ecuadorian meals as often as I can -my husband and children love them and your recipes have always been successful. I am going to make empanadas but I am confused by the quantities -cups come in so many sizes! Do you have an equivalent in ounces or grams please? Also the flour -presumably you mean plain and not self-rising flour?

    Thank you very much for sharing your recipes so generously

    • Hi Susana – When I use cups as a measurement I’m referring to measuring cups (the kind used for measuring baking ingredients). 1 cup of all purpose flour is about 130 grams.

  2. Mitch Presley says:

    I made your recipe and my family loved it. I made them with refried beans and cheese and they were delicious. My wife really commented on the flakeyness of the crust and the incredible flavor. It was my first time to make empanadas and will be making them with your recipe from here on out.

  3. Hi there, how many empanadas will this recipe make? I am making empanadas for my son’s birthday this weekend per his request, he loves them! So do I!!!

  4. Ivory rose says:

    Hi…I want to try the recipe but the problem is I don’t have orange it ok if I don’t have to put it? Or else what will be the best substitute for it?

    You can use additional water in place of the orange juice if you don’t have any.

    • I used lemon juice it came out amazing. The citrus acid is in both lemon and oranges, to be honest I thing any acidic fruit will work.

  5. Just used your recipe for the first time today. LOVED it. Fried perfectly. Will try the baking recipe too, but when I make things for myself, I always fry instead of bake. :)


  6. Should the butter be salted or unsalted?

  7. Hi: It’s been awhile since I’ve had empanadas and I have just rendered some nice lard so I’m surfing the web and I’ve read some of your material. It is very interesting and helpful. But I’m curious. How come you don’t use lard for the empanadas and why don’t you fry them in lard when frying.

    • Hi Dave – One of the reasons is that it’s hard to find good quality lard in the US, and yes, I really should make my own, but just don’t enough time these days.
      Also, I like to make a large batch of dough and usually make at least some the empanadas meatless for friends that don’t eat meat. Most of the time I use the dough for frying to make Ecuadorian empanadas de viento (filled with cheese), and those don’t have lard in the dough (it changes the flavor) and are fried in oil.

  8. Michelle Figueroa says:


    We make empanadillas a lot (my husband is from Puerto Rico), and we normally use the prepackaged variety of discos you find in the grocery stores (Goya and others made in Miami, FL). However, my daughter was diagnosed with an egg and soy allergy so I went on the hunt for a dough I could make myself. When my husband bit into this empanadilla, he said this is what it taste like in Puerto Rico. He was quite pleased. Just in case this might help anyone else, I used regular water (cold) and I added a bit of sazon (Badia brand which has no MSG). I pulled off 1.3 oz pieces of dough (slightly smaller than a golf ball) and first made it into a ball. I then placed it on parchment paper. I put another piece of parchment paper over the top and then pressed down with a plate. I then used my rolling pin to roll these out to about 6 inches (my first were smaller and they were too thick). I got 18 discos. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe!

  9. I don’t have sparkling water so is there anything I can use to substitute?

  10. I am argentine but never try to make empanadas for two reasons, I don’t know how to bake anything and when I go to Argentina there topo many places that make an even deliver them to your place warm. No one makes empanadas at home anymore.
    But I am in the USA and I miss them terribly.
    I am encourage by your recipe and direction to try to make them by hand since I don ‘t have a processor or mixer or anything. I like them fried -they taste so much better- should I paint with egg yolk before I fry them? Which oil is best?
    If you could help me I’d appreciate it very much… Can’t wait to try…

    • Hi Nel – You don’t need to paint them with egg yolk if you are frying them (that’s just for baking them). I usually fry them in canola, peanut or sunflower oil.

  11. I dont have a food processor is there an alternative?

    • Hi Marie – You can make the dough by hand also, just add the ingredients in the same order as you would for the food processor method. You might need a few additional tablespoons of sparkling water.

  12. I just tried the recipe , and i filled the dought with some filling i made , and it turned out great!! Everyone loved it. Thnk you for this successfull recipe :)

  13. Maria Wuollet says:

    Laylita you are the best!!
    I’m from Guayaquil and live in California. You make such a good ecuadorian food and for me it’s awesome to have found your website! Keep it up! I always look forward your next recipes!

  14. I’m just curious. If I don’t have OJ. Is there something I can substitue for this? I don’t want to have to make a run to the store at last minute…

    Hi Jacque – You can use (more) water if you don’t have OJ – the OJ gives the dough a subtle citrus taste but the dough will still be good without it .

  15. Francesca says:

    Hi Layla,
    I have made empanada’s countless times (my mother is Puerto Rican) but would always just take the easy way out and buy the discs already made. I thought it would be too involved to make them myself. Until last night when I went to the store and they didn’t have them. So I searched the internet for a doable recipe without lard or shortening. I came upon your blog and made them. I wasn’t sure how they would come out. Oh my goodness am I so glad I took a chance! They were delicious and sooooooo easy!!!! I will be making these from scratch from now on! Thank you for your site.

    • Puerto Rican cuisine doesn’t have empanadas. What you’re used to is pastelillos, which taste completely different in my opinion.

      • I am half Puerto Rican and yes we do have empanadas. My grandma was born and grew up there and makes empanadas and calls them empanadas. She learned from her grandmother who also calls them empanadas. They can be made in many different ways. Some countries make them to be desserts and Puerto Ricans tend to make them with meat inside. Check your facts hun.

        Also, Laylita,
        Thank you for this recipe! It’s fantastic! :)

      • Niki Loverde says:

        Did you mean Pastellitos??? Scrumptious, popular in Argentina, but totally different.

  16. Cooking in Asia says:

    I love this recipe

  17. Gracias Laylita por compartir tus recetas se ven muy sabrosas.
    Aunque no soy Ecuatoriana voy a probar tus recetas Soy Mexicana pero me gusta la buena comida y estas recetas se ven muy bien

  18. just now made this, THANKS!! Everything was great!

  19. I am in the middle of eating empanadas I made with this dough recipe. They turned out fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to try more of your recipies.

  20. jose vega says:

    thanks a lot i am doing my exchange program and i had to do a recipe and i chose this one and i think they would love. i am living in philadelphia thaks bye

  21. im from dominican republic and my mother makes these different. I don’t have her recipe but she’s the type that doesn’t measure she jus throws it in the bowl and works with it, but I liked this recipe I tried it and it was good. I made beef empanadas, chesse. and pork for a party we recently had im going to use this one for myself since my mother won’t share hers lol!

  22. this recipe is great, i’ve been trying to make the dough for empanadas for years, i wish my grandmother was able to show me before she passed but this recipe comes out tasting just like hers.

  23. Hey Laylita,

    Hi there thanks for this great site and sharing your knowledge of chamorro cooking, well when I was growing my mother is a fantastic cook and chef. Well I was wondering about making the dough for the empanadas for frying and how would you do it without using a food processor do it manually yes I know it would time consuming but I would remember my mother would do it all day long) thank you can’t wait to try out this recipe…

    sincerly, Rosie

  24. I grew up here in the U.S. but I was born in Ecuador. I remember the empanadas my mother and grandmother made only I did not have a recipe until I came across your website. My daughter and I made the cheese and onion empanadas using this recipe and they came out great. They were very tasty! The only issue was not knowing how thin to roll the dough ( how many discs in this recipe ), so they came out a little thick.

    There are other recipes that I want to try very soon. Thank you for offering this website, it is awesome. You do a great job!

  25. Thank you, Gretchen, despite all rivalry between Ecuador and Peru I think that there a lot of similarities (in food, customs, etc). Your aji is going to be so good with fresh tree tomatoes!

  26. Thanks for this! This is probably a lot more similar to empanadas here than most recipes I have found. I bought tomates del arbol today to try your aji. Sachatomate they are also called here in Peru. Again, lovely site.

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