All about empanadas: The empanada 101 guide

Empanadas

Empanadas are one of my favorite foods to make and also to eat. Empanadas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can be served as appetizers or snacks, but they can also easily make a full and satisfying meal.
When you think about it, many cultures and countries around the world have some version of a pastry or dough stuffed with sweet or savory fillings: dumplings, pierogi, samosas, hand pies, turnovers, British or Cornish pasties, Brazilian pastel, Cuban pastelitos, bolani, pastechis, empanadilla, etc. Empanadas are usually made with savory fillings, but sweet ones are also great for dessert or to accompany that afternoon coffee or tea. They can be served alone or with dipping sauces. Argentinean chimichurri sauce is one of the most popular empanada dipping sauces.

Empanada fillings

Empanadas are a very versatile dish. These delicious bundles can be prepared with so many different types of fillings, from traditional savory fillings to mouthwatering sweet fillings. There are very traditional fillings, called rellenos or condumios in Spanish, that are different from one country to another. Even within the same country, different regions might have specific empanadas that they are known for. However, when it comes to options for empanada fillings, the sky is the limit, you can stick to the classic fillings or you can create your own based on inspiration from other dishes. You can combine flavors and ingredients that you love, or simply use the ingredients you have available at the moment.

Empanada filling recipes and ideas
Empanadas are a wonderful way to use seasonal vegetables and fruits. I love trying out new empanada fillings based on what I find at my local Farmers’ Market. Another way to choose good empanada fillings is to think about classic pizza and tart combinations, chances are if the ingredients work together in one of those dishes, then it will also make a great empanada filling.

Empanada dough

The most popular empanada dough is made with wheat flour. However, empanada dough can be made with corn flour or corn meal, mashed plantains, potatoes, yuca or cassava, sweet potatoes, and more. Sweet empanada dough can also be made with chocolate, almond flour, spiced with cinnamon and clove, with citrus rind, and more flavors. The dough preparation will also vary depending on if the empanadas will be baked or fried.Most of the time they are either baked or deep fried, though there are some that can also be cooked on a griddle or on a grill.

Easy empanada dough recipes
You can buy ready-made empanada discs at many Latin grocery stores, but you can also easily make the dough at home. Homemade empanada dough is very easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. Making the dough at home also allows you to customize it and add things like herbs, spices, and other personal touches to the empanada dough. You can also use organic flour or whole wheat flour when you make your own empanada dough. My mom usually makes her empanadas using half regular all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.

Below are some of my favorite basic recipes for empanada dough, savory fillings, dipping sauces, and sweet dessert fillings.

 

Basic empanada dough recipes

Basic empanada dough for baking: This is my easy and basic recipe for savory empanada dough for baked empanadas.

Empanada dough for frying: How to make empanada dough for frying.

Basic sweet pastry dough for empanadas: How to make sweet pastry dough for sweet dessert empanadas or hand pies.

Gingerbread empanada dough recipe: This gingerbread empanada dough is great for holiday sweet empanadas.

Chocolate empanada dough recipe: Chocolate empanada dough, enough said!

Savory dough for empanadas mendocinas: This dough is softer, uses milk instead of water, and is great for traditional Argentinean empanadas.

Green plantain empanada dough: This naturally gluten free empanada dough is made using green plantains. These plantain dough empanadas can be filled with cheese, meat, or seafood.

Savory empanada recipes

Asparagus empanadas with fava beans, peas and goat cheese: These vegetarian empanadas are filled with asparagus, fava beans, fresh peas, goat cheese and thyme. Serve them with a balsamic chimichurri sauce.

Choriqueso empanadas: Mouthwatering empanadas filled with chorizo and cheese, can be fried or baked. Served with a creamy avocado sauce.

Chicken or turkey empanadas: Recipe for homemade chicken or turkey empanadas filled with chicken/turkey, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, cumin, oregano and balsamic vinegar.

Empanadas mendocinas or Argentinean beef empanadas: Easy recipe for empanadas mendocinas, traditional Argentinean baked empanadas filled with beef, onions, paprika, hot pepper powder, cumin, oregano, hard-boiled egg and olives.

Empanadas de puerros or leek empanadas: Recipe for homemade baked empanadas filled with leeks, bacon or pancetta, Swiss cheese and raisins.

Swiss chard, beet and goat cheese empanadas: Easy recipe for vegetarian empanadas or hand pies filled with chard, beets, goat cheese and oregano.

Mushroom cheese empanadas: Mushroom cheese empanadas made with a filling of baby portobello mushrooms, shallots, balsamic vinegar, raisins and fontina cheese

Baked cheese empanadas or empanadas de queso al horno: Empanadas filled with cheese and onion, sprinkled with demerara sugar and baked until golden.

Empanadas de verde or green plantain empanadas with cheese filling: Empanadas made from green plantain dough and stuffed with cheese and onions.

Empanadas de viento or fried cheese empanadas: These Ecuadorian empanadas are a traditional street food and are stuffed with cheese and onion, then fried and sprinkled with sugar.

Cheese and poblano empanadas: Easy recipe for homemade cheesy poblano empanadas filled with rajas or roasted poblano peppers, and a mix of queso fresco, oaxaca, and goat cheese.

Sweet empanada recipes

Chocolate dulce de leche empanadas: Recipe for chocolate dulce de leche empanadas made with homemade chocolate dough and filled with creamy dulce de leche or caramel.

Gingerbread pear empanadas: Gingerbread empanada dough filled with caramelized ginger pears that were cooked in syrup of panela or piloncillo and spices.

Raspberry, goat cheese and almond empanadas: Delicious fruity dessert empanadas stuffed with raspberry, goat cheese and almond filling.

Rhubarb and strawberry empanadas: Homemade sweet empanada turnovers filled with rhubarb and strawberries.

Pumpkin empanadas: Delicious homemade pumpkin empanadas made with caramelized or candied pumpkin, cooked in panela or piloncillo syrup with cinnamon, clove and all spice.

Dipping sauces for empanadas

Traditional chimichurri sauce: Traditional chimichurri recipe made with parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, red pepper, vinegar and olive oil. This sauce is a must have for meat filled empanadas.

Balsamic chimichurri sauce: A twist on the traditional chimichurri sauce, this one uses balsamic vinegar and a higher ratio of fresh oregano. This is probably one of my top favorites for empanadas.

Quick chimichurri sauce: A quick version of chimichurri made with parsley, oregano, basil, garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and chili powder.

Tamarillo or tree tomato aji hot sauce: Tamarillo or tree tomato aji hot sauce, also known as aji de tomate de arbol, is a very tasty hot sauce made from tree tomatoes or tamarillos, hot peppers, onion, cilantro and lime juice. I love this one on green plantain empanadas and empanadas de morocho.

Aji criollo or Ecuadorian hot sauce: Aji criollo is an Ecuadorian hot sauce made with hot peppers, cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.

Tomato and onion curtido salsa: Recipe for curtido de cebolla y tomate, a Latin style lime pickled red onion and tomato salad or lime marinated onion tomato salsa.

Creamy yogurt chipotle sauce: Recipe for spicy and creamy chipotle sauce made with adobo chipotles, plain yogurt or Mexican crema, garlic, and lime juice.

Jalapeño cilantro salsa: This mild jalapeño cilantro salsa recipe is almost like a jalapeño chimichurri, it is made with fresh jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and olive oil.

Avocado sauce: Creamy avocado sauce recipe made with avocados, limes, cilantro, hot peppers, garlic, olive oil and cumin.

Spicy mint creme fraiche sauce: Flavorful creamy herb sauce made with crème fraiche, mint, cilantro, parsley, garlic, hot peppers and lemon juice. This one goes with veggie empanadas.

Honey crème fraiche sauce: Sweet cream topping sauce made with honey and crème fraîche, this sauce goes great with fruit filled sweet dessert empanadas.

All about empanadas or the empanada 101 guide