Empanadas are a beloved dish in many Latin American countries, known for their delicious fillings and crispy crusts. These savory pastries can be found in various forms and flavors, each with its own unique twist. In this article, we will explore the traditional recipe for empanadas, step by step, and delve into the history and cultural significance of this mouthwatering treat.

The Origins of Empanadas

Empanadas have a rich history that dates back centuries. The word “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb “empanar,” which means “to coat with bread.” This culinary delight is believed to have originated in Galicia, a region in northwest Spain. From there, empanadas spread throughout the Spanish-speaking world, adapting to local ingredients and flavors along the way.

When Spanish colonizers arrived in Latin America, they brought their culinary traditions with them, including the art of making empanadas. Over time, each country developed its own unique style and fillings, resulting in a wide variety of empanada recipes across the region.

The Essential Ingredients

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a look at the key ingredients you will need to make delicious empanadas:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • For the filling:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins

The Recipe: Step by Step

Now that we have our ingredients ready, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making empanadas:

Step 1: Prepare the Dough

To make the empanada dough, start by combining the all-purpose flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the cold, diced butter and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Next, gradually add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, and mix until the dough comes together. Be careful not to overmix. Once the dough forms a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2: Prepare the Filling

While the dough is chilling, it’s time to prepare the delicious filling for your empanadas. In a skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent and the spices are fragrant.

Once the beef mixture is cooked, remove it from the heat and stir in the chopped green olives and raisins. Set the filling aside to cool.

Step 3: Assemble the Empanadas

Now comes the fun part – assembling the empanadas! Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into small portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion into a circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Place a spoonful of the filling in the center of each dough circle, leaving a border around the edges.

Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon shape. Use a fork to press the edges together and seal the empanadas. Repeat this process until all the dough and filling are used.

Step 4: Bake and Enjoy

Place the assembled empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with beaten egg to give them a golden, shiny finish. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the empanadas are golden brown.

Once they are done, remove the empanadas from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before serving. Empanadas are best enjoyed warm, either as a main course or as a delightful snack.


1. Can I use a different type of meat for the filling?

Absolutely! While ground beef is a popular choice for empanada fillings, you can get creative and use other meats such as chicken, pork, or even seafood. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

2. Can I make the dough in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the empanada dough ahead of time. After wrapping it in plastic wrap, you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to assemble the empanadas, let the dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften before rolling it out.

3. Are there vegetarian options for empanada fillings?

Absolutely! If you prefer a vegetarian filling, you can substitute the ground meat with ingredients like sautéed vegetables, cheese, or even a combination of beans and rice. The possibilities are endless!

4. Can I freeze the empanadas?

Yes, empanadas freeze well, making them a convenient option for meal prep or entertaining. After assembling the empanadas, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or airtight container. When you’re ready to enjoy them, simply bake them from frozen, adding a few extra minutes to the baking time.

5. Are there sweet empanada options?

While empanadas are traditionally savory, there are also sweet variations that make for a delightful dessert. Fillings like fruit preserves, chocolate, or dulce de leche can be used to create a sweet empanada. Just remember to adjust the sugar content accordingly.


Empanadas are a culinary delight that has captivated taste buds around the world. With their crispy crusts and flavorful fillings, these savory pastries offer a delicious experience that is both comforting and satisfying. Whether you stick to the traditional


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