Empanadas are a beloved dish in many Latin American countries, known for their delicious fillings and crispy, golden crusts. While the filling is often the star of the show, the dough plays a crucial role in creating the perfect empanada. In this article, we will explore the secrets to making a mouthwatering empanada dough, known as “receta masa de empanada” in Spanish.

Understanding Empanada Dough

Empanada dough is a simple mixture of flour, fat, water, and salt. The type of fat used can vary, with options including butter, lard, or vegetable shortening. Each fat choice brings its own unique flavor and texture to the dough. The ratio of ingredients and the mixing technique are key factors in achieving the desired consistency and taste.

The Importance of Fat

The fat in empanada dough serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it adds flavor and richness to the dough. Secondly, it helps create a tender and flaky texture. The choice of fat can significantly impact the final result. Butter, for example, adds a rich and buttery flavor, while lard creates a more traditional and authentic taste. Vegetable shortening, on the other hand, produces a lighter and flakier crust.

Choosing the Right Flour

The type of flour used in empanada dough can also affect the final product. All-purpose flour is commonly used and provides a good balance of tenderness and structure. However, some recipes call for a combination of all-purpose flour and cornmeal, which adds a pleasant crunch to the crust. Experimenting with different flours can lead to exciting variations in taste and texture.

The Perfect Empanada Dough Recipe

Now that we understand the key components of empanada dough, let’s dive into a tried-and-true recipe that will have you creating delicious empanadas in no time.


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • ½ cup ice water


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  2. Add the chilled butter cubes to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually add the ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, while mixing the dough with a fork. Continue adding water until the dough comes together and can be formed into a ball.
  4. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently for a minute or two, until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape each portion into a disk. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Once chilled, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly.
  7. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to your desired thickness. Cut out circles using a round cutter or a glass.
  8. Fill each dough circle with your preferred empanada filling, leaving a small border around the edges.
  9. Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon shape. Seal the edges by pressing them together with your fingers or using a fork.
  10. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling.
  11. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  12. Place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  13. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the empanadas are golden brown.
  14. Allow the empanadas to cool for a few minutes before serving.


1. Can I use a different type of fat in the dough?

Yes, you can experiment with different fats to achieve different flavors and textures. Butter, lard, and vegetable shortening are all viable options. Just keep in mind that the choice of fat will affect the taste and consistency of the dough.

2. Can I make the dough in advance?

Absolutely! The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. This allows the flavors to meld together and makes the dough easier to work with. Simply wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

3. Can I freeze the dough?

Yes, you can freeze the dough for future use. After shaping the dough into disks, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag. The dough can be frozen for up to three months. When ready to use, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight before rolling it out and assembling the empanadas.

4. Can I use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour?

While whole wheat flour can be used, it will result in a denser and heartier dough. If you prefer a lighter and flakier crust, it’s best to stick with all-purpose flour or a combination of all-purpose flour and cornmeal.

5. Can I make mini empanadas with this dough?

Absolutely! This dough recipe works well for both regular-sized and mini empanadas. Simply adjust the size of the dough circles and the amount of filling accordingly.


Empanadas are a delicious and versatile dish, and the dough is a crucial element in creating the perfect empanada. By understanding the role of fat and flour in the dough, you can experiment with different ingredients to achieve your desired taste and texture. The provided recipe serves as a solid foundation for creating mouthwatering empanadas, but don’t be afraid to get creative and add your own personal touch. Whether you’re making traditional beef empanadas or exploring vegetarian or sweet fillings, the perfect empanada dough will elevate your culinary creations to new heights.


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