Today we're making homemade empanada dough that can be used to make pastelillos, empanadas, and so much more! It's made with just 5 ingredients (flour, butter, salt, egg, and water) and comes together in less than an hour.
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This 5 ingredient empanada dough is super easy to make and so fun to roll out and fill with whatever you're craving (like these apple pie stuffed empanadas)!
They are traditionally stuffed with a seasoned ground beef filling called picadillo and make a wonderful snack, appetizer, or side dish.
Keep reading for more ideas on how to fill your empanadas.
Here are the five ingredients you'll need to make your own empanada dough:
- all purpose flour
- butter (unsalted), melted
- egg yolks
See recipe card for quantities.
Mix dry ingredients. Mix the flour with the salt in a large bowl to combine.
Add wet ingredients. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, and water to the flour mixture.
Work the dough. Mix together until a dough begins to form.
Transfer to a flour dusted surface and continue to knead until a consistent ball of dough forms.
Hint: If the dough feels too wet, add flour a one tablespoon at a time until it no longer sticks to your hands.
Chill. Cover the dough with a towel and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Roll. Divide the dough into quarters, then into eighths, then sixteenths, then into 32 pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball. On a flour dusted surface roll each ball into a round circle using a rolling pin.
Fill & fry or bake. From here, you're ready to fill your empanada dough with whatever you like. I used a traditional Puerto Rican picadillo filling here.
Make sure to not overfill your empanada dough. Wet in between the edges with water and crimp the dough shut using a fork.
You can pan fry, deep fry, or bake them (if baking make sure to use an egg wash to get that golden brown color).
Keep reading for more ideas on how to fill and fry/bake.
These are some of my favorite routes of inspiration to take when picking a filling for my empanada dough:
- Keep it Classic - this classic Puerto Rican picadillo filling will never disappoint
- Guava & Cheese - guava and cream cheese is a pairing we know works (thanks to these guava pastelillos) and it's just as good stuffed inside this empanada dough
- Apple/Cherry Pie - I'm a huge fan of sweet empanadas, and using any kind of fruit that's in season and available! Highly recommend making your favorite pie filling and adding a scoop to the middle of your empanadas. Check out my recipe for Apple Empanadas!
- Chicken & Cheese - so I haven't actually tried making this version yet but I'm imagining these pinchos de pollo with some grated cheddar cheese as a filling and it's getting me really excited... coming soon!
Folding & Closing Your Empanadas
An easy and visually satisfying method is using a fork to crimp the edges shut.
That said, there are many fun ways to close and seal your empanada dough.
In my family, we place the filling in the inner section of half of the circular section of dough and add a dab of water to the outer edge of half the circle.
From there, it's as simple as folding the empty half over the filling and it's time to seal them.
If you're feeling adventurous, I recommend closing the edge starting at one end, folding the extra dough over your finger, then continuing this motion until the entire empanada is sealed (pictured above).
This method takes some practice but is a lot of fun to make!
How to Cook the Dough (Baked vs. Fried)
There are a few options to consider when cooking your empanadas. You can bake them, fry them in shallow oil, or deep fry.
If baking, you'll need to brush with an egg wash (equal parts egg and water, whisked together). I like to bake at 400 degrees for at 20-30 minutes or until they look golden brown and flakey on the outside.
You can also fry them on each side in shallow oil over medium high heat or deep fry like I do in my empanadilla recipe!
In all instances, you'll know the dough is done when it appears golden brown and flakey.
Store Bought Empanada Dough
If you're really in a pinch, you can find empanada dough at the store or online.
If you can't find it in a store locally and don't want to purchase online, I recommend using store-bought pie dough.
Empanada Dough vs. Pie Dough
As mentioned above many people will use their favorite pre-made pie dough to make empanadas.
This is because the ingredients for most dough recipes are very similar. Most pie doughs use flour, butter, salt, water, and sometimes egg; an ingredient list almost identical to those needed for this recipe!
You will want something to roll out the empanada dough, like a rolling pin. You can use your hands if you don't have one.
This empanada dough is freezer friendly.
It's actually an excellent recipe to make ahead and have stored in the freezer for whenever you have some leftover picadillo, fruit that's overripe and needs to be used, or have a random empanada craving!
I recommend stacking the discs with squares of parchment paper in between them so they don't stick.
Wrap tightly but gently in plastic wrap and thaw completely before using.
If at any point while working the dough it feels too wet, add flour a one tablespoon at a time and keep kneading until it no longer sticks to your hands.