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In Search of the Perfect Empanada

Appetizers to Dessert: a meal made of empanadas!




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These Latin American pastries, filled with seafood, meat, cheese, vegetables or fruit are wildly popular. Thought to have originated in Spain, where the Empanada Festival is part of Galician culture, the name comes from empanar, or to coat with bread. Variations of this form of portable meals are found in Cornish pasties, Italian calzone, or turnovers.

Though empanadas are most associated with Chile and Argentina, many South American countries have their own versions. All recipes use a flour shell, some more bread-like than others, and the fillings vary by chef or locale.

To begin with, the pastry shell is flour, egg, oil, lard or shortening, and a liquid, either water, broth or milk. Some recipes call for yeast or wheat germ or salt. All dough is kneaded, rolled out to size, filled as desired, then baked. Some recipes call for browning the tops under a broiler, then baking, to approximate the look of an old brick oven. Some cooks prefer to fry their empanadas, and this is especially tasty with bite-sized cheese empanadas, or empanaditas. Many cooks, not wishing to make the dough by hand, use prepared pie crusts, or puff pastry for their empanadas. While tasty, they're not the real thing.

Once cooked, cooled, and securely wrapped, empanadas can be frozen, although in my house there are never enough left over to freeze. These two Empanada recipes are ones I grew up with.

Empanadas can be cocktail or appetizer sized, filled with cheese. They can be plate sized, filled with a meat and vegetable mix for a main dish, or smaller, filled with fruit for dessert.

Check out one of these recipes, or share your favorite recipe, via the forum.


  • Empanadas Criollas has recipes for sweet and savory or vegetarian empanadas, plus a number of dough recipes, has many recipes and variations, plus some tongue in cheek eating instructions: ¿Cómo se comen las empanadas salteñas?
  • Meat Empanadas using frozen shells from an Hispanic food market and provides a source.


  • Empanadas y Salteñas recipes include regional variations from Tucuman, Chuiquisaca, Lacayote and others. Brazil
  • Saiba como fazer empanadas de carne . You'll need to read Portuguese to read this version of an Argentine empanada.
  • Empanadas De Camarao shrimp and hearts of palm in these beer dough empanadas Chile
  • Empanadas Chilenas. This recipes calls for a glass of wine: half for the cook, half for the dough.
  • Great Grandma Silva's Chilean Empanadas call for round steak or rump steak instead of ground beef in the filling. Paraguay
  • Empanadas recipe calls for oil and milk in the dough, and a filling of the chef's choice.
  • Empanadas Paraguayas with ají rojo, spicy red pepper. International
  • Potato & Beef Empanadas
  • Spinach Empanadas
  • Pork Empanadas
  • Granada Turkey Empanada

    Note: There is no tilde over the n (ñ), so the word is pronunced ehm-pa-nah-das, not ehm-pah-nyah-das.

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