Filed Under: Appetizer | Beef | How To | Latin | Lunch | Main Dish | Videos

How to Make Empanadas

Recipe By Tessa Arias
June 10th, 2015
4.86 from 14 votes
4.86 from 14 votes

How to Make Empanadas with an easy homemade dough and customizable filling. These crowd-pleasers can be made ahead of time and are baked instead of fried!

Yield: 20 empanadas

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: The beef empanadas are positively rich and oh so savory. Then the dessert empanadas are perfectly sweet and fresh.
Texture: The crust is ridiculously buttery, flaky, and tender. The meaty filling inside with chunks of soft potatoes is to die for. Then with the dessert ones the Nutella and banana are practically melting in your mouth!
Ease: Totally doable but time-consuming. Assembling is the most involved part. Luckily, every step can be done ahead of time!
Appearance: Adorable hand held pastries stuffed with goodness? WHAT IS BETTER?!
Pros: Perfection in every bite.
Cons: Indulgent, but at least they’re not fried.
Would I make this again? I’ve made these many times!

Oh am I excited to share everything empanada with you! And boy do I have a lot to share because what is better on this planet than savory OR sweet goodness encased in pastry that you don’t even need a fork and knife to eat? This post has everything you need to learn how to make empanadas. You can make savory meat-filled empanadas (beef empanada recipe below!) or sweet dessert empanadas with my best tips and tricks. So let’s get right to it!

How to make the BEST empanadas!! Totally customizable, can be made ahead of time, and they're baked not fried!

This is simply my favorite way to make empanadas. I am not claiming it to be authentic or traditional to any country or culture. There are SO many ways to make them and practically every Latin country has its own variation. If you think about it, most cultures have some sort of dish comprised of meat encased in dough! From British pasties to meat pies, calzones, samosas, even strudels, loving this kind of food is just a part of being human!

How to make the BEST empanadas!! Totally customizable, can be made ahead of time, and they're baked not fried!

Watch the video below to see exactly how these are made. Then, read my tips and tricks to help you make the best homemade empanadas ever!

How to Make Empanadas

What is an empanada?

An empanada is a crescent-shaped pastry filled with your choice of savory or sweet filling! Super customizable and easy to make. It makes a delicious party appetizer but is also a great dinner idea!

Ingredients for empanada dough:

  • Water
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Flour

The dough recipe is very similar to a basic French choux pastry but without the eggs. It may seem weird to start a dough in the saucepan if you aren’t familiar with this method, but it is seriously one of the quickest and easiest doughs to work with. It does need to chill for a minimum of 2 hours, so keep that in mind as you plan this recipe! I have not tried the dough with whole wheat flour, but feel free to start by substituting only half the all-purpose with white whole wheat flour (preferably).

For the beef filling:

The recipe below is for a very basic beef filling. Feel free to omit or change practically anything – it’s meant to be customized! Note that the filling recipe makes a generous amount, if you have leftovers feel free to store in the fridge. I like to use it for lettuce wraps, scrambling with eggs, or filling a burrito. Leftovers from other meals (like cooked meat or even mashed potatoes) also make great empanada fillings! Check out my other recipes for Breakfast Empanadas and Chorizo Empanadas! Even plain cheese empanadas are scrumptious.

Be sure not to overfill your empanadas as you assemble, which is easy to do. Use a little less than you think to prevent any holes or tears in the dough and to prevent them from bursting open as they bake.

How to assemble empanadas:

Watch the video above to see how I assemble step-by-step. You’ll get better at it with practice. This is the most time-consuming part so turn on some tunes or grab a kitchen buddy to help! Your empanadas don’t have to look perfect – most imperfections will vanish as they bake.

How long do you bake empanadas?

These empanadas are baked, not fried (though no one would ever guess they’re so good). I baked mine for 20 minutes, until golden brown. If you make empanadas that are smaller or bigger than the size created in the recipe, make sure to adjust the baking time accordingly.

How to flavor empanadas:

Again, feel free to add any flavorings you want! I like to dip the baked empanadas in salsa, gaucamole, or even sour cream.

Can you make empanadas ahead of time?


TO REFRIGERATE: The dough can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for one day before using. The filling can also be cooked and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a day. The assembled unbaked empanadas can also be covered in plastic and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days, no need to change the baking time.

TO FREEZE: Freeze the sheet of unbaked empanadas until solid, then transfer into a freezer bag. Frozen empanadas will keep for up to three months and can be baked straight from the freezer. Add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Fully baked empanadas can also be frozen, though they lose a bit of their flaky texture. To prevent freezer burn, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. To reheat, unwrap as many empanadas as you want and warm in a low oven or toaster oven.

For sweet dessert empanadas:

Banana Nutella Dessert Empanadas - SO ooey, gooey, and delicious!

Banana Nutella Empanadas:

Place a few slices of banana and a small dollop of Nutella on a dough round. Fold the dough over and press the edges to seal. Brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of water) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (1 tablespoon sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon). Bake as directed in the recipe.

Other sweet empanada ideas:

Feel free to go crazy here! Fill with jam or preserves, pieces of chocolate, dulce de leche, cream cheese, fresh fruit, pie filling, or peanut butter!

More Recipes You’ll Love:

PURE HEAVEN! I could eat these every day. They can be made ahead of time, are totally customizable, and are baked NOT fried!

4.86 from 14 votes

How to make
Beef Empanadas

Yield: 20 empanadas
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
How to Make Empanadas with an easy homemade dough and customizable filling. These crowd-pleasers can be made ahead of time and are baked instead of fried!


For the empanada dough:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • Pinch paprika
  • 2 3/4 cups (12.4 ounces) flour

For the beef filling:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound ground beef (85-90% lean)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled, finely diced, and boiled
  • 3 scallions (optional), trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (optional)


For the empanada dough:

  1. Heat the water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Add in the salt, paprika, and flour. Remove from heat and stir with a wooden spoon until a wet and oily dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the beef filling:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onions, bell peppers, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and cumin until onions are soft. Add the beef, season to taste with salt, and cook until the beef is browned. Drain off the fat. Add in the potatoes and scallions, if using.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 5-inch circles. Roll each circle slightly to further flatten before placing about 2 tablespoons of filling on each circle. Sprinkle lightly with cheese, if using. Fold over the dough and press the edges firmly to seal. Crimp with the back of a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beef empanadas, empanadas, how to make empanadas
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Gaby — June 10, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Great video!! They look great, banana nutella is perfect for my sweet tooth!!

  2. #
    Ursula — June 11, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Great video! I’ill be making these real soon. Do you have any more videos I can check out?

    • #
      Dena — April 28, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      I made this before& it was a big hint for us.It was extremely easy too.

  3. #
    Ursula — June 11, 2015 at 5:25 am

    oops!! Found them 🙂 Can’t wait to check them out!

  4. #
    CINDY M ROBINSON — June 11, 2015 at 9:04 am


  5. #
    Kay Goodrow — June 15, 2015 at 7:49 am

    My daughter and my husband found these to be tasteless. When u drain the fat off there goes all the flavor(not the oil but the spices).

  6. #
    Tori K — February 21, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    We made the dough and it just fell apart. We couldn’t even roll it. Disappointed we couldn’t make them 🙁

    • #
      Tessa — February 23, 2016 at 10:48 am

      That’s really strange I’ve never encountered that problem or had that complaint from anyone else. Is it possible an ingredient was mis-measured?

  7. #
    Roger Hall — February 27, 2016 at 6:06 am

    I made your dough yesterday, it was very easy and worked out great. Instead of using your filling I used my own recipe for a Puerto Rican version of empanadas called Pastelillos. They turned out fantastic thank you so much for your recipe as I will never buy the discos (Goya) again. Awesome website!

  8. #
    Becky T — March 16, 2016 at 8:48 am

    How long can I keep this dough in the refrigerator ? One day, two, a week?

  9. #
    Tessa C — September 22, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Made these tonight! Such a success!! Substitued the ground beef for turkey for something a little leaner(even though it’s still loaded with butter!) very delicous! Made the dessert ones too! The hardest part for me was making evenly level dough but overall good! Thank you!

  10. #
    Angie — December 31, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    What kind of flour needed To make empanadas

  11. #
    Veronica — February 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Love this recipe! I doubled the spices and my husband & friends loved them. The recipe made 16 5 1/2 circles. I used my bread hook in my upright mixer to mix dough chilled overnight and it turned out fantastic.

  12. #
    Beth Boline — March 4, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I just made these, and they were delicious & flaky. They were easy enough to get right, but just difficult enough to earn bragging rights.

  13. #
    Sandra Gunter — May 21, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    What type of flour do you use?

  14. #
    veora piltingsrud — June 24, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Awesome empanada recipe.

  15. #
    Al — July 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I like that the video was straight to the point & you didn’t use unnessary wordy chat. Very professional. Now I got to try it.

  16. #
    Arlene Kuldip — September 7, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I love Empanada it’s one of my favorite pastries. I make it vegetrian I use peas and potatoes.I am a vegetrian. Thanks for sharing your awesome recipes

  17. #
    Sam — October 13, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    i’ve been wondering, will this dough work for a regular pie crust? im too lazy to rub butter into flour and such, and this dough process is as easy as it gets

  18. #
    Robin — April 18, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    I can’t wat to try these. They look fabulous.

  19. #
    Donna — October 3, 2018 at 7:02 am

    I haven’t tried it yet

  20. #
    EBlack — November 23, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Can you freeze these and cook later.

  21. #
    Wayne — December 8, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Hi Tessa. Enjoy your recipes and videos. Thanks.

    I am looking for an Empanada dough recipe that will give me a lighter and flaky dough. I know that when using butter it is important to process the butter in pieces and to keep the butter as cold as possible. Cold water too.

    Your recipe here seems to break all the rules by melting the butter in water first then adding the flour.
    Can you still obtain a flaky finished product using this method or is the cold method still better?

    Thanks for your reply


  22. #
    Georgina — January 7, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Can wait to try them out!

  23. #
    Kristal — January 15, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Im using Hashbrown potatoes, boiled, with the rest of the ingredients. Will let you know how they turn out!!

  24. #
    Valerie — January 30, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    These look delicious…can’t wait to try…Thank you for sharing.

  25. #
    David Whalen — February 3, 2019 at 6:40 am

    I am wondering if it is possible to make these half-moon-shaped pies in the following way:

    1. Make them up as you have described.
    2. Immediately deep fry them.
    3. Freeze them.
    4. Later remove from the freezer, place on cookie sheet while still frozen, and then reheat/warm up in one’s home oven.

    Am asking this question because I often make baked goods for Food Banks and MUST deliver them to these organizations in a frozen state. Would REALLY prefer that they are deep fried, as opposed to baked. Thanks so much.

  26. #
    Kd cinch — February 28, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    I really love these. The dough is just what I’ve been looking for. But don’t kid us. Flakey comes from butter layered thru, puffs (steams) while baking. This dough does not because the butter is hot and melted. It is not a pie crust. It is elastic, and very nice to handle in this application. It bakes up great and is easy to handle as a hand pie. Just fill it with something you like. It’s better moist. And don’t be skimpy. The dough will stretch over. I’m trying to bake frozen ones to see if that works as i write…looks ok from the oven. The test will be if the inside is cold or not. Hope you all enjoy as much as i.

  27. #
    Jacquie — March 13, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Can these be made gluten free using bob red mill flour one for one?
    Thank you

    • #
      Bridget Gander — September 12, 2021 at 1:41 am

      Did anyone try with gluten free flour yet?

  28. #
    W.Cass — March 17, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Really liked your video Easy to understand and I’m going to try these. Thank you.

  29. #
    Kathleen Fox — April 21, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    I was very impressed with your video & hope to follow it even more now that I’m starting to branch out more in making my own pastries. A few years ago, after I retired, I started making my own meals to get healthy & lose a lot of weight. 3 1/2 yrs later I did just that & with a good exercise program I lost a lot of weight. Now I’m interested in learning how to make some different types of desserts or grab & run meat pies. Empanadas meet that category. Just finished making my first batch of 36 but forgot to take a photo. It was for Easter & I’ve been rushed. Guess they were a hit! Saw some taking several at a time. I’m going with your complete recipe for my next batch. I look forward to seeing more recipe video’s in the future. Thanks for sharing!!

  30. #
    Deneen — May 31, 2019 at 11:34 am

    I would love to make this for an upcoming party but would have to bake it a day or two in advance, do you think this is something that can be done and then eaten at room temperature that day?

  31. #
    linda gaymon — March 16, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    I have been trying to make these for my son can’t get dough to stay together so made my own this time and try tomorrow with your dough.
    thanks Linda in sc

    • #
      Amy Jackson — March 30, 2020 at 7:47 am

      @Linda Gaymon – curious to know if the dough was able to stay together? I want to try these for my son’s birthday, he’s been asking. 🙂

  32. #
    Deborah Edwards — April 25, 2020 at 8:06 am

    This recipe sounds sooooo delicious, I will be making these soon. Seems totally easy to do. I thank you for showing us how to put these together. Can’t wait to get started.

  33. #
    Ron — April 28, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Great dough. The filling needs a little more flavor. I added more cumin and some taco seasoning. As always it’s about personal taste preferences. I convinced my picky eater 9 year old that they were taco pies. He loved them.

  34. #
    Diana — May 15, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Have been making these the last 2 wks … the best pastry recipe yet. Can’t keep enough to freeze.

  35. #
    Bhavesh — May 26, 2020 at 12:41 am

    This empanadas recipe is really great. An amazing empanadas recipe for any occasion. Loved this recipe. Also here i have a special homemade empanadas recipe. Check out the recipe here:

  36. #
    Bhavesh — May 26, 2020 at 12:43 am

    This empanadas recipe is really great. An amazing empanadas recipe for any occasion.I really like this recipe. Also here i have a special homemade empanadas recipe. Check out the recipe here:

  37. #
    dennis vasquez — July 28, 2020 at 4:28 am

    Awesome sauce

  38. #
    Clyde Hopson — August 21, 2020 at 11:14 am

    would that be self rising or all purpose flour.

  39. #
    mariko ventura — October 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Empanadas are Argentinian and not usually considered Mexican.

  40. #
    lourdes araujo — December 1, 2020 at 11:10 am



  41. #
    abhy — December 2, 2020 at 3:46 am

    The word “choux” in French means “cabbage”. I think you were looking for the word “roux”, which means the flour/butter base from which sauces may be made. It sounds like it from the description.

    • #
      Tessa — December 2, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Abby! Choux pastry is a European pastry dough. Hope that clears up the confusion!

    • #
      Bridget Gander — September 12, 2021 at 1:48 am

      Haha profiteroles, cream puffs etc are all made of choux pastry and when cooked resemble little cabbages.

  42. #
    Serena — December 19, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    They sound wonderful and I can’t what to make these. I am thinking string cheese instead of potatoes might be great. What do you think.

  43. #
    Roxana — January 24, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    It was delicious. My husband and I liked them. My grandma makes some similar to these but fry them. She won’t really share her recipe so I was glad to find this recipe, these were pretty close. I will be making them again

    • #
      Tessa — January 25, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      So glad to hear this!

  44. #
    Samuel — January 31, 2021 at 9:23 am

    I like your complete list of ingredients instead of sending me to buy crust for the cover.

  45. #
    Adrian — April 18, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    I would like to learn to make Empanadas!

  46. #
    Dena — April 28, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    I made this before.It was a big hit for us.This recipe was extremely easy too.Thanks

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