Empanadas are great as an all-in-one meal or a quick sweet or savory snack. Bake or fry it to a golden brown and enjoy it either piping hot, at room temperature or even cold. All you need is a little bit of patience and practice in forming uniform stuffed pies, as well as some creativity for your making your fillings.
Part of making great empanadas is trying to find a dough recipe you enjoy. There are tons of recipes out there all ranging from ones containing as little as four ingredients to as many as seven or eight. Some contain lard or shortening, and some even call for stock instead of vinegar.
I’ve experimented with quite a few, both as full fat and in vegan form, and the one I settled on is great for either frying or baking. It puffs up nicely in both cooking methods, and yields crispy crust while still maintaining a nice soft layer of dough on the inside.
While the recipe below reads as vegan, it can easily be transformed into a full fat and dairy dough with a real egg and cold butter. However, I’m listing it here as a vegan dough, because in my opinion there’s not much difference in taste and texture. So go ahead and make a batch of vegan dough, fill it with some tasty vegetables and sauce and serve to your veggie friends. Then use the same batch and fill it with some of your favorite cheeses or meats to make an awesome meat pie!
Don’t get discouraged if when you cook your empanadas they slightly explode. It just means you need more practice rolling the dough out to the right thickness as well as properly sealing it so your filling stays inside. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to try to fill your dough with so many different flavors ranging from savory to sweet. And as weird as it may sound, you may want to re-purpose some leftovers; I did that with some leftover chicken and vegetable curry and they were wonderful!
Vegan Empanada Dough
3 cups flour (13 ½ oz)
1 tbsp white sugar
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt (or less)
½ cup cold Earth Balance**
¾ cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp Ener-G egg replacer + 2 tbsp water
2 cups of vegetable oil (for frying)
Makes about a half dozen 6-inch rounds
** IMPORTANT** Not all Earth Balance or non-dairy-claimed products are truly vegan. Be sure to look at labels for whey, lactose, casein and caseinate, which are dairy derivatives frequently used in margarines. Some, not all, products that say Vegan may still contain small amounts of these ingredients.
Making the Dough
1. Carefully weigh out 13 ounces of all-purpose unbleached flour in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add in baking powder, salt and sugar and whisk together.
3. Cut in the cold Earth Balance vegan butter shortening with two forks or with a pastry blender. You want your mixture to have a “grated cheese” type of look.
4. In another start preparing your wet ingredients and whisk your Energ-G egg replacer powder and water. Next stir in stock and vinegar.
5. Make a small well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in half of your wet ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, start incorporating the two to make the dough. Pour in the rest of the liquid and stir well so that the dough is formed and is slightly removed from the sides of the mixing bowl. It will still be slightly damp.
6. Turn out onto a flour dusted surface and knead your dough for a few minutes until everything has come together and it is soft.
7. Wrap the dough in plastic and set aside in the refrigerator to rest for about 30 minutes. This makes it
Rolling and Filling Your Empanadas
Remove your dough from the refrigerator and cut into fourths so that you can work in smaller batches as you roll out the dough. If you are making smaller 4 inch circles, begin rolling out the dough to about ¼-inch thickness. Use a 4-inch diameter cookie cutter, a large glass to cut your dough into perfect circles.
If you desire larger empanadas, take one of the pieces of dough and cut that into half. Begin rolling out also to ¼-inch thickness. Take your cookie cutter or a large bowl and carefully cut your circle.
Remove excess dough and just knead back into your unrolled dough.
Place your filling in the middle of one of your dough circles. Then taking the edge closest to you, gently lift and pull it over the filling so that it meets the opposite edge. Next, carefully begin joining and pressing down the edges firmly of the dough to encase the filling.
You’re almost done. Next, fold over the edges and firmly press together again to try and make a good seal. If you are making smaller empanadas you can proceed to the final sealing by using a fork to make those pretty edges so typically seen. However, if you are making larger empanadas, do the fold-over-press method one more time to make sure you have a good seal. Otherwise, when you go to fry or bake you empanadas, it might separate.
Place your prepared on a generously dusted flour surface or sheet pan as you prepare the rest of your empanadas. This is especially important because your filling will moisten the bottom dough piece and you do not want it sticking to your counter or sheet pan when you go to pick it up for frying or transferring over to be baked.
Heat oil and dry until all sides are golden brown, which takes approximately 3-4 minutes.
To bake, lightly brush with watered down vegetable oil and bake in a 350F oven for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.