How to make empanadas from start to finish! This family recipe features a savory meat filling and a fluffy, irresistible dough that’s lightly fried and covered in sugar. They’re the best empanadas you’ll ever eat!
I’m jumping with joy right now because I’m finally sharing my family’s secret recipe for empanadas! I’ve posted sweet versions like these pumpkin empanadas and apple empanadas, but I’ve never shared my family’s savory version…until now.
What are empanadas?
Empanadas are a popular Latin-American dish (originating from Spain) made from baked or fried dough that’s stuffed with a savory or sweet filling.
These little pockets are sometimes called turnovers, pasties or meat pies. Many cultures have their own version of empanadas and the fillings and dough can vary greatly depending on where they’re made!
The Best Empanadas Recipe!
Filled with seasoned pork, tomatoes and onions, these empanadas are fried and then covered in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. They’re savory and are served as an entree or appetizer. The bit of sugar on top may sound a bit strange, but it compliments the filling so well and makes these empanadas one of the most addicting recipes I’ve ever made!
If you’ve made empanadas before, you may notice that these are a little different than other recipes you’ll find on the internet. In fact, I’ve never seen a recipe like my family’s to date! Which leads me to believe that this version is very regional and is mostly made in my family’s little town in Mexico. For reference, my family is from the central/north part of Mexico in the state of Zacatecas near the town of Sombrerete.
All I can say is you need to make this recipe! I’ve made these for several people and have not met one person who didn’t love them. Like tamales, there are a few steps involved but I’m breaking it down with everything you need to know so you can make them right the first time.
This savory empanada filling can be made up to three days in advance which can save you some time in the kitchen. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pork Loin Roast: The meat is cut into 2-inch cubes and cooked in a broth of water, salt, black pepper, onion, garlic and bay leaves on the stove until tender. Make sure to use pork loin roast and not pork tenderloin!
- Tomato and Onion: These are minced and then sauteed in some oil until the onions begin to caramelize.
- Seasonings: The cooked pork is seasoned with ground cumin, garlic powder, salt, dried oregano and nutmeg to give it the ultimate savory flavor.
Unlike many empanada recipes out there that are made from a pastry dough, this recipe uses a simple yeast bread dough. Almost like a flour tortilla but with yeast! It produces a light, airy and fluffy dough instead of one that’s crunchy or flaky. Here’s what you need:
- Active Dry Yeast: This helps to make the dough light, airy and fluffy. Once kneaded, the dough needs to rest for 30 minutes.
- Canola Oil: You could also use a different neutral-tasting oil like corn oil or even avocado oil.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Baking Powder
- Table Salt + Water
How to Fill and Fold Empanadas
The most intimidating thing for most people is learning how to fold and securely close empanadas. But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually not that difficult!
I like using the finger technique to close and seal them up. All you do is fold over the empanada dough and try to line up the edges if possible. Then, using your index finger, fold the edge in a little and push your finger down to pinch it closed. Continue moving down the edge and pinching it closed every half an inch or so until the entire empanada is sealed.
If you find this technique too difficult, you could also use the tines of and press down on the edges to seal them shut.
Last but not least, you can’t forget the sugar and cinnamon topping! Once the empanadas are finished frying and are golden brown, I recommend placing them on a plate covered with paper towels. This will help get rid of any excess frying oil before transferring them to the cinnamon sugar bowl.
If you don’t have any ground cinnamon, you can omit it and just cover the outside with plain sugar. In fact, many members of my family swear that my grandmother never put cinnamon in her topping!
I hope you give this recipe a try and love it as much as my family and I do! If you have any questions, leave me a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as possible!