How to Make Empanada Dough to Fill and Bake

published Sep 30, 2022
Empanada Dough Recipe

Flaky, crispy, and filled with meat, potato, veggies, and sometimes rice, empanadas are as easy to make as pie dough.


Makes20 (5-inch) dough rounds

Prep1 hour 10 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 20 minutes

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A photo of a round pieces of empanada dough overlapping each other.
Credit: Laura Manzano

It’s hard to beat the combination of tender pockets of dough stuffed with yummy filling inside. From Central and South America, we are gifted the empanada — flaky crust filled with meat, potato, veggies, and sometimes rice. Here’s how to make the dough, stuff it with your choice of filling, and bake it.

What Is Empanada Dough Made Of?

The technique to making empanada dough is very similar to that of making pie dough. It conveniently uses pantry staples and ingredients you probably already have on hand. Butter is cut into flour and salt, then mixed with olive oil and a bit of cold water to bind.

Is Empanada Dough the Same as Pizza Dough?

Pizza dough and empanada dough are different for one significant reason: Pizza dough uses yeast to allow it to rise, whereas empanada dough does not. Empanadas don’t require resting time or lots of kneading. In fact, the less you work the dough, the better, as it leaves the pastry tender and flaky. 

Credit: Laura Manzano

Are Empanadas Better Baked or Fried?

It depends on who you ask! Baking empanadas versus frying them is definitely a matter of preference. For a large batch and hands-off cooking, we prefer to bake them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brushed with a bit of egg wash for that signature glossy look.

What Can Empanadas Be Filled With?

Empanada Dough Recipe

Flaky, crispy, and filled with meat, potato, veggies, and sometimes rice, empanadas are as easy to make as pie dough.

Prep time 1 hour 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Makes 20 (5-inch) dough rounds

Serves 20

Nutritional Info


For the dough rounds:

  • 3 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup

    ice water

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

If making empanadas:

  • 1

    large egg

  • 3 cups

    empanada filling


Make the dough rounds:

  1. Place 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Grate 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter on the large holes of a box grater directly into the bowl. Mix with your fingers or a pastry cutter until butter is fully incorporated and flour is the texture of wet sand.

  2. Drizzle 3/4 cup ice water and 2 tablespoons olive oil into the bowl. Mix with a fork until just combined. Transfer onto a work surface and knead just until dough is smooth, about 2 minutes. Shape into a ball and wrap the ball in plastic wrap. Let rest for 5 minutes.

  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into 4 quarters and roll out each piece into a 1/8-inch thick rectangle that's about 5 1/2-inches wide on a short side. Cut out 4 rounds from each sheet with a 5-inch round cutter. Transfer the rounds onto the baking sheet, separating each layer with sheet of parchment. Gather the dough scraps and re-roll to cut out 4 more rounds. You should have a total of about 20 empanada dough rounds.

Assemble and bake empanadas:

  1. Place 1 large egg and a splash of water in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling on one half of each dough round, leaving a border. Brush the egg wash on half of the border, then fold the round in half and crimp the edges together with the tines of a fork. Brush the tops of the empanadas with remaining egg wash.

  2. Bake the empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 400ºF oven until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Empanada dough can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.