The Pretend Chef


Flaky baked empanada

Empanada is a type of stuffed pastry (hand pie) common in Latin American countries, Spain and some parts of the far east. It can be fried, baked, grilled or even cooked on a griddle. You can make it big or small, sweet or savoury and of different shapes.

Different countries have their peculiar way of making empanada. Some use wheat flour, which is the most common, corn flour, cornmeal, rice flour, sweet potato, ripe or unripe plantain, Irish potato etc. The sweet empanada can be made with chocolate, almond flour etc. and is mostly served as dessert or snacks.

Most regions of the world have one or more types of stuffed pastries like the empanada, there is the Nigerian meat pie, fish pie, chicken pie, Nigerian egg roll, Jamaican beef patty, Nigerian Cornish pasty, Italian calzone, Indian samosa etc. they are always convenient as a meal-on-the-go.

Puffy, Crispy fried empanadas

This recipe is for savoury Empanada made with savoury fillings. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, appetizer or snacks. Some people use a different recipe for baked empanadas and another for fried, but in line with my no-frills cooking, my empanada dough recipe is excellent for baking, frying or cooking on the griddle.

This dough is soft and very pliable and has a very short rest time, so it takes less time to get your empanada from the kitchen to the table. When fried up, it produces those glorious bubbles that make you just love fried empanada. You can add spices or herbs to your empanada dough.

Empanada stuffing can differ depending on the country, the region within a country or even by the choice of the chef, there are really no hard and fast rules. There are traditional fillings but you can just use your imagination or use whatever you have available in your kitchen already, so long as it tastes good.

empanada fillings

Possible Empanada stuffing ingredients

Meat, minced meat, cheese, Irish potatoes, onions, boiled egg, chicken, shrimp, refried beans, baked beans, olives, raisins, sausages, ham, liver, fish, corn, green pawpaw, carrot, spinach, sweet corn, bell peppers, tomato, cheese, crab, clams, sea snails, oysters etc.

How to prepare Empanada

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup melted butter
2/3 cup water
Egg or milk for brushing on top

Here are some of my easy and delicious Empanada fillings:

Click on them to get the recipe.

1 Minced beef empanada filling
2 Egg and Sardine empanada filling
3 Spicy boiled egg empanada filling
4 Minced beef herb empanada filling
5 Nigerian Refried beans
6 Gizdodo

In a bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder.

Mix in melted butter and add water.

Mix and pour onto a lightly floured surface.

Press together and knead until dough is soft and smooth.

Wrap in plastic wrap and rest 30 minutes.

Unwrap dough.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, brown paper or aluminium foil. Set aside.

Press dough lightly with the rolling pin at the centre and roll outwards.

Roll in one direction a couple of times then lift it up and rotate a quarter turn and roll.

Keep rolling and rotating till you get your desired thickness.

Be patient and take your time.

If the dough is getting sticky, lift it up, sprinkle flour on the counter top, the rolling pin and lightly on top of the dough.

Roll out the dough to 1/8″ thickness for the fried empanadas and to 1/4″ thickness for the baked ones.

Using a pie cutter or a circular plate, cut out circles to your desired size between 6-8 inches in diameter.

Place pie filling on half of the circle making sure to leave some space around the edges.

disc of Empanada dough being filled

Rub a little egg around the edges.

Fold the empty side of the pastry over the filling to cover it and meet the edge on the other side of the circle to form letter D.

Crimp the outer edges by hand or with the tines of a fork.

If using a pie dough cutter, place the circle on the side with the serrated zigzag edges, put some pie filling and close

pressing hard to seal.

Place individual pies on the prepared sheet.

filled Empanadas

For Baked Empanadas

Preheat oven to 205 deg C. (before you start filling your dough)

Crack the egg into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon water and beat to mix.

Brush the empanadas with milk or egg wash.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.

For small empanada, bake at 180 deg. C for 15-18 minutes.

Flaky baked empanada

For fried empanadas

After filling and sealing, place in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes or 3-5 minutes in the freezer.

Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

In a deep frying pan or saucepan, pour enough vegetable oil for deep frying empanadas about 1 inch high, (you can also use a deep fryer), set over medium heat.

When hot, gently place empanadas in the hot oil making sure not to overcrowd the oil.

Empanadas frying in hot oil

The empanadas should almost immediately begin to puff and float.

Fry until golden brown, turn and fry the other side, about 1 minute on each side.

Scoop empanadas out of the oil using a slotted spoon and place on the lined baking sheet.

keep frying until all the empanadas have been fried.

Puffy, Crispy fried empanadas

green salad

Empanadas can be served with a green salad, a Chimichurri dipping sauce, tomato salsapepper dipping sauce or Simple Sofrito dipping sauce.

Enjoy your Empanadas with a drink. Try my Iced tea, Cashew fruit juice, Carrot/orange juice, Chapman or Virgin pina colada.


  • The pie filling should not be watery, to avoid it making the pastry soggy.
  • Ensure the pie filling is completely cool before filling the pie.
  • Seal your empanadas well to avoid their busting open when baked or fried.
  • If the empanadas are browning too fast, then the oil is too hot, leave to cool down a bit.
  • Do not overcrowd the oil when frying empanadas.
  • Do not stack your fried empanadas when they are still hot, otherwise, the steam will make the crust soft.
  • The dough can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days or freezer for much longer for later use. I do it all the time. Same with the filling.
  • You can also store filled, unbaked empanadas in the freezer, store right before the egg wash. When you are ready to bake, Egg-wash and bake from frozen at 203 deg. C for 25-30 minutes.

If you enjoyed the Empanadas, you will also enjoy the Nigerian fish pie, Ripe Plantain empanadas, Vegetable Pie, Nigerian meat pieJamaican beef patty and Nigerian Cornish Pasty. Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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