Make empanadas at home from scratch with this easy empanada dough recipe! With just a few ingredients, this post will show you how to make empanada dough, which is ideal for frying with sweet or savory fillings. It can also be frozen like Goya empanada dough discos for use at a later time.
It’s finally here! This empanada dough recipe is long overdue! I have to admit, I usually just buy the frozen discos from the grocery store. Empanada dough is not hard to make, it’s just more time consuming.
However, if you’re going to take the time to make your own dough, you might as well make a double or triple batch and freeze the extras. That way you have your own empanada discos on hand whenever you need them.
I use this dough to make empanadas/empanadillas and pastelitos/pastelillos. If you aren’t sure what those are, they are handheld pies stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients and then fried.
Can you bake them? Absolutely, but they won’t have the same crispy texture, they’ll be kind of chewy. If you’re going to bake them, I recommend brushing the outside with a beaten egg for a crispier, golden crust.
If you want baked empanadas, I’d recommend using a pie crust recipe (from scratch or the refrigerated kind). Pie dough is specifically made for baking and this dough is better fried.
My favorite filling is picadillo, which is a ground beef filling. These Puerto Rican empanadas are called pastelillos. I also like sweet ones stuffed with cream cheese and guava paste, or pizza empanadas.
I will post those recipes on the blog soon, but I wanted to make sure you guys had this recipe first. Not everyone has access to the premade dough!
First step is to mix the dry ingredients together. Next, you’ll need to cut in or distribute the fat. Some people use butter, others use shortening. I like the texture of shortening myself, but butter has better flavor.
Work the shortening into the flour using a pastry cutter or a fork until the dry ingredients have the texture of chunky sand. You don’t want to use your hands since the warmth will begin to melt the shortening. Cold fat is what gives the crust a flaky texture.
I use my grandma’s antique pastry cutter to do this, but this one is a great option from Amazon. Plus you can get free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime. Did you know you can get a FREE 30-day trial of Prime every year?? We used to do that every year until my husband went back to school and now we get Prime Student for 50% off.
Anyways, after you’ve got the shortening cut in, add the liquid and mix until it forms a shaggy dough. It’s best not to add the water all at once. You can always add more if needed. It won’t quite stick together, so knead it with your hands until a smooth ball is formed.
At this point it’s ready to be used in a recipe, or you can roll it out, cut into rounds and freeze for later use.
- You can freeze empanada dough after rolling out into discs. Stack them on top of one another with a piece of wax or parchment paper between each one, then place them in a freezer bag. Pull out the amount of wrappers you need when ready to cook and let thaw for 10-20 minutes before filling.
- This dough can be baked instead of fried, Brush the outside of the empanadas with a beaten egg and bake at 425°F for about 10+ minutes. Cook time will vary based on filling and size. Follow the directions of the recipe you’re using.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 cup ice cold water
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the shortening until the flour resembles chunky sand.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and add vinegar and about 3/4 cup of the water. Stir with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Add remaining water a tablespoon at a time if all the flour has not been moistened.
- Turn out onto a clean surface and gently knead into a smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 days if not using immediately.
- Divide dough into 2-10 pieces (whatever is easiest to work with) and roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into rounds using a cookie cutter or tracing a bowl with a knife.
- Discs can be filled immediately and cooked. If not using immediately, stack on top of each other with a piece of parchment or wax paper between each pastry. Place in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 1 day or freeze.
- If using from frozen, allow to thaw at room temperature for about 10-20 minutes before proceeding to recipe.