An easy recipe for making empanada dough from scratch two ways!
Empanadas are a way of life! C’mon… you know this to be true! A holiday, birthday party, or family gathering isn’t complete without these perfectly golden fried meat pies. Each country has their own version, special twist and flavor to them. However, regardless of how you make them, one thing is for certain… you need dough! Empanadas are not complete without that perfectly flakey dough that holds the delicious filling together.
For years, I watched my grandmother make Empanada Dough from scratch. And, I’m not going to lie– I took this for granted. I watched her make it so many times that I never appreciated how much work it was until I began making it on my own. In essence, making empanada dough from scratch is actually fairly easy. There aren’t too many ingredients. However, you really need to feel what you’re doing. There are so many factors that go into making the perfect dough. For example, is your kitchen humid or dry? Are you working on a wooden surface or marble surface? Are you using oil or butter? Is my water cold or warm? Is my all purpose or self-rising?
I remember getting extremely frustrated when I first began making empanada dough on my own. No matter how many times I used the same exact measurements, my results always varied. That’s when I realized that you have to be open to adding more water and more flour depending on the dryness of your dough. Because the conditions in my kitchen vary, so does the amount of water or extra flour that I need to have handy. In the end, you really have to go by touch and instinct. It’s one of the biggest things that separates newbie cooks from experienced cooks. Now if you’re a newbie cook ready to tackle your own empanada dough from scratch… I’m here to tell you that you’ll be just fine!
Over the years, I’ve developed two ways of making Empanada Dough and both are truly amazing. The first way is by using oil. This is actually how my grandmother made it, and it’s how I grew up eating them. I also like to make them with butter, because it makes the empanadas ever so light and gentle. It reminds me of delicate savory pie. Keep in mind that both recipes for making empanada dough work just fine! My grandmother actually used oil in her recipe instead of butter because butter was too expensive. And let’s not forget, whenever you’re making empanadas you’re typically feeding a village. My grandmother definitely kept costs in mind when feeding her big family!
Now before we jump into the recipe, here are some things to keep in mind when making homemade empanada dough-
- Tip #1: Make sure that you’re using quality flour. I used to think that this didn’t matter, but there definitely is a difference between good and fresh flour vs. old and stale flour. Your empanada will quickly expose you if you choose to cut corners
- Tip #2: If you’re making the empanada dough with butter, use COLD butter. This makes a huge difference in the end, since cold butter changes the texture of your dough
- Tip #3: In addition to using COLD butter, make sure that you use COLD water as well. Keeping the butter from melting will give your dough a pastry quality. This ultimately makes it fry flakey and gives it a wonderful texture
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- ¼ Cup ColdButter (½ stick) OR ¼ Cup Canola Oil
- ¼ Cup Cold Water
- 1 Large Egg
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder
- If you’re using butter, add cold butter which has been cut into small cubes, and mix into the flour. Be sure to smash the cubed butter between your fingers with the flour. You know that flour is ready once the flour takes on a sand-like texture. If you're using oil, skip this step and go straight to step #3
- Next, create a small well in the center of the flour and add egg, water, and oil if you’re using oil instead of butter. Mix everything together until it’s mostly together. It’s okay if the flour hasn’t been fully incorporated. When adding water, it’s best to add a little bit at a time
- Transfer dough onto a marble slab or wooden slab. Begin kneading the dough with your hands. No worries if you over-mix it. Empanada dough is very forgiving. While kneading the dough, feel free to add extra water or flour as needed. In the end, you want to a create a dough ball that’s not too dry and not too wet
- After you’ve finished kneading the dough, wrap it in seran wrap or place in a covered bowl. Let it rest for 1 hour before rolling out to make empanadas. Empanada dough can also be stored in the refrigerator or frozen