This recipe produces a slightly sweet pastry that contrasts perfectly with savory fillings. Empanada dough is less flaky than pie crust (although you can substitute frozen pie crust dough in a pinch). It has a more tender texture that soaks up the filling without becoming soggy.
This dough can be used for baked or fried empanadas, which are both great handheld dishes. The term empanada roughly translates to "wrap in bread," a fitting name as they are made by wrapping the dough around a filling. If you are going to fry the empanadas, omit the egg yolk and roll the dough out slightly thinner (less than 1/4 an inch in thickness).
Empanadas are originally from the northwest of Spain, but many countries in Latin America have their own recipes. Empanadas can have many different types of filling including beef, chicken, beans, cheese and more. Some restaurants have even begun making sweet empanadas by filling them with fruit pie filling or chocolate. Once you've made this dough, you can choose to go as traditional or creative with the filling as you please. Make sure your empanadas don't leak in the oven!
- 4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter (chilled)
- 12 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening (chilled)
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- 2 egg yolks
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and the sugar.
- Blend the butter and shortening (or lard) into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, or with two knives, until fairly well blended.
- Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cups water. Stir in the 1/2 cup of the water/egg mixture, a little bit at a time, until the dough starts to come together smoothly. Keep kneading the dough, adding more of the water/egg mixture as needed (you may need a few tablespoons extra of water), until the dough is smooth. The dough will seem a bit saggy until it has thoroughly chilled. Taste for salt and add more if needed.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour. The dough can also be kept in the fridge for up to two days. When ready to use, the dough should be soft and smooth, not elastic. If you poke a hole in the dough with your finger, the indentation should remain.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into desired thickness before cutting.