Recipe: Empanadas

Post by Paula Jahn, Co-owner and Registered Dietitian at Nourish Northwest


One of the most common and flattering comments I get from cooking class participants at Nourish is that the recipes, aside from being delicious, are practical, approachable, and repeatable. It is so satisfying as a dietitian to hear that what people learn in class translates into daily routines and actually impacts health.

Nourish NW holiday party, 2014.

We have a tradition of taking our staff to a cooking class for an end of the year party. It’s fun to learn new techniques and see what is going on in the cooking class world outside our doors. While the classes were fun and the food tasty, I have yet to make any of the recipes we learned. The recipes were either too involved, included difficult-to-find specialty ingredients, or were just not the way I eat on a regular basis. The food was more akin to restaurant faire or something I would serve at a dinner party rather than everyday weeknight food (i.e., deep fried salt cod fritters, paella, ceviche, empanadas). I thought that certainly there was something I could make on a Monday night from cooking classes past. I started looking at old recipe packets and decided that empanadas were my best bet…until I read over the ingredient list again. In class, we used packaged empanada wrappers that are full of hydrogenated vegetable oils and other nutritionally unsavory ingredients. So, I decided to make my own dough.

Stuff 'em full!
Stuff ’em full!

Already, this was looking less like a weeknight endeavor. I gave my hungry toddler a few slices of bell pepper and some cottage cheese while the dough rested and I made the filling. From here, the process was pretty easy and the result was good. I made a double batch of filling to freeze for later. I’ve also heard that the formed empanadas freeze well. You can make them smaller for an appetizer or larger for a meal with a green salad. For a vegetarian option, I’d like to try black bean and sweet potato filling.

Crimp the edges.
Crimp the edges.

photo (69)


Argentinian Beef Empanadas
(Adapted from

For the dough:
2 1/4 cups of flour (I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 stick of cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg
1/3 cup of ice water
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

For the filling:
1/2 pound of lean ground beef
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon of parsley, chopped finely
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of capers or green olives, finely chopped
olive oil
1 hard-boiled egg, roughly chopped
1 cup of chopped, canned tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste

1 egg, gently beaten with a fork (for the egg wash)

  1. Sift flour(s) along with the salt into a large bowl. Use a pastry blender to work in the butter until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal and has only a few remaining small lumps of butter. You can also do this with a pastry cutter blade and a food processor.
    2. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg, water and vinegar together with a fork. Stir it into the dry mixture until just incorporated.
    3. Flour your hands and shape the dough into a ball. Place it on a lightly floured surface and use a light hand to knead it gently a few times before forming it into a flattened ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
    4. To make the filling, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes (until it begins to soften). Add the pepper and continue cooking for another five minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices and let cook for a few minutes.
    5. Add the beef and break up with spoon as it cooks. Stir in the capers and parsley. Cook until the beef has browned. Stir, occasionally, so that the meat cooks evenly. Stir in the egg and turn down heat to low.
    6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick (you can split the ball into several pieces, working with only a small piece of it at a time). Cut out roughly 3-5 inch round circles in the dough. Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in the center and fold the circle into a half moon. Use more or less filling, depending on the size of your circles. Pinch and fold the edges to seal them and place the formed empanada onto a prepared baking sheet. Continue to do this with the remaining dough and filling.
    7. Once you’ve formed all of your empanadas, brush them with the egg wash. Bake the empanadas for approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. You can freeze formed empanadas in a freezer bag and also refrigerate uneaten empanadas.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.