Masa Para Empanadas: Empanada Dough

Stack of empanada dough rounds on a plate

The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Chill: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
313 Calories
16g Fat
35g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 313
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 64mg 21%
Sodium 172mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 58mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you've wanted to learn how to make empanada dough, then you've come to the right place. 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.

Empanadas are originally from the northwest of Spain, but many Latin American countries have their own recipes. Empanadas can have many different fillings including beef, chicken, beans, cheese, and yes, even pizza toppings. Some restaurants make 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.


Click Play to See This Empanada Dough Recipe Come Together

"What I love about this dough is it’s essentially a vessel to make any kind of dish you’d like. You could turn them into sweet pastries or utilize leftover rotisserie chicken to make shredded chicken empanadas. Whatever you’re looking for would work great. To get flaky pastry, be careful not to overwork your dough." —Tracy Wilk

Masa Para Empanadas: Empanada Dough Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled

  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 3/4 to 1 cup water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for empanada dough recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Stir in the salt and sugar.

    Dry ingredients stirred together in a glass bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  3. Cut the butter and lard (or shortening) into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or with 2 butter knives until fairly well blended.

    Lard and butter being cut into the flour mixture with dinner knives

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  4. Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cup water. Stir in 1/2 cup of the water-egg mixture, a little bit at a time, until the dough starts to come together smoothly, adding more as needed.

    Crumbly flour mixture with egg yolks and water added

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  5. 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 shaggy until it has thoroughly chilled.

    Empanada dough being kneaded with two hands

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour. When ready to use, the dough should be soft and smooth, not elastic. If you poke the dough with your finger, the indentation should remain.

    Smooth dough ball wrapped in plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into desired thickness before cutting.

    Thinly rolled out dough being cut with a round biscuit cutter

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  8. Use in your desired recipe and enjoy.

    Eempanada dough rounds stacked on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

How to Store and Freeze

  • If you decide you'd like to make the dough in advance, it can be kept wrapped in the refrigerator for up to two days.
  • You can freeze empanada dough, tightly wrapped, for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before rolling out and using.
  • You can also freeze unbaked filled empanadas. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to a zip-top freezer bag and use within two months. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the bake time. Don't fry frozen empanadas.

Recipe Tips

  • Seal the empanadas tightly to make sure they don't leak in the oven.
  • To keep fried empanadas crispy, let them drain over a cooling rack set on a baking sheet, which allows the air to circulate around all sides, preventing sogginess.

Recipe Variations

  • If you are going to fry the empanadas, omit the egg yolk and roll the dough out slightly thinner (less than 1/4 inch in thick).
  • We recommend using 1 teaspoon of salt for sweet empanadas and 1 1/2 teaspoons for savory, or to taste.

What Can You Substitute for Empanada Dough?

If you're looking for a shortcut, store-bought pie dough can be used to make empanadas. You may need to roll the dough out slightly thinner—it will produce a flakier result than typical empanada dough and is better for baking than frying.