Empanada Dough: How to Make It and Use It

Empanada Ingredients
Empanada-making involves several steps, but the delicous sweet and/or savory result is well worth the trouble. Photography by Anika Alonzo / Getty Images
  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Refrigerate: 8 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: about 12 medium empanadas

This recipe for flaky crust is perfect for making empanadas. Just add your favorite Mexican filling(s), deep fry, and enjoy fresh, crispy, fried empanadas anytime at home.

Need more inspiration? See our list of delectable savory and sweet fillings below the recipe.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup good quality pork lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (homemade or from a jar/box), at room temperature
  • Vegetable oil or shortening for frying
  • 2-3 cups of one or more empanada fillings (see below)

Steps to Make It

For the Dough:

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut in the lard or shortening, working until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk the egg and mix it into the chicken broth. Stir the broth and egg mixture into the flour and knead until dough forms and sticks together. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To Make the Empanadas:

  1. Lightly flour a flat surface and roll out dough to 1/4 inch (a little over half a centimeter) thick. Cut into 4-inch diameter (10 cm) circles for small empanadas, 5-inch (13 cm) for medium ones or 6-inch (15 cm) for large ones.

  2. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the dough circle for small empanadas, 2 tablespoons for medium ones or 3 tablespoons for large.
    Fold dough over to make a filled half circle and use a fork to press the edges together to seal. Refrigerate uncooked empanadas for 3 hours.

  3. Deep fry in 350F-degree (177 C) oil for 6-7 minutes or until golden brown.
    Place fried empanadas on a metal rack or set on several layers of absorbent paper to drain off any excess oil. Eat hot or warm. (Careful—filling can be very hot!)

Mexican Empanada Fillings

Empanadas can be made of almost any sort of filling, sweet or savory. They are a great way to take advantage of food left over from another meal or of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Here are a few suggestions to get your own ideas rolling:

  • Beef Empanada Filling or Beef Picadillo

  • Shredded chicken in mole sauce

  • Rajas (strips of poblano chile), with or without cream or cheese and/or cooked, cubed potatoes

  • Cooked chorizo and potato cubes

  • Canned tuna or cooked and shredded chicken sautéed with onion, garlic, and tomatoes

  • Chilorio (pulled pork dish from Sinaloa)

  • Mushrooms or huitlacoche sautéed with onion and epazote

  • Shredded beef with cooked potatoes

  • Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

  • Ate (fruit paste) and cheese

  • Apple, cherry, or pineapple pie filling (homemade or from a can)