Empanadas de Leche (Sweet Cream Empanadas) Recipe

Empanadas 'Pie' Argentas with mate
saraidasilva / Getty Images
Prep: 75 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
10g Fat
20g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 58mg 19%
Sodium 118mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 3g
Calcium 37mg 3%
*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.)

These sweet empanadas are a specialty of Guatemala, and they are especially popular during Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter).

The dough for these unusual empanadas is made with very fine cornmeal and flour, and the filling is a cinnamon and vanilla flavored pastry cream-like confection called major de leche.

Manjar de leche (not to be confused with dulce de leche) is also enjoyed as a dessert in its own right and can be used to fill other pastries. Torrejas, a stuffed version of French toast that is popular at Christmas time in Guatemala, are often filled with major de leche.


  • 1 1/2 cups very fine cornmeal (corn flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks of butter (8 ounces)
  • 3 eggs
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon annatto powder (or substitute red food coloring)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • Optional: 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (for dusting; more or less as needed)

Steps to Make It

Make the Empanada Dough: 

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl and mix well. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix well with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until butter is blended into the dry ingredients and mixture is crumbly. (You can do this in a food processor - pulse briefly until the mixture is crumbly). 

  3. Place 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl and mix in the annatto powder (or add several drops of red food coloring). Add the eggs to the bowl and mix well. 

  4. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients in parts, mixing after each addition, until everything starts to come together as a shaggy dough. Gently knead the mixture, adding more of the egg mixture if needed, until you have a smooth dough. (The dough should be cohesive enough to roll out, but not too sticky.) 

  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make the Filling:

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk 1 cup milk into the cornstarch. Add the egg and salt and mix well. Set aside.

  3. Place the sugar, 1/4 cup of milk, and 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

  4. Once the mixture is simmering and the sugar is dissolved, gradually whisk the milk/cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Cook for one minute longer, stirring vigorously, then remove from heat. 

  5. Whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, and raisins (if using). 

  6. Place pudding in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Chill for 1 hour.

Shape Empanadas: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. On a well-floured surface, roll out half of the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut 4-inch circles of dough.

  3. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of filling in the middle of a circle of dough, and fold the circle in half to close over the filling. 

  4. Pinch edges together to seal, then use the tines of a fork to press along the edges to further seal and crimp them. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps as needed. Place empanadas on the prepared baking sheet.

  5. Bake empanadas for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are lightly browned around the edges. 

  6. Dust the empanadas with powdered sugar when they are still hot from the oven. 

  7. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!