Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Aunt Pat's Baked Empanadas

Aunt Pat & I at the Bellagio in Vegas, baby!!
Most people who go to Las Vegas are there to try out their luck at the casinos.  However, when I was there earlier this year, my goal was to satisfy my taste buds by venturing out to the best culinary joints this city has to offer. One of them was visiting my Aunt Pat who retired in a suburb just 30 minutes outside of the Vegas strip. 

When she was a full-time nurse with a family of five to feed, she taught herself how to cook and mastered many Filipino favourites like adobo, bibingka and empanadas. Luckily for me, I've tasted many of her scrumptious dishes and especially like her empanadas which are baked and not deep-fried like some traditional Filipino recipes. Baking is the healthier alternative but her empanadas still come out of the oven golden brown, crispy and delicious!
Baked Empanadas
Did you know: The name empanada comes from the Spanish verb "empanar", meaning to wrap or coat in dough.

Empanadas were introduced by the Spaniards during their colonization in the Philippines between 1521-1898. These hand pies are made by folding sweet pastry dough around a savoury meat filing then either deep fried or baked. Variations of this snack can also be found in regions like Spain, Portugal, Latin American countries and the Caribbean islands.

Did you know: Empanadas are great as appetizers and snacks on the go! The Filipino empanada usually contains ground beef, pork or chicken, potatoes, chopped onions and raisins wrapped in a sweet dough.

When I approached my Aunt Pat about possibly sharing her empanada recipe to post on my food blog, I wasn't sure if she would. As some of you know, Filipinos are usually sworn to secrecy when it comes to their family recipes so they can remain tasty heirlooms to be passed down to the next generation. To my delight, my Aunt was more than happy to divulge her empanada recipe so it can live on for others to make at home and continue to satisfy the bellies of many.

For me, the most important part of the empanada is the crust. While I have made empanadas before, the pastry shell always seemed to be the most intimidating to make because they were tedious, time consuming and better left to the professionals. 
Aunt Pat's empanada dough!
With my Aunt's recipe, making the dough is fast and quite gratifying to do at home. Simple ingredients and minimal need to handle the dough made the job infinitely easier and much quicker to produce. When they came out of the oven, the empanadas had the signature flakey, golden brown crust but with less time and effort - my kind of cooking! So don't be intimidated to make empanadas at home and thanks to Aunt Pat, we hope you'll share and pass this recipe down in your family.

Empanadas ready for egg wash
Tasty Tip: Customize your empanada! Try using pork, chicken breast (cooked & cubed) instead of ground beef or add frozen peas, sliced boiled egg and mozzarella cheese.

Filing Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large potato, chopped into 1/4" cubes
1 carrot, chopped into 1/4" cubes
1 lb lean ground beef
½ cup sultana raisins
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup green onion, chopped into 1/8" pieces
Salt & pepper to taste

Filing Preparation
1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Saute yellow onion and garlic, then add potatoes and carrots, cook till soft. 
2. Add beef and soya sauce. Keep stirring to break up clumps, cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the sultana raisins and sugar, cook for 2 more minutes. Add salt & pepper and taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Then stir in green onions in the end.
3. Drain all excess liquid from beef filling. Let mixture cool completely in the fridge before using as filling in pastry.

Empanada Beef Filing
Dough Ingredients
4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
4 tbsp sugar 
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil 
1 cup room temperature water 
1 large egg with 1 tsp of room temp. water (egg wash)

Dough Preparation
1. Mix all dough ingredients until dough comes together into a soft and oily consistency. 
Steps to making empanada dough
2. Divide dough into two even pieces. Use a rolling pin to flatten into disks, wrap both pieces in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
3. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
4. Remove cold dough from fridge and divide into 1/4 cup size pieces, place on a floured surface. With a rolling pin, flatten each piece into a circle about the size of a small saucer.
5. Place 1/8 cup of cooled filling on one side of the pastry. Fold the other side of the pastry over the filling and make sure you firmly press the edges to seal the encased filling with your fingers or with an empanada press. Then place empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with egg wash.
Steps to fill the empanada 
6. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you finish your dough and filing. Place the unbaked empanadas in ziplock bags and place in freezer. Freezing the empanadas before baking will keep the dough staying crispy.
7. Bake the empanadas until golden brown, 25-30 minutes, and they're best enjoyed with the company of family & friends!
Emapandas hot out of the oven
Tasty Tip: You can freeze unbaked empanadas (without the eggwash) in a tightly sealed ziplock freezer bag for up to 2 months. Simply take out the frozen empanadas, coat with some egg wash and bake on a parchment-lined sheet for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until golden brown. A great way to have yummy appetizers or snack on the ready.
Yummy empanadas!


  1. Thanks for posting this baked recipe! Used it for a pot luck I recently attended and everyone had positive things to say.

    1. Awesome! So glad to hear you tried the recipe and it worked;)

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  2. Tried it today and it was so good!! Thanks for the recipe. I thought the dough was too oily but it came out amazing!

    1. You're welcome and thrilled the recipe worked out for you!

  3. Thank You very much for sharing the recipe. It was a good one. I have tried it many times. Thumbs up!

    1. Fantastic that you've tried this recipes many times and it has worked out! Thanks for commenting;)

  4. How many empanadas does this recipe make?

  5. Made this recipe today with boiled chicken thighs , it's awesome the crust is really flaky and good , will make again !!

    1. Tammy, glad you like my Aunt Pat's dough recipe too;) Thanks for sharing your comments and will try using chicken thighs when we make empanadas next time!

  6. Sobrang dali at sobrang sarap. Yes tama ka, sa crust talaga nagkakatalo ang mga empanada :)

  7. Can I fry the empanada instead of baking it..please reply. Thank you

    1. This recipe is meant for baking (not frying) due to the oil content in the dough. It may not have the flakiness as fried empanadas which usually has butter. Plus it's healthier baking;) Hope you like the recipe! x

  8. Dylan, thanks for the kind words and encouragement. Stay tuned for more foodieo posts to come! x

  9. I have made this recipe often over the last couple years. Thank you for posting and sharing it. They are always a hit at parties.

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  11. Delicious! I love making these around the holidays for a quick meal! They freeze and reheat well!

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