The first time I made these empanadas they were tasty, but found that my empanada-making skills were terrible. The seams were ugly, ugly, ugly; plus they leaked and came apart in places. This time they came out much better, due to two improvements in technique. First, I rolled the seams before crimping with a fork, and any extra wide seams for trimmed down to size with a knife (the first time they burned). Second, I pre-packed the filling into the approximately half-moon shape before folding the dough to close the empanada. This meant I didn’t have to squish using the dough (which tore the dough in a few places last time).

A definately improvement in my empanada-making skills.

Overall, no leaky seams this time. And while every Latin-American grandmother completely out-classes my empanadas, I did an okay job considering I’m 100% gringo. The black dots in the picture are from bits getting stuck to my hand while filling. The flavor was good, but I accidentally omitted the vinegar, so they were a little plain. 4-stars.


  1. I forgot to add the vinegar after the beef had cooled. I definitely missed the slight tang, and put it in bold below so you wouldn’t forget it too.
  2. Because my kids were hungry I took a short-cut to speed dinner along. I began baking the first 6 empanadas immediately after preparing them, while I spent another 15 minutes rolling and filling the remaining six. The boys ate their fill (two empanadas each boy) from the first batch
  3. Chris recommends cooking on oil lines baking sheets, but I cooked them on parchment paper.
  4. Next time I will add 4-oz of Monterrey Jack cheese. Chris Kimball has such a simplified recipe here.

Recipe Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $6.00 for 12 pastries.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:30pm. Dinner time at 7:30pm.

Chris Kimball’s original is here. The descriptions of how I cooked them today are given below:

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 lb 85% lean Ground Chuck
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions
4 medium garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped and packed cilantro leaves
2 hard-boiled eggs
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup pitted green olives
4 teaspoons cider vinegar

3 cups all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
1 cup masa harina (5 ounces)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons table salt
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
1/2 cup cold vodka or tequila (see note)
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoons olive oil or egg white for wash

  1. Make sure your olives are pitted, or run to the store to buy more. I tried to pit them myself and it didn’t go well. Hard-boil 2 eggs by adding to a pan with cold water, bring to boil and left boil for 5 minutes. Turn off stove and let sit in hot water for 10 minutes. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes, put on a plate and freeze. Put 1/2 cup vodka and 1/2 cup water in freezer. Finely chop 2 onions, and peel 4 garlic cloves (so that they are ready to press when needed).
  2. Add bread, torn into quarters, and 2 tablespoons chicken broth to food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add the pound of beef, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then pulse for eight 1-second pulses.
  3. Preheat 1 tablespoon olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes; they should be beginning to brown. Add garlic, cumin, cayenne, and cloves, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in beef mixture and cook for about 7 minutes, breaking apart beef into small chunks. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and continue to simmer until mixture is no longer wet (but still moist); roughly 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, coarsely chop cilantro, eggs, raisins and olives. ADD VINEGAR and the items you just chopped/diced and refrigerate for 1 hour. (or up to 2 days.)
  5. While the beef chills prepare the dough. Stir together 1 cup flour, 1 cup masa harina (or just an equal about of regular flour if you don’t have any), 1 tablespoon sugar sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt using food processor; two 1-second pulses. Add butter and process until dough has a wet sand consistency; 10 seconds. Add remaining 2 cups flour (10 ounces) and pulse until mixture with 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty the dough mixture into large bowl.
  6. Evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup cold vodka and 1/2 cup cold water over mixture. Mix dough with hands until it sticks together into a single blob. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (I weighed mine), put on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes (or up to 2 days).
  7. With an hour until dinner, adjust two oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat 2 baking sheet and oven to 425 degrees. After 45 minutes in the refrigerator, use a rolling pin to roll each dough piece into 6-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Add small amounts of flour to the counter as necessary. Cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap as you complete them, in order to prevent them from drying out. Put 1/3 cup filling mixture in the center of a dough round, brush edges of the dough with water. Gently compact the meat and pre-shape filling into the half-moon shape. Carefully fold dough over filling and press edges together. Roll about 1/4-inch of edges over onto itself and crimp edges with a fork.
  8. I used parchment paper, but Chris Kimball recommends drizzling 2 tablespoons oil over surface of each hot baking sheet. Also Chris recommends brushing top of empanadas with 1 tablespoon oil, but I brushed with egg white for a shinier finish. Place 6 empanadas on each baking sheet. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating and swapping positions of baking sheets after 15 minutes. Cool the empanadas on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

One Response to

  1. lorri says:

    i appreciate all the detail about trial and error. i want to make E’s someday. Time has been short for awhile now but eventually i will get back to cooking new recipes! i save your tips to refer to – thanks ~

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