I had my first empanada in Spain over 15 years ago. I fell in love with this fried stuffed pastry and have been eating it ever since. Empanadas can vary by country both in size and fillings, so you can play with this recipe quite a bit. Spanish empanadas tend to be small, while Mexican empanadas are bigger in size.
When I was teaching in Madagascar, I found another empanada recipe in our Mampalicious Peace Corps cookbook. I was somehow lucky enough to live in a town with a vendor that sold pinto beans. This was the only place I ever saw them while in country and they cost 3 times the amount of every other bean. But once a week, I would go buy a kapoaka (a tin can used to measure) of beans and some flour and would spend a day making empanadas from scratch. Since the Malagasy people don’t have much exposure to spices or foods from other countries, they were fascinated by my cooking, and after a few weeks I was inviting other teachers into my home so we could cook together and they could learn new recipes. Food can be a truly amazing way to break down barriers when overseas.
Then a few years ago I was introduced to Tango’s, a local gem in Boise that serves the largest variety of Argentinean empanadas I’ve ever seen. I haven’t had them all (yet), but everything I’ve eaten at their place is amazing! Cooking everything from scratch in Madagascar (including my refried beans) was a lot of work and very time consuming. While this recipe is much easier when you have access to canned goods (you can even buy dough at the grocery store if you don’t want to make that from scratch), I’m very happy to have a place close by where I can go buy some amazing empanadas if I don’t feel like cooking myself.
*The following recipe is my own blend of those I’ve used in various countries over the years.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Splash of oil
- White wine (optional)
- 1/3 milk (optional)
- Refried beans
- Meat (ground beef, chopped chorizo)
Dough: Mix flour, baking powder, salt and the splash of oil. Some recipes call to add either milk or white wine to the recipe as well. Add one or the other, but don’t add both. If you don’t drink milk or wine, you can also simply use water to make the dough.
Filling: Mix your fillings together in a bowl.
Use a rolling pin to make fairly thin dough and use a glass to cut into circles at least 4 inches wide, although you can make them bigger if you choose. On half of each circle, place a spoonful of filling. Fold the other half over, creating half-moons. Use a little water and a fork to seal the edges so the filling doesn’t ooze out. Fry on both sides in a pan. For a healthier alternative, you can also cook them in the oven.
Have you ever had empanadas? What other fillings do you suggest?