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Travel Photo of the Day: Empanada

Travel Photo of the Day: Empanada

This simple pocket pastry can be found in many countries worldwide

Empanadas can be baked or deep-fried.

Like many others popular foods throughout Latin America (see yesterday’s churro photo), empanadas have roots in Western Europe. According to some accounts, though, neither Spain nor Portugal can take the full credit for this traditional dish since there’s a good chance that it was originally introduced to these countries during the Moorish invasion back in medieval times.

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No matter its origin, though, the simple pocket pastry varies from country to country. They can be either savory or sweet, and come with popular fillings including seafood, meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables. They can also come in both baked and deep-fried versions.

Looking for a tasty empanada recipe? Check out ours for beef empanadas!

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Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds ground pork or beef
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tomatoes, diced
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water (do not beat until ready to bake)

Make the filling: In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, cook meat until no longer pink, breaking it up into small pieces, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add onion and jalapenos cook until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and tomatoes. Cook over medium until mixture has thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in cilantro. Let cool.

Make the dough: In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add just enough cold water so dough comes together.

Form empanadas. If desired, freeze on a baking sheet until firm, 2 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic freeze in plastic bags.

To bake fresh or frozen empanadas, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash, avoiding crimped edges. Bake until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 30 to 40 minutes.

What you’ll need

Baked Empanadas de Pino

You find variations on empanadas throughout Latin and South America. (Like pumpkin empanadas, Bolivian chicken empanadas, and Argentinian quince and cheese empanadas.)

While there are a number of different kinds of empanadas made in Chile, empanads de pino, filled with ground beef, onions, raisins, black olives, and hard boiled eggs, are the most popular.

The filling might seem a bit strange to those of us in the States, but we see this combination often in South American cooking (for example this Venezuelan bread and these Colombian stuffed potato balls). You will also find this filling in pastel de choclo, a Chilean beef and corn pie that is similar in concept to Irish shepherd&rsquos pie.

The raisins add a light sweetness to the beef that perfectly complements the smoky (and sometimes spicy) filling.

The olives give a fun salty burst and the hard boiled eggs add a fun creamy element.

If you like, you can serve these with pebre, a Chilean salsa for a bright and fresh contrast.

There&rsquos definitely a reason that empanadas de pino are one of the most popular types of empanadas in Chile!

Frying the Empanadas

Finish the empanadas by deep-frying in vegetable oil at 360 F for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until lightly golden.

Fry the empanadas in batches so they do not crowd each other or make the oil temperature drop too low so that it doesn't immediately seal the dough.

Drain on paper towels and serve warm with salsa or guacamole on the side.

Ways To Close Your Empanada

There are a number of ways to close your empanadas:

  • Water – use water and brush the side of the dough before pressing it together
  • Egg whites – egg whites can also be used in a similar fashion to glue the empanada shut
  • Pastry pie – when using a pastry pie shape it with press the ends real tight and close the edges of the dough
  • Fork – You can use a fork and press the edges of the dough to seal it together
  • Fold the edges – Lastly, you can fold the edges and turn the edge over by hand to close it

I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I do so have fun making this beef empanada recipe yourself!

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Fun Food Holidays&tradeApril 8th, 2021 is National Empanada Day

Originating in Spain or Portugal, empanadas are a sweet or savory fried pie that are popular both in Europe and the Americas. In Spain, they tend to be sandwich-size meat-filled lunch fare. While in the Americas, empanadas are often the size of fortune cookies and may have sweet fruit or even chocolate fillings. Deep fried little pies served as a lunch or dinner entree or even dessert? CDK hopes you've got enough printer ink to print off all of our recipes that intrigue you!

Made with egg, all-purpose flour, salt, butter or margarine, milk, ground beef, vegetable oil, onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno chiles, potato, green olives, hard cooked eggs, ground paprika, raisins . get the recipe

Made with oil, salsa, garlic, flour, eggs, shortening, salt, milk, Chorizo sausage, onion . get the recipe

Made with egg, Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, cumin, dried oregano, green pepper sauce, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, salt, butter or margarine, water, ground beef, garlic, scallions, taco sauce . get the recipe

Made with oil or shortening, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, lard or shortening, chicken stock, egg . get the recipe


An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried, with meat or fish but also sometimes potato, egg or cheese depending on regional customs.

This is a Spanish and South American specialty originally from Galicia, in northwestern Spain, where the traditional empanada is a pie with chicken, onion and bell peppers. In Spain, it is a large pie serving the whole family and empanadillas are small individual empanadas.

What is the origin of empanadas?

The word empanada comes from the Spanish verb empanar which means to bread or to stuff. The history of these Spanish stuffed pies dates back to when the Muslims occupied Spain. But long before this, the first references of stuffed pies can be found in ancient Persia, many centuries before the Christian Era.

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One can imagine their journey to the Arab people with their traditions such as fatay and sfiha, also called lahm bi ajeen.

The occupation of Spain by the Moors for several centuries probably helped with the introduction of empanadas to South America via the conquistadores. They are found throughout South America but there are several variants.

In Chile, empanadas consist of a wheat dough containing meat, onions, hard boiled egg, olives and raisins and baked like those in Argentina and Peru, which themselves are stuffed with ground meat, chicken, cheese, raisins, olives, onions, mozzarella, paprika, basil and cumin.

In Bolivia, empanadas have two names depending on the region they come from. In Santa Cruz de la Sierra, they are called empanadas de Jigote and in La Paz, they are called salteñas.

In Brazil, they are mainly composed of Catupiry, a salty cream cheese (requeijão) similar to the famous Laughing Cow.

Just like Venezuela empanadas, Colombian empanadas are prepared with corn flour and fried, unlike in the other countries mentioned above where they are made from wheat flour and more commonly baked.

Empanadas are usually stuffed with potato and ground meat, and served with aji, the same condiment that can be served with carimañolas de carne.

Australian meat pie and Canadian meat pie (tourtière), or even pastels from Cape Verde are pretty are close in the mode of preparation

Empanada Dough

Adapted from Laylita
3 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 whole egg
5 tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg yolk

Add flour and salt to food processor fitted with dough blade. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add in butter, egg and water. Pulse until crumbly. Pat together into a ball and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.

Roll out dough and cut out circles for empanadas and pies or desired size. Fill with desired filling. Fold in half and pinch at seams. Roll seams in and press with fork to seal. Beat egg yolk and brush over tops of empanadas. Allow to rest in fridge for 30 minutes before baking to prevent leaks. Bake at 400º F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 20 small or 10 large empanadas.
Food for My Family

14 Healthy Snacks and Meals that Travel Well

Summertime means road trips, family vacations, and beach weekends. We have the best recipes to keep you on track without keeping you at home.

Family vacations can be really tricky when you&aposre trying to stay on track of your diet. There are hazards everywhere when you travel𠅎very rest stop has enticing fast food options, every gas station has a candy aisle brimming with cheap temptation, and every beach town has a signature ice cream shop calling your name. Basically, every road trip is a pitfall of unhealthy food waiting to happen.

Of course, a little indulging here and there is definitely OK (and encouraged), but we know you&aposll want some ideas in your back pocket to help you stick to your daily plan. We&aposve compiled a list of our favorite easy-to-pack lunches and snacks that you can find on your Cooking Light Diet plan to keep you healthy and happy all travel-season long.

Struggling to cook healthy? We'll help you prep.

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Take boring cheese sandwiches to the next level with the addition of avocado and tomato. Wrap them in tinfoil to toss on a park grill, or grill at home and wrap in paper towels to absorb the moisture while on the road. Not able to heat things up? These sandwiches are also delicious cold!

Hummus Club Sandwiches
Homemade hummus just can&apost be beat, and this recipe calls for a super simple version that&aposs extra creamy from yogurt. After you&aposve stacked your sandwiches for the road, spoon the rest of the hummus into a small container and bring along a small bag of chopped veggies for an additional snack. 

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When you&aposve filled your beach cooler with packs of deli meat, mix up your sandwiches with this refreshing watercress slaw. The tarragon leaves add a breezy freshness, and baguettes are crusty enough to not let the mayonnaise mixture soak through throughout the morning.