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How to Make Baked Cheese Empanadas From Scratch

I learned the basics of making empanadas from my Argentinian grandmother, who used to make them from scratch.

This recipe for cheese empanadas calls for only a few ingredients.

This recipe for cheese empanadas calls for only a few ingredients.

A Simple and Savory Dish

Empanadas are a traditional and very popular food in Argentina among people of all ages. My Argentinian grandmother used to make them from scratch. As a kid, I enjoyed her meat-filled baked empanadas. As an adult today, I prefer the cheese-filled ones.

Empanadas can be baked or fried, but they're obviously healthier if you bake them. Serve them as appetizers, a side dish, or as a light meal in themselves. Hot or cold, they're so tasty that I enjoy them even for breakfast!

Cheese empanadas are inexpensive to make. Most ingredients are probably already in your kitchen.

The Empanada Dough

You can buy the empanada discs ready-made in some grocery stores, but the empanadas will taste so much better with homemade dough!

The good news is that after many failed attempts, I finally nailed how to make the empanada dough soft and pliable (it actually feels like play dough). With a slightly sweet flavor, this dough is so delicious you'll want to eat it raw.

Please be sure to follow the directions carefully in this recipe so that your dough comes out nice and kneadable. Pay special attention to how you measure the flour.

Where Did Empanadas Originate?

It is unclear where empanadas originally came from. Some say they originated in Argentina; others say they came from Spain. Empanadas are popular today among many South American countries, including Argentina, where they are served in just about any eatery. Each province in Argentina has its own unique variety of this savory food.

I use Crisco to make my empanada dough.

I use Crisco to make my empanada dough.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

50 min

25 min

1 hour 15 min

12 empanadas

Baked Cheese Empanadas Recipe


For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 6 tablespoons shortening (I use Crisco)
  • 1 egg yolk, large
  • 1/2 cup warm water
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For the filling:

  • 16 ounces (2 cups) mozzarella or other soft cheese, coarsely grated
  • cane or brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon per empanada (optional)

For the coating (optional):

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, brushed on
  • cane sugar, sprinkled on top


  1. In a large bowl, combine the sifted flour, salt and sugar with a large mixing spoon until well blended. Be sure to read the caption above so that you measure the flour correctly.
  2. Add the shortening to the flour mix and combine well with your hands until the dough is crumbly.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and warm water together until smooth.
  4. Create a hole in the middle of the flour mix, and pour the egg mixture into it. Use your hands to combine the ingredients well.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead it until it is soft and pliable.
  6. Divide the dough into 12 small balls of equal size.
  7. Using a rolling pin or a wine bottle sprinkled with flour (to prevent sticking), roll each ball of dough until it is about 1/4 cm or 1/10 inch thick to create the discs. You can use a circular mold to cut out the discs if you wish, but it's not necessary.
  8. As you create each disc, stack them on a plate, separated by a piece of wax paper so they don't stick together.
  9. Grate or break up the mozarella cheese into small pieces.
  10. Place about 2 tablespoons of the cheese into the center of each disc. If desired, sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on top of the cheese.
  11. Gently fold the edges of each disc so that they slightly overlap to close the empanadas. Press the edges together firmly so the cheese doesn't leak through while they bake.
  12. Place the empanadas on two cookie sheets (6 empanadas on each sheet). If you wish, you can brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with cane sugar. Place the cookie sheets with the empanadas in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  13. Bake the empanadas in a preheated oven at 350 degres F for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  14. Allow the empanadas to cool before serving. They will taste even better after wrapping and refrigerating overnight.
Warm or cold, empanadas can be enjoyed at any time of day

Warm or cold, empanadas can be enjoyed at any time of day

Some empanadas will inevitably come out of the oven with cheese cracks; it's natural and not to be worried about.

Optional Additions to the Cheese Filling

  • diced onions
  • diced green olives
  • chopped spinach
  • pieces of ham

Tips and Tricks

  • To help seal the empanadas, rub whisked egg whites along the borders of the discs as you fold them over.
  • Use your favorite soft cheese, or a combination of soft cheeses, for this recipe instead of mozarella.
  • Instead of cheese, fill empanada discs with sweet humita, an Argentine vegetarian dish.
  • Rather than cookie sheets, you can bake the empanadas in two rectangular glass casserole dishes (6 empanadas in each one).

© 2022 Madeleine Clays

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