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How to Make Soft and Kneadable Empanada Dough

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

Empanada dough is easy to make if you follow these simple steps.

Empanada dough is easy to make if you follow these simple steps.

Empanadas Taste So Much Better With Homemade Dough!

Empanada discs are sold ready-made in many grocery stores in the United States, but I find the taste to be far from that of authentic empanadas.

In Argentina, the store-bought discs actually taste good, but that's because empanadas are a traditional Argentine food. Even so, even Argentines will say that the empanadas will taste much better when you make the dough from scratch!

This simple recipe for empanada dough can be used for baked or fried empanadas. I prefer to bake them, because they're healthier that way.

If you follow these directions for making empanada dough, you will have soft and pliable dough that will be easy to work with. That's important because there's nothing more frustrating than having to work with hard dough and trying to figure out how to make it softer but not too soft.

Pay special attention to the directions on how to measure the flour in this recipe. It really does matter and will save you a lof of grief.

Where Did Empanadas Come From?

No one seems to know for sure where empanadas originally came from. Many think they originated in Argentina; others say Spain. Regardless of their origin, empanadas are considered a traditional food in many South American countries. Each country prepares them slightly differently, and in Argentina they are made differently even across the various provinces.

Crisco works very well as a shortening for the empanada dough. It's what I use when I make empanadas.

Crisco works very well as a shortening for the empanada dough. It's what I use when I make empanadas.

How to Properly Measure the Flour

Measuring the flour properly is extremely important. When you measure the flour, do not pack it into the measuring cup. Follow these simple directions for soft and kneadable dough:

  1. Sift the flour: Place a large bowl under the sifter and pour the flour into the sifter. Shake the sifter and allow the flour to fall into the bowl.
  2. Use a spoon to fill the measuring cup: Once you have the sifted flour in the bowl, use a soup spoon to gently scoop the sifted flour from the bowl into a dry measuring cup. Do not pack it in! Just gently allow it to fall from the spoon into the measuring cup.
  3. Scrape off the extra flour: After your measuring cup is filled with flour, gently scrape off the extra on the top with a knife. Do not pack it down. Simply take a knife and run it across the top of the measuring cup so that any extra flour falls off.
Be sure to measure the flour correctly so that your dough is soft and pliable.

Be sure to measure the flour correctly so that your dough is soft and pliable.

Cook Time

Prep timeReady inYields

30 min

30 min

Makes 12 empanada discs

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Crisco
  • 1 egg yolk, large
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sifted flour, salt and sugar until well blended.
  2. Add the Crisco to the flour mix and combine well with your hands until the dough is nice and crumbly.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and warm water together until they form a smooth liquid.
  4. Make a hole in the middle of the flour mix, and pour the egg mixture into it. Use your hands to combine the ingredients together to create the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead it until it is soft and pliable. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into 12 small balls of equal size.
  7. Use a rolling pin or a wine bottle sprinkled with flour (to prevent sticking), to roll each ball of dough until it is about 1/4 cm or 1/10 inch thick to create the empanada shells. You can use a circular mold to cut out the discs if you want, but it's not necessary.
  8. As you create each disc, you can stack them on a plate, separated by a piece of wax paper so they don't stick together.
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Photo Guide

Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add the Crisco to the flour mix and combine well until the flour is crumbly.

Add the Crisco to the flour mix and combine well until the flour is crumbly.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and warm water together.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and warm water together.

Make a hole in the middle of the flour mix and pour the egg mixture into it. Combine the ingredients together with your hands until the dough begins to form.

Make a hole in the middle of the flour mix and pour the egg mixture into it. Combine the ingredients together with your hands until the dough begins to form.

Transfer the dough to a flat surface dusted with flour. Knead the dough until it is soft and pliable.

Transfer the dough to a flat surface dusted with flour. Knead the dough until it is soft and pliable.

Divide the dough in half, then in half again and again until you have 12 chunks of dough. Roll each chunk into a ball of dough.

Divide the dough in half, then in half again and again until you have 12 chunks of dough. Roll each chunk into a ball of dough.

Roll each dough into a disc that is about 1/10 inch thick. You can use a circular mold if you want, but it's not necessary.

Roll each dough into a disc that is about 1/10 inch thick. You can use a circular mold if you want, but it's not necessary.

To prevent the shells from sticking to each other, you can separate them with wax paper as you stack them on a plate.

To prevent the shells from sticking to each other, you can separate them with wax paper as you stack them on a plate.

This is what the empanada shell will look like when it's filled and ready to bake.

This is what the empanada shell will look like when it's filled and ready to bake.

Use the Dough to Make Empanadas!

Once you make the empanada dough, you will of course want to use it to make empanadas.

The most traditional empanadas in Argentina are cheese empanadas and meat empanadas. Other varieties, such as ham and cheese empanadas and sweet humita empanadas, are also popular.

The more extensively you travel across South America, the more different kinds of empanada fillings you're sure to find.

You can get creative and fill the empanada discs with anything you like, such as spinach and cheese, tuna salad, or even chicken.

Baked empanadas, fresh out of the oven!

Baked empanadas, fresh out of the oven!

© 2022 Madeleine Clays

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