This recipe for gluten free empanada dough makes light, flaky, flavorful pastries. Fill it, then bake or fry it to perfection.
This is the king of all gluten free empanada dough recipes. It rolls out smooth, yet it’s still sturdy. And when you bite into it after it’s cooked, it’s as tender and flaky as any traditional empanada I have ever had in Spain made by my Spanish Señora.
This is a recipe for the raw pastry dough for use in making all sorts of gluten free empanadas. If you have a favorite filling, and it’s already naturally gluten free, use that.
If you’re looking for filling suggestions, I have plenty of suggestions here. My favorite is the ground meat filling (scroll down).
I almost always cook the filled empanadas by baking them, not frying them. It’s so much easier to make a big batch, and they come out light and flaky and perfect as long as you use the egg wash.
General recipe tips and suggestions
The thinner you roll the dough, the quicker it will cook and the easier it will be to handle. But it will also burn more easily.
I try to roll the dough about 1/4-inch thick. That’s thick enough that it will have multiple flaky layers to the dough, but not so thick that it can’t be shaped without cracking.
Be careful about storing the dough for too long in the refrigerator both before it’s shaped and after it’s shaped into rounds. If you chill it too long before it’s shaped, you’ll have trouble rolling it out. If you store it in a stack of rounds for too long after shaping, you may have trouble separating the rounds from one another without tearing or breaking them.
Ground meat filling
Begin by sautéing about 1/2 cup chopped onions in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil until translucent. Add minced garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant. Remove aromatics from the pan and set aside.
Add about 1 pound bulk sausage (I like a combination of sweet and hot), ground beef, or ground chicken, and cook until no longer pink. Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and reserved aromatics and mix to combine.
Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan and cook over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add 1 cup finely chopped onions, 1 medium carrot, minced, 1 cup finely chopped bell peppers, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (6 to 8 minutes). Add 1 tablespoon minced onions and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1/2 cup refried beans, and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
How to finish the empanadas
Allow the cooked filling to cool for about 10 minutes before using it to fill the shaped empanada dough. To fill, place the round of dough in the center of the palm of one hand and add a scant tablespoon of filling scattered down the middle of the dough.
Brush the egg wash sparingly around the edges of the round of dough. Fold the dough over on itself to enclose the filling, pressing out any air bubbles and pinching the edges together gently to seal. Press the tines of a fork gently into the edges to help secure the dough.
When you’re sealing the dough, don’t pinch or crimp the edge too tightly. You don’t want to thin the edge, or it will cook too quickly and burn before the rest of the dough browns.
Place the filled raw empanadas, about 1-inch apart from one another, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you are baking the empanadas, brush the tops of the empanadas lightly with the egg wash.
How to cook the filled empanadas
To bake, place the baking sheet in the center of a preheated 375°F oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the empanadas are golden brown all over. Serve warm.
To shallow fry, heat about 1/2-inch of frying oil (I like a combination of grapeseed oil and shortening) in a wok or sautépan to about 350°F. You’ll know the oil is ready when a toothpick inserted into the oil creates small bubbles surrounding it.
Place the empanadas in the oil and cook for about 2 minutes on one side. Flip gently and cook on the other side until fully browned, about 6 minutes total, flipping back and forth as necessary.
Ingredients and substitutions
In place of butter, try using vegan butter. My favorite brands are Miyoko’s Kitchen and Melt. I do not recommend using Earth Balance buttery sticks, which melt too easily.
Whenever share a recipe on social media that calls for shortening as an ingredient, a few readers get very upset. Perhaps they are only familiar with much-maligned Crisco brand shortening.
I only use Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. It’s made from sustainably sourced palm oil, and is completely nonhydrogenated. It has a lot less moisture than butter, and really helps make this empanada dough light and flaky but still easily shaped.
If you won’t use shortening, try using virgin coconut oil in its place (the kind that’s solid at room temperature). If you’re concerned about a slight coconut aroma, be sure to use triple filtered virgin coconut oil, which has absolutely no coconut aroma.
The eggs in this recipe help provide structure and cohesiveness to the dough, and the yolks add richness. If you can’t have eggs, you can try replacing each of them with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).
To replace some of the richness of the butter, try adding another tablespoon of butter and another tablespoon of flour to rebalance the moisture. Instead of the egg wash, you can brush the edges of the rounds during shaping and the tops before baking with cream.
The wine in this recipe adds great flavor to the dough. There isn’t enough that they taste like it specifically. It’s just a depth of flavor.
I buy small bottles of Pinot Grigio for use in this recipe and in risotto. Keep in mind that cooking with wine intensifies its flavor, so don’t use any wine in cooking that you wouldn’t drink.
If you don’t have an open bottle, or can’t have wine, try replacing the wine with equal parts white grape juice and sherry vinegar. That will help replace both the flavor and the acidity of the white wine.