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The Best Gluten Free Empanada Dough

September 16, 2020
At a Glance

Summary

This recipe for savory gluten free empanada dough is sturdy enough to hold any filling, but it still makes light and flaky pastries. Fill them with a meat or vegetable filling, and then bake or pan fry them to finish.

Categories

Prep

20 minutes

Rating

 5/5 (27 votes)
The Best Gluten Free Empanada Dough

This recipe for gluten free empanada dough makes light, flaky, flavorful pastries. Fill it, then bake or fry it to perfection.

Baked emanadas on tray lined with white paper

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.

Empanada dough wrapped in plastic held in two hands

Filling suggestions

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.

Vegetarian filling

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.

Hand holding round cutter making cuts in dough

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.

Hands holding rolling pin rolling out rounds of dough

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.

Plate of empanadas and greens with on empanada broken in half

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

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.

Shortening

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.

Eggs

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.

Wine

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.

 

Three empanadas on a white plate with greens and a lime wedge

Empanada Dough raw in plastic, shaped in a stack, and shaped into baked empanadas
The Best Gluten Free Empanada Dough

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Yield: About 25 rounds

Ingredients

1/3 cup (2 2/3 fluid ounces) dry white wine (like pinot grigio), chilled (See Recipe Notes)

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell), beaten

3 cups (420 g) all purpose gluten free flour (see Recipe Notes)

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped or shredded and chilled

7 tablespoons (84 g) nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening

Your favorite filling (see Recipe Notes for suggestions)

Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked)

Directions

  • In a small bowl or measuring cup with a pour spout, place the wine, vinegar, and eggs, and whisk to combine very well. Set the mixture aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped butter, and mix to combine. Working quickly and using the thumb and forefinger of each clean hand, flatten the chunks of butter into flat disks. Add the shortening, and mix to combine, pressing the shortening down into the dry ingredients with the underside of your mixing spoon. Loosen any bits stuck to the bottom of the bowl. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the wet mixture. Mix until just combined, ensuring that all of the dry ingredients are moistened. With clean hands, squeeze the dough together into a disk. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Much longer, and the dough may be difficult to roll out.

  • Unwrap the chilled dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. I like to divide it in half and work with one half at a time. Press the dough into a flatter disk with the palm and heel of your hand, and sprinkle very lightly with more flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1-inch thick, moving the dough frequently and sprinkling lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter, and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 3-inch rounds from the dough, and remove the surrounding dough to reroll later. Sprinkle each round with a bit of flour, and roll again a bit thinner into a nearly 4-inch diameter round. Repeat with the remaining dough.

  • Sprinkle each round of dough with a bit more flour, and stack the rounds on top of one another. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to use them. They’re best filled and fully shaped the same day, although after filling and shaping you can freeze them for finishing another time.

  • Filling/cooking suggestions: See Recipe Notes.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2011 (!). Recipe changed, text nearly all new, photos and video new.

Love,
Nicole

  • Cecelia
    September 26, 2020 at 9:33 PM

    I was happy with how these came out! The dough came out pretty flaky – I used the mock cup4cup blend, but turns out my cornstarch wasn’t gluten free, so I replaced it with potato starch. Might try it with the cornstarch at some point for comparison, but I thought the dough came out very well.

  • Karen
    September 21, 2020 at 8:24 AM

    I have a quantity of brown rice flour and make my own GF mixture. Will there be a difference in texture and flavor?

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 21, 2020 at 8:35 AM

      Yes, Karen, you cannot use anything other than superfine rice flour(s), and must use one of my recommended blends for my recipes to turn out. There will be a difference in absolutely everything. Please click through to my gluten free flour blends page for full information. It’s linked every single time my recipe calls for an all purpose gluten free flour.

  • Donna
    September 20, 2020 at 9:05 PM

    I think your previous recipe had the dough being cooked in a pot. Am I right? I’ve been making my own GF empanada dough for a few years now, and I like them fried. Next time I will try your current recipe and bake. They look good. Also, for the veggie filling I add raw corn and cooked/well drained mushrooms, and green and black olives.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 21, 2020 at 7:09 AM

      Yes, Donna, the previous dough was cooked partially in a pan on the stovetop. But that wasn’t how you cooked the empanadas. It was part of how you prepared the dough. That was always either by baking or by frying, like this recipe.

  • Judi
    September 20, 2020 at 7:20 PM

    I’ve been looking for a gf pastry dough to make my Maltese Pastizzi. They are savory hand pies made with curry seasoned beef, onion and sweet peas. So thank you and God bless you for coming up with wonderful ideas for the gluten free diet.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 21, 2020 at 7:12 AM

      That sounds delicious, Judi! My pleasure and thank you for sharing your plans for this dough.

  • Devon
    September 18, 2020 at 1:53 AM

    Thank you for the wonderful recipes, you’ve returned foods to me that I thought I’d forever lost after developing MCAS (I honestly cried a little the first time I made your naan bread). Do you think this dough could handle scaling up in size? I’d love to make Cornish pasties but that would mean rolling out a larger disk; it would be a shame to have it collapse when I tried to pick it up. I’ll experiment but I was hoping you might have some wisdom on how the disk size affects the required thickness for it to hold together.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 18, 2020 at 8:16 AM

      Hi, Devon, thank you so so much for the kind note. I’m honored that I’ve been able to help you get back what you’ve lost. And I feel the emotion behind your making naan. I get it, I really do. So many of us do. About rolling this dough larger: this dough is not especially fragile, but it does get more delicate as it increases in size and in thickness. It’s very, very pliable when it’s rolled thinner, but then of course it’s not as flaky. When it’s too thick, you’ll know because it will crack when you bend it fully. I think you could use it, for sure, to make Cornish pasties. Just trust your hands and your eyes as you decide how large the diameter in relation to the thickness of dough. I hope that helps! I also have a recipe for a rich savory pie crust that you might like, which is enriched with an egg yolk in the crust. It’s a really lovely dough, too.

  • Laura
    September 17, 2020 at 2:25 PM

    Made these today. They’re not pretty but taste great!

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 17, 2020 at 2:54 PM

      As long as you’re not taking photos like I am, Laura, beauty is way, way below taste in importance!!

  • Sarah
    August 11, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Awesome! I even made some subs and it still worked!! WOW!! You are a Gluten-free Guru!! This was soooo yummy!! We were fighting for the last one (after the kids stuffed themsleves of course)!

  • Anneke
    July 23, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Okay, love this dough! It came together beautifully, rolled out great, and worked in my Tupperware empanada maker without sticking. I can see this being my new go-to for a quick meal — stuffed with whatever I have available. This is fabulous, Nicole! (My daughter, the one with celiac, is standing right here as I type this. She said, “you should write ‘you are awesome,’ because, really, it’s true!”) So, You Are Awesome, Nicole!

    • Nicole
      July 24, 2011 at 10:33 PM

      Hi, Anneke,
      Yay! I’m so glad you love this dough as much as I do. And I l-o-v-e love the fact that your daughter is so excited about it! I feel like I can picture her standing next to you, as excited as you and I both are, thinking this whole thing is simply awesome. That is the sense of possibility that our lives are not rich enough without. You’re pretty awesome yourself. And your daughter sounds like an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. :)
      xoxo Nicole

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