When I started my gluten-free diet, one of the first gluten favourites that I missed was definitely Argentine empanadas. I grew up snacking on these delicious pastry parcels with exciting fillings of either spiced meat or gooey cheese & spinach every time I visited my family in Argentina. My maternal grandmother (aka Abuela) made them from scratch and loved to spoil us with platters of empanadas even while visiting us in Singapore. The pastry was made crispy and the fillings were so juicy that you needed a napkin or a bowl to catch the drippings.
In Argentina, you have different variations of empanadas. Meat-filled empanadas have regional styles ranging from spicier up north to milder down south, using plenty of hard-boiled eggs, olives and raisins. Although meat-filled empanadas are the most popular, there are also vegetarian fillings from corn to spinach & cheese. If you love fish, they also have a tuna filling empanada.
Making homemade empanadas is not as hard as it seems, you just need to be organised. I usually make the filling the day before. It is easier to add the cooled-down filling to the pastry discs rather than straight from the pan as it can distort the pastry shape when still warm.
So, give it a go and enjoy some freshly baked empanadas with a nice tall beer. If you can get your hands on a Quilmes (Argentina’s national beer), even better! Salut!!
Gluten-Free Meat Empanadas
- 460g gluten-free plain flour (either store-bought or my homemade blend)
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 70g vegetable shortening, cubed and chilled
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 300ml milk
- 1 egg, separated (use the egg white to seal the pastry discs together, the egg yolk is used to baste the pastry prior to baking)
1. Blend the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder & salt with the cold shortening in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs, or alternatively, rub the mixture with your fingertips until thoroughly rubbed in.
2. Slowly add the milk until the dough feels soft and comes together nicely.
3. Place the dough in a sealed container and place in the fridge for at least one hour.
Makes 18-19 discs measuring 10 cm in diameter.
The dough can be made the night before, provided it is in a sealed container and stored in the fridge.
- 500g minced beef (good quality, with some fat if possible)
- 2 medium white onions, chopped finely
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
- 100g of sultanas
- 70g Spanish green olives with pimiento peppers (sweet red pepper) inside the olive, sliced
- 3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons store-bought empanada seasoning or Homemade Empanada seasoning
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 50ml white wine or beef/vegetable stock
- Olive oil
- Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper to season
Homemade Empanada Seasoning
- 3 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Mix all the herbs, spices and salt together in a medium bowl.
If you would like to make a large jar, go to the empanada seasoning page for the larger ingredient quantities.
1. Soak the sultanas in warm water for 20 minutes and set them aside.
2. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes, run them under cold water and peel the shells off straight away. Set them aside to cool slightly, then chop them into small pieces. Set aside to add later to the meat mixture.
3. Pour a thin layer of olive oil to cover the bottom of a medium-sized frying pan and heat the pan to medium-low heat.
4. Add chopped onions and fry them gently for 15 minutes, without colouring, until soft.
5. Turn up the heat to high, add the mince beef and break up any clumps and give it a good stir, until the beef has lost its pink colour.
6. Add the garlic, empanada seasoning, salt and pepper, stirring well.
7. Keep an eye on the meat, making sure it doesn’t burn or stick to the pan. Every now and then, add a little more olive oil and give it a good stir.
8. After 15 minutes, lower the heat to medium and add the tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes.
9. Add the white wine or stock. Cook for a further 15 minutes. Stirring every now and then.
10. Add the fresh parsley, the drained sultanas and the sliced olives. Cook for 5 minutes.
11. Add the chopped boiled eggs.
12. Taste the beef mixture and add more salt and pepper if needed.
13. Allow the empanada mixture to cool down completely.
Assembling the Empanadas:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.
2. Roll out the pastry to 1 cm thick.
3. Using the rim of an upside-down bowl or small plate (10 cm in diameter), cut a circle with a knife to form the pastry discs.
4. On one side of the disc, add a heaped tablespoon of the meat filling.
5. Brush the rim of the pastry with the egg white.
6. Seal the discs by either pinching the edges with a slight twist or use a fork to press down the pastry together. Dip your fingers in some flour to prevent your fingers from becoming sticky.
7. Brush the empanadas with the egg yolk to give it a nice colour and sheen.
8. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf.
Makes 18-19 empanadas.
Any extra baked Empanadas can be frozen for up to 3 months. I thaw them overnight in the fridge, then bake them in the oven for 15 minutes covered in foil.
If you prefer to use a vegetarian filling for your empanadas, the most popular filling is cream cheese & spinach.
I hope you enjoy making this recipe and more importantly, find empanadas delicious. Please let me know how your empanadas turned out. I would love to hear from you plus if you have any recipe questions that I can help you with.