Your Guide to Empanadas

Your Guide to Empanadas

Publish Date September 2, 2022
Author Lisa McCune (MS, MPH, RDN, LD)

Empanadas are popular hand-held pies that are often found at high-end restaurants and food trucks alike. They’re packed full of flavor, covering multiple food groups in each delicious bite. Plus, empanadas can be made with a wide variety of fillings, making them a favorite meal for everyone from foodies to those with less adventurous palates.

What is an Empanada?

The word “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb empanar, which means “to wrap in bread.” An empanada consists of a combination of protein and vegetables wrapped in pie dough, shaped into a half-moon, then baked or fried until golden brown. Empanadas are typically savory, but they can be sweet as well, and the filling can easily be customized to suit any taste. Savory empanadas can be filled with chicken, beef, cheese, seafood, tofu and any vegetables, and there are endless flavor combinations.

Check out this dessert empanada recipe, Candied Pumpkin Empanadas, created by famed Mexican chef, author and teacher, Pati Jinich.

Where Did Empanadas Originate?

Empanadas are thought to have originated in Galacia, Spain and Portugal. As they grew in popularity, they quickly spread first to Latin America and the Philippines, then even further until they became a popular dish all over the world. Over time, each region has created their own version of the empanada. In the U.S., you can find them on food truck menus and even in the frozen section at your neighborhood grocery store.

Other Names for Empanadas

Empanadas are recognized by different names around the world:

  • United States: Meat Pies
  • Spain & Latin America: Empanada, Pastelillos, Pastelitos or Empanadillas
  • Jamaica: Beef Patty
  • India: Samosa
  • Haiti: Pate
  • Portugal: Pastel
  • Brazil: Pastel de Forno

It’s easy to make delicious empanadas in your own kitchen. Check out the recipes below, then shop ingredients and build your cart when you’re ready to get started.

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