Holy guacamole, these gluten-free empanadas are unreal!
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Empanadas are scrumptious, flaky pockets of dough with a tasty and savory filling. But developing a gluten-free empanada recipe was tough work!
Empanadas are one of the most popular dishes you can find in Argentina and many Spanish-speaking countries around the globe. They were on almost every single restaurant menu during our time in Patagonia and Buenos Aires. The names of these tasty treats can vary, as well as the fillings, from country to country. But one of the most common ones we encountered in our travels was a mixture of beef, melted cheese, onions, and spices. And that's what you'll see here!
Unfortunately, the store-bought versions of gluten-free empanadas didn't taste great to me when I was developing this recipe in March of 2020. I experimented with frozen pie crust, pre-made dough, and almost gave up. Then I tried the one gluten-free flour blend that has never disappointed me - Cup4Cup!
About The Gluten-Free Pastry & Flour Blend
If you haven't baked gluten-free pastry or bread products with Cup4Cup - my friend, it is a game-changer. Their multi-purpose gluten-free flour blend is the best gluten-free flour blend I've found in thirteen years on the gluten-free diet. From fruit galettes, to naan, even homemade gnocchi -I've made it all with overwhelming success thanks to this flour!
Please note, this recipe is specifically formulated for Cup4Cup, so if you use a different gluten-free flour blend, your results could vary. Be sure to check the recipe notes and scroll all the way down to the comments section to see what other users have tried with success!
NOTE: A gluten-free flour BLEND is needed for this recipe. Please do not substitute a single gluten-free grain and expect the same results.
What You'll Need For The Empanadas:
Gluten-Free Flour (I prefer Cup4Cup Multipurpose Blend). Please be aware this mixture has milk powder and is not dairy-free, just gluten-free.
Granulated Sugar: This helps give the dough a good texture and taste.
Salt: I use Kosher salt.
Unsalted Butter: Butter helps us create that nice and flaky gluten-free empanada dough.
Egg: We'll use an egg in the dough as well as in an eggwash to make the empanadas golden brown when baking.
Buttermilk: The liquid that will help bind our dough together. If you can't do buttermilk, you can try using a mixture of ½ dairy-free milk ½ dairy-free yogurt.
Ground Beef: Our main filling for this recipe. You can substitute ground turkey if you like.
Onion & Garlic: For the flavor! Nothing beats good old onions and garlic.
Ketchup: For moisture and to keep the mixture together.
Spices: A mixture of spices you most likely have on hand will go into the ground beef mixture for lots of taste!
Cheese: The star! A mix of cheddar and colby jack, freshly grated (Don't buy pre-shredded) make these empanadas the cheesiest and yummiest treats.
Tools That Can Make This Recipe Easier:
Silicone Baking Mats: A more green alternative to parchment paper. They are versatile for cooking or baking, wash easily, and last forever.
Empanadas can be baked or fried, depending on where you enjoy them around the globe. I find it easier to bake the empanadas, as it skips the frying step. If you'd like to fry them instead, go for it! I've included instructions on how to do that in the recipe notes.
Empanadas are a labor of love, in my opinion. They take some time but are worth it in the end. Give yourself a good two hours to make these from start to finish!
Troubleshooting Common Problems With Empanadas
Follow the recipe.
If you want to your empanadas to come out exactly as you see in the photos here, you need to use Cup4Cup . While you can try another gluten-free flour blend on the market, the dough might not be as flaky and buttery, nor have the texture you are hoping for. With Cup4Cup, you'll discover the dough is remarkably similar to making a pie crust. It will roll out well, have a mild but buttery taste, and won't turn into a crumbly mess on your kitchen counter. And when filled with this beef, onion, and cheese mixture, and brushed with an egg wash, it creates a savory pastry you can't get enough of.
I have also tested this recipe with Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour (blue bag) and while the dough stayed together well and baked nicely, it did not create as flaky of an empanada or have as golden of a shine. I would also recommend trying this recipe with Better Batter Flour or GF Jules, for two other gluten and dairy-free flour blend alternatives.
If you decide to change anything or substitute other ingredients, the empanadas may come out differently than expected and I cannot speak to your results. My experience is in gluten-free and some dairy-free baking, but not allergy-free, vegan, or egg-free. You can always email me: [email protected] with any questions and I'm happy to help troubleshoot the best I can.
Don't make pastry on a hot day.
Warmer temperatures mean your pastry is going to be more difficult to work with. Stick to a cooler day to make empanadas, if possible!
Baking by Weight
Is baking by weight the most accurate and precise way to bake gluten-free?
But is it realistic?
In my experience, most people don't have the time or even a kitchen scale to bake this way. If you are looking for the measurements of this recipe in grams, you can check the original from GF Jules, who writes hers in grams.
Be careful how you measure your gluten-free flour.
Along the same lines, and one of my top gluten-free baking tips, if you aren't measuring for weight, then be sure to spoon your flour into your measuring cup, then level off with the back of the knife. This makes sure you get an accurate amount.
Give yourself a good amount of time.
This recipe has many steps and a good amount of time. Allow a good 2 hours to make them from start to finish.
Refrigerate the dough if it is difficult to work with.
If you notice your butter is leaking through your dough, the empanadas are breaking apart or very soft, it might be too warm. Wrap it in plastic wrap or parchment paper and place back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool. Then remove and try again. Trust me - don't try to force the dough to do what you want when it's too warm. Be patient, refrigerate, and try again. It definitely helps!
More Gluten-Free Baking Recipes
Feel like an easy quickbread? This banana bread with walnuts hits the spot.
Looking for another savory pastry recipe? Bake a savory scone with bacon, cheddar, and chives.
Want to practice your pie making skills? Check out this gluten-free peach pie with lattice design.
Ready to take your baking skills to the next level? Try these delightful, buttery, and flaky gluten-free croissants.
Here's the recipe for gluten-free beef and cheese empanadas!
If you love this recipe, please leave a comment! Thank you so much!
Gluten-Free Empanadas Recipe
For the Dough
- 3 cups gluten-free flour blend (Use Cup4Cup for best results)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and cold
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup cold buttermilk
For the Filling
- ¾ lb ground beef
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1-2 tablespoon ketchup
- ½ cup shredded cheddar & Colby Jack cheese (¼ cup of each) - Or whatever cheese you prefer!
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon salt (more/less, to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper,
For the Eggwash
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Prepare the dough first, so it has time to chill while you prepare the filling.
1. Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter and using a pastry cutter or a fork, combine the butter with the dry ingredients. You can use your hands too! Mix until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Create a well (a large hole) in the center of the flour mixture, and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the egg and buttermilk with a fork and whisk. Slowly add the buttermilk and egg to the well you have created in the flour, gradually whisking the egg with a fork, combining small amounts of flour at a time. Continue mixing until the dough thickens, and form into a ball (you can use your hands again!) Wrap tightly in plastic wrap (or for a greener alternative, Bees Wrap). Allow dough to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. While the dough rests, prepare the filling. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add chopped onions and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add the ground beef, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Saute until the ground beef is browned completely. Drain the fat and return the beef and onion mixture to the frying pan on low heat.
4. Add the minced garlic and ketchup, continuing to saute on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Off heat, add the shredded cheese, and mix until all combined. Set aside to cool.
5. Once the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and cut it in half. Keep the half not used in the refrigerator to stay cool. Give the dough 2-3 minutes to come to room temperature, or it will be very difficult to manipulate. Line two baking sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment paper (or for a greener alternative, use silicone mats). Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Lightly (remember, don't use too much flour) flour a clean surface using Cup4Cup (or your gluten-free flour of choice) and roll the dough into a circular shape about ⅛ inch thick.
7. To make small empanadas, use a drinking glass or a round cutter with a 3-inch diameter to cut holes in the dough. If you would prefer to make larger empanadas, use a larger cutter (about 6-inch diameter) or make your own circles of whatever size you like! Place circles on lined baking sheets. Take the pieces that remain and work them together, rolling them out again and repeating steps 6 and 7 until no dough remains.
8. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. Using the eggwash and a pastry brush, brush one side of the circle, then fold over one side to create a half-circle and seal them together. Crimp the edges together with a fork for a decorative touch.
9. Using a small knife, cut a slit approximately ¼-inch long on the top center of each empanada, to allow steam to escape.
10. Brush the empanadas with more egg wash and bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes until golden brown. Continue the same process with the remaining dough and filling.
This recipe was specifically made using Cup4Cup gluten-free flour. If you make this recipe with a different gluten-free flour blend, your results could vary. You may need to add or reduce the amount of buttermilk or use more flour to prevent the dough from becoming too sticky. Due to the lack of gluten in the dough, baking is more challenging, but it can be done! If you have questions about this recipe, please leave a comment and let me know how I can help.
Size of the Dough
Depending on how big you make your circles, you may end up with fewer empanadas than the recipe calls for - that's okay! You can use your own judgment here and make them as small or as large as you like.
Don't buy pre-shredded cheese! It's not as good. Take the time to grate your own cheese for the best empanadas.
If you choose to make the empanadas on the smaller side, less amount of filling can go into them. You might end up with extra filling. No problem! The filling by itself is delicious and goes great in tacos or with rice and a side of vegetables.
The dough must rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before working. Lightly flour it as you roll it out.
Feel free to substitute whatever filling you like! If you are vegetarian, try doing vegetables and cheese. Issues with lactose? Skip the cheese altogether. Or, use this dough to make hand pies or poptarts with fruit or jam!
If you like to fry these empanadas on the stovetop instead, pan-fry them in a large pan in oil of your choice, for 3-4 minutes on each side.
Empanadas can be frozen prior to cooking to be baked at a later time. Once completely frozen, transfer them to an airtight plastic container and store for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy!
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 409Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 109mgSodium 349mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 1gSugar 5gProtein 15g
The nutrition information on each recipe card is provided as a courtesy and for your convenience. The data is calculated by Nutritionix. You are encouraged to make your own calculations based on your ingredients and preferred nutritional facts calculator. While I try to make sure they are accurate, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these calculations.
Have you ever had gluten-free empanadas?
What would be your ideal filling? More beef & cheese, or perhaps chicken?
Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to ask questions!