Masa Simple Para Empanadas Argentinas (Empanada Dough)

October 26, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Prep time 3 hours
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • makes For 4 dozen (48) empanadas using a biscuit cutter that’s 3 inches in diameter. diameter
Author Notes

I've made a lot of empanadas in my life. In the Before Times, when Brooklyn was a city, not a brand, and folks experimented with small batch cooking in church basements and at art parties, we had an artisanal argentine empanada biz. I may not have the biz anymore, but I never need an excuse to make empanadas. To be honest, I always have a stack of store bought discos in the freezer, given the good options we can get in New York City. {I'm partial to La Salteña brand, which I buy at the Cherry Valley Marketplace on Corona Avenue in Queens, across from my favorite Argentine restaurant, El Gauchito!} But every so often, I go all in. It’s a fun project for a weekend afternoon. (Note, I usually a make a lot of these at once. If you're only trying to make a dozen or two, it won't take you very long.)

Here’s my go-to recipe for “criolla” dough, which I learned from my aunt in Santa Fe, Argentina! (“Criolla” is what Argentines call home-cooking.) This dough works equally well for baking and frying, though baking is the more traditional Argentine method (and the only one I’ve truly tested.)

Bonus: if you make this dough with vegetable shortening (which I almost always do), it’s vegan! —yclaraquesi

What You'll Need
  • 1,000 grams all purpose flour (a kilo)
  • 20 grams kosher salt
  • 200 grams vegetable shortening or lard, plus more for rolling. (NB: butter will make for stiff dough. Opt for vegetable shortening or high quality leaf lard if possible.)
  • 370-400 grams water, at room temperature
  1. Whisk the salt into the flour, then crumble in the fat until well incorporated. Add a little bit more fat if you feel the mix too dry, and you have a a lot of flour left unincorporated. You want the mix to feel like a bowl of small pebbles–not sticky clumps.
  2. Slowly add the water, mixing by hand, until you have a smooth dough. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead until the dough is soft and elastic, about 5 minutes. (NB: If your surface allows it, avoid adding flour to this step. Adding flour to the surface inevitably adds flour to your dough, which will make for a stiff dough.) Set aside to rest for an hour at room temperature.
  3. Cut the dough into quarters. Take one piece, and roll it out roughly into a rectangle, about 4 mm thick. Spread a scant layer of fat across the top, covering it completely, then fold the dough into thirds. Roll it out a second time, spread a scant layer of fat across the top, and fold the dough in thirds again. Roll out a third time, just enough to incorporate the last round of fat, and set aside. Repeat with the remaining quarters of dough.
  4. At this point, you can wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a day before using (or freeze it.) Simply bring it up to room temperature an hour before you start making your empanadas.
  5. When ready to make your empanadas, take a quarter of dough and roll it out thinly, about 2 mm thick. Cut out circles using a sharp biscuit cutter that is 3 inches in diameter. Each quarter should yield about 10 discos. Roll out each disco a bit more, to create a thinner, slightly elongated oval. Fill with your desired filling, and crimp closed. You may want to wet the end of one edge of the disco with a bit of water, to help with your seal — experiment with what you find easiest to handle. Re-roll the scraps once. (NB: As with above, if you can, avoid using flour on your surface here. The dough should be elastic enough to not stick.)
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and lay your empanadas out in rows. Refrigerate the trays for at least an hour, to help rest the dough and firm up the fat. Baste the empanadas with a beaten whole egg before baking, and bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes until golden. If baking multiple trays at once, rotate the pans in the oven at 20 minutes.
  7. By the way, here’s a slightly easier and somewhat unorthodox method, that my aunt in Santa Fe, Argentina recommends. {This replaces step 3, above.} Roll a quarter of dough out thinly, about 2 mm. Spread it with a scant layer of fat. Tightly roll the dough along the longest side. Cut sections that are about 1.5 / 2 inches long. (You’ll have to experiment here until you find the length that yields the disco size you want.) Stand a section up, cut side down, and push down on it with a rolling pin to make a little disco. Roll each disco out in both directions until the dough is thin, and the size you’d like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mrslarkin
  • Lccooks

2 Reviews

Lccooks December 27, 2020
Muchísimas gracias! I could never get my abuela’s (from Misiones and Córdoba) recipe right. This turned out great! I used about 2.5 tbs unsalted butter and about 1/2 tsp salt in 3 tbs water. Next time I’ll add a bit more salt. So much better to make them yourself!
mrslarkin July 10, 2020
This is my favorite dough for empanadas! Thank you for the recipe.