Adding cream cheese to empanada dough allows for elasticity and produces tender and flaky results. These empanadas are baked rather than fried and this Argentinian specialty takes a Tex-Mex spin with a filling of chorizo, cheese, and roasted chile peppers. Give these chorizo empanadas a try.
About this Recipe and Why it Works
Making empanadas is really not as hard as it looks.
What are empanadas? Empanadas are crescent shaped pastries filled with a variety of ingredients. Empanadas are either fried or baked golden for a perfect handheld treat.
Fillings can include anything from seasoned beef, chicken, pork, seafood or vegetables and even pumpkin.
For this recipe, we’re baking chorizo empanadas.
One afternoon in Culinary School, we made around four hundred authentic Argentinean empanadas. We learned the technique of holding the filled empanada in one hand and using the other hand to twist the pasty into a beautiful braided border to seal the package. That braided border is called a repulgue.
There were about a dozen of us in an unsupervised assembly line and unfortunately I remember more about our conversations than I do the learning experience.
Once the empanadas were filled and sealed, they were handed over to Nathan who was manning the deep fryer for their traditional cooking method.
Some were burnt, some fell apart because they weren’t sealed properly, or overfilled, and some were greasy due to not keeping the deep fryer at proper temperature. It was somewhat of a mess.
It wasn’t until this past Fall, when our son had us over for happy hour, that my interest in making these at home became a quest. His girlfriend Julie served some of the most delicious empanadas I’ve ever had, and when she announced they were baked, I was all in.
Let’s take a look.
Ingredients for Making Empanada Dough
Mise en place. Always gather ingredients before starting any recipe. It will save you time and organize your mind.
- Cream Cheese: Full fat cream cheese not only adds an additional depth of flavor, but also brings elasticity to the dough, which in turn yields a tender flaky crust once baked.
- Butter: My favorite “fat” for making pastry dough. It produces a beautiful all butter pie crust, as well as for this empanada dough. And it brings that buttery flavor that we all love.
- Salt and Flour: The backbone of the dough.
Filling Ingredients Chorizo Empanadas
- Cilantro: Fine chopped.
- Grated Cheese: I chose a medium sharp cheddar cheese.
- Chorizo: Purchased bulk packaged, rather than a tube of chorizo.
- Spices: Oregano and Cumin
- Chile Peppers: Roasted, peeled and chopped. I use either Hatch Chiles or Colorado Pueblo Chiles.
- Olives: I chose black olives, chopped. They add a briny flavor note and additional texture.
- Seasoning: Chopped garlic, salt and pepper, to taste.
- Protein: Use ground beef, ground chicken or turkey in place of the chorizo. If using a lean protein, you’ll need to add a splash of oil to the pan before frying.
- Cheese: Use any type of cheese for this recipe, as long as it’s a hard cheese that will grate well. Monterey Jack is a good choice here, or Muenster.
- Chile Peppers: This recipe calls for Hatch chile peppers. If you don’t have a stash of roasted peppers in your freezer, substitute canned Hatch chiles. Roasted poblano peppers are a good choice here.
- Olives: Next time I make these, I want to use chopped green olives in place of the black olives.
How to make Baked Empanada Dough
Step 1: In a large bowl, add room temperature cream cheese, cold butter, flour and salt. Using a dough blender, start combining ingredients.
Step 2: Mix the dough until you achieve the “shaggy mass” stage. Dough will be crumbly but begins to clump together. This stage will easily form a ball.
Step 3: Press the cream cheese empanada dough together to form a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for thirty minutes or even overnight if you wish.
Step 4: In the meantime, prepare the filling for the empanadas. Simply brown chorizo and remove from heat. Drain excess grease, if needed, and stir in remaining ingredients.
It’s time to fill and seal the empanadas.
- Step 5. Roll the dough and fill the empanadas. Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into circles. I used a 4-inch mini tart pan to cut my circles.
- Step 6: Place a small amount of filling in the center. Make sure you have a clean margin of dough around the edge of the filling. Don’t overfill the empanadas, or you’ll end up with filling that leaks out during baking, or an empanada that breaks.
Step 7: Fold the dough over and using the back of a fork to press the edges together.
Step 8: Place the sealed empanadas on a sheet pan and brush with an egg and milk mixture. This will help them to turn that beautiful golden brown while baking.
Tips and Tricks
Keep that butter nice and cold before blending the empanada dough. If the butter is too warm, it will blend too quickly to achieve that shaggy mass stage.
Using a floured surface and a rolling pin. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. And yes, use a ruler to measure the thickness. Consistency will result in even baking. Once you cut your circles, you’ll have left over dough. Carefully shape the scraps into a ball and roll out again.
I used a 4″ mini tart pan to cut my empanadas. They can be 4″, 5″ or 6″, whichever you prefer.
A mini tart pan works well, or a bowl that doesn’t have a wide rim. You can also purchase empanada makers or empanada presses.
Yes, and it’s actually a benefit for both the dough and the filling. Refrigerating the dough overnight will allow the dough to relax and lose its stretchiness. The filling will also be less runny and will be easier to manage when filling the empanadas.
Absolutely! They will keep in the freezer for about three months.
If reheating frozen empanadas, let them thaw and then heat them on low on a sheet pan at 200 degrees until they’re nice and warm. Watch them carefully, you don’t want to cook them again, just warm them up. Using a microwave will compromise the flaky crispy texture of the baked empanada dough.
Recipe for Baked Chorizo Empanadas (Empanadas de Chorizo)
I hope you give this chorizo empanada recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating. And scroll down and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite empanada filling recipe, let me know. Now that I had such success with this recipe, I’m looking for ideas.
If you like this recipe … you might like:
- Easy Chorizo Soup with Caramelized Cabbage
- Mexican Deviled Eggs with Chorizo
- Chorizo Chile Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Spicy Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms
And if you love Mexican food as much as we do, check out my Mexican Food Category. You’ll find plenty of fun recipes, including the most popular on my site for Hatch Green Chili.
And if you’re looking for even more recipe ideas, follow me on my social platforms.
Chorizo Empanadas ( Empanadas de Chorizo )
- For the empanada dough
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into cubes. Keep the butter cold until ready to use.
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For the empanada filling:
- 1 pound Mexican chorizo bulk, or removed from casings
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated
- 1/4 cup black olives pitted and chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 4 roasted green chile peppers seeds, skin and stems removed, diced. Or 1 4 ounce can chopped Hatch chile peppers
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- For the empanada dough: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, flour, butter and salt. Using a pastry blender, Mix all ingredients until a shaggy mass stage is reached. Press the dough into a ball, wrap in saran wrap and chill 30+ minutes. (or overnight)
- For the empanada filling: Brown chorizo and remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.
- Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, roll empanada dough very thin, 1/8 inch thick. Use a ruler to measure.
- Cut the dough into circles. Use a mini-tart pan, or a bowl with a thin rim to cut into circles. Once circles are cut, gather the excess dough and roll into another ball. Roll out again and make more circles.
- Add a spoonful of filling and crimp closed using the back of a fork. Place the sealed empanadas on a baking sheet as you complete them.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 egg with 2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk together using a fork Brush each empanada with the egg wash.
- Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.
Chorizo Empanadas …. They’re what’s for dinner.