These empanadas de chorizo are baked rather than fried and this Argentinian specialty takes a Tex-Mex spin with a filling of chorizo, cheese, and roasted chile peppers. Adding cream cheese to empanada dough allows for elasticity and produces tender and flaky results. 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 chorizo empanadas I’ve ever had, and when she announced they were baked, I was all in.
Let’s take a look.
Ingredients for Making Baked Empanadas 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 chorizo 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 de chorizo on a sheet pan and brush with an egg and milk mixture. This will help them to turn that beautiful golden brown while baking.
FAQ’s, Empanadas de Chorizo
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.
Pro Tip: Use Cold Butter. Keep that butter nice and cold before blending the empanada dough. If the butter is too warm, it will blend too quickly and you will not achieve that shaggy mass stage.
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 empanadas de chorizo recipe, let me know. Now that I had such success with this recipe, I’m looking for more filling ideas for chorizo.
Dipping sauce for empanadas: Serve with either Tomato Salsa or Roasted Hatch Chile Sauce.
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.
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.
MARY TOGNAZZINI says
MUST TRY THE CRUST TODAY!! THE PICTURE LOOKS LIKE MY CRUST BAKING, NOT PERFECT BUT SO GOOD.. THANK YOU
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
I haven’t made empanadas in ages and these sound wonderful. I’ve shared these to several of my Pinterest boards for others to see.
Lea Ann Brown says
Karen, you’re the best. Thanks so much for those pins. Always good to hear from you.
John / Kitchen Riffs says
Such a great post. Really informative. I don’t recall that I’ve ever made empanadas. Really like that you’ve decided to bake them — much less messy. Really nice — love the filling. Thanks!
Lea Ann Brown says
Hi John, always good to hear from you. Baking empanadas is the way to go.
Lea Ann Brown says
Thanks so much John. I really can’t wait to make them again.
We never made empanadas, or any type of meat pie, but yours look so good, we may have to try them.
Lea Ann Brown says
Let me know when you do. 🙂
Empanadas is something I’ve always wanted to try, but put off to the side after seeing the amount of work that went into them and then the frying. Love that these are baked and with some studying of your great tutorial I think it’s something that I could do with my husband’s working with me. Of course the filling is perfect. Chorizo and green chile – how could you go wrong. 🙂
Lea Ann Brown says
Hi MJ. I agree, you simply can’t go wrong with chorizo and green chili … and baking rather than frying. 🙂