This healthy empanada dough is made with Greek yogurt instead of butter and requires just 5 simple ingredients to make. Get the recipe now.
I grew up in Colorado my whole life and never had an empanada until a year ago. That’s just wrong. And the worst part? It took my Connecticut-born husband to introduce me to them.
If you live in or have visited Denver, chances are you ran across a few empanada shops or even saw them for sale at coffee shops. For those of you not familiar, an empanada is a pastry (usually savory) made by folding dough over stuffing and then baking or frying.
Fillings for empanadas vary greatly from the more traditional South American fillings, like meat, beans, and cheese to more American fillings like BBQ pork or buffalo chicken.
One of my favorite fillings is a sweet potato and black bean mixture.
Traditional empanada dough is made from flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, lard/shortening, and an egg wash.
However, this healthier empanada dough veers from tradition by using Greek yogurt instead of lard/shortening. But trust me, the dough is still equally soft and delicious.
Another healthy change is getting rid of the sugar all together.
To start, you’ll need just 5 ingredients:
Making empanada dough is like a combination of pizza dough and Christmas sugar cookies (strange, but keep with me).
Like cookie dough, there isn’t any yeast to worry about. Simply combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) then cut in the Greek yogurt.
Once crumbly, really start kneading the dough (like you would would pizza dough) until it forms a ball.
The dough at this point should hold together and have some moisture, but it shouldn’t be sticking to your hands.
From this point, roll out the dough until it’s nice and thin, like you are making thin-crust pizza.
Then using a cookie cutter or pint glass, cut out circles. Once there’s no more room for more circles in the dough, roll remaining dough back into a ball, roll out thin, then cut more circles (if you’ve made sugar cookies then you get the drill).
Once the circles are all made, I like to roll each one out a bit more. next, add filling to the center of each, brush the edges with beaten egg, fold dough over filling, then seal by using a fork to crimp.
Repeat with remaining circles, placing finished ones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Once all your empanadas are assembled, brush the tops with egg wash (do not skip this step!).
Finally, bake until golden brown, about 22-25 minutes.
As making empanadas can take a bit of work, I like to make a few batches at once and just freeze any leftovers.
To freeze, place unbaked empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then place in the freezer. Freeze for 30 minutes, or until frozen solid, then transfer healthier empanadas to a freezer bag and store for up to 3 months.
Frozen uncooked empanadas can be cooked straight from the freezer, but will require about 10 extra minutes of cooking time.
I’ve had some feedback that certain brands of Greek yogurt resulted in a dough that was way too sticky and needed a lot more flour to form a dough.
In particular Chobani doesn’t work well as it isn’t quite as thick as other Greek yogurts. I usually use Athenos, but you can use Fage or Stoneyfield as well.
Do not use regular yogurt – it won’t work!
Also make sure not to accidentally add the egg to the dough – you’ll end up with a sticky, runny mess!
Looking for inspiration for filling your healthy empanada dough? Give one of these a try:
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Can this be used for pie crust, specifically for a fruit pie? I’m looking for a pie crust recipe that has little to no fat. Thank you!
Hi Lauren, I’ve never tried it for a fruit pie. Please let me know if you tired it.