Healthy Empanada Dough (made with Greek yogurt)

Healthy Empanada Dough (made with Greek yogurt)

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.

Healthy Empanada Dough (made with Greek yogurt)

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.

Healthier empanada dough isn’t traditional

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.

Cutting circles into dough

How to make healthier empanada dough

To start, you’ll need just 5 ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour (could also use white whole wheat)
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • 2% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Egg

How to make the dough

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).

Cutting circles into Greek yogurt empanada dough

Next, add the filling and seal

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.

Making Greek yogurt empanada dough circles

Make a big batch to freeze for later

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.

The type of Greek yogurt you use is key

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!

Healthy empanada recipes and fillings

Looking for inspiration for filling your healthy empanada dough? Give one of these a try:

Plate of healthier empanadas

Healthier Empanada Dough (with Greek yogurt)

Made with just 4 staple ingredients, this empanda dough is simple to prepare and delicious stuffed with all sorts of fillings!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Empanadas, Greek Yogurt, Homemade
Author: Kelli

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 5-oz unbleached all-purpose flour (plus extra for rolling out dough)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 cup 2% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg beaten and placed in a small bowl

Instructions

  • In a medium-sized baking bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using a fork (or your hands), mix in Greek yogurt until crumbly. From here, use your hands to knead the dough into a ball. You want the dough to still have moisture, but not stick to your hands.
  • Sprinkle extra flour on a clean surface and roll out dough until it’s very thin (as if you were making a thin-crust pizza). Using a glass, small bowl, or cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can. Roll remaining dough back out and form into more rounds (like you would when making Christmas cookies). I got 14 rounds using a tall pint glass. I then roll each circle out just a tad more. You could also gently do this with your hands like you would with pizza dough.
  • Fill each circle with filling of choice and brush edges of dough with the egg wash. Fold one edge over to the other and crimp with a fork to seal.
  • Place assembled empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops of empanadas with remaining egg wash, then bake in a 375-degree oven for 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

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About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

Welcome to The Healthy Toast!

Here you’ll find healthy breakfast recipes designed by a registered dietitian with your health goals in mind.

As a dietitian I understand that a healthy breakfast is essential for giving you the fuel you need to power through your day. Which is why on TheHealthyToast, you’ll find nutrition guides plus the best healthy breakfast recipes for every diet and lifestyle.

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