Latin American Empanadas (Pipian Empanadas)

Latin American Empanadas (Pipian Empanadas)

3 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, Spring 2004

These savory pastries were created by Mariana Velasquez, a Test Kitchen intern who grew up in Bogotá, Colombia. “Whenever we took a trip into the country we would stop at a roadside stand for empanadas. We would wrap the empanada with a napkin, take a bite and pour a spoonful of aji sauce inside the stuffing. This empanada is called pipian because it uses toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas). In Colombia, empanadas are deep-fried, but you bake these without sacrificing a crispy crust. They are fun to make with children.”

Ingredients 24 servings

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Original recipe yields 24 servings
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  • Dough
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, (see Tips)
  • 1½ cups cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1-1¼ cups water
  • Filling
  • ½ cup hulled pumpkin seeds, (see Ingredient notes)
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, (see Ingredient notes) or red-wine vinegar
  • 2 cups potatoes, diced, cooked (about 8 small red potatoes) or frozen hash-brown potatoes
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 scallions (white part only), chopped
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
  • 1 egg, mixed with ¼ cup water for glaze
  • Aji Sauce, (recipe follows)


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  1. To prepare dough: Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add oil and work with your fingertips until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add water and knead until dough just comes together (do not overwork). Press the dough into two disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. To prepare filling: Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender or spice mill and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Cook ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Add onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato, cumin, broth, vinegar, potatoes, salt, ground pumpkin seeds and the beef. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes to intensify flavors and reduce liquid. Fold in scallions and hard-boiled egg. Let cool completely in the refrigerator.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare Aji Sauce. Set aside.
  5. To assemble empanadas: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk at a time to about ⅛ inch thick. Cut circles of dough using a 4½-inch round cookie cutter (see Tips). Make 24 circles altogether.
  6. Brush egg glaze around the edges of the dough circles. Place about 2 tablespoons filling in the center of each circle. Fold filled circles in half, press edges together and crimp with a fork. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush egg glaze over the empanadas.
  7. Bake the empanadas until golden and crisp, switching the position of the pans midway, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm, accompanied by Aji Sauce.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 6, place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid. Transfer to a plastic storage bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
  • Hulled pumpkin seeds, also know as pepitas, are medium-dark green and have a delicate nutty flavor. They are sold salted, roasted and raw, and can be found in the health-food sections of many supermarkets.
  • Easy cleanup: Recipes that require cooking spray can leave behind a sticky residue that can be hard to clean. To save time and keep your baking sheet looking fresh, line it with a layer of foil before you apply the cooking spray.
  • Storage smarts: For long-term freezer storage, wrap your food in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. The plastic will help prevent freezer burn while the foil will help keep off-odors from seeping into the food.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1 empanada
  • Per serving: 198 calories; 10 g fat(1 g sat); 2 g fiber; 23 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 60 mcg folate; 18 mg cholesterol; 2 g sugars; 202 IU vitamin A; 6 mg vitamin C; 33 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 245 mg sodium; 174 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 1⅓ starch, ½ vegetable, ⅓ lean protein, 1½ fat

Reviews 3

October 10, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
so many ingredients 27 ingredients (including the aji sauce ingredients) to make 24 empanadas? This recipe is ludicrously complicated.
December 08, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Look harder @ the previous reviewer Look directly under where the recipe says Aji sauce (recipe follows) The recipe is linked.
January 05, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I don't see the recipe for the aji sauce
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