Make Traditional Empanadas in Mendoza, Argentina

Prior to indulging in one more traditional Argentine asado, we were treated to a lesson on the art of making perfect empanadas. I should not have been so eager for this schooling since my recent empanada addiction was the number one reason I got fat in Argentina.

But, I just couldn’t resist because they tasted like little meat pillows from heaven.

A Spanish speaking Argentina native was giving the lesson tonight in the tiny kitchen of the hacienda we were staying at. Six of us squeezed in tight in order to be immersed in part of the culture, but also to learn this craft in fear that when we returned home we would be craving empanadas with nowhere to get our fix.
making empanadas in Argentina making empanadas in Argentina

The lesson started with making a dough of cow fat, flour and water. It was mixed and then put through a manual pasta machine to be flattened. Perfectly sized metal rings were used to cut the empanadas crust.

We went through the entire process, before being told that the dough must be chilled overnight. Luckily, our thoughtful teacher had made some the evening before that was ready for our use.

Just like the magic of television cooking shows, when a perfectly baked pie is pulled from the oven in a five minute segment.

We moved on to the stuffing, a blend of leftover asado meat, onions, cow lard and spices. The smell alone would make any sane person salivate.
making empanadas in Argentina

Each of us took turns filled the empanada crust with the meat mixture we had just cooked. One soup spoon full was the perfect measurement, then the carne was topped with an egg and another piece of dough.
making empanadas in Argentina

And then came the tricky part, the pinching of the decorative crust. A simple thumbprint pinch would not do.

We all attempted this skill with different techniques, none very successful. After trial, error and several ugly empanadas, my system was polished. Start with a small roll the dough’s edge, then pinch, then roll again to get the scalloped trim.
making empanadas in Argentina  making empanadas in Argentina

making empanadas in Argentina

Before the asado dinner, we were served the fruits of our labor as an appetizer. A basket arrived filled with an eclectic bunch of empanadas. Some shaped better than others, yet all deliciously the same.
making empanadas in Argentina

If you are now craving empanadas, the following is the recipe I frantically wrote as it was happening:

1 kilo meat (leftover from an asado)
2 kilos white onions
500g of cow lard (65% for dough, 35% for meat)

Sauté onions in fat, add a little salt. Add meat when translucent. Add paprika, chili flakes, cumin, salt & pepper, oregano to taste. Add chopped scallions when cold. You can optionally add olives and/or raisins.

1/2 Kilo of favorita flour
Little salt
1 cup Luke warm water
Cow Fat
Blend ingredients to form a dough ball. Flatten by running through a pasta machine and cut into rounds. Chill overnight.

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2017-04-28T16:30:46+00:00 August 1st, 2013|Categories: Argentina, FOOD, South America, TRAVEL|Tags: , |


  1. The Yum List August 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Look at those warm coats! Chilly hugh?

    • Annette White August 1, 2013 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      It was so cold! I actually had to borrow the coat I was wearing, which kept me quite cozy 🙂

  2. jadedintellect August 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Wow. A smidge jealous. I love empanadas and haven’t found any decent ones in Korea 🙁

    • Annette White August 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      I can’t find any good ones near my home in northern California either!

  3. CeCe August 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Wow YUMMY….and the scalloped trim on your emapanadas are perfect, proves you’re a chef!

    • Annette White August 1, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

      Thank you! I actually had to work quite hard for those edges 🙂

  4. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures August 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Never in a million years could you be “fat.” Empanadas are the best!!!!!! I wish we had a place where I live so I could take my Argie there. He misses them sooo much.

    • Annette White August 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      It is so difficult to find good empanadas in the States. Let me know if you find any!

  5. Mike | Earthdrifter August 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    I wonder. Do they eat plantains as far down as Argentina? Since they have the classic empanada (must be amazing with the asado meat), I’m guessing that maybe you can get a side of naturally sweetened fried plantains to go along with the tasty pocket pie.

    • Annette White August 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      I didn’t see any plaintains while I was in Argentina, but it certainly sounds delish!

  6. Anita Mac August 4, 2013 at 4:11 am - Reply

    Takes me back to my South America tour! Love doing cooking classes on the road…looks like you guys had a good time!

    • Annette White August 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      I always love learning to make traditional dishes from the locals!

  7. Arianwen August 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    I love empanadas and I love Mendoza!! Great post!

  8. Arianwen August 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    PS. I’ve taken down the recipe and am going to have a go at making them myself!

  9. Heather August 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    YUM! Think Crisco would work in lieu of cow fat?

    • Annette White August 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      The biggest complaint in the class was that no one in the USA could get the crust just right. But, i would give Crisco a shot and let me know 🙂

  10. Gomzy Decor August 7, 2013 at 12:00 am - Reply

    that is looking very yummy.. now i’m hungry..

  11. I looove empanadas. So jealous you got to taste (and make!) real authentic ones!

  12. Gabriel August 8, 2013 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Almost drooled a little bit there. We just had some Argentinian empanadas a couple of days ago. There is a Argentinian girl here who makes them and they are sooooooooooooooooooo gooood!!!1

  13. Gabrielle August 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Your edges look perfect! A mom in Hunter’s class taught her Girl Scout troop how to make them. She’s from El Salvador…they were amazing! I couldn’t stop eating them.

    • Annette White August 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you! I bet with your pastry skills you could make absolutely perfect edges with ease 🙂

  14. Thomas August 12, 2013 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Meaty pillows from heaven sounds like a winner to me! Pinching is a artform that I have yet to master when it comes to doughs/crust. Would really like to try those. The ones I have had just haven’t been that good in the states.

    • Annette White August 12, 2013 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Pinching is an art form, that I have definitely not mastered yet. But, I did one real pretty one!

  15. Annie Wood September 25, 2013 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Where in Mendoza did you take this cooking class?

  16. […] three traditional asados and serving me tasty blood sausage. You also taught me how to make addictive empanadas, so I can indulge even when I am at home in […]

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