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.

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. 


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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28 thoughts on “Make Traditional Empanadas in Mendoza, Argentina”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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 :)

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.


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