The Kids Scream for…Empanadas?! The Hot Pocket Alternative

Empanada-@amb2nolaEmpanadas are the latin version of Hot Pockets. They are also a variation of the meat and crawfish pies we enjoy during many local New Orleans festivals. Actually, mothers from all over the world feed their children a variation of these pockets filled with their favorite savory, and sometimes sweet, fillings. In Poland, you’ll find Pierogis, in India, they enjoy Samosas, and nearly each Asian country has a variation of filled dumplings and even a stuffed crawfish beignet could be argued to belong under this category. For me, these savory flaky pastry treats recall childhood memories as they were always waiting for me on Sunday afternoons on my grandmother’s kitchen counter.

These days I make this sweet dough recipe often and fill it with an array of fillings that satisfy our dinner, desert and even breakfast cravings. Consider stuffing your version with leftovers, such as taco fillings, or as a creative alternative to your child’s lunch sandwich or to create a mess-free meal on the go! It is perfect for the one handed mom looking for a snack, even while nursing. My toddler also loves the idea, and it is a creative way to “hide” veggies. And they may be eaten cold or hot. (Zip in the microwave for 30seconds to 1 minute for a warm treat.) Want a short cut? Purchase already made disks located in the freezer or split an already made pie crust into four.

Empanada Dough Recipe

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Additional Time: At least 1 hour and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator
  • Makes: 10-12 disks
  • Note: Empanadas may be either fried or baked, the latter providing a more nutritious option.
  • Refer to below for filling ideas


  • 2 3/4 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons of soften butter
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 1 egg yolk (to coat pastry)


  • Preheat oven to 350˚.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl. Combine with the salt and sugar.
  • With a fork, stir shortening and butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly in texture.
  • Slowly stir in the cold water and combine until the dough forms a ball. It will be moist but not sticky. (Add tablespoons of flour if it is too wet and additional tablespoons of water if it is too dry.)

Empanada Collage 2 @amb2nola

  • Knead the dough lightly until it is well mixed and form into a ball. A
  • Cover container with a clear wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • When ready, split dough into three balls. Roll out first ball. (I found placing the dough between two sheets of parchment paper made it easy to roll out the dough with a rolling pin to my desired thickness.) B
  • Use a bowl or circular cutter to achieve the diameter you desire. (I found a 5″ diameter allowed a few spoonful of filling without spilling out.) C
  • Lay out the disks and fill with your preferred filling on one half allowing a 1/2″ filled-less border. D1/D2

Empanada Collage 3 @amb2nola

  • Fold the disk over. E
  • Gently push the edges together. The ends may be sealed in a variety of patterns and styles, including the pie shell edge technique shown in F1 or as simple as applying pressure with a fork, as shown in F2. Consider using a different technique to identify different fillings. (YouTube is a great resource!)
  • With a brush coat the top with the egg yolk. G
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 350˚.

Filling Ideas


  • Scrambled eggs with ham/bacon/sausage, cheese and maybe some peppers
  • Egg, feta and tomatoes


  • spinach, feta cheese, onion and garlic
  • ham and cheese
  • crawfish étouffée
  • taco filling made out of ground beef, chicken or pork
  • chili
  • sweet potato and black beans
  • an array of cheese
  • chorizo and cheese
  • buffalo chicken
  • leftover beans
  • sauteed mushrooms with onions
  • your favorite chicken pot pie recipe


  • banana and Nutella
  • guava paste and cream cheese
  • apple pie filling with cinnamon and drizzled with caramel
  • pumpkin pie filling
  • ricotta cheese and your favorite berry
  • your favorite cobbler filling

Have you made empanadas before? What is your favorite filling?


  1. Actually, hot pockets are the american version of empanadas. The latter are a traditional dish in many Latin American countries whereas “hot pockets” are a fast food american version of this dish.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here