Empanadas al Horno (Chilean Turnovers or Meat Pies)

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open empanada

I should be making soups.

It is a nippy 23-27 degrees cold here. Can you believe I am still getting up at 6am for my morning workouts? Yes, since it has started getting busy in the evenings I need my morning workouts most of all.

You know what I have not been able to do? Green Smoothies have fallen short in my kitchen. I have all the good intention of making them but then I think of something warm going down so I make a regular breakfast. Ryan enjoys oatmeal and I have my protein breakfast with tofu scrambles or omelettes, I just need to make sure to add sauteed veggies.

I notice that one of the hardest things to do during the winter is to eat well. Even though I have produce at home, baking and cooking my normal fare has not been as consistent. I look forward to January where the pace has calmed down a bit.

How are you doing eating healthy during the winter evenings?

Calabaza en pilocillo

Last night I spent making pumpkin sauce / butter from leftover pumpkins so that I could give them as Christmas gifts. Yes, how much more time do I have? Not much. I knew for a fact that baking cookies this year was going to be out of the question but I at least wanted to get something done.

It was wonderful smelling the blend of pumpkin with brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, oranges, and more wafting through the house. I went to bed happy. In fact I think the smell lulled me to sleep. :-)

One of my favorite meals I used to eat at my Chilean grandmother’s home were Empanadas, or otherwise known as savory meat pies. These were such a special meal served and was usually prepared during the holidays or for special occasions. This is similar to the Mexican tradition when dealing with tamales.

Empanadas are usually the ideal comfort food. It is a flaky buttery crust with a savory and delicious filling. It is ideal Latin comfort food.

vegan pino

The key to the flavors for this Chilean empanadas is the pino, which is a seasoned filling with added fillings like raisins, hard-boiled eggs and black olives. What an interesting combination but SO delicious!

Pino en masa

Another important factor is the dough. The dough has to be flaky, becasue with each bite you have a perfectly baked crust with some seasoned beef and raisins and black olives. Obviously I was going to have to leave out the hard-boiled eggs, but I knew that the lack of the eggs would not alter the flavors of the empanadas.

Ryan thought the flake crust was perfect and the filling flavorful. The recipe is a keeper and it will be something I will pass onto our future kids.

What recipes were made often by your mother or grandmother but NEVER taught to you? Have you recreated it?

plated empanadas

Empanadas al Horno (Chilean Turnovers or Meat Pies)

Yield: 10-12 empanadas

adapted from The South American Table


    Masa (Dough) OR USE GOYA Dough Discs from Freezer department:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-vegetable shortening (Spectrum)
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • Relleno (Filling):
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch powder
  • 20 medium pitted black olives
  • 1/2 cup seedless black raisin, soaked for 5 minutes and drained
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, diced


  1. In a food processor, put the flour, salt, and baking powder and with a fitted steel blade pulse for 5 seconds.
  2. Add the shortening and butter and process until the mixture looks like coarse meal, about 15 seconds.
  3. While the machine is running, pour the milk through the feed tube in a steady stream and process until the dough almost comes together into a ball.
  4. Remove from bowl and knewad a few times and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare pino filling.
  5. Roll dough into a long log and cut dough into 10-12 pieces.
  6. Relleno (Filling):
  7. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan and saute' onions for 5-7 minutes until transparent.
  8. Add beef and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.
  9. Add seasonings and cook for 3 more minutes.
  10. Add vegetable broth and simmer until liquid almost evaporates (5 minutes).
  11. Add arrowroot powder to beef mixture and cook until mixture thickens.
  12. Assembly:
  13. Take one piece of dough and roll into a 6-inch circle.
  14. Add 1-1 1/2 Tablespoons of beef filling.
  15. Add a few raisins and one black olive and a piece of hard-boiled egg.
  16. Take one side of the dough and bring to the front side of dough to enclose the filling sealing the ends and folding the excess dough and sealing upwards.
  17. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  18. Use 1 egg and beat well.
  19. Brush some egg wash over the empanadas.
  20. Brush over empanadas.
  21. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven and turn each empanada over and baking on the opposite side for 5 minutes.
  22. This is will brown the tops a little.
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Before the oven

Eat slightly warm and serve with Pebre or my grandma’s secret chimichurri sauce. Enjoy!!

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  • http://disgustinglygood.com/ Ryan

    I just love seitan! I bought some vital wheat gluten (powder) the other day for some whole wheat bread (it helps it rise being it’s whole wheat and all) and it has instructions on making homemade seitan on the back. Either way, it was interesting to me. Yours looks divine! I think I would enjoy it right out of the pan!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04757033974893707436 Sarah S.

    These are beautiful! I think your grandmother would indeed be proud.

  • http://www.namelymarly.com/ Marly

    I don’t know, Noelle, these look really healthy. I mean, the insides at least. Looks warm too which is an added benefit on cold winter nights.

  • Angela

    I know just what you mean! I’ve been making mole, tamales, and pinto beans in honor of my Mexican grandmother and great aunt who have now passed away. I’m sure my grandmother would be horrified to know that I do not use any lard (or even oil) in my mole but dry-roast/toast all of the ingredients instead, and use vegetarian chicken broth. But I get great satisfaction knowing that it is guiltless and better for my health, and that if she tried it I know she would think it was delicious!

  • http://anecdotesandapples.weebly.com/ Monet

    Now this is what I need to eat for lunch! They look like such comforting and flavorful pockets of goodness. I wish I had one right now. I love seitan, and I’m excited to see an empanada recipe that utilizes it. Thank you so much for sharing. I know your grandmother would be proud. I hope you have a festive Tuesday!

  • http://vegangoodthings.blogspot.com/ Leinana

    Yum!!! These look mouth-wateringly good. I want to try this recipe for sure. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03060920122127099172 Abby Bean

    These look incredible!

    My grandmother used to make a delicious lemon pound cake and I have been hounding my mom for the recipe for decades, but she’d only ever say that it wasn’t very complicated. Over Thanksgiving she admitted it was on the side of the box of cake mix; what a let down!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15820580955484678416 Roxan

    Noelle – these look great, I have been missing all the empanadas I ate in argentina. I have vegan sausage in the freezer that would go great in your recipe.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08873080530639686787 HiHoRosie

    Ooh! Yum! Looks like a wonderful comfort dish with lots of flavor. Sadly, I missed out on spending time with g’parents (they passed when I was little) so no recipes. ;( From what I hear though, my dad’s mom was a great cook/baker. I do think your grandma would be proud and would enjoy these! (ha ha, my word verif is burreat, Brr eat! fitting for the opening of your post)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11751332126011127621 Amber Shea @Almost Vegan

    YUM. Keep this South American fare coming, girl. I like that these are done al horno instead of being empanadas fritas. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09926448634398022336 Paola

    wow, very interesting. i love empanadas :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06655781129092195604 Emmy

    They look incredible. I wish I had one for lunch today!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00667811094310678966 Cookin’ Vegan

    Empanadas were one of my favorite foods when I lived in Panama, and I have’t made them in years. I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  • http://strawberrypepper.com/ Eva

    This looks delicious and I’m loving the pictures :)
    I went to the Chicago Lyric Opera performance of Verdi’s A Masked Ball a couple weeks ago and thought of you! It was a great show

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11066321306035034904 Upton’s Naturals

    These look really delicious! We really love empanadas!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09449168674433482823 Nelly

    oh. my. goodness. can i come over?

    i think your granny would be soooo proud…i am proud of you. =)

  • http://cookingforaveganlover.com/ lindsay

    those look really amazing

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07407229792967165407 JulieD

    These look so good! Good luck on winning! 😀

  • Sue

    These look great!…My favorite recipe remake from my grandma is potato pierogis. And I can relate on the winter cravings – it’s when bread and potatoes sound so good…

  • Vibeke Kale Vale

    The link to your grandma’s secret chimichurri sauce doesn’t work.

    • http://www.singerskitchen.com/ Singerinkitchen

      Fixed it! Thanks for letting me know!

  • Vibeke Kale Vale

    Hello again. Tonight my kids and I made the empanadas with the chimichurri sauce. Okay, this recipe is EXCELLENT. My kids LOVED the meal and asked if we could eat “gourmet” more often. Thank you for these great recipes!

    • http://www.singerskitchen.com/ Singerinkitchen

      That is great to hear! !!!

      Here is the bread pudding recipe:
      Bread Pudding

      (from “The New Best Recipe” cookbook)


      2 TBSP sugar

      1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


      4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk

      3/4 cup sugar

      2 1/2 cups whole milk

      2 1/2 cups heavy cream

      1/3 cup bourbon (used whiskey first time; good, but a little biting)(minimum; 1/3 cup called for 3/4 cup raisins)

      1 TBSP vanilla extract

      3/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)

      1/4 tsp salt

      12 ounces (about half loaf) good-quality American-style white bread, sliced 3/8 inch thick and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes (about 8 cups)(used Pepperirdge Farms bread first time; excellent)(“stale bread” not necessary)

      1 1/2 TBS unsalted butter

      1 cup raisins (minimum; used 3/4 cup per original recipe and too few)

      1. For the topping: Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

      2. For the pudding: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

      3. Soak the raisins in the bourbon until plumped, a minimum of 1 hour (original recipe called for 20-25 minutes; this was not long enough for raisins to absorb the liquor).

      4. Whisk the eggs, yolk, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk in the milk, cream, vanilla extract, nutmeg, salt, raisins, and any remaining bourbon. Stir in 6 cups of the bread cubes; mix thoroughly to moisten. Let stand 20 minutes.

      5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Scatter the remaining 2 cups bread cubes on top, pushing them down gently to partially submerge. Brush the exposed bread with the melted butter and sprinkle with the topping. Bake until the pudding turns deep golden brown, is beginning to rise up the sides of the baking dish, and jiggles very slightly at the center when shaken, 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until set but still warm, about 5 minutes. Serve as is or with whipped cream.

      (I made a whiskey sauce first time; a sauce is not necessary for this bread pudding and distracts from the pudding flavors.)