Pumpkin Empanadas!

These are seriously amazing. I finally tried making my own dough for empanadas and never again will I use store-bought pie crust! For one thing, you know, generally I steer clear of pre-made anything. But mostly, this empanada dough recipe is just superior to pie crust for making these little baked hand-pies.

It’s also really easy. Easier than making homemade pie crust. I really can’t believe it took me this long to try it.

After reading several recipes, I combined the parts I liked from each one (real butter, whole wheat flour) and left the parts I didn’t (shortening, cutting-in).

I kept the filling simple — just fresh roasted pumpkin, sugar, and spices. It has a real nice pumpkin flavor and a light texture, not at all like pumpkin pie filling which is often too dense and sticky. If you opt for canned pumpkin, you may want to up the sugar and even add a little salt — just season it to your liking before you fill the empanadas.

Pumpkin Empanadas

I prefer to use whole wheat pastry flour, which is made from a soft, low protein wheat berry. If you use a stoneground whole wheat flour or an all-purpose whole wheat flour (both of which have a higher protein content than pastry flour), you will probably need to add more water than called for. As the protein content of flour increases, so does its ability to absorb water. The humidity in your kitchen will also affect the amount of water you need to add.

For a demo on rolling, cutting, and shaping, watch this video on spinach empanadas.


Pumpkin Empanadas

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Slightly sweet pumpkin empanadas with homemade pastry

  • Yield: 16 1x


  • Dough:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 23 tablespoons ice water
  • Filling:
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin, mashed
  • 12 tablespoons raw or brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional, for Assembly:
  • Milk, cream, or beaten egg for brushing on top
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling


  1. For the Dough:
  2. Combine the flour and butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a paddle attachment or just with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined.
  3. Add the egg and combine.
  4. Add enough water, a tablespoon at a time, to bind the dough together into a ball.
  5. Knead for a few second until the dough feels smooth and slightly elastic.
  6. Roll the dough ball in some oil or soft butter and refrigerate 30 minutes to relax the gluten and make it easy to roll out.
  7. For the Filling:
  8. Beat the pumpkin together with the sugar and cinnamon until light and smooth.
  9. To Shape:
  10. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/4″ thickness, or until it’s about a foot-and-a-half diameter circle. (If the dough doesn’t roll out easily — i.e. it springs back — let it rest longer)
  11. Cut 3″ circles from it. (You should get 16-18 circles.)
  12. Plop 1 teaspoon of filling onto the lower half of each circle and fold over to cover it.
  13. Use a fork to mash the seam together.
  14. Transfer to a baking sheet, leaving 1/2″ between each.
  15. If you like, brush the tops with milk or a beaten egg for a glossy look and/or sprinkle with sugar.
  16. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.


These may be served warm, or cooled and stored for a few days on the counter in a Tupperware. Reheat in the oven before serving or eat at room temperature.

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**See the note at the bottom of this post for instructions on how to make roasted pumpkin puree.


  1. David Reading on October 28, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Hey Hilah your the greatest.
    Requesting a show on scones – not the hard British type – but the fried fattening bread type.

    • Hilah on October 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Hi Dave!
      I’m not familiar with fried scones. The internet gave me many options. Can you describe them for me so I can figure out which one you are looking for?

  2. Diane on October 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I’m a big fan of whole wheat pastry flour. I always use it in place of all-purpose when I make biscotti, and I think the texture is much better.

    • Hilah on October 31, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Mmm, whole biscotti! Yeah, I agree, Diane. It’s the only WW flour I ever use.

  3. Caitie on November 22, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    I used regular AP flour and my empanada crust came out very tough and hard, not the softer, flakier crust I prefer with an empanada. I even used extra liquid, but maybe I kneaded the dough for too long and developed the gluten? I don’t know, but I definitely want to try this again with pastry flour!

    • Hilah on November 23, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Oh no! This dough should be very easy to work with because of the egg. Over-kneading can make it tough, for sure, but pastry flour would also help because it naturally has a lower gluten content. Hope it works better next time, Caitie!

  4. Sharon on May 17, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Ooooooh…I wanna try this with your picadillo!

    • Hilah on May 17, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Yes! I’ll be putting up another empanada recipe (video) in the fall, too.

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