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My Grandma’s Empanadas

November 18, 2011

My Grandma Josie has made sweet potato empanadas every Christmas for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried making them before, but they’re always a little off – Grandma’s are less like a flaky pastry and more like a soft bread.

I asked my mom for the recipe, and she watched Grandma make them, then relayed the info to me. I managed to create something very close (not quite – Grandma’s are thicker, I think) in my own kitchen, and I’m so excited!

These are basically made like fresh flour tortillas, with cinnamon and sugar added. The crust can be a crunchy at first, but we store them in a covered container, and they go completely soft. I’m so glad to finally know how to make these.

Grandma Josie’s Sweet Potato Empanadas

For the filling:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, baked, cooled and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup warm water

For the filling: Mash sweet potatoes with a potato masher along with cinnamon and sugar until well mixed. Set aside.

For the dough: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Cut in the shortening with your hands – the mixture will be part fatty crumbs and part flour. Stir in the water and knead until dough is elastic and smooth, but not sticky (add more water if it’s dry, more flour if it’s sticky).

Tear off small palmfuls of dough and shape them into balls. Let them sit, covered, for 10 minutes or so to fluff up a bit.

Roll out the balls as you would tortilla dough, into circles. Add a dollop of filling in the center, then fold over to make a half-circle. Crimp the edges together with your fingers. Prick each empanada a few times with a fork.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until just golden brown on the bottom.

Makes about a dozen empanadas.

Source: My Grandma Josie, via my mom.

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13 Discussion to this post
  1. ooh, those empanadas look beautiful – and they just proclaim FALL, too!

  2. Patty Ramis says:

    Thanks, this is the closest I could find to my own mom’s. . . Hugs & blesses

  3. Sylvia Hermosillo says:

    I’ve been looking for this dough recipe for ever. Thank you.

  4. Toni says:

    Thanks for the recipe. Still looking for the soft thicker bakery feel like your grandma’s original ones. Would love that version too!

  5. Maria says:

    Thanks. These look like a version of my mom’s. I tried a similar recipe and got close. I think your grandmother’s may be closer to what my mother made. I shall try them, with a few tweaks, as my mom did not add cinnamon to the flower, and with less salt. By any chance was your grandmother from Texas or northern part of Mexico? Just wondering because of the style of the empanadas.

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  7. Elizabeth says:

    I also have been looking for the recipes for the masa. That my grandma use to make thank you lots ✌

  8. Connie says:

    All this time I’ve been making my crust wrong. Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention when my mom made them. This recipe is right on. Thanks so much. It takes me back to my childhood in NM.

  9. Jessica says:

    This is the recipe my family and I use also…one thing I would like to add is that the water can have anise water. Cook the anise in water and this flavors the dough. My family is from Texas and we add this to the dough as our water. Enough to flavor your water- strain the anise seeds out.
    Hope this helps and I know you will see the authenticity of empanadas where we are from Southern Texas…definetly lots of ways to make them and your recipe is right on.

  10. Jessica says:

    ANISE WATER to add to the flour mixture for the empanadas. Water should be warm when used.

    teaspoon anise seeds
    1 2-inch stick Mexican canela (cinnamon)

    In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the cinnamon and anise seeds, boil for 1 minute, turn off the heat, and let it steep for 10 minutes.

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