My Grandma’s Empanadas

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.

16 responses to “My Grandma’s Empanadas”

  1. ooh, those empanadas look beautiful – and they just proclaim FALL, too!

    1. Thanks! They were yummy.

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

    1. Elisabeth Ogas Taquino

      I agree totally

  3. Sylvia Hermosillo

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

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

  5. 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.

    1. Maria, I hope you like them! My grandma grew up in Northern Mexico, and lived most of her life in New Mexico, so that makes perfect sense. 🙂

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Can you freeze them?

  11. When my Mom made her empanadas I thought it was a bit of heaven and she would be around forever. She would make larger size empanadas as she learned from her own mother in the Big Bend country of Texas…Marathon, Texas. They had an extremely large family and with so many mouths to feed(12), and a Father who passed away from cancer at a young age, money was at a premium & so were the ingredients. This recipe is the closest I have seen. I didn’t hang around long enough( due to it being so tedious to watch her roll out so much dough) in the kitchen to watch her blend all of the ingredients each time so I missed a few. I would go off and read or play softball with my own Dad. I wished she had written down her recipe. Unfortunately, my last Aunt of all of those siblings just passed away a year ago at 96 & she didn’t write down her recipes either! They were all fantastic cooks!!

  12. Great Recipe

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