Gluten Free Empanadas

Empanadas are a popular pastry found in the Caribbean, the Philippines, Latin America, Portugal, and Spain. The fillings are typically gluten-free. They are filled with various ingredients, whether sweet or savory, depending upon which part of the world they are made. They tend to be on the dry side, therefore, I used a rich creamy, flaky dough in my gluten free empanadas. Adding a juicy filling is advised, however, it will most likely leak out of the pastry dough and burn while baking. Cheese is a common ingredient in savory empanadas to avoid this dryness, and prevent leaking. You can add ground meat: chicken, beef with cheese, or plain cheese, along with sauteed vegetables and spices. If you find them dry you can make a dip, as well -an avocado dip, salsa, sour cream, etc. This gluten-free recipe is made on the Argentina flavor side, yet a little different. What type of filling will you make? Check out the different types of empanada in different parts of the world and choose your favorite or experiment! You’ll enjoy making gluten-free empanadas because you can be so creative!

Gluten Free Empanadas

This gluten free empanada is a savory pie-like pastry filled with a flavorful cheese-onion-pepper filling.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 day 20 minutes
Servings 4


For the Filling:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 chopped red onion or about 4 small scallions
  • 1 large red bell pepper finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 large chopped dates
  • 2 scallions sliced thinly (dark greens included)
  • 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 5 oz. monterey jack cheese or your favorite cheese or cheese substitute, shredded
  • olive oil spray.

For the Dough:

  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch Bob’s Red Mill’s is GMO-free
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder Rumford’s is gluten-free (see recipe if needed)
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt or salt
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum or additional xanthan gum
  • 5 Tablespoons butter cold, cut into pieces (or dairy-free margarine)
  • 1/3 cup shortening frozen for 1 – 4 hours
  • 1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt non-fat plain yogurt (or dairy-free substitute)
  • 2 Tablespoons filtered water
  • Plenty of tapioca flour for dusting
  • 1 egg white for brushing water works for non-dairy


To Make the Filling:

  1. In a large skillet, add oil and heat.

  2. Add red onion, and bell pepper, saute until tender, stirring occasionally; add seasonings about half way through and stir.
  3. Add garlic, scallions and vinegar and cook for about another minute or two.
  4. Remove filling from refrigerator and toss with cheese and dates; set aside or refrigerate if not using right away.

To Make the Dough:

  1. In a bowl, add all dry ingredients together and whisk thoroughly.

  2. Place in a bowl and refrigerate until cool. I like to cook the filling the night before to break up the labor of this recipe.
  3. Add butter, shortening, vinegar and yogurt.
  4. With a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the wet ingredients into the dry until you can mold it like clay with your hands.
  5. With your hands form it into a ball; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  6. Roll dough according to your recipe.
  7. Cut your dough in 4 equal parts. Refrigerate the others. There is no need to cover the dough, as it does not dry out easily.
  8. Knead the dough atop the floured surface about 12 times to prevent sticking. I used potato starch. Flatten the dough in your hands, creating a patty. Dust hands and top of the dough patty and roll out to about 1/8″ thick. I usually place a pastry mat or silicone mat on my counter top; and place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the mat. The mat prevents the parchment paper from sliding around during the rolling.
  9. Cut the dough in the desired size, preferably a circle. I use a 2 3/4″ biscuit cutter for appetizers and a 6″ saucer and cut around it for a meal size empanadas.
  10. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  11. If making appetizer sized empanada, while holding the dough piece in your hand, brush some egg white on the inside edges of half the circle. This will help keep it sealed once closed.
  12. Use 1/2 tablespoon of filling. If making full size, add about 1/4 cup of filling.
  13. Fold the circle in half and press the edges to seal. You may use a pastry edger to create a scalloped edge.
  14. Brush tops of empanadas with egg white (you can use water for dairy-free, but the still will not brown much. You can try adding a tin of water to the back of the oven and this may help).
  15. Add parchment paper to a baking sheet; spray parchment lightly with olive oil; add the empanadas; bake for 12 minutes.
  16. Increase temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 minutes, depending upon how brown you want them. Be careful not to overcook them.
  17. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container or ziplock bag.


For a sugar-free recipe, substitute the balsamic vinegar with your favorite vinegar: apple cider, white or wine. I wouldn’t suggest rice vinegar unless making an Asian style filling. When making full size empanadas, pick them up with a wide knife to place them on the baking sheet.

5 Replies to “Gluten Free Empanadas”

  1. Nancy, If you go to Quito, you should try frtuis. I recommend those that you call exotic . You may not like some flavours but the adeventure is not expensive (Try to buy at the Supermaxi’, mercado La Carolina’ or Santa Clara’). Also try to remember Ecuador has well defined regions and it is not a developed country. You can find good seefood in Quito but it is always better near the beach, where it is fresh, sometimes cheaper and people have local secret recipes . In Quito you might like to try all types of grains like corn (mote, choclo, tostoado, ), habas, arvejas, chochos, Meat (from cows) is not the best in Ecuador, there are some exceptions but the geography does not allow too much. Porc and fish are a good alternative (I am thinking about hornado and fritada ). Empanadas and tortillas of all kind worth tasting. You asked about specific recipes. Truth is that you can enter few touristic restaurants and the recipes would be the same. In fact they are made for tourist: flavours might be new but not too strong; and somehow they will not represent what ecuadorians eat. If you where a friend I was guiding, I would abuse of you politeness to make you eat caldo de salchicha which is not nice to the eye but tastes wonderfully. It goes the same for everything; mango is eaten green and with salt while aguacate is eaten with sugar Don’t try anything with ple1tano (plantain) in la Sierra (the mountains); it could taste good but it becomes an insult when you have eaten the same at La Costa where it is fresh and they are very demanding (Plantain is much cheaper in la costa and there are the tasty varieties, not only the good-looking and flavourless barraganete )You will always make a mistake if you buy bread in any market or supermarket. The mistake will be smaller if you buy bread at Cyrano , La Canasta or Baguette . Small bakeries offer the best bread. You should also try ice cream. However, there is no special place to recommend (The best way to get a good icecream is to avoid brand names and flirt with someone, that someone usually knows the best nearest place for an ice cream). If you become nostalgic, Kentucky and Domino’s are the best franchises in Quito.

  2. Yum! Empanadas were one of my favorite foods in college! For the ingredients, a good brand that has much of these, and is also nut free and dairy free is Kinnikinnick Foods. Can’t wait to make it, happy cooking!

    1. I’ve wanted to make GF epanades for sometime now, this recipie makes an excellent flakey pastry . I used a savory pumpkin filling and they were delicious .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.