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Empanadas are versatile, and can be filled with limitless combinations. (Aaron Dyer/FamilyFun Magazine/TNS)

These Latin-American hand pies are popular for a reason: Every bite is like a celebration! No wonder, then, that they’re perfect for parties. Even better, they’re easy enough for the kids to make.

Get started with our all-purpose dough, and mix and match the sweet and savory fillings. This is going to be fun!

Step 1 Make the Dough

All our recipes start with this one tasty — and oh-so-simple — dough recipe!

Depending on the filling, it will yield 10 to 16 empanadas, so if you’re making a bunch for a crowd, consider doubling the recipe. You can also make this ahead of time. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for as long as 3 months.

Now, wash all those little hands and get started: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and ½ cup milk; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 2¼ cups flour and ½ tsp. salt. Cut ½ cup cold unsalted butter into small pieces; with your fingertips, work it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the milk mixture and stir until the dough comes together.

Add additional flour as needed to make a soft dough. Knead a few times with the palm of your hand to fully combine.

Form a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Step 2 Make Your Fillings

One of the best parts of empanadas is that they’re incredibly versatile, as evident in the fact that so many countries have their own versions. Here are some super-tasty options — ranging from traditional to twists on kid-favorite flavors. Prep a few ahead, or let the kids make their own variations as you go. (Once the fillings are made, fill and bake empanadas as directed in Steps 3 and 4, below.)

Adobo Chicken and Sweet Potato

Makes 12 Empanadas

In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add ½ cup chopped onion, ½ cup finely chopped sweet green pepper, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. salt, and tsp. black pepper. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, 2 cups torn Swiss chard, and 1 Tbs. adobo sauce. Cook until the chard is wilted and the chicken is warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato. Let cool.

Ground Pork and Plantain

Makes 16 Empanadas

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 green plantain, chopped (about 1¼ cups), ½ cup chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until onions are tender.

Add 1 lb. ground pork and cook until no longer pink. Add 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes and ¼ cup raisins. Simmer 6 to 8 minutes or until the plantains are slightly tender. Add ¼ cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives and remove from heat. Let cool.

Guava, Brie, and Honey

Makes 10 Empanadas

Once dough is rolled out (see instructions below), layer with 1 slice of Brie, 1 slice of guava paste, ¼ tsp. thyme, and ¼ tsp. honey.

Roll, Stuff, and Fold

After your dough is chilled and your fillings are ready, it’s time to start assembling! On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into desired number of empanadas (depending on the filling recipe), and roll into balls.

Cover them with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. Add more flour to the work surface. Working with one ball at a time, roll out into a 6-in. circle. Fill with ¼ cup filling. Lightly brush outside ¼-in. edge of dough with a mixture of 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. water. Fold in half, crimp with a fork, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Finish and Bake

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the top of each empanada with the remaining egg mixture, and sprinkle either salt or coarse sugar on top, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.


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