Empanadas are a staple in Latin cuisines, especially in South American cultures. In Argentina, beef empanadas are very common. On the Pacific coast, you are likely to find shrimp empanadas. This particular recipe for empanadas is made with ground turkey and vegetables.
I often use poultry in place of red meat to make many dishes. Empanadas is just one such dish. I also make shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, and quesadillas with ground turkey. I feel that turkey is sometimes a healthier option than beef because of the lower fat content.
What I like about this recipe is that it hits all the flavor marks for savory, sweet, and spicy. The turkey, vegetables, olives, and tomatoes are savory. The carrots and raisins offer a little sweetness. And the chili powder and Worcestershire sauce bring just a touch of spice.
- 1 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 8 ounces ground dark turkey meat
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup green pitted olives drained and chopped
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ to 1 cup tomato puree
- A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter cubed
- 7 Tbsp ice water more or less
Assembly & Baking
- 1 whole egg
- 1 ½ tsp water
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- In a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil, onions, and carrots. Cook until the onions start to soften, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add the turkey, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Cook until the turkey is browned and no longer raw, approximately 7 minutes. Use a spoon to break the meat up.
- Stir in the olives and raisins. Then, add ½ cup of tomato puree and the Worcestershire sauce. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes, adding more tomato puree if the filling becomes too dry.
- Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Allow this to cool completely. You can also refrigerate the filling and use it later or within a couple of days.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour and salt. Pulse just to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse until the mixture starts to resemble coarse sand or small peas.
- Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough comes together into a ball — not too wet.
- Dust a flat work surface with flour, knead the dough with your hands and shape it into a flat disc that is about ¾ inch thick. Wrap the disc in plastic film and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.
Assembly & Baking
- Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with oil.
- Lightly dust a flat work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized balls.
- Dust the balls of dough with flour to prevent them from sticking. Roll each ball into ⅛ inch thick circles.
- Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of turkey filling on one half of the pastry, leaving enough room to fold the dough over the filling and to seal the edges.
- Fold the empty side of dough over the filling to form half-moons.
- Seal the edges well by crimping with your fingers or using the tines of a fork.
- Place the empanadas on the lined sheet pan. Using a sharp knife, cut a small X in the top of each packet to allow steam to escape.
- Brush the tops and edges of the empanadas with the egg and water mixture.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 25 minutes.
- Serve while hot with your favorite sides.
Notes & Tips
When sealing the empanadas, it is best to achieve a tight seal so the filling doesn’t leak out. However, don’t make the sealed edge too thin or it will burn before the empanadas are finished baking.
You can make the empanada dough a day or two ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. You can also assemble the empanadas and freeze them to bake at a later date. They should keep for about 3 months in the freezer.
You can fry these empanadas if you prefer. If doing that, don’t cut the X into the pastry because the frying oil will seep inside and make the filling greasy.
Substitutions & Shortcuts
If you prefer, you can make this recipe with ground beef, ground chicken, or ground lamb. If you want this to be a vegetarian dish, try using crumbled tempeh or extra firm tofu.
If you are not interested in making your own pastry dough from scratch, you can find pastry discs in the freezer section of the grocery store. Just make sure that you defrost them before filling them. This is a definite time-saver.
What to Serve with Turkey Empanadas?
These turkey empanadas are great when accompanied by a chunky guacamole or a grilled avocado salad. I also enjoy these with grilled corn that has been coated in cotija cheese. Another delicious Latin side dish is savory fried potatoes. Pair with cold beer or a dry white wine.