The Perfect Empanadas: A Comprehensive Guide To Air Fryer Recipes

empanadas air fryer recipe

Empanadas are a delightful and versatile dish hailing from Latin America. These delicious pastries filled with savory or sweet fillings have gained popularity all around the world. While traditional empanadas are deep-fried, we are here to introduce you to a healthier alternative: empanadas made in an air fryer. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of empanadas, exploring the culinary details, selection of ingredients, cleaning tips, preparation techniques, and variations. By the end of this article, you will have all the information you need to create perfect empanadas using your air fryer.

Food Science and Culinary Details

Understanding the science behind empanadas can help us create the ultimate culinary experience. Empanada dough typically consists of flour, fat, water, and sometimes leavening agents such as baking powder. The fat can vary, ranging from butter to lard or vegetable shortening, each lending a distinct flavor and texture to the pastry.

Fats, when incorporated into the dough, serve multiple purposes. They add moisture, improve texture, and contribute to browning during the cooking process. The choice of fat can also influence the flavor profile of the empanadas. For a richer taste, butter or lard can be used, while vegetable shortening provides a lighter and flakier texture.

The filling of empanadas can be truly diverse. From traditional meat or cheese fillings to vegetarian options like spinach and cheese, the possibilities are endless. The filling should be flavorful and moist to counterbalance the crispy crust. Adding spices, herbs, and various ingredients like onions or bell peppers enhances the overall taste.

Selecting Empanada Ingredients

When it comes to selecting ingredients for your empanadas, using fresh and high-quality produce is essential. Here are some tips to ensure you choose the right components for your recipe:

  1. Dough: Opt for all-purpose flour for a balanced texture. Butter provides a rich flavor, while lard yields a more authentic taste. Experiment and find your preference.
  2. Fillings: Be creative with your fillings. Classic options include ground beef, chicken, cheese, or vegetables like spinach and mushrooms. Select fresh produce and quality meats for the best flavor.
  3. Spices and Herbs: Embrace a blend of spices and herbs to elevate the taste of your empanadas. Popular choices can include cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and cilantro. Adjust the amounts to suit your personal preferences.

Cleaning Your Air Fryer


Before we dive into the empanada-making process, it’s crucial to maintain a clean air fryer. Follow these steps for hassle-free cleaning:

  1. Unplug the Air Fryer: Start by unplugging the appliance and allowing it to cool down completely.
  2. Remove and Wash the Basket: Take out the air fryer basket and wash it with warm soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge.
  3. Clean the Interior: Wipe down the inside of the fryer with a damp cloth or sponge. Ensure there is no residue left from previous cooking sessions.
  4. Clean the Heating Element: Gently clean the heating element (if accessible) with a soft brush or cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials that could damage the element.
  5. Dry and Reassemble: Once cleaned, thoroughly dry all parts before reassembling the air fryer for use.
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Regular cleaning of your air fryer guarantees a longer lifespan and optimal performance.

Empanada Preparation Techniques


Preparing the empanada dough and filling is an enjoyable process. Let’s dive into the step-by-step instructions for both:

Empanada Dough Preparation

  1. Gather Your Ingredients: For the empanada dough, you will need all-purpose flour, salt, cold butter (or preferred fat), and ice-cold water.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until well combined.
  3. Incorporate the Fat: Cut the cold butter or preferred fat into small pieces and add them to the flour mixture. Use your fingertips or a pastry cutter to cut the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Add Cold Water: Gradually drizzle in the ice-cold water, stirring with a fork or your hands until the dough comes together. Be cautious not to overmix; the dough should be slightly crumbly.
  5. Knead and Chill: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a minute or two. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Filling Preparation

  1. Choose Your Filling: Select your desired filling, whether it’s a classic ground meat, cheese, or a vegetarian option.
  2. Cook and Season: Cook the filling ingredients, ensuring they are properly seasoned for optimal flavor. For meat fillings, ensure they are cooked through before assembling the empanadas.

Tips for Optimal Empanadas

close up view of air fried empanadas

To ensure your empanadas turn out perfectly every time, try these helpful tips:

  1. Chill the Dough: Cooling the dough in the refrigerator allows the fat to solidify, resulting in a flakier pastry.
  2. Avoid Overfilling: While it’s tempting to stuff the empanadas generously, avoid overfilling, as it can lead to leakage during cooking. Leave enough room along the edges to seal the empanadas securely.
  3. Seal Properly: To seal the empanadas, press the dough edges together firmly and crimp with a fork or your fingers. This helps prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking.
  4. Preheat the Air Fryer: Just like preheating an oven, preheating your air fryer is important for consistent cooking. Allow it to reach the desired temperature before adding the empanadas.
  5. Place Them with Care: Arrange the empanadas in a single layer, ensuring they don’t touch one another. This ensures even cooking and a crispy texture all around.
  6. Flip for Even Browning: For perfectly golden empanadas, pause the cooking process halfway through and carefully flip the pastries using tongs or a spatula. This ensures an even and beautiful browning effect.
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Variation and Doneness Checks

close up view of air fried empanadas

Empanadas offer endless opportunities for experimentation and customization. Here are some variations and options for different doneness checks:

  1. Baking Option: If you don’t have an air fryer, fear not! You can still achieve perfectly cooked empanadas by baking them in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Glazing Option: For a shiny and attractive finish, brush the empanadas with an egg wash or milk before baking. This adds a beautiful golden sheen to the pastry.
  3. Sweet Empanadas: Explore the world of sweet empanadas by using ingredients like diced apples, cinnamon, and sugar. These delectable treats can be served as a dessert or an afternoon snack.
  4. Visual Doneness: As empanadas cook, they become golden brown and crispy. The visual doneness check is an excellent way to determine if they are ready to be taken out of the air fryer or oven.

Air Fryer Empanadas Recipe

Now that we’ve explored the science, culinary details, and tips, it’s time to put it all together and present you with a tasty empanada recipe made in an air fryer.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, diced
  • ½ cup ice-cold water
  • 1 lb ground beef (or preferred filling)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for cooking


  1. Prepare the empanada dough using the steps detailed earlier.
  2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing until golden.
  3. Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking it into small pieces with a spatula. Cook until browned and fully cooked.
  4. Season the beef with cumin powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well and simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.
  5. Remove the beef filling from heat and let it cool.
  6. Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
  7. Roll out the chilled dough on a floured surface until it is approximately ⅛ inch thick.
  8. Cut out circles from the dough using a round cookie cutter or a glass. The size can vary based on personal preference.
  9. Place a spoonful of the cooled beef filling onto each dough circle.
  10. Fold the dough over the filling, forming a semi-circle, and press the edges firmly to seal using your preferred method (fork crimping or finger pressing).
  11. Place the empanadas in a single layer inside the air fryer basket, making sure they don’t touch each other.
  12. Cook the empanadas in the air fryer for 8-10 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy.
  13. Flip the empanadas halfway through cooking for even browning.
  14. Once cooked, remove the empanadas from the air fryer and allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving.
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Congratulations! You’ve now mastered the art of making empanadas in an air fryer. Armed with food science knowledge, culinary details, and an understanding of the preparation techniques, you’re ready to experiment with various fillings and flavors. Embrace the versatility of empanadas and let your creativity shine through as you enjoy these delicious pastries. Remember to serve them fresh and hot, and savor each bite knowing you’ve created a culinary masterpiece right in your own kitchen.

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  • FAQS On Empanadas Air Fryer Recipe

    What Is An Empanada?

    An empanada is a pastry turnover filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, vegetables, and spices.

    How Can I Make Empanadas In An Air Fryer?

    To make empanadas in an air fryer, preheat your air fryer to 400°F, brush the pastry with beaten egg wash, and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

    Is There A Difference Between Baking Empanadas And Air Frying Them?

    Yes, there is a difference. Baking empanadas takes longer and requires the oven to be preheated, while air frying them takes less time and doesn’t require preheating.

    What Is The Best Pastry Dough For Empanadas?

    The best pastry dough for empanadas is a dough made with flour, butter, salt, and water. This dough should be elastic, easy to work with, and have a flaky texture.

    What Ingredients Can I Use For A Tasty Empanada Filling?

    You can use a variety of ingredients for your empanada filling, including ground beef, chicken, chorizo, cheese, vegetables, and beans.

    Can I Freeze Empanadas Before Cooking Them?

    Yes, you can freeze empanadas before cooking them. Simply assemble them and wrap them well in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before storing them in the freezer.

    How Long Can I Store Cooked Empanadas In The Refrigerator?

    Cooked empanadas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Simply place them in an airtight container or wrap them well in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.