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Savory pumpkin empanadas from scratch

Savory pumpkin empanadas filled with chorizo and queso fresco are a delicious fall treat. These hand held pastries are perfect for gatherings, parties or just a tasty afternoon snack. Learn how to make these savory turnovers filled with real pumpkin and chorizo completely from scratch with step by step instructions.

Savory pumpkin empanadas filled with chorizo and cheese on black plates with Mexican glasses beside them.

Most of the recipes you’ll find for pumpkin empanadas are desserts. They are sweet, not savory. I wanted to celebrate pumpkin season with a savory empanada, so I added spicy Mexican chorizo and creamy queso fresco to the mix.

You can find a recipe for easy pumpkin empanadas with store-bought dough for those days when your energy does not match your craving for a quick and easy sweet treat.

Savory empanada recipe with pumpkin and chorizo

One of the best things about making empanadas is that you can do it in stages, if needed. This is especially helpful if you are making a lot, or if you have limited time.

Pumpkin and chorizo empanada broken in half on a black plate with pile of empanadas on the side.

For example, I made the filling the day before and stashed it in the fridge. You can also make the dough ahead of time, wrap it tightly in plastic and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to roll out and make your savory pumpkin empanadas.

Making these “empanaditas”, or little empanadas, is even easier if you do a little prep work ahead of time.

Plate of baked pumpkin empanadas with beer and limes in the background.

How to make empanada dough for baking

This rich dough is slightly different than the dough for my sweet pumpkin empanada recipe. It’s a firmer dough and is very easy to work with.

Ingredients for empanada dough on counter.

The first step is to pulse the flour with the salt. Then add the eggs, butter, vinegar and ice water to the bowl of the food processor and let the machine run until the dough comes together.

Making empanada dough for baking.

After you’ve chilled the dough, it’s time to roll it out. I like to use my rolling dowel for this. It isn’t tapered, so I know the dough will be the same thickness everywhere. Rolling the dough out between sheets of parchment paper is especially helpful.

Use a 3 1/2 – 4 inch biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the dough, then place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place pieces of parchment between the layers so they don’t stick together.

Overhead view of plates of savory empanadas with pumpkin and chorizo.

Savory pumpkin filling for empanadas

The first step in making this savory filling is roasting the calabaza. It is generally sold in cut pieces, because it is a large squash. You can use a pie pumpkin, if you can’t find calabaza. You could also substitute with kabocha squash or even butternut if you can’t find any other options.

Roast the calabaza, or pumpkin, in the oven until it is soft. Then use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh.

Roasted calabaza squash on a sheet pan.

This is everything you’ll need for the savory filling. I took the photo with the chorizo and cheese in their packaging, just in case. I find it helpful when I have a picture of something if it is unfamiliar.

Ingredients for savory pumpkin empanada filling.

Chorizo, calabaza (pumpkin), cheese, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Pretty simple and straightforward. You do want to look for the chorizo that it sold in the plastic casing that you remove before eating. The other kind of chorizo has more fat, so it is greasier and the texture isn’t quite the same.

Making savory pumpkin empanada filling.

While the calabaza is roasting, put the chorizo in a skillet. Then add the onions and garlic. Once those have softened, remove from heat and fold in the cheese and the cooked pumpkin. Then fill the dough to make our empanaditas.

Empanadas from scratch

Time to assemble our tasty treats. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling on the dough disk, then fold it in half like a taco. Pinch along the edges to seal it shut.

Folding empanadas and sealing them.

Press the tines of a fork along the edges to make sure it is sealed really well, then egg wash the tops before sliding them into the oven.

If you have the convection feature (a fan) in your oven, this is a great time to use it. That fan circulates the air in your oven, helping the empanadas to turn golden brown.

Baked savory pumpkin empanadas on a sheet pan.

Making savory pumpkin empanadas from scratch isn’t difficult, but it does require a little time. The dough comes together quickly with the help of the food processor and the filling cooks up in only a few minutes, with a bit of prep work.

Savory pumpkin empanada broken in half on black plate.

These pumpkin and chorizo empanadas are the perfect hand-held fall treat.

Sign up for the empanada class online and cook along with me. You can watch anytime! Permanent access to the class. Rewind, pause or fast-forward – learn at your own pace. Make this savory recipe, plus a sweet, bakery-style empanada!

More fall treats

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Yield: 24 small empanadas

Savory pumpkin empanadas

Savory pumpkin empanadas

Savory pumpkin empanadas filled with chorizo and queso fresco make a delicious snack.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Inactive Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, diced in 1/2" pieces (4 ounces)
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • 1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

Pumpkin and chorizo filling

  • 4 ounces Mexican chorizo, removed from casing
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup roasted calabaza squash
  • 2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Egg wash

  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp. water, whisked together

Instructions

Make the empanada dough

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour with salt a few times to mix.
  2. Add butter to flour mixture, pulsing 15 – 20 times until dough begins to look like coarse crumbs and butter is broken up into pea-sized pieces. *see note
  3. Whisk egg, egg yolk, ice water and vinegar together in a small bowl, then add to flour and butter mixture.
  4. Pulse to start incorporating liquids, then run machine for 15 – 30 seconds until a shaggy dough forms.
  5. On a floured surface, dump dough out of bowl and gather together. Use the heel of your hand to lightly knead dough a few times. (If it is too dry and crumbly, add 1 tbsp. ice water and work into dough.)
  6. Knead dough a few times on the counter until it comes together and looks smooth.
  7. Divide dough in half, press each half into a rectangle and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Roll each half out to roughly 1/8” thickness (between sheets of parchment is helpful!).
  9. Cut circles out with 3 1/2 - 4" round cutter to make disks. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to fill.

Make pumpkin and chorizo filling

  1. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add chorizo, breaking it up as it cooks. (If you have a lot of fat, drain the chorizo before proceeding to the next step)
  2. Add onion and garlic to chorizo and cook until softened, about 6 – 8 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  4. Fold in roasted calabaza (pumpkin/squash) and crumbled cheese.
  5. Set aside to cool before filling empanadas.

Assemble and bake empanadas

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C / Gas mark 5
  2. Remove dough discs from refrigerator and allow them to sit on the counter, covered, as you get ready to assemble empanadas.
  3. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the empanada.
  4. Fold in half, pressing filling down, then pinch closed with your fingers. Use a fork to crimp the edges together.
  5. Brush with egg wash (if desired), then place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 18 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Notes

* You can use a pastry blender to cut butter into the flour if you do not have a food processor. Proceed with the rest of recipe, mixing by hand in a large bowl.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

2 empanadas

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 261Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 555mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.

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