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Salvadorean-Style Empanadas

Salvadorean Empanadas

Recipe courtesy of Oscar Bendeck, Wine Country Collective

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves 16


Empanada Dough

  • 1 lb. masa harina
  • 10 – 12 oz. water
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tsp. annatto seed (ground)
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. salt

Empanada Filling

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 squash, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 potato, par-cooked and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 oz. white wine
  • 8 oz. queso fresco

Salsa de Tomato

  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar


Empanada Dough

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Slowly start to incorporate wet ingredients. (You may not need to use all the water– use extra masa if the dough is too wet). Once dough takes form of playdough, knead for about 2 minutes. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 2 days.

Empanada Filling

  1. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a sauté pan, then add onion, carrot, and bell pepper. Cook thoroughly over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, then add zucchini and squash along with all seasonings. Add diced potatoes (that were par-cooked in boiling water), stir all ingredients together and turn up heat to high.
  2. When mixture begins to sizzle or steam, add wine and stir. Remove from heat and cover. Once cooled, add the crumbled queso fresco.


  1. When dough has rested and cooled, use a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface and roll dough to 1⁄4 inch thickness. Using a 2 1⁄2 to 3 in. ring mold, cut out discs. Place 1 oz. of cooked/cooled filling in each disc, sprinkle with cheese, then fold dough in half, and crimp edges with a fork. (empanadas can be made up to 2 days in advance.)
  2. Once you are ready to cook the empanadas, using a tall pot or Dutch oven, deep fry in 1⁄2 in. vegetable oil for 4 to 6 minutes or until empanadas reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. Alternatively using an air fryer, spray empanadas with oil and air fry for 6 to 8 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  3. The filling will be extremely hot, so let the empanadas cool for 2 minutes before serving with a drizzle of Salsa de Tomato.

Salsa de Tomato

  1. In a saucepan, add water, salt, oregano, and vinegar and bring to a boil. Score tomatoes and place in boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove from pan and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Skins should loosen and be peeled off easily. Once tomatoes are peeled, place back into pan of boiling water along with the onion, garlic, and jalapeno, simmer for about 2 minutes.
  2. Then strain mixture, reserving the juices in a separate bowl. Place strained mixture into a blender, season with salt and pepper to taste, add lime juice, and blend. Use remaining strained juice to reach desired salsa consistency.

Please visit J. Lohr’s Recipes page for additional recipes and pairing ideas.