Baked Masa Empanadas filled with Cuban Picadillo

Empanadas are usually something you avoid unless you want to look like a little empanada. Typically made with white flour, a big lump of shortening and fried to a crisp, empanadas are painful thing to have to refuse. This recipe replaces the white flour with masa harina- the ground corn flour- and snubs the deep fryer in favor of the oven. The result is a simple, rustic empanada with a warm, subtle crust.

You can really fill these with anything but my Cuban Picadillo leftovers were so great, they filled my first batch. Rich, hearty and filling.


Baked Masa Empanadas filled with Cuban Picadillo

  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of Cuban picadillo

1.         Mix the masa harina, water, butter and salt well. Mix for 2-3 minutes and add a bit of water if the dough is dry. When you finish, you want to have the consistency of play-doh (not sticky but moist and malleable).

2.         Divide the dough into 8 sections. Don’t worry about making them perfect balls yet because you’ll have to reshape them right before flattening them.

3.         The secret to getting perfect round discs is… plastic. Cut apart a plastic gallon bag. Place one section of plastic on your work surface.

4.         Now, take a section of dough and work it into a little ball. If you don’t work the dough with your hands right before flattening, the dough tends to crack and break. Place the dough ball on top of the plastic and cover with the other section of plastic.

5.         Take something with a flat bottom (I’m using a pyrex baking dish) and press down gently on the dough ball. Watch it flatten into a disc the size of a tortilla. Gently rock the baking dish back and forth to spread it out completely. You’ve started your first empanada.

6.         Gently peel away the top plastic. Fill the bottom portion of the empanada with ¼ cup of the Cuban picadillo, leaving a margin at the edges.

7.         Carefully fold over the dough so that the two edges meet. Use a fork to seal the edges, making a pretty scallop design.

8.         Repeat for all the empanadas.

9.         Bake the empanadas for 15 minutes at 300˚.

Yields 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 empanadas

Weight Watchers Points+: 8

Calories 306, Carbs 24, Fat 12, Protein 25

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Nancy October 4, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks Lidi. This looks great! My question is — how big should the dough circles be? It looks like they are fairly big, like about 9″?

    Reply edit
    • Hot, Spicy and Skinny October 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Great question! I make my dough circles about the size of a salad plate. 9 inches sounds spot on. I like to make sure I can get in a lot of filling. I like more filling, less dough because these crusts can get dry since they lack the usual copious amounts of lard!

      Reply edit
  • Amy January 2, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Hi Lidi — We are having trouble getting our dough to taste cooked. The dough has a raw quality to it. Should we add more oil or butter? Have you ever done an egg wash? Thanks, Amy

    Reply edit
    • Hot, Spicy and Skinny January 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Amy! The low oil content is tricky because it dries out so quickly. I intentionally undercook it a bit so it remains doughy. But, if you want a fully cooked crust that’s not dry, add more oil or butter for sure.

      Reply edit

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