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Spanish Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe

Ciara introduces her delicious and easy-to-prepare Spanish Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe.

The delectable dish called empanadas originates in the community of Galicia, found in northern Spain.

A traditional Spanish dish found all over the country; this quintessential dish makes for a fun and easy Spanish food experience.

Whether you’re dining at a local Spanish restaurant, grabbing drinks at a bar, or simply stopping by a bakery to grab an empanada for the road, this dish is a delicious treat. 

The dish—a doughy and flaky pie generously stuffed with savory fixings. Traditionally these savory fixings are onions, bell peppers, and minced meat perfectly placed within the doughy pie. 

However, other versions of empanadas are easily created by substituting the minced meat for other ingredients such as chicken, spinach, cheese, and more veggies. 

Spanish Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe

Ciara from the blog Wellness Travel Diaries was fortunate enough to experience this exquisite dish first hand while teaching ESL in the small city of Melide, Galicia. As a gluten-free and dairy-free traveler, the Galicia region was first on her food excursion radar. It slowly expanded to the neighboring regions, eventually leading her to the east coast of Spain in Valencia and Barcelona.  

After spending over a year in Spain and traveling around Europe, the blog Wellness Travel Diaries shares insider tips about navigating travel with food allergies and maintaining your health and wellness while traveling. 

So, with a love of empanadas, here’s one of her go-to recipes. It’s ideal when you’re craving empanadas outside of Spain, and they’re allergy-friendly too.

While traditionally, empanadas are filled with minced meat, the filling of empanadas can be the chef’s choice when you’re making them at home. The recipe below contains two types of gluten-free empanadas. 

One batch is made with minced meat, while the other is completely vegan, substituting olives and quinoa for the meat. It’s not traditional, but it adds immense flavor and more nutrients to the vegan empanadas.

Baking empanadas can take some time, but eating those scrumptious savory pies will be well worth it in the end!

It generally takes about two hours to make, so give yourself plenty of time. 

What are Empanadas?

Empanadas are savory turnovers with a flavorful filling encased in a pastry shell.

The origins of empanadas trace back to Spain, where they were initially created as a convenient and portable meal for travelers.

These hand pies gained immense popularity and eventually spread to various countries, each region adding its unique twist to the recipe.

In Spain, empanadas are deeply ingrained in the culinary culture and are often enjoyed during festivals and family gatherings.

The Popularity of Empanadas in Spanish Cuisine

Empanadas hold a special place in Spanish cuisine, loved by people of all ages. Spaniards have perfected the art of making empanadas, showcasing a wide array of regional variations.

Whether you’re in Galicia, Catalonia, or Andalusia, you’ll find unique empanada flavors that reflect the local ingredients and culinary traditions.

The popularity of empanadas goes beyond Spain, with these delectable pastries now enjoyed worldwide.

Gluten-Free Empanadas: A Brief Overview

Gluten-free empanadas provide a fantastic solution for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease who want to indulge in these delightful treats.

When creating gluten-free empanadas, the primary focus is to replace traditional wheat-based dough with a gluten-free alternative.

By making a few adjustments, we can create a gluten-free and delicious dough, opening up a world of possibilities for those following a gluten-free lifestyle.

Ingredients Used in Gluten-Free Empanadas

To make gluten-free empanadas, you’ll need a selection of alternative flours that mimic the texture and taste of traditional wheat flour.

Common gluten-free flour blends include a combination of rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, and xanthan gum.

These ingredients work together to create a pliable dough that yields a tender, flaky crust.

In addition to the dough, the filling options for gluten-free empanadas are virtually limitless, allowing you to get creative with your favorite flavors.

Tips for Perfect Gluten-Free Empanadas

Creating the perfect batch of gluten-free empanadas may require some adjustments and techniques to ensure optimal taste and texture.

Here are a few tips to help you achieve empanada perfection:

Choosing the Right Flour Blend

Experiment with different gluten-free flour blends to find the one that best suits your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Consider each blend’s texture, flavor, and performance to ensure a successful outcome.

Proper Rolling and Sealing Techniques

Roll the gluten-free dough carefully, ensuring it is not too thin or thick. When sealing the empanadas, press firmly to ensure a tight seal and prevent the filling from leaking during baking.

Baking vs. Frying

While traditional empanadas are fried, baking them offers a healthier alternative.

Baking results in a lighter, less greasy empanada with a crispy crust. However, if you prefer fried empanadas’ authentic taste and texture, feel free to use that method instead.

Delicious Variations of Gluten-Free Empanadas

With gluten-free empanadas, the possibilities for filling combinations are endless. Let your culinary creativity shine by experimenting with different ingredients and flavor profiles.

Consider options like ham and cheese, mushroom and truffle oil, or even a sweet filling like apple and cinnamon.

The choice is yours, so don’t be afraid to mix and match to discover your favorite combinations.

Serving and Enjoying Gluten-Free Empanadas

Gluten-free empanadas can be enjoyed as a standalone meal or paired with a side salad or dipping sauce.

They are perfect for picnics, parties, or even a quick lunch. Serve them warm to fully experience the flavors and textures of the filling and crust.

Spanish Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe

Tips to Prepare Empanadas: 

1. If you’re making two batches, vegan and non-vegan, make sure to separate the fillings in different bowls.

2. For the gluten-free flour, you can use any prepackaged gluten-free flour for baking (i.e., almond flour, rice flour, coconut flour). Still, I highly recommend using the brand listed below as the dough ingredients may need to be adjusted with other types of flour. 

3. Feel free to mix in whatever you want to include in your empanadas! Add more vegetables if you’re vegan, or opt for chicken instead of beef. 

4. To make vegan buttermilk, take your favorite vegan milk alternative and add one to two tablespoons of vinegar for your desired buttermilk taste.

5. Rest the Gluten-Free Empanada dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes minimum before rolling it out. 

6. Make the dough first, then make the filling while you let the dough rest

Spanish Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe

Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe

Yield: 4

Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe

Spanish Gluten-Free Empanada Recipe
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes


Gluten-Free Empanada Flour

  • 3 cups of Cup4Cup flour 
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp ice water 
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter or vegan butter 
  • 1 egg or vegan alternative  
  • ½ cup vegan buttermilk  (see instructions on how to make this above)

Filling for Beef Empanadas

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced 
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • Any additional veggies wanted (spinach, mushrooms, black beans, etc)
  • 1½ tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp Spanish paprika or chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tbsp fresh mince garlic
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (add more or less if you want the dish spicier)
  • Add sea salt and pepper to taste 

Filling for Vegan Empanadas

  • Substitute ground beef for 3 cups of cooked quinoa 
  • ¾ cup of olives, diced 

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg and 1 tbps of water to brush on top of empanadas before baking (for vegan substitute mix 1 tbps of olive oil with 1 tbps of water


  1. To make the Gluten-Free Empanada dough cut the butter into chunks and then place the flour and salt into a large bowl. Either whisk the ingredients or put them into a food processor. Pulse ingredients, but do not over mix.
  2. Combine the egg, buttermilk, and ice water in a different bowl then slowly add the mixture to the flour bowl. 
  3. Once thoroughly combined place the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes. 
  4. Prep, cut, and dice all your desired vegetables.
  5. Put a large skillet over medium-low heat, and then add olive oil. Once the oil is hot add onions and ground beef. Cook until the meat is almost brown and the onions are translucent then add in the spices. 
  6. Add the other vegetables in, the minced garlic and tomato paste (If you are using quinoa instead of beef, add the quinoa in when you add in the other vegetables). 
  7. Remove the mixture from the stove and set it aside in a bowl.
  8. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and then preheat the oven to 350 F.
  9. Once the dough is chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and separate it into 15-20 pieces. You can do more or less depending on if you want small or large empanadas. 
  10. Very lightly flour your counter and roll each piece out into a circle. Keep repeating until all the dough is used up.
  11. Take about 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture and place it in the center of each dough circle. After, fold over one side, creating a semi-circle then press the edges together. If you want to get fancy, use a fork to crimp the edges!
  12. Lastly, brush the egg wash on top of the empanadas then pop them into the oven. They take about 20-23 minutes to bake and will be golden brown once ready. 
  13. Then enjoy your home-made gluten-free empanadas!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are gluten-free empanadas suitable for people with celiac disease?

Absolutely! Gluten-free empanadas are an excellent option for individuals with celiac disease. By using gluten-free flours and ingredients, you can enjoy empanadas without any worries.

Can I freeze gluten-free empanadas for later use?

Yes, you can freeze gluten-free empanadas. After baking, let them cool completely, then place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. When ready to enjoy, simply reheat them in the oven or microwave.

What is the best way to reheat gluten-free empanadas?

To maintain the crispy texture of the crust, it’s best to reheat gluten-free empanadas in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), place the empanadas on a baking sheet, and warm them for about 10 minutes or until heated through.

Can I make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight?

Yes, you can prepare the gluten-free dough ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight. Just make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent drying out.

Are there any vegan options for gluten-free empanadas?

Absolutely! Many vegan alternatives, such as plant-based proteins, vegetables, and vegan cheeses, can be used for the filling. As for the dough, you can replace eggs with flax or chia eggs and use plant-based fats like coconut oil or vegan margarine.

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