Pumpkin Empanadas

Growing up we always knew the fall and winter meant lots of sweet and tasty treats we call empanadas. These sweet pastry pockets are filled with whatever jam or preserves are in season and or whatever you were lucky enough to preserve over the summer. This particular recipe calls for my favorite filling, pumpkin. This is our canned pumpkin recipe. You can find our traditional fresh pumpkin filling in our printed cookbook. Adding the freshest spices, makes a big difference. So go fresh with your spices whenever possible.


Pumpkin Empanadas

Yield: Makes 24-30 empanadas

This dough is a classic family recipe used by my grandmother, my mother and now my sister and I. We love this dough because it makes just enough to bake 2 dozen sweet empanadas. A sweet pastry pocket filled with your favorite homemade preserves or jam. These sweet treats are perfect with a cup of Mexican coffee before breakfast or after dinner. Our children love them because they are small enough and sweet enough to call dessert.


Pumpkin Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed firmly
  • 1 (15 ounce) can organic pumpkin puree, NOT pie filling
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Empanada Dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


Make Pumpkin Filling:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves with the butter. Stir in the pumpkin and the spices. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Make sure the filling is not too watery; otherwise let it cook for a couple more minutes.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool down. After it’s cooled off for about 15 minutes, put the filling in the refrigerator to help it set for 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. You can make the Empanada Dough while the filling is cooling off.

Make Empanada Dough:

  1. Mix the first 3 dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening with the dry ingredients. Works better if you use your hands. Add the eggs, milk and sugar. Continue to work in with your hands. Split the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Take out one half of the dough and split it into 12-18 balls of dough. Depending on how small you want your empanadas. I prefer one dozen per half of the dough. They also fit nicely on one large cookie sheet.

Assemble and Bake Empanadas:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can fill your empanadas with any preserves made ahead of time.
  2. Roll out the dough into small round circles. Add a small dollop of filling on one half of the rolled out dough. Wet the bottom edge of the dough with water to help seal the two halves. Fold over the dough to seal. Seal off the edges with a fork by pressing down along the two edges. This also makes for a pretty pattern when baked.
  3. Brush each empanada with egg whites, sprinkle with sugar and puncture each empanada with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray, place the empanadas on the cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes on medium rack in the oven. If after 15 minutes you notice the bottoms of the empanadas starting to brown, move the cookie sheet to the top rack and continue to bake for the last 5 minutes.

More recipes available at muybuenocookbook.com

Photography by Jeanine Thurston
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  1. Just a quick note, I did tweak the dough recipe, I used real butter, and buttermilk, plus I added some anise extract to the liquid.

    Plus the sweet potatoes and pumpkin were from our vegetable share here in Maine, grown by our local farmers, a real treat for the family.

    Again thanks for your sweet base recipe

    Susan Cano

  2. Oh my goodness. I have been putting off making pumpkin empanadas because I could not find a real pumpkin. I have your cookbook which calls for a pumpkin. I was searching for a recipe online and found this!!! Thank you Muy Bueno for this recipe I can use canned orgAnic pumpkin and it is still a Muy Bueno cookbook. Ha I didn’t have to search very long. Thank you. Thank you!!!

  3. I was looking and looking for a pumpkin empanada recipe and finally I clicked on this page. I was looking at the recipe then noticed you all are from El Paso. I am also from El Paso, TX. Still reside here and I look your family recipes I am going to try all of them. I love that I found this website! Thank you all so much!

  4. I made empanadas for the first time using your filling recipe and using my own dough, I was so happy when I had my first taste and it took me back to my childhood when my mom used to make them. Thank you!

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  6. I first had pumpkin empanadas at Los Dos Molinos in Phoenix, Arizona. They. were. just. the best thing I’d ever put in my mouth. This recipe is as close to those as I’ve been able to google. (Although I think they may fry theirs.) Thank you!

  7. Can you freeze them?

    • Absolutely Jeffery! To freeze, lay unbaked empanadas side-by-side on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure they don’t touch or the empanadas will freeze together. Freeze until solid, and then transfer the empanadas into a freezer bag. Frozen empanadas will keep for up to three months and can be baked straight from the freezer. Add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

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  9. I’ll do it!I like pumpkin!!Can I use white sugar instead brown?Hello from Italy

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  12. Jessica Utterback Reply

    I just made a batch of these and they are amazing, followed the recipe but added a bit of vanilla extract to the pumpkin mix and they came out great! ill make more in a few weeks They are great to have around for the fall and winter weather! 

  13. Best recipe I’ve used so far !!! Thankyou so much !!! 

  14. Do you use vegetable  shortening or butter shortening for the dough mixture..

    • I use plain Old fashion Lard! it works better! It Might kill your heart but it is the one i like best!

  15. I have made several empanadas and I have never found a recipie    that hits the mark of that of my Mothers but Ding! Ding! Ding! This is it! I did not add the cloves because i don’t like them i used pumpkin pie seasoning  the nutmeg and cinnamon   was  a perfect mixfor the filling but  with the dough i did have to add a whole cup of milk instead of half and a touch more of Lard for the shortening the dough came out perfect i didn’t even have to keep adding flour to the  cutting board as i rolled them out it is just the best recipie ever! Now if i can stop eating them and it makes quite a lot of them!  I also used first sprayed the empanadas with butter spray then with egg wash  perfect!

  16. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have not made the empanafas yet, bit I have been looking at recipes for days. This recipes looks to be the best. I am looking for the flavor from my childhood. I was born in Houston, Texas and raised in El Paso and Hatch, New Mexico. I was Hatch Chile Festival Queen. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Mexican food is my all time favorite.

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