Becky Luigart-Stayner
8 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

Empanadas are Mexican-style pastries filled with meat, vegetables, or even dessert. This family-sized version is known as an empanada gallega. It's served in wedges like a stuffed pizza. Pork Carnitas would also be a delicious filling. Leftovers are best reheated in the oven.

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Stir in tomato, red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in Beef Carnitas; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 400°.

Step 3

To prepare dough, combine 9 tablespoons water and saffron; cool to room temperature. Stir in vinegar. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly pour saffron mixture through food chute; process just until dough begins to form a ball (dough will be crumbly).

Step 4

Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one dough portion at a time, press dough into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Place dough in freezer 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.

Step 5

Slightly overlap 2 sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface. Unwrap 1 dough portion; place on plastic wrap. Cover dough with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into an 11-inch circle. Repeat procedure with remaining dough. Place both portions in freezer for 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.

Step 6

Remove plastic wrap from 1 dough portion; place dough, plastic wrap side up, on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap. Spoon filling onto dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap from remaining dough. Place dough, plastic wrap side up, over filling. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap. Pinch edges together to seal. Cut several slits in top of dough to allow steam to escape. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until crust is crisp and beginning to brown. Cut into 8 wedges.

Ratings & Reviews

Filling is fantastic, crust is okay

January 11, 2016
I wanted to give this 5 stars because the filling is SO good. I've made the beef carnitas tacos (using the same beef carnitas recipe) from Cooking Light many times and they're always a huge hit. The filling in this dish is fantastic too. So the filling is definitely a five. For me, the crust worked moderately well but it was pretty bland, tough, and cracker-y. I didn't expect it to be as crispy as an actual empanada since they aren't deep-fried. The dough was a little bit hard to work with as it was a little sticky (hence all the instructions to roll, freeze, roll, freeze). I thought there'd be too much filling but it worked. It doesn't get very golden brown (see photo). So it was an okay crust, but not something I would make again. I recommend making this filling and using it for something else. I'd love to put it over tortilla chips and put some cheese on and make nachos, or even to make large"wontons" using egg roll wrappers and baking those. If you haven't made the beef carnitas tacos, I recommend making those instead of this. 

Tealwins's Review

May 05, 2014
I have made the Carnitas before. It has always been very flavorful. I really loved this application. The crust is a perfect compliment to the rich beef filling. This is a winner. I will make it again and again.

AshleyEvans's Review

February 25, 2013
This was good, but not great. The dough recipe was only large enough to take half of the filling, so you need to double the recipe (or more like make 1.5x the recipe). Also, the saffron makes the dough taste unpleasant in my opinion. This empanada gallega is much tastier:

michkair's Review

January 16, 2013
This was a huge hit! I used my leftovers from Cooking Light's pork carnitas as a base and leftover pie crust. I look forward to trying a more exact version in the future.

Bmflad's Review

October 30, 2012
Wow! I've been making cooking light recipes for close to 15 years, and this has to be one of the best. It looks too easy, but there's a little bit of magic in the mixture. Sometimes I'll use smoked chipotle powder instead of the red pepper flakes, will sub whatever color bell pepper I have on hand. Our new latino grocery store has empanada disks in the freezer section, so I'll roll out a package of those if I'm short on time. The carnitas recipe makes enough for at least 20 empanadas, so I freeze 1/2 of that, and then just have to assmble them some other time.

sowninpeace1988's Review

May 22, 2011
This was good but very time consuming. I am an experienced pie crust maker and from the get go this recipe seemed off to me and I was right. It was difficult to work with and came out tough (and no I did not over work it). The filling however was great I adding a little orange zest to provide a more complex flavor to the dish. Will reuse the filling recipe again just not the crust.

SusanC10's Review

January 21, 2010
I got a set of dough presses for Christmas that I wanted to try, so I used pie crust from the dairy case and re-rolled the scraps to make seven 6-inch empanadas. Baked at 400 for 20 minutes and it worked great. I have some filling left in the fridge for tacos tomorrow. Even better.

carolfitz's Review

January 06, 2009
Made the filling to the recipe, using CL's beef carnitas (shredded) as a base. Cheated and used pre-made piecrust, formed into two half-rounds. Brushed with egg wash. This was really good.