Five gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas on a plate
Gluten-Free Cheese & Ham Mini Empanadas

Cheese & ham filled empanadas are just as popular as the meat-filled ones in Argentina. They are often made at the last minute using up leftover pieces of various cheese and cold ham and are a great quick-snack option.

Cheese & Ham Filling

There are various ways of making the filling. Some roll a thin slice of ham around a piece of buttery cheese, then pop this in the pastry to be baked. Others create a white (Roux) sauce to hold the cheese & ham together and add a richer flavour to the filling.

In this recipe, I use the white (Roux) sauce filling that has been flavoured with onions, garlic, parsley, nutmeg and white pepper.

This filling recipe is perfect for mini empanadas. There is so much flavour in one bite!

Gluten-free Empanada Pastry

The gluten-free pastry is the same used in both my meat empanadas and cream cheese & spinach empanadas. Once baked, the pastry is crispy and sturdy to hold the empanada fillings.

 

A display of ingredients needed to make the filling for the gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas
What cheese is used in the filling?

There is no exact rule on the type or number of different cheese to use in the filling, but a good combination of a buttery cheese, a semi-soft cheese and a sharp hard cheese make a tasty and gooey filling.

Buttery Cheese

Either a Spanish Manchego or a mature Cheddar cheese will give a buttery flavour and texture to the cheese filling.

Semi-soft Cheese

Provolone or Halloumi cheese has a slower melt rate compared to the other cheese used in the filling, giving it some texture plus plenty of robust flavours.

Sharp Hard Cheese

Grated Parmesan cheese is added in small quantities as it is the strongest in flavour out of the three kinds of cheese. Besides its sharp flavour, it gives the filling a nutty and classic Italian flavour. Pecorino can be used as a substitute.

Each cheese melts differently and faster than some, so be prepared for some empanadas to leak out and crisp up around the pastry and on the baking tray. Once this cools, this will stay attached to the empanada and add an extra layer of flavour. Any over-cooked cheese bits can be easily snapped off and discarded.

 

a stack of gluten-free empanada pastry discs on a plate separated by paper squares
PLANNING AHEAD

Both the filling and the pastry can be made in advance and stored chilled either for the next day or frozen for another occasion.

Gluten-Free Empanada Pastry

The pastry discs can be rolled and cut out in advance by stacking them in between small squares of baking paper, and then stored in a container. They keep for 5 days chilled or 3 months frozen.

Cheese & Ham Filling

Once the cheese & ham filling has cooled down in the fridge, portion out 1-2 tsp of the filling onto a lined tray and freeze them until they are solid. Transfer each filling portion to a snap lock bag or container to freeze until needed.

Assembling the Empanadas

When assembling the empanadas, either the chilled or frozen filling portions can be added to the pastry disc. Once assembled, either bake immediately in a hot oven for 15 mins or store them in the freezer to bake at a later date. They can be baked straight from frozen, which is handy for those last-minute snack occasions.

 

An adobe photo of gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas
Five gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas on a plate

Gluten-Free Cheese & Ham Mini Empanadas

by Sandra - Fun Without Gluten
Cheese & ham filled empanadas are just as popular as the meat-filled ones in Argentina. Often made at the last minute using up leftover pieces of various cheese and cold ham, these empanadas are a popular quick-snack option.
The filling is mainly cheese with a few pieces of ham, enveloped in a white (Roux) sauce that has been flavoured with onions, garlic, parsley, nutmeg and white pepper.
This filling recipe is perfect for mini empanadas. There is so much flavour in one bite!
It is natural for some cheese to ooze out of the empanada, but this leakage ends up crisping up nicely against the pastry and at the base, adding an extra layer of flavour.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Resting Time of dough 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Appetizer, Party Food
Cuisine Argentina
Servings 34 mini empanadas

Equipment

  • 9.5 cm scone or cookie cutter, or
  • very small plate

Ingredients
  

GLUTEN-FREE EMPANADA PASTRY

  • 460 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 70 g butter or vegetable shortening, cubed and chilled
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 300 ml milk
  • 1 egg, separated Use the egg white to seal the pastry discs together and the egg yolk with some water to brush the pastry before baking

CREAM CHEESE & HAM FILLING

    Cheese & Ham

    • 55 g Manchego or mature cheddar cheese
    • 100 g Provolone or Halloumi cheese
    • 25 g Parmesan cheese
    • 2 thick slices cold ham

    White (Roux) Sauce

    • 1 small onion, chopped finely
    • 1 garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
    • 250 ml warm milk
    • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1 tsp white pepper
    • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped

    Instructions
     

    GLUTEN-FREE EMPANADA PASTRY

    • Blend the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder & salt with the cold butter or shortening in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs, or alternatively, rub the mixture using your hands.
    • Slowly add the milk until the dough feels soft and comes together nicely.
    • Place the dough in a bowl, cover and chill for at least one hour.

    CREAM CHEESE & HAM FILLING

    • Round up all the ingredients.
      A display of ingredients needed to make the filling for the gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas

    Cheese & Ham

    • Grate the Manchego, Provolone and Parmesan cheese.
    • Cut the ham into small cubes.
    • Set the cheese and ham filling aside while preparing the white (Roux) sauce.

    White (Roux) Sauce

    • In a small saucepan, gently fry the onion and garlic in butter over medium-low heat until soft and fragrant. Do not let them go golden.
    • Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 mins.
      The butter and flour cooking to make the beginning stages of a roux white sauce
    • Increase the heat to medium and pour in the warm milk gradually, whisking well between each addition until it thickens. This normally takes between 6 to 8 mins.
      Whisking the roux sauce over medium-low heat
    • Turn the heat off and add the seasoning and parsley
    • Allow the sauce to cool down for 15 mins.
      The completed roux white sauce next to the remaining ingredients to complete the filling for the gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas
    • Add the cheese & ham, mix well and chill for 30 mins or if space allows, freeze for 10 mins.
      The cheese and ham added to the roux sauce
    • Remove the filling from either the fridge or freezer. Shape 1-2 tsp into small logs and place them on a tray or plate. Return them to chill for a further 5 mins.

    ASSEMBLING THE EMPANADAS

    • Either on a sheet of baking paper or flour-dusted countertop, start rolling small portions of the empanada dough to 1 cm thick.
    • Using a 9.5 cm or similar size round pastry/cookie cutter, stamp out all the pastry discs and stack them together on a plate until all the dough is used up. Either sprinkle some flour between the pastry discs or use small cutouts of baking paper*
      a stack of gluten-free empanada pastry discs on a plate separated by paper squares
    • Place 1-2 tsp of the cheese & ham roux filling on each pastry disc. Try not to over-stuff the pastry disc. You should have plenty of room to seal the pastry without pulling and tearing it. Otherwise, reduce the filling quantity.
      Several gluten-free empanada pastry discs with the cheese & ham filling on top
    • Brush the edges with some egg white.
    • Fold over the top half of the pastry disc over the filling.
    • Seal the edges together by pressing with floured fingers.
      An example of how to seal the gluten-free cheese & ham empanada
    • Once sealed, pinch the edges with your fingers.
      A gluten-free cheese & ham empanada assembled with edges pinched
    • Transfer each pastry to a lined baking tray.
    • Brush the empanadas with the egg wash to give it a nice colour and sheen.
      Several gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas brushed with the egg wash

    BAKING THE EMPANADAS

    • Preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F.
    • Bake for 15 minutes on the middle shelf, or until golden and crisp.
    • Allow the empanadas to cool down slightly before removing them to a serving plate.
      Several baked gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas resting on a wire rack

    Notes

    • Keeps for 3 days chilled
    • The pastry is suitable to freeze rolled and cut out into discs, separated with small squares of baking paper *
    • Unbaked empanadas are suitable to freeze
    • Can be baked frozen
    *These baking paper cutouts can be stored in a snap-lock bag or small container and kept chilled for future pastry making. They are very useful for separating many pastry discs used in empanadas or potstickers.
    TIP:
    Each Cheese melts differently and faster than some, so be prepared for some empanadas to leak out and crisp up around the pastry and on the baking tray. Once this cools, this will stay attached to the empanada and add an extra layer of flavour. Any over-cooked cheese bits can be easily snapped off and discarded.
    Keyword gluten-free argentina, gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas, gluten-free cheese empanadas, gluten-free mini empanadas
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
    Please mention @fun_without_gluten or tag #funwithoutgluten!
    Several gluten-free cheese & ham empanadas in a basket with lettuce leaves around them

     

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