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Gluten-Free Meat Empanadas

When I started my gluten-free diet, one of the first gluten favourite snacks that I missed was definitely Argentine empanadas. I grew up snacking on these delicious pastry parcels with exciting fillings of either spiced meat or gooey cheese & spinach every time I visited my family in Argentina. My maternal grandmother (aka Abuela) made them from scratch and loved to spoil us with platters of empanadas. The pastry was made crispy and the fillings were so juicy that you needed a napkin or a bowl to catch the drippings.

 

close up of gluten-free empanada meat filling with a wooden spoon in the pan
Empanadas in Argentina

In Argentina, you have different variations of empanadas. Meat-filled empanadas have regional styles ranging from being spicier in the northern regions to milder down south. Argentine empanadas often add plenty of hard-boiled eggs, olives and raisins. Although meat-filled empanadas are the most popular, there are vegetarian and fish empanadas from corn-filled, spinach & soft or hard cheese or tuna filled empanadas. It was more popular to deep-fry the empanadas in lard or oil, but the trend has changed to oven bake them as a healthier cooking method.

Adobe photo of gluten-free empanadas stacked on a platter
A dozen cooked gluten-free empanadas on a wire rack

Gluten-Free Meat Empanadas from Argentina

Using my Argentine grandmother's empanada recipe, the filling is an authentic sweet, salty and slightly spicy meat mixture encased in my homemade oven-baked gluten-free pastry. These gluten-free meat empanadas are perfect as a snack, lunch-box addition, party food and even as a meal with a side salad.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Resting Time for Dough 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Course Appetizer, Party Food, Snack
Cuisine Argentina
Servings 18 medium size empanadas

Ingredients
  

GLUTEN-FREE EMPANADA PASTRY

  • 460 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 70 g butter or vegetable shortening, chilled & cubed
  • 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

HOMEMADE EMPANADA SEASONING

  • 3 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

EMPANADA MEAT FILLING

  • 500 g good quality minced beef with some fat in it
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
  • 100 g sultanas
  • 70 g Spanish green olives stuffed with red pimiento peppers, sliced
  • 3 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp store-bought or homemade empanada seasoning
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 50ml white wine or stock
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly, cracked black pepper to season

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.

HOMEMADE EMPANADA SEASONING

  • Mix all the herbs, spices and salt together in a bowl using a whisk to combine them well. Set aside. 
    a lazy susan showing all the different small bowls of spices needed to make the homemade empanada seasoning

EMPANADA MEAT FILLING

  • Pour a thin layer of olive oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan or cast iron pan.
  • Add chopped onions and fry them gently for about 15 mins, stirring often.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the minced beef and break up any clumps.
  • Add the garlic and empanada seasoning, stir and add more olive oil if needed. Fry for 15 minutes, or until the beef has lost its pink colour.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the white wine or stock. Cook for a further 15 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  • Add the fresh parsley, the drained sultanas and the sliced olives. Cook for a final 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and add the chopped boiled eggs, plus season the empanada meat mixture with salt and pepper, adjusting according to your taste.
    close up of gluten-free empanada meat filling
  • Allow to cool down slightly before assembling the empanadas.

ASSEMBLING THE EMPANADAS

  • Dust the kitchen counter with some flour or lay down a sheet of baking paper and roll out small batches of the pastry to 1 cm/ thick.
  • Using the rim of an upside-down bowl or small plate measuring approx 10 cm in diameter, cut a circle with a knife to form the pastry discs.
  • Add a heaped tablespoon of the meat filling to one half of the disc.
    Showing how to fill the gluten-free empanada
  • Brush the rim of the pastry with the egg white or water and fold over the disc.
    Folding over the pastry for the gluten-free empanada
  • Seal the discs by pinching the edges with a slight twist Dip your fingers in some flour to prevent your fingers from becoming sticky.
    An example of an assembled gluten-free empanada before being baked
  • Or, use a fork to press down the pastry together.
    Pressing the gluten-free empanada pastry with a fork on the edges to close it
  • Mix the egg yolk with some water to make an egg wash.
  • Brush the empanadas with the egg wash to give it a nice colour and sheen.

BAKING THE EMPANADAS

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  • Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf, or until golden and crisp.
    unbaked empanadas on a tray after being egg washed
  • Allow to cool down slightly before serving.
    baked empanadas on a chopping board

Notes

  • Keeps for 3 days chilled
  • Suitable to freeze
Keyword gluten-free argentina, gluten-free empanadas
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