Serve delicious empanaditas and pastelitos with your picadera, they are a must at a Dominican party. This recipe has options for different doughs, fried and baked, and fillings with chicken, pork, beef, cheese, seafood, vegetables and sweets. There's one for every taste.
Why we ❤️ it
Empanadas and pastelitos are not unique to the Dominican Republic, in fact, they can be found in pretty much every Spanish-speaking country in one shape or form, baked or fried, and in a variety of sizes. Each Spanish-speaking country has adapted this recipe to their own tastes and favorite ingredients.
In the DR, these are a basic component of the party platter, a quick late dinner after a night on the town, and popular street fare.
Empanadas vs. pastelitos
What's the difference between Dominican Pastelitos and Empanaditas?
The difference between empanaditas and pastelitos is merely cosmetic, but --as with many other things-- Dominicans do not seem to agree on one answer, but this is mine:
Dominican Pastelitos are round, while Dominican Empanadas are half-moon-shaped.
Not everyone agrees, though. It could also be a regional issue as an informal survey among our social media followers seems to suggest, though most agreed with my naming convention.
Pastelitos and empanaditas and fillings.
We have a recipe for a lovely, creamy chicken filling, and a pulled chicken in tomato sauce that is more traditional, both work great with empanaditas and pastelitos, and are inexpensive and easy to make. You can make them ahead of time and refrigerate them until it's time to assemble and fry the empanadas.
Beef lovers? Then a beef filling should be your choice and we have just the recipe you need. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it until it's time to assemble and fry the empanadas.
This is not your same ol' empanada, try this amazing chorizo filling for your pastelitos.
Want something more "exotic"? How about a combination of pork and apple? You can find it in this pulled pork recipe.
You can even fill them with fruits and make sweet empanadas and serve them as desserts.
Cheese is another popular choice, gouda or Emmental are great choices, but for a more Dominican touch you can make them with crumbled queso de freír (or halloumi if you don't find queso de freír).
Pastelitos and empanaditas.
While I believe that the dough is secondary to a great empanada, it doesn't mean that it isn't important. The dough is a matter of taste and much discussion. I am of the school of crispy, flaky dough, but some people prefer a more "bready", flexible dough.
The cooking method is also important to the end result.
This recipe is for the traditional Dominican empanadita and pastelito, which is deep-fried.
If you are looking for an egg-free alternative, vegan alternative, the dough for yaniqueques works well too.
We didn't forget you! Try Empanadas de yuca, a different type of empanadas made with yuca (cassava) dough.
About our recipe
You may have different ways to make the dough, but the deal-breaker is always the filling. This is why I've given you as many options as possible.
This recipe yields about 18 empanaditas, though it may be fewer if you make them bigger. If you will make them as part of a larger picadera (appetizer) platter, it serves 9-18 people depending on how many more things will be served. On its own, and as party food, it serves 4-5 people.
This dough recipe has the advantage of being simple, inexpensive, easy, requires no fancy equipment, and results in a crispy empanadita.
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[Recipe + Video] Empanaditas / Pastelitos (Savory Turnovers)
- Empanada filling, choose one from the list above the recipe
- 2 cups oil for frying
How to make the dough
- Combine egg yolks, oil, salt, and baking powder. Once well combined, add the flour and mix.By this point, the dough will be crumbly and too dry. Start adding water by the tablespoon and working until it forms a cohesive ball with the least water possible. I used 7 tablespoons in the end, but it varies sometimes.
- Mix everything with your hands on a lightly floured surface until everything is well mixed, but just squeezing without folding (like playdoh). Add some flour to the dough if it is too sticky, or a bit of water if it is too dryOnce the dough has the consistency of playdoh (One to two minutes at most) wrap, and let the dough rest for ten minutes.
- Separate a small, golf-ball-sized piece of dough. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough forming a small circle.
How to make make pastelitos:
- Cut out circles of about 2.5" [6.5 cm] in diameter. Paint the inside with egg white (which acts as glue so the layers don't separate).Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle, cover with another circle and seal the border by pressing it with a fork.
How to make make empanadas:
- Cut out circles 4" [10 cm] in diameter. Paint the inside with egg white (which acts as glue so the layers don't separate).Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle, double over in a semi-circle, and seal the border by pressing it with a fork.
How to fry
- Heat oil over medium heat in a 1 qt [1lt] pot. Deep fry the pastelitos / empanaditas until they are golden brown on each side. Rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
Published Dec 19, 2001, revised