Spanish & Tapas Vegetarian

Iberian-Inspired Empanadas

I have a new obsession… empanadas! Or as they say here in Spain, “empanadillas.” I love these versatile pockets of magic. I had tried the classic flavors at local panderias filled with pisto and carne, but hadn’t come across many cheese-based fillings for some reason. So needless to say, I was ready to take it upon myself to concoct some crazy little flavor combinations. When I stumbled across the premade wrappers, I knew it was time to start this journey! To clarify – no – I don’t make the pastry dough myself. One thing at a time, folks. With that being the case, these are ridiculously easy to make and can be prepped ahead of time.

I wanted my first batch to contain the true flavors of Spain before branching out into anything else. So these use pimentos, manchego curado (a sheeps cheese made here in Spain!), and a blend of seasonings that have an Iberian kick to them from the paprika. After this recipe, I’m confident that I’ve learned the names for most spices and herbs in Spanish. The ingredients listed below for the herb/spice blend forms a mixture I’ve been using a lot recenty. I recommend putting this mixture into a grinder to break down the dried pepper and rosemary.

Iberian-Inspired Empanadas

Prep Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 16 small empanada wrappers (I use Buitoni)
  • 1 ½ cups manchego curado, shredded or diced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup pimento peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon salt, plus more for final step
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dried peppers
  • A few dashes of Tobasco, if desired
  • 1 egg, whisked


  • Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a small, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Decrease heat to low and place a lid on the pan. Leave for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the onions are cooking, combine manchego, cream cheese, pimentos and Tobasco. In a separate bowl, combine all spices and salt. Grind, if possible.
  • Combine both mixtures, using a fork.
  • Once onions are finished cooking, add to cheese mixture. It’s okay to add while they’re still hot. Combine with fork.
  • Refrigerate mixture for one hour or until chilled and you are somewhat able to form dollops that hold together.
  • Divide mixture evenly among empanadas (about 2 tablespoons each), packing the filling into a ball form around which you can stretch the pastry dough.
  • Using your finger, wet half of the edge of the empanada dough before folding over the filling. Fold the dough over to form half-circle shapes. Be sure to press the wet and non-wet edge together well, so the filling cannot leak out of the edges.
  • Whisk the egg well until homogenous. Brush the top of the empanadas with the egg and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the empanadas are golden brown. You can bake them on a rack or on a sheet pan. I prefer to go a bit longer than 20 minutes to allow the edges to become extra crispy.

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