Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jul 3, 2012 03:56 PM

Traditional authentic empanadas, should the dough contain yeast?

Just curious on this since I have seen recipe for both.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The ones I make have baking powder. When I was little, I stayed with a neighbor in the afternoon who made empanadas weekly. One of my first cooking memories. Anyway, hers contained baking powder and lard. I don't know if they were traditional or authentic (she was LA/mexican american) but those empanadas sure were delicious.

    1. "Authentic" to what? Mexican cuisine is a very, very broad subject, and changes over an extremely large country. With that said, recipes might also differ, family to family.

      That is why I asked "authentic to what?"

      Good luck,


      5 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        As in, how are empanadas traditionally made in Mexico? Are you saying that some region in Mexico use yeast while other regions do not? I know very little about Mexican cuisine.

        1. re: keepquiet

          Empanadas are not limited to Mexico. They came to Spain and Portugal from the Moors, and spread from there to the Americas. Here's some information and ideas.
          Your search for "traditional authentic" empanadas will take you to many places, not just Mexico.

          1. re: wyogal

            I doubt they "came from" the Moors; though the Moors have them too. They are found in various parts of Europe--the basic "something encased in dough" dish. It's not particularly Latin, Moorish, Spanish, whatever. For all intents and purposes they are known as "meat pies" or "cornish pasties" in England--quite traditional there--doubtful from the Moors.

          2. re: keepquiet

            I am saying that what might be deemed as "authentic" in one place, might bear little resemblance in another.

            Unless one is a culinary anthropologist, or historian, "authentic" is not likely to really come into play. Then, when the dish is distilled to its ultimate roots, it might not be even close to what one is talking about, in a contemporary sense.

            For me, the question is most often "authentic to what?"

            Now, if you have found recipes, that make you happy, there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying those.

            If I ask, "what are authentic tacos?" The following question would be "which country, and if Mexico, which state?" "Authentic" mole is so many different things, depending on where in Mexico the recipe came from, and maybe even which family, in the same city, and state.

            That is all that I am saying.


        2. Empanadas is a big topic. South American styles often do not use yeast.

          1. I've never seen an empanada recipe using yeast. You want the dough to be flaky with a little bit of heft. Yeast-risen dough would be too bready.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JungMann

              Who wants the dough to be flaky? What country and what style?

              1. re: paulj

                I'm talking about the baked turnovers that are made in Spain, the Philippines and Argentina. The ideal casing is like a less-flaky pie crust. I prefer them greatly over the thin, pliant crust one might find in other South American varieties like Chilean empanadas de pino.

            2. What country are you talking about?

              Spain, Ecuador, Columbia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, other? Bake, fried? What sort of filling?

              The Spanish recipe that I've worked with does use yeast, but it does not have a lot of rise. It's somewhat like an oily pizza dough. And since empanadas possibly originated as street food for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostella, it could be argued that the Galician version is the most authentic, traditional one.

              Any version using baking powder can't be older than baking powder (i.e. late 19th c). I see it used in versions from Ecuador and Bolivia.

              Versions without either yeast or baking powder also quite common.

              1 Reply
              1. re: paulj


                "Pizza dough." Good analogy. I have my favorites, and others have theirs, some of which, I do not enjoy.

                I want mine to be sort of like a large, circular cracker, with crisp bubbles, and thin. Others love theirs doughy, with zero crisp bubbles. It just depends.