Empanadillas (Turnovers)

Can be made Vegetarian, Gluten + Vegan Friendly

28 May · Written by Raquel Jones


"Empanada" is the Spanish term for "breaded," while "empanadilla" refers to a smaller serving size. In Spain, the most traditional filling typically contains tuna (atún), with the second most popular option being a "sofrito" or "pisto" mix. This mix involves gently frying finely chopped pieces of onion, capsicum, tomato, and garlic in olive oil, allowing them to cook slowly in a pan over an extended period.

Of course, there are various other versions of empanadas, showcasing their remarkable versatility. These turnovers can be made with chicken, octopus, meat, or other fillings. In Mallorca, they are known as "Robiols" and are traditionally sweet, often filled with pumpkin jam and enjoyed during Christmas and Easter.

I've personally crafted two sweet and two savoury versions of empanadillas, including a delightful variation featuring ricotta and quince paste. This particular rendition serves as a fantastic alternative to crackers on a cheese board or makes for a delectable afternoon snack with a cup of tea!

For dedicated food enthusiasts, I've included two pastry methods in the recipe (including an egg-free option), but I won't judge if you choose to simplify things by using store-bought pastry! I always opt for baking my empanadillas rather than frying them, so my pastry recipe is tailored for baking, not frying.

The beauty of these delectable treats lies in their simplicity, especially when using store-bought pastry, and they offer a wonderful way to repurpose leftovers. Even my daughter, who may typically shy away from certain foods, can't resist these little half-moon pillows of deliciousness!

Bon Profit! Raquel x

Empanadillas (Turnovers)

Yields: 10-15 empanadillas depending on size

Firstly, choose and make your filling of choice. See SWEET and SAVOURY options below:


(a) Ricotta and Quince Paste:

Combine 200g of good quality ricotta with 2 tbsp caster sugar in a bowl and set aside for later. Cut 50g of quince paste into small cubes and set aside.

(b) Cabell D'Àngel (Angel Hair) Jam:

This is a delicious jam made from spaghetti squash. It is traditionally used to fill a local Mallorcan pastry called 'ensaïmada' and these lovely empanadillas.

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 2 cups of superfine caster sugar
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • juice of same medium lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (fan-forced) Celsius or 220 degrees (non-fan-forced) - oven must be hot first!
  2. On a lined baking tray, lay the cut squash upside down (skin side up) and bake for 30-40 mins or until flesh is soft and cooked through (a fork through the skin side should penetrate very easily)
  3. Take out and allow to cool so that you can handle it, then scoop out the flesh and add to a medium saucepan.
  4. Add sugar, lemon zest and juice to the pan with squash and cook gently on low-medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir regularly so that the bottom doesn't catch and burn. You want all the sugar to have dissolved and the mixture to thicken slightly into a jam.
  5. Once done, let cool slightly before using



(a) Spinach with raisins and pine nuts:

This is a very typical and delicious Catalan combination.

  • 100g baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted (dry fry in a hot pan briefly for some colour)
  • 1/4 cup of raisins, soaked (place in a bowl and cover with water for ~2 hours)
  • 2 tbsp sherry wine (you can use water or some white wine instead)
  1. In a pan (preferably non-stick) add 1 tbsp olive oil, diced onion and a good pinch of salt.
  2. Over a low-medium heat, cook onion until it starts to soften, then add spinach leaves, 2 tbsp of sherry wine (or 2 tbsp water) and gently stir leaves until they begin to wilt, and you can begin to combine onion with spinach in a pan.
  3. Take off of heat and leave to one side. **Remember to drain off excess liquid before adding to empanadas**
  4. Drain raisins and leave sit to one side.
(b) Spanish Jamòn, Semi-Sundried Tomato and Spanish Black Olives:

Take 25 pitted, black Spanish olives (drained) and place in a blender with 1 tbsp baby capers and 125 g semi-sundried tomatoes and puree to a paste. Slice 8 slices of Spanish Jamón (or prosciutto) into small pieces and mix evenly into a paste. Set aside for use in empanadillas.

Secondly, make your dough. Choose from SWEET or SAVOURY versions below:

Note: you can substitute shortcrust pastry if you want to skip making the dough


  • 100 g butter (needs be room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 3 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp white wine (preferably sweet)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100 g superfine caster sugar
  • 500 g plain flour, plus some extra for dusting
  1. Using the whisk attachment on a standard mixer bowl, place the butter and olive oil into a bowl and whisk until it's well combined.
  2. Add the orange juice, wine, egg yolk and sugar and whisk on medium speed for about 2-3 mins to form a paste.
  3. Swap the whisk for the dough hook attachment and add the flour to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes on medium speed until the dough forms a ball.
  4. Remove the dough and cut in half. Wrap both halves with glad wrap and put in the fridge to firm for about 15 minutes.


Omit the orange juice and sugar above.

Need a vegan pastry option?

Check out my Galette pastry method. Follow instructions until refrigeration and then return here to this recipe, for putting empanadas together. Please note: The Vegan Option is slightly more rustic and crumbly, but equally delicious!

Lastly, put your empanadillas together:

  1. Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Take one half of the dough out of the fridge transfer it to a floured working surface and roll it out as thinly as possible.
  3. Then using 10 cm cookie cutter or round plastic container, cut out as many circles as possible, and re-roll any offcuts until you've used up all of the dough.
  4. Place a tablespoon of whichever filling you have chosen to use on one half of each dough circle, leaving about 1 to 1 1/2 cm, as a border all the way around. (If using the ricotta filling, press in a few cubes of the quince paste into the filling of each turnover.) Brush a little water around the edges and fold over in half. Seal the sides by pinching with your fingers or use a fork to crimp the edges.
  5. Place your empanadillas on prepared trays and brush over with a little egg wash or olive oil before baking for around about 15-20 mins, or until golden and cooked through.


For the sweet versions:

Serve as an appetiser or snack, or pair with a cheese board. So versatile it’s fabulous! On their own, the sweet versions are best suited to a tea or coffee, but also pair well with a sweet, sticky wine as a dessert.

For the savoury versions:

Try pairing the Jamón and Olive filling with our Rosé or Tempranillo J. The Spinach and Pine Nut filling however would benefit from additional minerality to complement the dish, so try it with our Pinot Gris, Amphora Blanco or Àmbar or our straight Albariño.