Caprese empanadas, a delightful fusion of Mediterranean and Latin American flavors, offer an amazingly tasty twist to the traditional empanada recipe. These irresistible hand bites combine the freshness of aromatic tomatoes, fragrant basil leaves, and creamy mozzarella cheese captured in a golden-brown pastry shell.
Who doesn’t love the enticing aroma of freshly baked pastries? If you’re a fan of the classic caprese flavors – then you’re in for a treat. Be it as an appetizer or main course, these tasty little pockets of great delight are guaranteed to steal the show.
Join us and learn how to make delicious caprese empanadas from scratch effortlessly. The recipe is easy, and once you try them, you will make them again.Jump to Recipe
What are caprese empanadas
The name “empanada” comes from the Spanish word “empanar,” which means “to coat with bread.” Back in the Middle Ages, these little hand-held goodies started getting really popular all across the Iberian Peninsula. Spanish sailors and traders, on the hunt for new trade routes, took empanadas with them on their ships, spreading the love for these snacks far and wide to Latin America. They stuffed them with all sorts of stuff, from meats to veggies and fruits, showing off the amazing local ingredients they had at hand.
Caprese empanadas are a tasty mix of flavors that combines the aromas of the iconic Caprese salad with the tasty, golden-baked crust of delicious empanadas. The spotlight here shifts to the beloved ingredients of Italy’s famous salad: sun-ripened tomatoes, aromatic basil, and luscious mozzarella cheese.
What’s so good about them
- This recipe will show you how to make caprese empanadas from scratch. No premade pie dough, no baking powder, no yeast, only ingredients you probably already have at home – all-purpose flour, butter, mozzarella, tomato, basil, garlic and spices.
- They are easy to make, and they look adorable. By merging the iconic flavors of the Caprese salad with the beloved concept of empanadas, you’re creating a fusion masterpiece that harmoniously combines both Latin and Mediterranean cuisine. Have you already tried our mini pizzetta recipe, black pepper focaccia and focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes? Caprese empanadas are another super tasty food on the list of Italy-inspired baked goods.
- They are great for parties and great for kids. Whether it’s just a simple gathering of friends or a bustling party, caprese empanadas are guaranteed to steal the spotlight. Their elegant appearance, coupled with the explosion of flavors within, will leave a lasting impression.
- These cute little buns are a true creative expression. From carefully selecting the ripest tomatoes to arranging the basil leaves just so, cooking becomes a canvas of taste, texture, and presentation.
- You can take them on a trip, and they will make a perfect snack when waiting at the airport. It’s easy to pack them, and they will last for more than a day.
- You can make them in advance or just make the dough in advance and bring them to the table when you need a fast snack. And you can play with fillings – perhaps introducing a hint of roasted garlic or a dash of balsamic reduction. Did you know that just a little bit of adaptation can even result in the tastiest sweet empanada cookies you’ve ever tried?
Simple ingredients behind homemade caprese empanadas
FLOUR – We used organic all-purpose flour for this recipe; however, for a healthier version, you can make these with whole-grain flour or, for a gourmet version, substitute half of it with buckwheat or corn flour. Switch to gluten-free flour for gluten-free caprese empanadas.
BUTTER – Butter is used for the dough, and it needs to be kept at room temperature. But don’t worry if your butter is refrigerated; you can melt it before adding it to the flour.
EGGS – Eggs are used for the dough as well as for the eggwash so that your tasty empanadas won’t leak while baking. It makes them look more golden and more yummy. And yes, they make a crunch when you bite into one.
TOMATO – Whatever kind of tomato you have at home, be it heirloom tomato or cherry tomato, opt for the one that has the best aroma. Keep in mind that tomatoes kept in the fridge might lose some of their original taste.
MOZZARELLA – Any kind of mozzarella will do the job. Caprese empanadas can be made with mozzarella balls, pizza mozzarella or store-bought shredded mozzarella.
FRESH BASIL – You only need a handful of fresh basil leaves; it is best if these are plucked right from your garden. Or maybe this is your calling to finally buy that basil plant? You will only rob it of a few leaves, and the plant will still be growing for your next culinary adventure. Just a hint – pasta alla salmone with basil is one of those dishes that will totally enchant your taste buds.
GARLIC – I’m a terrible garlic addict, so I love to add a little bit of crushed garlic to everything. Or garlic powder, that works too. It pairs great with tomatoes and basil.
PARSLEY – We added a few leaves of parsley together with garlic and olive oil to the filling. No worries if you don’t have fresh parsley at hand; caprese empanadas don’t really need much; some garlic will be enough.
OLIVE OIL – A tablespoon of cold-pressed organic olive oil is added to the filling together with garlic. Be sure you don’t add too much because it might leak out of the empanadas while they are baking.
SALT & BLACK PEPPER – The Caprese fusion of tomato, basil and mozzarella already tastes so good that there’s no need to add any additional spices. However, feel free to get creative and try some interesting herbs that could go in these cute little pockets.
Easy caprese empanadas recipe
PREPARING THE DOUGH
STEP 1: In a larger bowl, mix the flour with a pinch of salt.
STEP 2: Next, add butter. If your butter is kept at room temperature, you can cut it into smaller pieces and stir it into the dough. However, if your butter is refrigerated, first melt it in a small pan.
Stir it well into the flour using a fork or bare hands. The mixture should look similar to breadcrumbs when the butter has fully fused with the flour.
STEP 3: Take one egg and separate the egg yolk and the egg white. In a small bowl, whisk together the second egg and the egg white you just separated and add 0.4 cup or deciliter of water.
STEP 4: Add the mixture to the flour already fused with butter; try to mix it as best as you can using that fork.
STEP 5: Transfer the dough to a clean surface that you previously sprinkled with flour. Knead it for at least 8 minutes until you get a soft ball of dough. Khm, just a hint – if you have a bread machine at home, this is the moment you might want to use that weird kneading mode button to save yourself some sweat.
STEP 6: Once the dough is smooth and soft, place it in a bowl and cover it with a cover of plastic foil. Allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The trick is that the butter in the dough needs to be chilled and firm before forming the empanadas.
STEP 7: Once the dough is smooth and soft, place it in a bowl and cover it with a cover of plastic foil. Allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The trick is that the butter in the dough needs to be chilled and firm before forming the empanadas and baking.
Now it’s also the time to preheat the oven to 365 Fahrenheit, or 180 C. Keep in mind that 365 F is not always the same in conventional and convection ovens. Check that out; we also made some cute printable F-to-C conversion tables for these kinds of annoyances.
FORMING CAPRESE EMPANADAS
STEP 8: It’s time to prepare the fillings too. Wash and slice your tomatoes into smaller pieces and cut or shred the mozzarella cheese. Mix some chopped basil with a few parsley leaves, sliced garlic, a pinch of salt and a tbsp of olive oil. Be careful not to add too much oil, as it will make it harder to fold and assemble the edges of the discs if they get too greasy.
STEP 9: When the dough is chilled enough, and the butter has solidified at least a bit, once again, transfer it to a clean surface, previously sprinkled with flour.
STEP 10: Roll it out to about 0.5 cm thin using a rolling pin. If you don’t have one at home, an empty glass bottle can do the job.
STEP 11: Cut round discs about 4 to 6 inches in diameter using a bowl of an appropriate size.
STEP 12: Top each piece of the discs with the filling and fold them over. Press the edges of the discs to the surface to ensure they are sealed.
STEP 13: Once the edges are firmly sealed, start twisting the edge of the empanada from one side to the other, forming a curly pattern. With each wave made, press the dough with your finger to the surface again and continue to curl it all the way to the other side.
Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect; these things require some training.
STEP 13: Prepare a baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper. Transfer the empanadas to the sheet; there should be some space between them.
Mix the leftover egg yolk in a small bowl and cover those cute little buns with a yolky egg wash using a brush.
STEP 14: Bake at 365 F/ 180 C for about 20 to 25 minutes until the cute little pockets start looking golden brown.
STEP 15: When baked, let them settle for a few minutes, then serve while still hot with your favorite sauce.
A few tips worth remembering
- Make sure you don’t add too much oil to the filling or that the tomato slices aren’t too wet. If you are using soaked mozzarella balls, you might want to give them a good drain before slicing them for the filling. If the filling is too wet or too greasy, it will be harder to seal the edges firmly, and the liquids might leak while the empanadas are being baked.
- Don’t top the discs with too much filling; depending on the size of the disc, the amount of tomatoes, cheese and basil on the empanada dough should be just right to allow folding and sealing the discs with ease.
- Keeping tomatoes in the refrigerator might seriously affect their aroma. Tomatoes have a less-than-enthusiastic response to temperatures that dip below the 12°C (53.6°F) threshold. It turns out that the very compounds responsible for their rich and robust taste appear to harbor a distinct dislike for the chilly realms of refrigeration.
- Keep in mind that the dough, in order to be able to play with it easily, needs to be chilled before assembling the empanadas. It contains quite an amount of butter, and it’s much easier to work with if the butter is solidified. Also, this will affect how the empanadas will bake. If the butter is too warm, when the empanadas travel to the oven, the crust won’t turn out as delicious.
- Folding and swirling the edges require some practice. If your first few empanadas might look somewhat strange, you shouldn’t worry much; what matters is that the edges are sealed to prevent leakage while baking. I bet the last seven will look perfect! The more times you make them, the more adorable they get. However, if swirling annoys you, you can still seal them with a fork or use an empanada mold.
Storage and reheating
Baked caprese empanadas can be stored in a covered bowl or airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. You can simply reheat them in the oven or use a microwave.
When frozen, they will last up to three months in the freezer, ensuring that they are stored in an airtight container or a sealed bag. Thaw at room temperature and reheat as usual.
You can store unbaked empanadas in the freezer by first freezing them on a baking sheet and then transferring them into a container or zip-lock bag. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and bake when they are still cold.
Caprese empanadas FAQs
Store-bought pie crusts offer a convenient solution with their flaky texture. Alternatively, a simple biscuit dough can serve as a versatile stand-in, while corn masa dough provides a gluten-free version. You can even use store-bought pizza dough, but keep in mind it contains yeast and it needs time to rest before baking.
Yes, you can make the dough using gluten-free flour mixture or use store-bought corn masa dough.
Eggs play a pivotal role in this recipe, lending structure and richness to the dough. Should eggs be off the table, consider swapping each with a “chia egg” – a blend of 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds and one tablespoon lukewarm water left to gel.
Yes, you can use sun-dried tomatoes for this recipe, but keep in mind that the taste will be somewhat different than with fresh tomatoes.
They can be served with a good salad and your favorite sauce. Sauces that pair well with caprese empanadas are garlic sauce and basil pesto. A balsamic reduction serves as a sweet and savory option.
No, the dough for caprese empanadas is made with a high amount of butter; therefore, it’s best to be baked.
One empanada made by this recipe has about 180 kcal.
More delicious Mediterranean food
Caprese empanadas (from scratch)
- Rolling Pin
- baking sheet
- 2.4 cup flour (300 g)
- 1/3 cup butter (70 g)
- 2 eggs
- 0,42 cup water (100 ml)
- 1 cup mozzarella (200 g)
- 2 tomatoes
- handfull fresh basil leaves
- tsp fresh parsley
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil (15 ml)
- tsp salt
- black pepper
- Mix the flour with salt.
- Add pieces of butter. If the butter is refrigerated, first melt it in a small pan. Stir it well into the flour using a fork or your hands. The mixture you get should be similar to breadcrumbs.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together one whole egg and one egg yolk. Add 0,4 cup of water (100 ml) and add it to the flour with butter. Mix well to get a soft dough.
- Sprinkle a flat, clean surface with flour and transfer the dough. Knead for at least 8 minutes until getting a soft and smooth ball of dough.
- Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic foil and allow it to rest in the refrigerator until the butter solidifies (for about 30 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 365 F/ 180 C.
- Prepare the filling – cut or shred the mozzarella, slice the tomatoes and mix the basil with a tablespoon of fresh parsley and garlic, all combined with a tbsp of olive oil.
- Once the dough is chilled, sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll it out (about 0.2 inches thin) using a rolling pin.
- Cut out empanada discs using a bowl about 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Top each of the discs with the filling and fold it over.
- Press the edges of the discs to the surface and start twisting and curling the edge from one side to the other. For each curl you make, press the dough once again to the surface. Curl the edge all the way to the other side.
- Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and cover them with egg wash, using the leftover egg yolk.
- Bake at 365 F/ 180 C for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Allow the empanadas to settle for a minute and serve with your favorite sauce.
- To prevent leakage while making empanadas, avoid using too much oil or wet tomato slices. Drain soaked mozzarella balls before adding them to the filling. Excess moisture or grease can make it challenging to seal the edges securely.
- Tomatoes lose their aroma when refrigerated as they dislike temperatures below 12°C. It’s best to store them at room temperature for optimal flavor.
- Don’t overfill the empanada dough. Use the right amount of filling for easy folding and sealing.
- The dough needs to be chilled before assembling empanadas. This makes it easier to handle as it contains a lot of butter. The temperature of the butter will also affect the baking process. If it’s too warm, the crust won’t be as delicious.
- Folding and swirling the edges of empanadas can be challenging, and it may take some practice to get it right. Don’t worry if your first few attempts don’t look perfect. The most important thing is to ensure that the edges are sealed properly to prevent any leaks while baking. With each try, you’ll get better at it and your empanadas will look more adorable. However, if you find swirling to be too difficult, you can always seal the edges with a fork or use an empanada mold.
- For a healthier option, use whole-grain flour or mix with buckwheat or corn flour for a gourmet twist. Gluten-free flour can be used for a gluten-free version of caprese empanadas.
- Empanadas can be refrigerated for three days. Simply reheat them in the oven or use a microwave.
- When stored in an airtight container or sealed bag, they can last up to three months in the freezer. Simply thaw at room temperature and reheat as usual.
- Freeze unbaked empanadas on a sheet and transfer them to a container or bag. Thaw in refrigerator and bake when still cold.
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