Cornmeal + Cassava Gluten-Free Empanada Dough

Cornmeal + Cassava Gluten-Free Empanada Dough

When we decided to experiment with gluten-free dough, it was instantly very obvious that we needed to consult Sandra Gutierrez’s “Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America.” In this charming and insanely-informative cookbook, she gives four recipes for gluten-free dough.  The cornmeal and cassava gluten-free empanada dough was one of our favorites and should be one of yours, too! Sandra has three other books on Latin American and Southern fare we can’t wait to dive into: “The New Southern-Latino Table,” “Latin American Street Food” and “Beans and Field Peas: A Savor the South Cookbook.”

To see how we stuffed this dough, check out our Eastern Carolina BBQ Carnitas and to see what we thought of this recipe, check out the Gluten-Free Empanada Experiment.

Printed with permission from the publisher, Stewart, Tabori & Chang; An imprint of ABRAMS.

Cornmeal + Cassava Gluten-Free Empanada Dough

Empanada Dough Ingredients

  • 3 cups (420 g) precooked yellow cornmeal (masarepa or harina pan), plus more as needed
  • ½ cup (64 g) cassava flour or tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto (achiote) or Bijol
  • 3 cups (720 ml) hot water (about 115°F/46°C), plus more as needed


Empanada Dough Directions

In  a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour or starch, salt, and annatto or Bijol. Add the water slowly, in a thin stream, kneading the mixture with your hands until it comes together into a ball with the consistency of mashed potatoes (if the dough is too dry ,add a few more tablespoons of water at a time; if it’s too wet, add a few tablespoons of the precooked cornmeal at a time). Turn the dough onto a clean surface and knead it until smooth, 45 seconds to 1 minute or to the consistency of play dough. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and let it rest for 10 minutes (to allow the fine grains to absorb all of the liquid).

Assemble the Empanadas

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set them aside. Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces (about 2 ½ ounces/70 g each). Roll each portion into a ball and keep them covered with a damp kitchen towel as you work. Line a tortilla press with a zip top freezer bag that has been cut open on three sides so that it opens like a book. Place a ball of dough in the middle of the tortilla press and flatten it into a 5 ½ -inch (14-cm) round, about ½ inch (3 mm) thick (or roll it out with a rolling pin). Place 3 heaping tablespoons of the filling in the middle of the round, leaving a small rim. Use the bag to fold the dough over the filling, forming a half-moon; press the edges together with your fingers to seal. Transfer the empanada to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling, keeping the empanadas covered as you go.

Fry the empanadas and serve

Fit a large pan with a metal cooling rack and set it aside. In a large skillet with high sides, heat 1 to 1 ½  inches (2.5-3 cm) of vegetable oil to 360°F (180°C). You may also use a deep-fryer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Working in batches of 4 or 5 empanadas at a time, carefully slide them into the oil and fry them until golden brown, 3-4 minutes, turning them over halfway through. If the oil gets too hot as you fry and they’re browning too quickly, lower the temperature and let the oil cool slightly before frying anymore. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried empanadas to the prepared rack to drain. Serve them immediately or keep them warm in a 250°F (120°C) oven for up to 1 hour before serving.

Recipe from Empanadas: The Hand-held Pies of Latin America by Sandra A. Gutierrez (ABRAMS)

Sandra A. Gutierrez

Author of:

1.The New Southern-Latino Table.   

2.Latin American Street Food

3.Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America

4. Beans and Field Peas: A Savor The South Cookbook

© 2015 Sandra A. Gutierrez

Eastern Carolina BBQ Carnitas + Corn Empanadas

Eastern Carolina BBQ Carnitas + Corn Empanadas

Gluten-Free Experiment: Empanada Dough

Gluten-Free Experiment: Empanada Dough