Best Lean Turkey Empanada


We love empanada so much! My husband and I would walk around DC especially in Adams Morgan area just to get empanadas. It’s best to sit outside in the sun and eat the big empanadas from one of the bakeries there. One empanada is enough to fill you up but I always give my last bite to my husband and I know even though he doesn’t say it he waits for that very moment. I know because when my food gets smaller he looks at it like he knows what’s about to happen! Then came the day when I said I wanted to eat empanada and my husband said maybe you can try making it? I didn’t know if I should say “but it’s a lot of work!” or if I should say “hmmm… I’m okay with buying empanada from Adam’s Morgan once in a while…”. He has this idea that I can make anything. So I did.

Honestly, I thought it was easy when I was sauteeing the ingredients and making the dough. But it was a lot of work for me when I started working on the dough because I never tried making empanada before. The thickness was an issue for me because I am not a big fan of kneading the dough and flattening it to a certain thickness. There’s a lot of effort on this part especially when I have to use the rolling pin. I also think my empanada filling is not as EXTRA tasty as the ones with red meat or the ones with chorizo. But we don’t eat red meat so everytime we eat meat it is certainly a 98% lean ground turkey. I put a lot of vegetables instead of the meat. How can I not? The veggies and spices are the real reason for the taste of any dish. The meat is just there to add some umami taste or glutamatethat extra “mmmmm…!”. If you don’t eat meat you won’t even look for that meaty taste anyway! So, if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, go for this and replace the turkey meat with shiitake mushrooms or any mushroom of your choice. Cabbage is also a great option. It tastes like meat and the texture is like a clean cut meat when properly spiced.


It’s my very first empanada from scratch. It took me forever to make the shape perfect. I mean 40 minutes seem like forever to me because I’m quick with anything except working with dough. I’m more of a cook than a baker. I remember making my first floral cake and it took me three days to perfect the cake bread. For me, it’s either perfect for our palate or I don’t make it at all. The dough of this empanada looks really nice because I didn’t just brush it with egg wash once but three times. I waited for the whole process in the kitchen because I didn’t want to waste my effort the whole day in making this and I also have a hungry mouth waiting for me to finish. It’s hard to disappoint my husband’s taste because he doesn’t forget it quickly. One salty breakfast omelette and he reminded me of it for three days. I can’t blame him it was really salty!


How I made the filling: the filling was sauteed first with a lot of onions and some garlic then I browned the turkey and seasoned it with salt and pepper for maximum flavor. I used one pound of turkey because I know we would finish it the same day (I was wrong we finished it the next morning when my husband asked for it the moment he woke up at around 6:30 AM). The dough was really easy but I didn’t have a cutter so I used a bowl, turned it upside down to cut the dough, and then filled it with the filling. The technique to perfect the seal is to put either water or egg white on the inner edge of the circle, then slowly, I closed one end from right to left or left to right with a wet fork. What I mean to say with “wet fork” is that you should dip the end of the fork, about an inch into the water-filled ramekin before pressing the fork down onto the dough’s edges. Otherwise, the dough will stick on to the fork and your empanada will look like a sticky mess.

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Remember, like every other dough you must do this as quickly as possible to preserve the texture of the dough. If you’re a beginner like me at empanada-making try to sprinkle flour on the surface of your workstation for each dough on both sides otherwise it will dry out and can even stick on the countertop you’re working on. You don’t want that. If you have any questions please email me anytime or DM me on Instagram so we can connect! I receive messages all the time and I love answering questions. So here you go!

Oops! wait, here is the giant empanada!

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Much love to all of you and don’t stop creating!

2 ramekins
pastry brush
bowl/circular pattern dough cutter
mixing bowl
handheld/stand mixer or food processor
cling wrap or any organic biodegradable wrap (for chilling the dough)


1 lb. ground turkey
½ to ¾ cups turkey broth, from boiled turkey meat, (water if you don’t have it ready)
1 carrot, cubed
½ cup green peas
1 organic potato, cubed
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
¼ cup Mirin soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon organic brown cane sugar
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil (filtered/unfiltered, optional)
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt (more minerals than regular iodized salt)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 cup water or egg white, to seal the dough

Dough Recipe
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 cup organic unsalted butter
1 egg
10 tbsps organic full-fat fresh milk

Egg Wash
egg white
egg yolk
full-fat fresh milk


The Filling
1. On a medium high heat brown the turkey in a pan. Add the onions until it’s soft. Then add the potato cubes, diced carrots, green peas, and raisins. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Cook until the vegetables are half cooked.
2. Pour turkey broth, Worcestershire sauce, turkey broth (water if you don’t have it). Cover the pan for 5 minutes and let the flavors meld together. Lower heat to setting number 4 (or lower than medium-high heat). Stove settings vary so try to get to know your own settings.
3. Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, and pepper, stir well and let it cook for another 5 minutes. remove from heat and uncover to stop from cooking. You may also transfer it to a clean bowl.

For the Giant Empanada
Gather all the leftover dough from the cuttings and follow instructions 5-10 below for the dough. For the filling follow 1-3 steps above. Just add slices of egg soft boiled or hard boiled into the filling. Bake with the rest of the empanadas.

The Dough
1. Put the oven rack in the mid-level of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the dough ingredients, mesh metal strainer, flour and salt. Put the flour and salt together in a strainer. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. I mixed it well once again with a spatula. Do the same if using food processor.
2. Add the diced butter pieces to the mixture and blend well until it forms crumbs. A food processor might be helpful at this stage. I used a mixing bowl and some flour scattered so make sure to use low speed if not using a food processor.
3. Add the egg to the mixture and then add the milk gradually while the mixer is running. Do the same if using a food processor. Continue mixing until the mixture looks like big crumbs of floured butter.
4. Sprinkle flour on the surface of your workstation and put flour on your hands as well. Put all the dough mixture on top of the floured surface. Mold it using your hands forming a ball of dough. Cut it into two with a dough cutter. Form both doughs into a ball until smooth. You are doing this so the dough chills better and faster in the fridge. One large dough ball takes a longer time to chill. Flour the doughs to avoid a crusty and dry dough. You can flatten the ball like I did to chill better and faster. Cover the dough with plastic or any organic wrap you may have available. A cheesecloth works too! Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Put the dough on a floured surface and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. Take a bowl or a large circular cookie cutter and cut out circle side by side. Set them aside but don’t put them on top of each other unless you sprinkled flour on each of them otherwise they might stick especially for beginners because it takes more time to do each stage of the process.
6. Put the turkey filling in the middle of each dough. One inch border from the tip is good enough so you can seal it later.
7. Get a small ramekin and fill it with water for sealing. You may also use an egg white because it seals the dough better. Dip your index finger or a brush on the water or egg white and brush it on to the outer part of the circle doughs.
8. Fold over each dough to meet the other half of the circle. Get the clean fork and dip the end into the water. Press the end of the fork on the ends of the circle while slightly pulling away for a few millimeters. It helps seal the empanada better.
9. Line your baking sheet with a parchment paper and assemble the empanadas. Put it into the oven for 15 minutes and then brush the empanada with egg wash. After another 5 to 10 minutes brush it again with the egg wash. Finally, after another 5 to 10 minutes, mix the egg yolk to the egg wash and brush the empanadas with it for the last time. Wait for it to turn a bit yellowish around 10-15 minutes. It will look fabulous!
10. Take it out of the oven when the sides are brown and crispy/crunchy. Let it cool for 15 minutes or more. Serve and enjoy!



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Hello! My name is Altha. I love to cook and experiment with naturally sourced ingredients. I believe in the power of naturally grown food to heal the mind and body. I believe God made everything perfect. Let's connect!

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