Cherry Empanadillas

This delicious cherry filling will convince you that empanadillas aren't just for savory fillings. These empanadillas are fried until golden brown, then glitzed up with a pretty pink glaze. If you don't have a cherry pitter, a chopstick does a surprisingly good job of removing the pits.

Active Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
12 empanadillas


For the Dough

  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Pinch of turmeric

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or shortening (very cold), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • ½ cup cold water, plus more as needed

For the Filling

  • ½ pound dark sweet cherries, pitted (or frozen pitted cherries, thawed and drained) 

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • cup granulated sugar

  • Pinch of ground or freshly grated nutmeg

  • Cooking spray

For the Frying

  • 2 cups vegetable oil

  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash

For the Glaze

  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar

  • A few drops pink food coloring

  • 1 - 2 tablespoons milk


First, make the dough

  1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and turmeric to combine. Add the butter or shortening and pulse until the fat is in pea-sized bits.

  2. Add the beaten egg and pulse to incorporate. With the motor running, gradually pour in 1/4 cup of the water, adding more as needed until the dough feels firm and smooth but not sticky, and is elastic.

  3. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling

  1. Roughly chop half of the cherries; leave the remaining cherries whole. In a medium saucepan, stir the cherries with the salt and cinnamon. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the lemon juice to make a smooth, pourable mixture; scrape it into the saucepan and stir to combine. Stir in the sugar and nutmeg.

  2. Cook the cherry mixture over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the juices are very thick and turn a deep dark red, and the whole cherries have softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let the filling cool slightly, stirring often, then refrigerate until cold, about 40 minutes.

  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; spray with cooking spray. On a lightly floured work surface using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the chilled dough until 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3 1/2 to 4-inch paper circle as a guide (or using a small bowl), cut out rounds with a sharp paring knife, gathering the scraps and rolling out again as needed for 12 rounds.

  4. Place 1 tablespoon of chilled filling in the center of a dough round and brush the edge of the dough very lightly with egg wash. Cover and close the empanadilla, forming a half-moon. Using the tines of a fork, press the edges to seal, ensuring that no gaps remain in the dough; transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to form remaining empanadillas. Transfer baking sheet with empanadillas to the refrigerator; chill until firm, about 1 hour.

  5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan to 350°F over medium. Working in batches of 2, fry the empanadillas until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes total, returning the oil to 350°F between batches. Use a spider spatula or a slotted spoon to transfer the pastries to a paper towel lined sheet pan to cool slightly before serving. If any of the empanadillas release some of the filling into the oil, use a skimmer to remove the juices from the oil to prevent it from burning.

While the empanadillas are cooling, make the glaze

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners' sugar and food coloring, then gradually whisk enough milk to make a pourable glaze. Top the empanadillas with the glaze, and serve warm. Enjoy!

    Cherry Empanadillas
    Farrah Skeiky
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