Many Hispanic families and restaurants serve a traditional pastry called empanadas, made by folding dough over a stuffing. While Helen Mariscal shared this recipe for pumpkin empanadas, any number of ingredients can be used as filling instead. Empanadas can be made into a savory dish by filling them with meat and cheese, or different seasonal fruits can be used to coincide with the growing seasons. 

Yields: 12-15 empanadas


  • 1 16 oz. can of solid packed pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar, separated
  • 1/2 tsp. anise extract *
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to taste*
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening (chilled)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Cinnamon-sugar mixture



  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the pumpkin with 1/2 cup sugar, anise extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Adjust sugar if necessary and add 1/4 cup to taste.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. With a pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour mixture until it resembles a course texture.  Add milk and stir with a fork until dough clings together.
  3. Turn into a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 5 times.  With a floured rolling pin, roll out half of the dough to a 1/16 inch thickness, cut into 5 inch circles.  Place approximately 1 tablespoon of pumpkin mixture on 1/2 of the circle.  Fold over remaining edge.  Seal edges by crimping with a fork or other decorative design.  Brush with egg mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Repeat with remaining half of dough.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Tip: I have substituted anise powder for extract. I grind the anise seeds and for me this produces a better flavor.  Also on the spices, everyone has certain spices that work. You can add or remove any spice according to your family’s taste.  Lastly, I find that if I take about a golf size piece of dough and roll it out individually, like a tortilla, I don’t have to roll out the whole piece of dough.  This is just what works for me.