Traditional Uruguayan Empanadas

Traditionelle uruguayische Empanadas

You asked for it, so finally you get traditional Uruguayan empanadas! Yay! Empanadas are flaky pasties in the shape of a half-moon filled with juicy and seasoned beef and boiled eggs. Usually they are served with the herb dip called chimichurri. Just thinking about these delicious treats make me want to grab one. When I made a story on Instagram about empanadas, I was surprised how many of you asked for the recipe and how many were excited about them. You guys encourage me to continue posting Uruguayan recipes, even if they may not be as popular as others. So here goes.

Traditionelle uruguayische EmpanadasSince empanada recipes vary and every country in Latin America claims to have the best recipe, I will try to describe what an empanada from Uruguay looks like. Feel free to comment and add to my list. Let’s see:

Traditionelle uruguayische EmpanadasWhat is an empanada from Uruguay:

  • The main ingredient for the dough is wheat flour. I know, many Latin American countries (such as Mexico or Colombia) prefer corn, but for a true Uruguayan empanada we need good old all-purpose flour. Usually only water and salt is added. You may also add beef tallow. Beef tallow makes the dough flakier. Beef tallow, compared to butter, melts at higher temperature and thus makes the dough easier to work with as the dough is more elastic. You may wonder why beef tallow. Well, this has to do with the fact that Uruguay has four times more cattle per capita living in the country. Four cows per each inhabitant, do I need to explain more? However, since beef tallow is very hard to come by in Germany, I decided to use lard. If you can get beef tallow, by all means use it.
  • Traditionally Uruguayan empanadas are filled with seasoned beef meat. I mean, four cows per capita, makes sense to use beef, right? And please be sure to use really good meat. I decided for minced meat, but feel free to cube sirloin steak or something similar.
  • This meat is then mixed with hard boiled eggs. I read contradicting statements that a true Uruguayan empanada also needs olives. However, as stated, some said this was something very Argentinian, others believed it to be truly Uruguayan. I decided to leave out the olives, but it’s up to you what you decide to fill them with.
  • Uruguayan empanadas seem to be on the larger end. Usually the circles are between 12-15cm. I mean, who wants something tiny, if it is so delicious, right?
  • Uruguayan empanadas are usually baked. It only dawned on me that there may be other ways of preparing empanadas when I was in Colombia and was served a fried one. I cannot recall a single time I ate a Uruguayan empanada that was not baked. Traditional Uruguayan empanadas are served with the famous herb sauce chimichurri. Whereas some people can’t do with ketchup on anything, Uruguayans usually like everything with chimichurri. I already posted two recipes on the blog, check them out here and here. However, some people seem to think that chimichurri does not go with empanadas. Apparently my family was not traditional in this. I guess it is up to personal preference.

Traditionelle uruguayische EmpanadasDid I forget anything important? Feel free to comment. Other than that I hope you have a good time preparing empanadas. I know, they are quite a bit of work, first preparing the dough, the filling and then making the pastried. But maybe this little story encourages you. The first time I made 20 empanadas for my husband and me, they were gone in such small amount of time, I don’t even dare to write the timeframe here. My husband is Colombian and thus has some very strong opinions of how empanadas are supposed to taste, look, and smell. Once he tasted the first traditional Uruguayan empanada, he stated that he was fine only eating Uruguayan empanadas for the rest of his life. I literally had to sit down after that statement. Wow, that’s praise I had never received before. So, vamos, let’s make empanadas!

Traditional Uruguayan Empanadas

Serves: 20-24, depending on size
Prep Time: 1 hr 30min Cooking Time: 25min Total Time: 2 hrs

Traditional Uruguayan empanadas are flaky pasties in the shape of a half-moon filled with juicy and seasoned beef and boiled eggs.


  • Dough
  • 60 grams of lard or if you find beef tallow
  • 330 grams of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 600 grams of bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano

  • Filling
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 750 grams of good beef minced meat or sirloin steak
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • Optional: dried chili
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • Egg wash
  • Chimichurri sauce, see here how to easily make it at home



For the dough place lard, warm water and salt in a large kneading bowl and stir. Add flour and oregano and either knead five miutes by hand or with the kneading function of your machine. Let rest covered for at least half an hour or overnight in the fridge.


For the filling place tomatoes for about 30 seconds in boiling water, then cool with cold water and peel of skin and cut into cubes. Press garlic through garlic press, cut onions into cubes. Simmer garlic and onions in some olive oil until translucent. Take out onions and garlic and brown the meat at high heat from all sides. Season with all herbs and add the onions, garlic and tomatoes. Let simmer for a few minutes, add salt, pepper and additional spices to taste. You can prepare the meat the night before, chill in fridge if doing so. Boil eggs and also cut into cubes and mix with prepared meat.


Cut dough into half and roll out one half thinnly on floured surface. Cut out circles about 12-15cm in diameter. Mine have a diameter of 12.5 cm. Place the filling on one half, put a bit of water all around the edges and fold over the other half. Be sure to seal the edges with a fork. Repeat until you have no dough and filling left.


Meanwhile preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Brush empanadas with egg wash and bake about 8 empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 25min or until golden. Serve warm with chimichurri sauce.


Empanadas freeze beautifully fully prepared. Place frozen on baking sheet, brush with egg wash and bake for a few minutes longer.

Traditionelle uruguayische EmpanadasP.S.: I have many more empanada recipes on the blog, check out the article.

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  • Reply
    Tuesday October 29th, 2019 at 06:46 PM

    Wow! Delicious!
    I have to do them. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Tuesday October 29th, 2019 at 08:13 PM

      Please tell me how you like them!

  • Reply
    Saturday November 23rd, 2019 at 06:45 AM

    Chimichurri is for meat ( asado). There’s a fashion now to add sauces to empanadas, but if you make them good they should be moist. Now, everyone is free to eat them as they like, even ketchup! But, it’s not traditional.
    In places like Tucumán, arguably the Mecca of empanadas for Argentina, the best are called “pa’ comer de patas abiertas “ so you don’t get the juice on your clothes.
    Suerte y muy bueno el artículo

    • Reply
      Saturday November 23rd, 2019 at 06:55 AM

      Hi Boris, apparently my family then always ate them non-traditional. I agree with you, the empanadas should be moist without sauce.

    • Reply
      Enzo Scaldaferro
      Friday August 28th, 2020 at 08:15 PM

      You are correct. It is a total abomination to use chimichurri on empanadas. Chimichurri is used exclusively for meat (red meat, chicken, choripan) and to condiment bread. The idea of chimichurri on empanadas is disgusting to me.

      • Reply
        Friday August 28th, 2020 at 10:41 PM

        As stated, I never said that we followed the traditions, I have seen people happily eating it like that.

        • Reply
          Monday November 23rd, 2020 at 12:08 PM


          If I cant use lard or beef tallow what Can I use instead? It has to be non-dairy?

          • Jenny
            Monday November 23rd, 2020 at 12:26 PM

            Vegan butter

  • Reply
    Wednesday April 29th, 2020 at 02:29 PM

    Ich hatte vor ca. 3 Wochen endlich deine Empanadas gebacken. Leider war gerade akute Mehlknappheit, so dass ich in mehreren Läden nicht erfolgreich war, die anderen Zutaten aber schon eingekauft hatte. Somit bin ich deinem Rezept nur halb gefolgt; ich habe die Fleischmasse und Chimichurri gemacht, nur konnte ich es nicht schön verpacken und habe es einfach mit Bort gegessen 🙂
    Geschmeckt hat es super, ich kann mich auch erinnern, dass ich die im Urlaub in Uruguay immer mit Sauce gegessen habe. Da es mittlerweile wieder Mehl zu kaufen gibt, werde ich es bald nochmal versuchen!

    • Reply
      Wednesday April 29th, 2020 at 02:39 PM

      Das freut mich zu hören.

      Offensichtlich ist die Kräutersoße nach ganz strengen Regeln nur beim Grillen/Steak erlaubt, aber meine Familie hat wohl schon in den 80ern ketzerisch auch zu Empanadas Chimichurri gegessen 😉

      Also hier hat sich die Mehllage wieder entspannt, vielleicht hast du auch Glück? Berichte auf jeden Fall sehr gerne, wenn du sie machst!

  • Reply
    Connie Martinez
    Saturday October 31st, 2020 at 02:31 PM

    Jenny,this is a very good recipe My husband is from Uruguay. Your recipe is basically the one I learned from mi Suegra over 43 years ago:) She would sometimes fry them in lard, but baked to me, tasted better.
    I will use cold butter in place of lard, because not easy to find where I live. I sometimes add green olives, sometimes add black olives, sometimes add shredded cheddar:) But that is personal taste. Mi sobrina, experiments with other leftover meats, chicken, or even fish, and they all come out great, however, I prefer the traditional chopped meat.

    You should post a recipe for “Torta Frita’s” , a favorite rainy day treat, and also potato gnocchi’s, customarily made by Uruguayans on the 29th of the month. I was told this was because by the end of the month, people were stretching their food supplies:) Not sure if that is true:)

    • Reply
      Saturday October 31st, 2020 at 02:36 PM

      Thanks Connie, yeah torta frita was also made by my grandma a lot, however, I am not that keen on deep-fried stuff. But thanks for the inspiration. May need to reconsider.

      Since it has stirred a lot of discussion, have you ever eaten empanadas with chimichurri? My husband is Colombian and for him it is normal to have a “salsa” with empanadas, so he thinks it is super weird that some people frown upon it. I have heard either, some Uruguayans are very much against it and others enjoy dipping the empanadas in some chimichurri sauce.

      Regardless, saludos and have a great day!

  • Reply
    Wednesday December 29th, 2021 at 12:33 PM

    A bit late to the game, but I’ve just married into a Uruguayan family and they do both. It’s a matter of personal taste
    I’m an Aussie, and some of us like tomato sauce on our meat pies, and others consider it an abomination ??

    Bottom line- you do you

    I’m so excited to try this recipe and hopefully impress my Uruguayan in-laws! Thank you Jenny ❤️

    • Reply
      Wednesday December 29th, 2021 at 02:41 PM

      Please let me know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Concetta Martinez
    Friday February 4th, 2022 at 11:52 PM

    Hmmm, well Jenny, my husband is from Uruguay, my mother-in-law taught me how to make empanadas, much the same as your recipe, and sometimes they were of meat with sauteed onions and garlic, chopped hardboiled eggs, green olives, and spices, sometimes with cheddar cheese added which is a family favorite. I don’t know who said they were usually baked, because I was introduced to them fried, in the same tallow or lard used to make the dough. We started baking them as a way to cut down on the extra calories from frying. We’ve also made them with chicken, and later, experimented with spinach and cheese, even fish. In fact, when I had a lot of dough leftover, I’ve made what we call an empanada pie, which I guess is technically a meat pie in a 9×11″ pan. As far as chimichurri, I guess it’s a matter of taste. Yes, it is usually reserved for meat, pork, etc, but we like it very much as a condiment, on toasted banquettes, or as a dip for the empanadas.

    • Reply
      Saturday February 5th, 2022 at 07:05 AM

      Hi Concetta, so interesting to hear how each family has their own traditions!

  • Reply
    Friday April 29th, 2022 at 09:17 PM

    Hi Jenny,
    die muss ich unbedingt nachmachen, allerdings werden sie dann wohl vegan. Na ja, dann ist Chimicurri dazu vermutlich auch keine so riesige Enttäuschung mehr für Original-Fanatiker welcher Sorte auch immer 😉 Wenn schon “falsch”, dann richtig! Hihi, liebe Grüße aus Berlin

    • Reply
      Friday April 29th, 2022 at 09:27 PM

      Ich würde dir dann eine Füllung mit hohem Kartoffelanteil empfehlen oder aber mit “veganem Hack”. Vielleicht wäre auch eine weitere Idee die Schoko-Empanadas zu veganisieren. Es gibt wohl mittlerweile gespüßte Kondensmilch aus Kokosmilch. Das nicht-vegane Rezept dazu gibt es hier:

      • Reply
        Friday April 29th, 2022 at 09:30 PM

        Mich hält ja niemand von beidem ab … 😉 Tatsächlich hab ich letztens erst gesüßte Kondensmilch vegan selbst gemacht, hab sogar noch ein bisschen davon im Kühlschrank … Da muss ich gleich mal checken, ob die noch gut ist! Danke fürs Rezept!
        Und ja, veganes Hack ist sicher praktisch, da gibts ja die unteschiedlichsten Konsistenzen, sodass ich bestimmt eins finde, das gut passt. Denn ansonsten würd ichs schon gern mal halbwegs original ausprobieren, nun, wo ich mich neben Caros Küche noch auf die Teigtaschen fokussiere (und nicht alle vergraulen will, denen vegan egal ist) …
        Liebe Grüße und einen schönen Abend dir!

  • Reply
    Tuesday March 21st, 2023 at 12:28 AM

    What is the “red pepper powder”? I’m looking for it online and keep seeing the red pepper powder used for Kimchi. Is that the same?

    • Reply
      Tuesday March 21st, 2023 at 08:42 AM

      Hi Katherine, here in Germany we have two types of powder made from bell pepper/paprika, one is spicy, the other isn’t. I am talking about the spicy one. If you don’t find it, you may use cayenne pepper (reduce to half a teaspoon) or simply leave it out. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    silvia severo
    Thursday January 4th, 2024 at 06:18 PM

    hi Jenny just wanted to let you know that the link that is supposed to take a person to the chimichurri sauce actually takes me to deep dish pizza I did not see chimichurri anywhere on the page can you please post the recipe? thank you so much I was just in Uruguay for the last month visiting family as I was also born there in Montevideo but moved to Canada in 1970 when I was only 2 years old it was great being back honestly I didn’t want to leave and come back to Canada lol thank you for your recipes I will be making empanadas today

    • Reply
      Thursday January 4th, 2024 at 06:28 PM

      Hi Silvio,
      Wow, it is great to be back, right? I was a bit older before I left (I was almost 7), so I guess I have more memories than you.
      Thank you for catching that mistake, I updated all links, you should get the recipe now for the chimichurri. Let me know if it works and you like it!

      • Reply
        silvia severo
        Thursday January 4th, 2024 at 08:10 PM

        it was amazing! I hadn’t been back in 52 years! I didn’t tell my auntie I was coming and I surprised her showing up on her doorstep it was priceless! I’m definitely going to go back in a couple of years and now that I’ve been back I want to visit often thank you so much for updating the links

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