Ramadan recipe of the day: Filipino Empanadas

This delicious treat, which is believed to have come to the Philippines through the country’s colonisation by Spain, has several variations


Nasreen Abdulla

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File photo. Image for representative purposes only.
File photo. Image for representative purposes only.

Published: Sun 9 Apr 2023, 3:37 PM

For Filipino expat Josh, Ramadan is a month of patience and empathy. The fitness enthusiast has been fasting the entire month for over seven years, out of respect for his colleagues and clients. “Initially it was just out of respect,” he said. “But soon I realised how beneficial it was for my body. So I've been doing it for many years now.”

When he fasts, one of Josh’s favourite dishes to have for iftar are Filipino empanadas. “[They have] a flaky crust and provide a generous amount of protein as well as vegetables. I love it when my mom makes [them] for iftar.” Empanadas, which are believed to have come to the Philippines through the country’s colonisation by Spain, have several variations.

Here is Josh's recipe:

For the filling

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 450 grams beef mince
  • 8 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 small potato, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots
  • A handful of raisins (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the pastry

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 250 grams of cold butter, cut into small pieces


  • 1 egg beaten (if baking)


For the filling

In a large skillet, add oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and then the mincemeat. Sauté well until the meat is no longer pink, and add the tomato sauce. Lower the heat and add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for around 10 minutes, or until the carrots and potatoes are soft.

Then add in the peas, salt, pepper and raisins, if using. Now, lower the heat and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. Make sure to stir the mixture often so that it doesn’t burn. Once the mixture is done, leave it on the side to cool completely.

For the pastry

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Now, take the butter and slowly rub it in with your fingertips until the dough is crumbly. Whisk the egg with a little bit of water and add it in to the mixture.

Work the dough, adding water 1 tsp at a time until it comes together and forms one ball of dough. Take care not to add too much water, or to overwork the dough. Wrap the dough in cling-film and leave it in the fridge to chill for an hour.


Take the chilled dough and cooled filling. Divide the dough into 12-15 equal balls. Use a measuring scale to make sure they are the exact same weight. Roll out the balls into a round shape, either on a floured surface or between parchment paper.

Place 1 tbsp of the filling and seal the pastry into a half-moon shape by pressing with your fingers. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Continue until all the empanadas have been made.


If choosing to fry them, pour enough oil in a wok for the empanadas to be completely covered and fry them batch by batch. If baking, whisk an egg and brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash. Bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.


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