Josie’s Baked Empanadas


Empanadas are the perfect finger food. For as long as I can remember eating, I can recall one version or another of empanadas. Childhood versions were almost inevitably smaller than they are now, savory in nature, and usually meat with some raisins for sweetness and moisture. But empanadas in the Philippines have evolved over the decades since Spanish colonization and the fillings range from vegetarian options to meat based ones to mixtures that are both inspired and bizarre. While I do enjoy a good empanada, I have found so many disappointing versions that they have generally sort of fallen off my local delicacy radar screen, if you know what I mean. Overall, the thought of meat or savory contents enrobed and sealed in dough and then deep fried (usually) should almost always seem appetizing and delicious food item… but oddly, I have never made them myself, always relying on commercial versions whenever I get a craving for one…


Twice in the past year, I have had these empanadas from Josie i, Empanada Factory at a small table in the Salcedo Market. They were unusual in that they were baked, and presumably less deadly on the fat content… Josie’s carries vegetarian, chicken, sausage and other flavors and my favorite has to be the chorizo/sausage one, but it must be freshly baked or it will be soggy-ish. To me, there is a delicate balance between the filling and amount of dough and Josie’s seems to be cognizant of this balance… I found some of the other flavors to be a bit bland (probably healthier concoctions) but if you like empanadas and don’t want them fried, give these a try the next time you are in the market… And if you make your own empanadas, I am curious what your favorite fillings are made out of, if I am inspired, I may even take to the kitchen to fry up or bake up a bunch of empanadas soon… :)


Josie Illescas


65 Responses

  1. I can tell merely looking at your pictures Josie i empanadas are artisan and nicely done with crimped edging not with fork tine. I like (1) chicken cubes potatoes and raisin with a hint of sauce and (2) spinach and feta cheese fillings in mine and I like them baked too to maintain their biting appeal longer than deep fried. In Romy Dorotan’s book Memories . . . they featured a photograph of empanada from Silay, Negros which up to this time captured and arrested my curiosity and inquiry mind on how they made them. They are so beautiful and I can imagine tasty too.

  2. Our college cafeteria in Guam was run by a Filipino family and they made the best fried empanadas. They used the meat filling with raisins that you described. I had a couple of them for lunch too many times to count. I wish I knew of a place here in Hawaii that even had empanada.

  3. i’m craving for pork menudo filled empanadas right now.
    sauteed corned beef with potatoes, raisins, carrots, green peas (ala picadillo) is also my favorite filling. i make a big batch, half bake and freeze them. to re-heat, microwave for about 2 mins before baking to get the crust a bit crisp.

  4. Timely post, MM. We seem to be attached by a gastronomic umbilical cord of sorts … I’m in an empanada frenzy now. Can anyone put me in the loop regarding Vigan empanadas and where I can get some of those? I heard the ones sold at Duty Free foodcourt are good. Also heard that Mrs. Bailon who does that delicately wonderful lumpia ubod makes great empanadas. Again, do tell anyone! :)

  5. Love pork,potatoes,carrots,peas,raisins,grated cheese,red and green capsicums(bell peppers)in mine. You can almost use up left overs of meat and vegies eg.menudo,asado etc.If I have leftover peking duck I just smear the duck meat with some hoisin sauce and wrap it up in puff pastry.Yum!

  6. I’ve been in search of the perfect empanada the past week. I am eager to try this one. This post couldn’t have come at a better time!

  7. …sorry this has nothing to do with empanada but I was wondering, is there a place in Manila that makes double boiled milk?

  8. hi gigi, they sell a very good Ilocano empanada, just like the ones they sell in Vigan and Laoag, in the Glorietta food court (the side of Gourdo’s). i think it sells 3 for P100; i just can’t remember the name of the place! but it’s advertised as Ilocano empanada.

  9. For a class in Iberian culture, we trekked off into the town of Taal, Batangas which had the classic “town” plan of a plaza with the Church as a focal point and juxtaposed to the municipal hall, and a school. The homes of the most prominent families were nearest the town plaza as well.

    But I digress. On that trip we were served with an empanada with a crisp tender crust and a succulent filling of upo and meat in one of the historical homes. But now when I ask friends who hail from that area, they are unaware of where or what that empanada was. That was 14 years ago. What a food memory!

  10. My home province, Bulacan used to be so famous for the chicken empanada. But now the recipe is so watered down in the filling department: so much potatoes rather than chicken. The still winning point is the literally flaky crust (its baked too) but why bother if the filling is “tinipid”?

    Fried empanadas is so much like pocket pies too. Pocket pies is the like of McDonald’s hot apple pie and with a proper recipe like Alton Brown’s its pretty good to make and freezable too. I just wish I had MM’s famous mango jam for it.

    By the way, I’m also eyeing Pan de Manila’s Mango jam so does anybody know if its good?

  11. I think I may have mentioned this on your site before, but anyway…

    My top 3 empanadas are:
    1. SanLo’s Famous Empanadas by a mile! The best crust ever, especially if, like me, you can’t have enough butter. They have a store at the gas station beside the EDSA Dasma gate. You’ll see them in bazaars, too. They also make Cebuano tortas, by the way, although yours, MM, are better. :-)
    2. A tie between Conti’s (I prefer the ham, but most like chicken) and Red Ribbon’s.

    Although it isn’t strictly an empanada, do try Pia Lim-Castillo’s buttery crescents. My favorite flavor is bacalao, but she also has chicken and chicken rendang fillings. You’ll have to stop yourself from eating the whole container!

  12. haha! i never thought i’d see anyone else into Red Ribbon’s empanadas. i really really liked their chicken empanada. will have to try the SanLo version and Josie’s. i didn’t like the ones from Conti’s though, lacking flavor.

  13. I bake my empanadas. I usually make empanada with chicken, potatoes, raisis, etc as filling. My Aunt sometimes make empanadas with ube halaya filling.

  14. There’s this small bakeshop in Juan Luna Street called Eng Kee. Their chicken empanadas are to die for. They usually run out of stock. Generous fillings and very yummy! The price? A reasonable PhP33 per piece! :-)

  15. Another must have in our house are empanadas for my boys’ quick snacks after school…I make fried and baked ones. As for the fillings, I usually have curried chicken and chicken a la king…and barbecued pork (same filling for sio pao). The dough I use for the fried ones has multi layers like the hopia dough which upon rolling it, you can see the layers. It’s much more labor intensive but well worth all the effort! Maria Clara…Is this similar to the dough you have in mind? Let me know and I shall send you the recipe if you’d like to try it. It’s quite long and I don’t want to monopolize MM’s post…hehehe

  16. My mom-in-law gets her empanada from her suki…it’s chock full of chicken chunks, has a light white sauce and it’s NOT might even find it a bit bland but I love it. I love anything chicken so this empanada is definitely a I love the crust, it has a mild butter flavor and it’s baked! For all the years she’s been giving me, my family, my family’s friends, my friends, I never knew who bakes them and it’s just packaged in a plain white box.

  17. Red Ribbon empanadas are up there on my list of comfort foods. I love the potatoes in these baked treats. :)

  18. there’s a small chicken pie/empanada store along edsa, very close to the kamayan-edsa. the empanada is baked, and quite good, too.

  19. I prefer my empanadas baked but I have enjoyed fried ones as well. I do like Contis. Will have to search out Josies soon . I tried an empanada that I was told came from Alabang. They were fat – lots of filling and fried I think. Does anyone know of these and where to get them. they were quite good.

  20. Gigi, there’s this store along katipunan (near Ateneo) that says Ilocos Empanada. They also sell Vigan Empanada. Caution: theirs has togue. I’ve tried the SanLo and it reminds me of a chicken pot pie version. Red Ribbon hits the spot though i find the dough too soft and yes, “doughy.” =)

    Josie’s looks exactly our empanda down to the eggwash. We use the edge of a teaspoon handle to crimp the edges. We use a regular pie crust recipe and bake. Doesn’t become soggy or oily. Keeps well. Ours has sauteed chicken, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs (chopped), and raisins. The secret: worcestershire sauce! Yummy!

  21. SanLo’s empanadas are the best! I had one in Rockwell the other weekend and I’m hooked…they probably aren’t healthy at all because they’re so buttery, but they taste so good I find it hard to care. ;-)

  22. By the way they’re selling them in powerplant every weekend till christmas but they do have them near Dasma like Katrina said.

  23. Gigi, you can get Vigan empanada from Ilocos Empanada, a stall across Ateneo, to the right of Bo’s Coffee. Last weekend, I saw another stall at cooked food section of the Lung Center Sunday morning market. The vendor rolls the orange dough right before your eyes, spreads a veggie mixture on it, clears some space at the center on which he cracks a whole egg, on top of which goes some chunks of Vigan longganisa. He then seals the dough and dunks the whole thing in the fryer. Exactly as it’s done at the Vigan plaza.

    Love Conti’s chicken and tuna empanadas.

  24. My favorite filling is sauteed chicken or ground beef with onion, red bell peppers, chorizo de bilbao, egg and raisins.

    Market Man – do you know of a good recipe for chimichurri? The Argentinian restaurant in my UES neighborhood serves their empanadas with chimichurri sauce on the side. The chimichurri really complements the meat empanadas.

  25. Hubby & I are going to meet for lunch at Salcedo Market on Saturday. Can you believe it was our 1st time to go there last Saturday(December 15)???

    And to think hubby & I went there because we have to pick up the 6 kilos of “lukaok” fish from Neneng’s stand that my mom ordered! It was 1pm already and we are already hungry.

    We saw a few slab of steak at a stall which turned out to be weekend gourmet. Knew only about it when I searched at the archives here.

    Armed with more info from here, we r going there again this wkend. I hate waking up early on a Saturday that is why I never went to Salcedo but lunchtime is a little quieter though less merchandise but still ok.

    I love the french crepes too! Just the way I tried one in Paris years ago. Crepe with jam.

    Will definitely give this empanada a try on Saturday! :)

  26. Pilar, I’ve tried Eng Kee’s chicken empanada on Juan Luna every time I pick up some toys at Yuny, their toy store neighbor. Really good when it is freshly baked. With Lipa buko juice :) Though I find the dough a little sweet.

  27. I missed the Vigan empanada when we went in Ilocos. However, I saw one in Mall of Asia, look for the small stalls outside and the have it freshly baked. It is better eaten while hot.
    I love the empanadas of Red Ribbon. The empanadas in Imus, Cavite are also good!

  28. betty q: Thank you very much for generously sharing your empanada dough recipe – greatly appreciate it. I believe MM does not mind if you post your dough recipe here so our peers could have an idea and firm grasp of it – just in case they want to make their empanada from their own kitchen. Thanks MM and betty q.

  29. My best empanada ever? Hmmmm…

    Flakey dough (much like croissant) and ground chicken with a few spices. No raisins, no potatoes.

    We used to serve it on board our transpacific flights as an optional midnight snack. We’d heat up batches in the galley and the unmistakable smell would in the cabin. Thankfully, most passengers would be asleep by then and we’d have extra for the crew to munch on during those long lulls between main meal services. Sarap talaga! Too bad it’s no longer served on board…

  30. yummy! has anyone tried the chicken pies from DEC’S pie house in virra mall greenhills? i havent been home since 2002 so i dont know if the place still exists…brings back childhood memories…
    at home, i make “jamaican patties” with ground beef or ground turkey or homemade empanadas with brocolli and cheddar cheese or ham and cheese…christmas ham and queso de bola filling sounds good but i dont have any source for real quezo here in chicago
    each cuisine has its own version of an empanada-like goodie, in india it’s “samosas” filled with potatoes and green peas

  31. Try Susie’s, their empanada and kakanin are delicious. However, their store near NSO in Kamuning closed shop.
    I know there is a store in Robinsons, San Fernando. Does
    anyone know if they have a branch near Muntinlupa? I used
    to frequently visit my sister in Quezon City just so I have a taste their products.

  32. aggy :

    DEC’s is now on wilson street near the corner of P.Guevara in San Juan. It is a bigger place, virra mall has since been renovated and is now called v-mall.

    The chicken pies are a little bit smaller and a little bit more pricier, but tastes just about the same.

  33. My love for empanadas started with the Chicken empanada of Red Ribbon 20+ years ago. Ever since, I never realized that it was one of my comfort foods until this post. I also like the Conti’s in all flavors, Ilocos Empanada and even the watered-down super oily ones from Kamuning. Recently moving to the South, I’m glad to find Empanada Mas at South Supermarket – I love their Spinach and Chorizo ones, always buying some after I do my grocery :)

  34. the best empanada crust i’ve ever had was at a cooking class at the UP College of Home Economics, attended a loooong time ago. the teacher rolled out the dough quite thinly, rolled it up like a log, cut it into thick discs, then rolled the discs to make it bigger and thinner. each is then filled, crimped, and deep-fried. the product has this beautiful flaky crust with concentric(?) lines running around the empanada. i’ve heard that this is one of the traditional ways to make it.

    our time-saving way to making empanadas at home is using frozen puff pastry or shortcrust pastry. both are quite nice baked.

  35. There is a good amount of information on wikipedia on empanadas. from spain, latin america and even an entry from the philippines (edited by, ehem, yours truly). my current squeeze is Colombian and her empanadas are terrific. Different style from the meat and raisin ones though. In latin america, that meat and raisin (plus chopped hardboiled eggs etc) filling is called picadillo. it is also virtually identical to the meat portion of what we know as ‘arroz a la Cubana’. and although empanadas are found all over latin america, the country most associated with empanadas is Argentina. google the argentinian filling recipes. delish.

  36. Betty Q: Do you mind sharing your crust recipe with me too? You may email me at Thank you!!

    Does anyone know how to make a crust like the ones of SanLo empanada or the crust of Conti’s Chicken Pastel?

  37. Maria Clara: here in my labor intensive empanada dough for the baked ones: 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2/3 cup Crisco, 1/2 c. ICE water, 2 tbsps. butter (softened). First, combine 1 1/2 c. flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in 1/3 cup Crisco with pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse meal. You can do this in food processor using the pulse button. Gradually add the ice water (NOTE THAT YOU MIGHT USE LESS WATER IF NEEDED…it’s better to add a little at a time!) and stir until it forms into a ball. Turn out dough onto a floured board and knead about 2 minutes or until dough is smooth…dough will be VERY SOFT. I put it in the refrigerator at this stage. With the remaining 1 cup of flour in another bowl, cut in remaining 1/3 cup of Crisco until ball forms and knead it too about 3 minutes or until smooth. Now comes the TRICKY part…Roll out the first dough you made on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick.Roll out the second dough between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper (making it easier to set it on top of the First dough) into rectangle 1/8 inch thick.Remove the top wax paper and flip the bottom wax paper on top of the first dough. Press gently with rolling pin to seal dough together. Peel the wax paper. Using your hands, roll the dough like jelly roll.Roll out the dough into 1/8 inch rectangle. Spread top of dough with the softened butter. Using hands, roll into jelly roll. Refrigerate 1 HOUR. Dough will be very sticky! Repeat process. Roll out into 3/8 inch thick rectangle this time and roll again into jelly roll and refrigerate again 30 minutes. Then, roll it out into 3/8 rectangle. Cut out into 4 inch discs. Fill with your favorite palaman, then brush the ends with eggwash, fold and lightly pinch sides. Then I invert glass over the sides and gently seal the edges. Eggwash and bake. Note MC that this empanada dough is VERY SIMILAR to the ones you buy at Chinese bakeries filled with curried beef or chicken. I prefer this over the fried ones and I shall post the fried empanada dough later…am making shortbread cookies while I’m doing this!!!

  38. Shortbread cookies are done!…so here’s the REALLY LABOR INTENSIVE empanada dough for the FRIED ONES! But this is really well worth all your efforts. It is sooo flaky and good…not good for your waistline though!…Again, you have two kinds of dough…DOUGH A and DOUGH B. For Dough A: 2 cups of all purpose flour, 4 tbsp. shortening or margarine, pinch salt, 8 tbsp. ice water. So put flour and salt in bowl and cut in shortening using pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water stirring until it forms into a ball. Adjust the water if needed! Knead briefly until smooth and roll into a BASTON. Cut baston into 20 pieces. For DOUGH B: 1 cup all purpose flour 4 tbsp. shortening or margarine. Mix together ingredients to make a smooth dough. Roll into a baston and cut into 20 pieces. Here comes the tricky part, ladies! Flatten DOUGH A pieces into a disc. Then put DOUGH B pieces into center of DOUGH A pieces and wrap the edges to ENCLOSE B pieces(just like when you make sio pao), then lightly flatten.Using your rolling pin now, roll it out into 1/8 inch rectangle. Beginning at top edge, roll up the rectangle into a thin baston. Turn the baston VERTICAL now, and roll out again into 1/8 inch rectangle. Beginning at top edge, roll into a square shape. Repeat for all the pieces. NOW…I can roll out two or three pieces at the same time after I have enclosed the DOUGH B piece inside DOUGH A, just like an assembly line! So after you have rolled it out into a thin baston, refrigerate the first two or three you’ve done, and do the next two or three pieces so by the time you get to do the 20th piece, the frist three you’ve made is ready for ROLLING NO.2! When all the pieces are rolled into a square shape, you are ready for filling with your palaman. Roll each piece into 3 or 4 inch discs MIDDLE SHOULD BE SLIGHTLY THICK AND OUTSIDE EDGES THIN!).Place filling in center and fold and pinch edges and crimp! Then deep fry. Since it is too much work, I make hundreds of these, freeze them so I can forget about doing them again for another 2 months!!!

  39. Yes, Tricia. The dough is quite sweet. But when it’s freshly baked, it goes well with just anything on the side. hehehe I love Eng Kee’s empanada than Conti’s.

  40. betty q: From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU much for your unselfish sharing of your treasured and valued recipes and informative tips!

  41. Maria Clara…are you also here in the Western hemisphere? If you are, send me an e-mail and I will be more than happy to share what I know …I do believe that God gave me a talent. Therefore, what I know is not mine to keep but to share to others as well…it’s like paying it forward! I am in Vancouver, B.C. and have met a few nice ladies thru MM’s blog like Pinky, Keiko and Onie. Anyone out there interested in a KNOCK ‘EM DEAD PANCIT MALABON recipe? I know it’s a closely guarded secret but I think I have come close, REALLY close to the real one….So sorry,MM ..I have deviated from the empanada post…got carried away there!!..hehehe

  42. betty q, big thanks from me, too! after the holiday season, i’ll give it a try. it sounds as labor-intensive as making puff pastry, which i find therapeutic :)

    please let us know if you would be posting the pancit malabon recipe somewhere. thanks!!

  43. Hi dee bee…glad I can help. I can send you an e-mail if you’d like the PANCIT MALABON recipe…don’t know if MM has a post on PANCIT…wait, I found it..he does have one (archive). So, do you mind MM if I just post the recipe there?

  44. when i was a kid my grandma always has empanada in the table for merienda, there were two kinds, one is the common ground meat with raisins (which i can barely eat) and the other one has this sweet milky paste inside almost like custard, and the two is always mixed together and its always a guessing game, and me hoping not to get the one with the ground meat filling. . . hehe

  45. Thank you Betty Q for sharing the recipes!! God bless you! Oh, may I please have the Pancit Canton recipe too? =)

  46. There was this super yummy empanada that my Nanay used to get at the old SIDCOR in Cubao. She called it “Empanada Kaliskis” because of its flaky crust. I think it was made in Bulacan. I liked the crust so much that I usually reserve the crimped edges for last. The chicken-ground pork filling was also masarap, not like some empanadas which are mostly filled with potatoes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take note of the contact number of the seller and I can’t seem to find it in my Nanay’s files anymore. If anyone of you is familiar with this particular empanada, I would really appreciate it if you can give me the contact number. Thanks!

  47. Vigan empanada has a lighter filling of cabbage, longanisa and a whole egg. The crust has a very light orange color than the Laoag or Ilocos Norte version which has bright orange crust, filling of medium tailed togue, longanisa, whole egg.

  48. Could you tell me when it became popular to use cream of whatever (any cream soup will do) soup in empanada? I had never heard of it before, but another Filipina on a food group I frequent has told people it’s “traditional”. What the????

    Is it traditional for a particular region of the Philippines? I did a search and I found one or two other sites that had cream of whatever soup, so there are others who do it.

  49. I am lucky to be assigned in different places because of my line of work. I’m currently assigned to Ilocos & the best empanada for me is the empanada at Laoag’s food court called DAP-AYAN (Helen’s stall) but I customize it a bit. I ask them not to put mongo sprouts, just papaya shreds & i ask them to add hotdog & bbq to the longganisa & egg! Egg has to be malasado! yum! yum! it makes me hum! Don’t forget to dip it in sukang Iloko & UFC ketchup.

    The best “not so customized” empanada is from Bolo’s at 365 Shopping Arcade in San Nicolas. Ask for “double longganisa, double egg.”

    My grandma also makes great empanaditas (that’s what she calls them!) It’s a chicken empanada with more meat than extenders..& no potatoes! It’s also baked, not fried. She sells it when friends order but she makes the BEST BEST SANS RIVAL (no match talaga!) I’ve never tasted any sans rival which can come close to my Lolly’s buttery crispy-chewy sans rival! off-topic but i got carried away! =)

  50. Mayk, she is near the frozen seafoods lady.. across the fresh seafoods table… near the largest fruit stand… nearish the pizza in a kawali table.

  51. best empanada i have ever tasted is aling lina’s empanada located in san mateo,rizal near villa trinidad resort…..
    the crust is very soft and flaky and the filling is very
    tasty and not can choose from pork or chicken
    mixed with boiled potatoes,diced bell pepper,sweet peas
    and its very moist inside. its baked not fried so its not
    oily unlike the ilocos empanada which has a hard crust and
    the filling is very bland and tends to be oily in and out because it is fried in deep oil.

  52. to rona…………….yes you can use either cream ofmushroom or cream of chicken to make the filling
    of your empanada moist…..

  53. our’s is deep fried also but i tell you its not oily at all. the secret? its the mixture of flours that we use not one but two and some secret mixtures we keep it to our kitchen. i grow up helping my mom making this delicacy. our’s is the healhty version because we make use of the different kinds of vegetables. we also use fruits for those who want it as a dessert. and what i am most proud of of our empanada its hand crafted perfectly folded at the side, we dont use fork to seal it. come and try our’s we are located at centro, santiago city, isabela. SHOJIE’S EMPANADA (gotta be empanada!)

  54. I have been looking for a baked empanada dough.Bianca, maybe you can give me your lola’s recipe?this is just for home use.

  55. Betty Q , can I please have your KNOCK ‘EM DEAD PANCIT MALABON recipe. Thanks so much for the detailed instructions of the empanada dough. BTW can you share the recipe for the chicken filling for the empanada? Thanks again.

  56. “keep the secret recipe” thats full of nonsense!!! easy money and booming of business is to share the “secret recipe” as long as the reciever of the so called “secret recipe” will succeed on the business.
    there’s no such thing as secret recipe or ingredients, it’s all about the procedure that one should be kept as a secret.
    steamed rice :
    now, do you think this was really steamed?
    as posted by one…
    Pilar says:
    There’s this small bakeshop in Juan Luna Street called Eng Kee. Their chicken empanadas are to die for. They usually run out of stock. Generous fillings and very yummy! The price? A reasonable PhP33 per piece! :-)
    December 19th, 2007

  57. ^ Eng Kee empanadas are really to die for..just ate around five empanadas yesterday and i still cant get over it, i have to have some more!! thanks to my auntie who bought it for mothers’s day at our a-ma’s house.. yum should try it guys!

  58. hello, i am here in toronto. and i want to have the empanada dough recipe of vigan empanada. would love to taste the original vigan empanada when i get home

  59. Yeah, I agree, Eng Kee’s chicken empanada is to die for. My mom used to bring these goodies home. Yummy, yummy filling.



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