Certain foods freeze especially well, with empanadas at the head of list. Originally from Galicia in Spain, and later a mainstay of Latin American comfort food, empanadas represent Iberia’s entry in the category of one of the world’s great foods: the hand-held pie. Other variations on the theme can be as different as Cornwall's dense pastie, North Africa's flaky brik and India's spicy samosas, but empanadas are undeniably special. Filled to bursting with meat, vegetable or even sweet fillings, they're as irresistible after freezing as they are fresh.
Prepare a batch of empanadas according to your favorite recipe. Be diligent to seal the seams where the edges of the dough come together; otherwise the empanadas will burst open when they're baked.
Transfer each empanada as it's finished to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you've made up all your empanadas or filled the sheet. Space them evenly so they don't touch, because if they should freeze together you'll have difficulty separating them without damaging the crust.
Cover your sheet of empanadas loosely with plastic film wrap and transfer the sheet to your freezer. The empanadas should freeze in two to three hours, depending on your freezer's temperature and efficiency.
Remove the frozen empanadas from the sheet pan and wrap them individually in plastic film wrap or bag them in heavy-duty freezer bags. Label and date them, then use them up within three months for the best quality and flavor.
Fully Cooked Empanadas
Mix and form a batch of empanadas according to your favorite recipe, then bake or fry them until golden and flaky.
Place the finished empanadas on a cooling rack in a well-ventilated location, so they'll cool rapidly. To maximize food safety, they must be ready to refrigerate or freeze within two hours.
Wrap the cooled empanadas individually in plastic film wrap or heavy-duty freezer bags, then label and date them.
Distribute the wrapped empanadas around your freezer in a single layer, so they'll freeze quickly. After 2 to 3 hours, when they're frozen hard, gather them together into one or more larger bags. To ensure the best possible quality, reheat and eat the empanadas within three months.
To prevent damage while they're in your freezer, place the individually wrapped empanadas in a rigid container. This protects the delicate crust from being crushed by heavy items as you move foods around in your freezer or freezer compartment.
Frozen empanadas are best when baked directly from the freezer. Bake or fry them according to the original recipe's instructions, adding a few minutes to your cooking time. Fully cooked empanadas must be reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to remain food safe. They can be warmed in a regular or toaster oven, thawed and reheated in the microwave, or warmed partway in the microwave and then finished in an oven to ensure a flaky crust.
- The Kitchn: Tasty Empanadas -- 5 Recipes to Make Now & Freeze For Later
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Freezing and Food Safety
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Leftovers and Food Safety
- Encyclopedia of Latino Culture; Charles M. Tatum
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.