Canned Biscuits Are The Secret To Quick And Easy Empanadas

Baked empanadas on a board
Baked empanadas on a board - Yongyuan/Getty Images

When it comes to grab-and-go food, empanadas are king. The traditional South American pastries filled with spiced, savory ingredients are one of the world's most favorite street foods, and secret family recipes get handed down from generation to generation. You don't need tips from an abuela to make a passable empanada; you just need a can of store-bought biscuits.

The name empanada comes from the Spanish word "empanar," meaning "to bread," which makes sense — they're just simple hand pies or dumplings. You don't need special cooking skills to make them if you've got some pre-made biscuit dough since making and rolling out the crust from scratch is arguably the most challenging part. Even better, any recipe for taco meat pulled chicken or carne asada will make an excellent filling. All you have to do is roll out the biscuit dough, fill each with a few spoonfuls of meat or vegetables, and pop them in the oven for the easiest empanadas.

Read more: 11 Things You Didn't Know You Should Be Doing With Bacon

Skip Crust From Scratch And Go Straight For The Can

Pillsbury Grand Biscuits
Pillsbury Grand Biscuits - Little Vignettes Photo/Shutterstock

It's no mystery why empanadas have become so popular. They can be made to taste like any flavor; you can eat them hot or cold, and you can have them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Need a potluck dish to serve guests? Empanadas. How about an easy dinner after soccer practice? Well, you get the idea. In fact, the only thing stopping most of us from eating our weight in empanadas every night is having to make the empanada shell. Many people have an irrational fear of making any sort of homemade pie crust, which is similar to empanada crust, and even experienced bakers don't love dragging out the rolling pin on a weeknight. Enter the canned biscuit.

All canned biscuits are basically flour, water, fat, baking soda, and baking powder mixed and refrigerated so that the leaveners don't start puffing up the dough. They're conveniently cut into single-sized rounds, which is perfect for empanada making. All you have to do is open up the can, grab a rolling pin, and squish each biscuit down to about a ¼ of an inch, and they're ready to stuff with empanada filling. The leavener in the dough will make your empanadas a little more light and fluffy than some homemade versions, but the biscuit dough will still make a perfectly passable pastry. Finally, crimp the edges with a fork, and you're ready to bake your simple empanadas.

Easy Empanada Fillings

A tray of empanadas
A tray of empanadas - Caftor/Shutterstock

Now that you know that empanada crust is as easy as buying a can of biscuits, the hardest part of making a batch of your own is choosing a filling. Empanadas can be anything you want, from savory to sweet, earthy or spicy, and everything in between. Since you're already taking an easy shortcut with the dough, there are lots of filling options that are just as simple to consider.

A grocery store rotisserie chicken is a great source of empanada filling because you can season the cooked meat any way you'd like. Just shred a few cups and mix it with spices like cumin, chili powder, and sautéed garlic and onions, and you've got a nearly instant empanada filling. Add buffalo sauce and ranch dressing for a buffalo chicken empanada that's sure to please. Ground beef is also fast and simple, and you can even use a packet of taco seasoning mix if you don't want to fiddle with the spice rack.

Empanadas are a great place to use up some leftovers, so experiment with stuffing your doughy pockets with leftover bits of barbecue, grilled veggies, shrimp, beans, rice, and cheese to make yesterday's dinner into something brand new. For dessert, cut up any fruit you have on hand, add a little sugar, and stuff it into the dough to make a simple, sweet empanada. This is also a great way to use up any fruit on the verge of going bad. Use any flavors you'd like to create the perfect empanada. It's easy to start over if something's not that good; for the price of a can of biscuits, you can experiment as much as you want.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal