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Sweet potato empanadas with a flaky, buttery crust and filled with a spiced sweet potatoes filling. A satisfying and easy vegetarian dinner!
Mexican empanadas are a great make-ahead dish, which can be stored in the freezer and taken out on-demand whenever craving hits.
All you need is a few pantry staples and store-bought puff pastry sheets to make these aromatic comfort meal!
- Puff pastry – Go to the frozen food section at your local supermarket and get a box of frozen puff pastry. Defrost it in the fridge before using.
- Sweet potatoes – Medium-sized sweet potatoes work well for this recipe. When buying them look for firm, smooth skin with no bruises.
- Chipotle chili powder – We like to use chipotle chili powder, but you can also use a combination of ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Or if you prefer milder filling, just use 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Feel free to use what you like.
- Cumin – Use ground cumin for this recipe.
How to make this empanada recipe:
Prepare sweet potato filling:
- Cook sweet potatoes with your preferred method and then mash the peeled sweet potatoes until smooth. (See Note 1 in the recipe card above for 4 different methods of cooking sweet potatoes.)
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until brown. Add minced garlic and sauté. Stir in brown sugar, chipotle chili powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper and cook until spices are toasted.
- Add onion mix to the sweet potatoes and mix well. Place the filling to one side.
Shape hand pies:
- Unfold each puff pastry sheet and roll them into a rough 12-inch square.
- Use a 5-inch round cookie cutter and cut out 4 dough circles.
- Place two heaped tablespoons of sweet potato filling on each circle and brush edges with egg wash.
- Fold over the dough to create a half-circle and seal and crimp the edges. Repeat with the 2nd puff pastry sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet .
- Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the tops with egg wash. Cut two tiny slits on the empanadas for steam to escape.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden.
- Serve hot with chimichurri sauce or your favorite salsa. Enjoy!
Can empanadas be made ahead?
Yes, definitely! You can form empanadas and refrigerate them for up to 3 to 4 days in advance. Just remember to cover them tightly. They should not be exposed to air, or they will dry up.
On the day of cooking, bring them to room temperature and brush generously with egg wash before baking.
Can I freeze empanadas?
Empanadas also freeze well. Here’s how:
- Place the unbaked sweet potato empanadas, side by side on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them. TIP: Don’t place them close together or else guess what they will freeze together!
- Once frozen solid, take them out of the freezer and place them into a freezer bag. Don’t forget to label it!
These can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Is it better to bake or fry sweet potato hand pies?
Anything fried does taste better, but baking these empanadas is equally delicious!
You can make a lot more empanadas in the oven, and it’s less messy than frying. Just remember to put on the egg wash for the nice golden brown shine!
How many calories are in a sweet potato empanada?
There’s approximately 592kcal per 2 empanadas with this recipe. But this number is only estimate because each ingredient/recipe varies in calorie count.
Are sweet potatoes healthier than white potatoes?
They both are nutritious! So, no! Sweet potatoes are higher in Vitamin A and white potatoes have more potassium. But from a calorie, protein, and carb content perspective, they are the same!
Are empanadas Mexican?
Yes and no. If you visit Mexico, you’ll find different variations of empanadas, from corn dough, to plantain dough and a huge variety of fillings. Though empanadas seem to have originated from Spain.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! Let me know once you’ve tried it by leaving a comment below or sharing a photo and tagging @busy_cooks on Instagram!
Sweet potato empanadas
- 2 sheets puff pastry, (1 box), defrosted in the refrigerator
- 1 lb sweet potatoes, (2 medium sized ones), cooked Note 1
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion, (1 medium sized onion or ½ of a large onion)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic, (4 fat cloves)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder, Note 2
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, optional
- Cook sweet potatoes until soft. See Note 1 for different cooking methods.
- In a shallow bowl, place sweet potatoes, peeled, and mash them with a potato masher until smooth.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and slightly golden around the edges.
- Add minced garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Stir in brown sugar, chipotle chili powder, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for another 30 to 45 seconds till the spices are toasted and onions have caramelized.
- Add the onion mix to the mashed sweet potatoes and mix well. Keep the filling aside.
- Prepare an egg wash by whisking a large egg with a tablespoon of water.
- Unfold one sheet of the cold puff pastry on a well-floured cutting board. Using a rolling pin, roll the sheet into a rough 12-inch square.
- Now, using 5-inch round cookie cutter, cut 4 dough circle from 12-inch square of puff pastry. (You can also use a dessert plate as a template and a sharp paring knife to cut out 4 dough circles.)
- Place two heaping tablespoons of sweet potato filling on each circle, leaving an inch border.
- Brush the edges with egg wash.
- Fold over the dough to create a half circle and seal and crimp the edges by pressing with a fork.
- Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt (optional).
- Cut two tiny slits on the empanadas for the steam to escape.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden.
- Serve hot with chimichurri sauce or your favorite salsa.
- Oven method: Rub sweet potatoes with oil and prick all over with a fork. Place it in a 425°F preheated oven and bake for 1 hour or till tender.
- Microwave method: Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place it in a microwave. Microwave for 2 minutes. Turn them over and microwave for another 2 minutes at full powder till tender. Tested on a 1200-watt microwave. Add 1 minute extra, per side, if your microwave has lower power.
- Stovetop method: Peel and cut sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces. Add a cup of water to a pot of water, fitted with a steamer basket. Add sweet potatoes to the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and let it steam for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Pressure cooker method: Pressure cook whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes for 15 minutes, with 10 minutes of natural release in Instant Pot.