Cherry Empanadas (Cherry Hand Pies)
Delicious sweet cherry pies you can hold in your hand – what could be better? That’s right – we are talking about Cherry Empanadas. There’s nothing quite like a good cherry pie—and these cherry hand pies are perfect for novice and seasoned bakers.
Spring weather in Colorado is very unpredictable and it’s actually our snowiest season. With chilly days, all I am craving is sweet comforting desserts like these classic empanadas.
I have been missing my mom terribly and was looking back at photos and realized I hadn’t published this recipe for cherry empanadas. My mom made these empanadas for my son over the summer for his birthday. My little guy requested not a birthday cake, but empanadas made by his abuela.
When I see their special bond, I am reminded of the bond I used to have with my grandma. He loves helping her in the kitchen and especially loves baking empanadas.
You might have seen this video of their special dance in the kitchen on his birthday.
What are empanadas?
Empanadas, also known as hand pies, are tiny pockets made of dough, baked or fried, and stuffed with a delicious filling.
Check out this blog post for Sweet, Savory, and Spicy Empanadas.
The dough for these empanadas might just be the best one yet! My mom made a few modifications to my grandma’s original empanada dough recipe. She added a bit more shortening and instead of milk she used buttermilk.
I highly recommend making homemade dough – it does not require many ingredients, and it makes this recipe extra special.
If you want to make empanadas, but want a shortcut, feel free to purchase frozen empanada rounds. Another easy option is using frozen puff pastry or pre-made pie dough.
What can I use if I don’t have buttermilk?
The simplest way to substitute buttermilk is to pour 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk. Gently stir the mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
The filling is beyond simple – spoiler alert…it is canned cherry pie filling. The only thing my mom did was drain most of the syrup and sliced cherries in half.
I recommend serving your dessert empanadas warm! They will need to cool for about 5 minutes but so worth the wait!
If you want to make these sweet empanadas ahead of time, I would suggest not pre-assembling the empanadas or the dough will get soggy.
What you can do is make the dough the day before and refrigerate it. And since the filling is simple, once you assemble them, then you can bake them.
How to store leftover empanadas
Keep them at room temperature for 1 to 2 days on a plate or baking rack covered with a paper towel or cloth linen.
Store any leftover empanadas in a sealed container and refrigerate them. They can last up to one week in the fridge or freeze them for two months.
What is your favorite filling for sweet empanadas? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Cherry Empanadas (Cherry Hand Pies)
- 2 (21-ounce cans) cherry pie filling
- Evaporated milk
- Raw sugar
- Drain cherry filling and discard the majority of the syrup and slice cherries in half.
- Mix the first 5 dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening. It is best to use your hands. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and milk and combine with dry ingredients. Continue to work in with your hands until you have a soft dough. Split the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Assemble and bake empanadas
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Take out half the dough and split it into 12 equal balls of dough.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough balls into small round circles. Place a small dollop of cherry pie filling on one half of each of the dough circles. Brush the bottom edge of the circles with evaporated milk to help seal the two halves. Fold over the dough to cover filling and seal off the edges with a fork by pressing down along the edges. This also makes for a pretty pattern when baked.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Brush each empanada with some canned evaporated milk, sprinkle with raw sugar. Puncture the top of each empanada with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking.
- Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray, place the empanadas on the cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes on middle rack in the oven.
- Brush empanadas again with more canned evaporated milk.
- Move the cookie sheet to the top rack and continue to bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
- Enjoy the empanadas warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate baked empanadas for a few days.
- Reheat in a toaster oven or bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
- No buttermilk? 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice + 1/2 cup milk. Gently stir the mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Two cans of apple pie filling can be substituted for cherry pie filling.
- Enjoy the empanadas warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate baked empanadas for a few days. Reheat in a toaster oven or bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
Photography by Jenna Sparks