Caramelized Onion Empanadas (Chilean pequenes)

Chilean empanadas, also called pequenes, are filled with caramelized onions and seasoned with Latin spices. They make the perfect starter for the vacation.

Caramelized onion empanadas

You know how much I love empanadas. Well, these vegetarian caramelized onion empanadas are a great meatless version. The sweet caramelized onions are flavored with Latin spices like cumin, paprika, and oregano. The filling is very simple and yet offers so much flavor. The empanada batter is made from scratch and baked in the oven – an excellent starter for the holidays. For more empanada recipes, try my taco empanadas, the leftover turkey pot pie empanadas, and the air fryer beef empanadas.

Chilean cuisineI'm very excited to share this recipe, originally from the cookbook The Chilean Kitchen (Affil Link) by Pilar Hernandez and Eileen Smith. This cookbook contains 75 authentic Chilean recipes, from stews to cocktails to desserts, broken down into four sections, each highlighting recipes for a different season of the year. I met Pilar on a cruise a few years ago and I really respect her work. I also love that she's a Chilean, a kitchen I'm not very familiar with. There are so many recipes in your book that I can't wait to try them, but this Empanada Caramelized Onion recipe really stands out and I'm so glad I tried it.

Every Latin American country has a version of empanadas. This Chilean vegetarian version is called pequén and is filled with caramelized onions. The lemon juice in the Pequén batter makes the crust more tender than
traditional meat empanada batter.

How do you prevent empanadas from leaking?

There are a few things to do to prevent empanadas from leaking:

1. Don't overfill your empanadas. Put in only two tablespoons of the onion filling.
2. Seal the empanadas by pressing lightly on the edges of the dough with a fork.
3. Poke a small hole in the top of the batter with a toothpick to remove air. When steam builds up in the empanadas, they can open.


Freeze the empanadas unbaked for up to three months. To bake them frozen just add a little more time.

PEQUENESChilean empanadas with hot sauceChilean empanadas with hot sauce

More holiday starter recipes you'll love:

Caramelized onion empanadas (Chilean PEQUENES)

Preparation time: 25th min

Cooking time: 50 min

Total time: 1 hours 15th min

These Chilean empanadas, also called pequenes, are filled with caramelized onions and flavored with Latin spices – the perfect starter for the holiday.

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • 3 large or 5 medium yellow onions, Halve lengthways and cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt-
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika or Merkén
  • black pepper, taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce

For the dough:

  • cups All-purpose flour
  • teaspoon Salt-
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon lard, Cut the shortening or butter into small cubes
  • ¼ Cup water
  • ¼ Cup 0% fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cracked egg, seal and brush

Make the filling:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

  • Add the onions, sugar and salt.

  • Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is cooked through, but only lightly caramelized.

  • Remove from heat and add paprika, pepper, cumin, oregano and hot sauce.

  • Try and adjust the spices.

Make the dough:

  • Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times. Add the lard or butter and pulse a few times until it is even.

  • In a measuring cup, mix the water, milk and lemon juice together.

  • With the food processor running, add the liquid. Stop when you see the batter come together.

  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a silicone baking mat or on a floured surface.

  • Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. One at a time, roll the dough into a ball, press it flat, and use a rolling pin to roll it until you have a 5 inch circle.

  • Fill with 2 tablespoons of cooked onions.

  • Moisten the edge with the egg and seal it, press the edge lightly with a fork or fold it over. Place on the baking sheet and leave a centimeter between the pequens.

  • Brush each empanada with egg and pierce the top with a toothpick so they can let off steam.

  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Portion: 2Empanadas, Calories: 218kcal, Carbohydrates: 29G, Protein: 5G, Fat: 9.5G, Saturated fatty acids: 3G, Cholesterol: 41.5mg, Sodium: 497mg, Fiber: 3G, Sugar: 6thG

Blue Smart Points: 6th

Green Smart Points: 7th

Purple Smart Points: 6th

Keywords: caramelized onion empanada, pequenes, vegetarian empanada

sent December 10, 2020 by Gina

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