Filipino Empanadas, using a secret ingredient!

Filipino Empanadas, using a secret ingredient!

Filipino empanadas, another snack food I fell in love with when visiting The Philippines last year. I shared a recipe for lumpia a little while back, another favourite from our food tour of Manila’s Chinatown. Filipino empanadas were tried on that same tour.

As with the lumpia, I researched to find an empanada recipe that was close to what was tried. And like the lumpia recipe, I ended up taking bits from one recipe and bits from another. Trial and error until I finally came up with something close to what we tried.

These empanada have a slight sweetness as Filipinos do love that la little added sweetness in their food, including savoury. The filling of these Filipino empanadas is fantastic, but I am extremely impressed with the pastry.

Most of the recipes I can across used butter or oil in their pastry. Due to the fine little fried air bubbles that were on the surface of the empanada I tried in Manila, I had a very strong feeling they used lard. After playing around with pastry recipes, I am pretty sure I was right.

I say “secret ingredient” in the title above, but “forgotten” would be more accurate. It’s no secret lard does wonders in pastry recipes. It makes for a flaky and light pastry. Due to not being a healthy fat it has lost favour with home cooks. I know I rarely use it.

Don’t be put off by the smell of lard, it’s not that appealing (to me anyway). But it is worth using for the final result. It also looses all trace of smell and taste on cooking.

That’s the beauty of using lard. Unless you have made pastry with it, you are none the wiser as to why the pastry is so good.

I’m not going to say you can use butter if you would prefer. Because if you are gong to the trouble of making these Filipino empanadas, use lard for a fantastic result. Plus I want to challenge you a little.

3 votes


Filipino EmpanadasPrep 1 hour

Cook 60 mins

Total 1 hour, 60 mins

Author Sara McCleary

Yield 18 pieces


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500g pork mince (lean)
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 small potato, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup sultanas
  • ½ cup frozen baby peas
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (50g) lard, cold & chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
Read the whole recipe on Belly Rumbles