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It’s Pumpkin Season - Time for Empanadas de Calabaza!!

(Article originally posted on where I live and work as Director of Community Relations)

It's pumpkin season time. Picking out the best ones for decor as well as empanadas

Picking out the best pumpkins for Halloween decor as well as emapanadas!

Empanadas are savory pastries filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables or fruits. These little treats can be linked back to the early 1500’s in Spain and then as colonization began in the New World the empanada was introduced in many Latin American countries. At this time of the year when pumpkins are abundant and being harvested for Halloween and Thanksgiving, most people are thinking of pumpkin pie for their seasonal dessert of choice, but in my Mexican-American family it makes perfect sense that the pumpkin empanada is the tasty pastry for Halloween, Thanksgiving and even all the way until Christmas!!

Pumpkin Empanadas

The tasty Empanada de Calabaza

My mom back in 2008 put together a cookbook of many of her favorite recipes that she typically made for me, my brother and sister while we were kids and pumpkin empanadas definitely made the cut into her "Sabores del Pasado y Favoritas de Mi Vida" cookbook. This recipe is my mom, Berta Trevino's version. You can certainly make the pumpkin filling from scratch by baking and pureeing pumpkin flesh (and the plus is that you get to bake the pumpkin seeds for a snack), but if you are in a rush like my mom always was with 3 kids running around, using pre-made canned pumpkin for the filling is just as yummy and a whole lot faster to get the to the final result!

Empanadas (Mexican Pumpkin Turnovers)

makes 20-30 small empanadas


5 c. flour

dash salt

1/2 c. sugar

1/3 c. vegetable shortening

1T baking powder

small saucepan of boiling water

Boil water first. Meanwhile in a large bowl, mix all the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Cut in shortening with one hand. Using a large cooking/serving spoon, make a well in the center of the flour mixture and start adding water. Use your hands and knead the dough. Make small balls (as if you were making flour tortillas) and let them air dry while preparing the filling. You can make tiny or large balls depending on how large you will want your empanadas.


2 large cans 15 oz. can of canned pumpkin (not pie filling)



1/2 to 1 c. brown sugar

Place all the ingredients in a heavy skillet and cook over low heat until it thickens and loses some of the liquid. Taste and add more sugar and spice until you are happy with the blend.

Roll out the balls of dough (like tortillas) and place some filling in the center. Fold in half and use fork tines to seal the edges. Poke 3 to 4 times on the top with the fork to vent steam. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

They can be frozen after baking if you'd like to make in batches and save for later holidays or just a snack for any day!!

Empanadas ready for snacking on

Fresh from the oven and ready to snack on!

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