Empanada gallega, Galician pie

Empanada gallega or Galician pie could be defined as a savory pie. The dough is stretched very thin, stuffed with previously cooked ingredients and covered with another piece of dough. Then it is baked and usually served cold.

Empanada is a typical Galician recipe that is consumed at any time of the year. It is usually prepared with products from their coasts and lands.

Center map

They have been known in Galicia since the time of the Goths in the 7th century, when standards were specified for their production. It was a perfect meal for travelers because they were easily shaped to be transported.

There’s a great variety of fillings, from octopus, mussels, cod, sardines, to meat and vegetables. We’re featuring one of the most classic and delicious, the tuna empanada.

Is there a key element for a great empanada? Yeah, and that’s the dough. The traditional empanada dough is not yeasted. It is a very thin dough with a crunchy finish and a slightly flaky texture that’s achieved thanks to the presence of oil. And it is essential to properly bake the empanada so that the dough is both crisp and thoroughly cooked.

The edges of the empanada are closed with a dough crimping that is called repulgue. For the perfect closing we recommend you to watch this video. In case you find it too complicated, close the edges of the empanada just by tightly pressing the top dough on the bottom part to prevent the filling from oozing out.

Empanada gallega, Galician pie
Recipe type: Tapas
Cuisine: Spanish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • 4 cups (500g) plain flour
  • 3/5 cup (150g) whole milk
  • 3/5 cup (150g) sunflower oil
  • 1 egg L
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • 1 beaten egg + pinch of salt to brush
  • 3 large onions
  • 8-12 tablespoons homemade tomato sauce
  • 1 pound (500g) tuna preserve
  • Piquillo peppers
  • ⅙ cup (40g) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 ripe red tomatoes
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • ½ onion
  • A dash of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
Prepare the tomato sauce:
  1. Wash the tomatoes and slit them across the base.
  2. Fill a medium pot with water and place it over medium-high heat.
  3. Once it has reach a full boil, drop the tomatoes and blanch for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside to cool.
  5. Peel tomatoes, cut into pieces and place in a medium pot.
  6. Add the chopped onion together with the chopped red pepper, a dash of olive oil and the sugar.
  7. Cook at medium low heat for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
  8. Blend the tomato sauce with a hand blender, add the salt, mix and taste. Correct the seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
Prepare the filling for the empanada
  1. Cut the onions into small pieces.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan and place on medium low heat.
  3. When warm add the chopped onion and cook for 45-50 minutes, till wilted.
  4. Add the tomato sauce together with a pinch of salt and sweet paprika. Mix. Cook for 10-15 more minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, add the previously drained tuna and mix again to distribute evenly.
  6. Let stand until the filling is completely cool.
Make the dough.
  1. In the bowl of the stand mixer add the flour together with the milk, egg and salt.
  2. Mix till you get a crumbly texture.
  3. Add the oil in a continuous thread while kneading.
  4. Knead until the dough is completely smooth and homogeneous with a fully developed gluten. It'll take about 15 minutes.
  5. Shape it into a ball, put it in a bowl and let it rest for 2-3 hours.
Preshape the dough
  1. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.
  2. Shape two balls and cover with a cloth. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Shape the empanada and bake
  1. Preheat the oven to 380ºF (193 ºC).
  2. Stretch one of the pieces with a rolling pin to obtain a thin sheet of dough. Shape it into a circle approximately 15 inches (38cm) diameter.
  3. Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
  4. Tip the filling on the center, leaving some margin around the edge to close the empanada.
  5. Place some Piquillo peppers cut into strips on top of the stuffing.
  6. Stretch the second piece of dough by creating a circle of the same dimensions as the first.
  7. Using a round cutter, cut a circle in the middle of the dough to act as a chimney during baking.
  8. Place the dough lid on top of the pie and seal the edges.
  9. Close the edge making a repulgue.
  10. Decorate the surface with strips of leftover dough.
  11. Prick the surface of the dough with a knife, brush with beaten egg and bake for 50 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Tips for the best empanada gallega:

  • It is not mandatory to use a homemade tomato sauce to make the empanada. Canned tomatoes can be used if you prefer, but the flavor will have nothing to do with the real thing.
  • We have shared our tomato sauce, but of course you can use your own method for the tomato sauce. If you have tomato sauce leftovers it freezes beautifully in an airtight container.
  • Use a pair of swimming glasses to cut so much onion if you don’t want to cry like there’s no tomorrow, hahaha.
  • The onion must be cooked in a medium low heat because we want it to become tender and transparent. Under no circumstances should the onion brown or char.
  • We have used preserved tuna without added oil. We like it better, but of course you can use tuna in oil if you prefer. Drain well before adding it to the onion.
  • You can substitute the piquillo peppers with roasted red peppers if you prefer.
  • The empanada dough does not contain yeast. It is a type of dough that does not need to rise, just to rest so that the stretching process is much easier.
  • The dough can be made with sunflower oil, instead of olive oil that has a stronger flavor, or with the surplus of cooking oil. In this recipe there is not any surplus, but some other recipes use more oil and then you can reuse it to integrate it into the dough. The dough will be more flavorful then.
  • The filling should always be placed cold on the dough.
  • Once baked and cooled, the empanada will keep refrigerated for 5 days.
  • We recommend you to always eat the empanada at room temperature, so that flavors really shine.

This empanada gallega is one of the most extraordinary tapas that exist. Maybe you think we’re exaggerating a little… In that case you’d better try it so that you can have an opinion of your own…

To tell you the truth, this tapa can be eaten with whatever you like, but we recommend you to enjoy it with a good traditional Galician Albariño wine.

Buen provecho!


  1. Helena says:

    Great recipe and great tips. I agree, this is one of the best tapas!

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