The perfect combination of sweet and salty wrapped in a soft corn dough with a crispy crust. This Guava Empanadas recipe with Bacon is a creative and sweet twist to the classic Venezuelan empanadas.
Sweet and salty. Crispy and crunchy. These are the basics of flavor and texture combinations that create amazing dishes. You wouldn’t expect a simple Venezuelan Empanada to offer both the ideal flavor and texture combination, but it does.
This Guava Empanadas recipe is filled with homemade guava jam for sweetness and crunchy bacon bits for saltiness. The corn dough makes for a very soft patty, yet the frying gives the crust a nice crunchy bite. How can that be possible? Well, that’s the magic of corn dough for you.
How to Make Guava Empanadas
The first part is making the filling. Start with easiest one, which is the bacon, and then move on to the guava jam.
Good Guava Empanadas need homemade guava jam. It’s just a must. I have a full post that guides you on how to make your own guava jam. You can make the guava jam ahead of time or you can make it at the same time you’ll make the empanadas.
The good thing about the guava jam is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to make. You only want to give it some time to rest so it gets its jelly form.
It may sound daunting, but it really isn’t. With such a simple recipe the quality of the ingredients is important and nothing is better than homemade ingredients made with fresh fruits.
After making the jam, it’s start to make the empanadas.
How to Make Venezuelan Empanadas
Venezuelan Empanadas aren’t hard to make but it does take some time, especially if you never made it before. After making your filling, it’s time to make the dough, shape it, and fry it.
Making The Dough
To make the dough you have to mix the pre-cooked cornmeal with water. My favorite brand of cornmeal is P.A.N. There are certainly other types of brands, but I found this one to be the most reliable one. It’s been the one that generations used in Venezuela and the one my family always used. Not all brands come pre-cooked, so P.A.N is the safest option since they’re always pre-cooked and it says right on the package.
You want a soft and firm dough that isn’t sticky anymore. To get that consistency gradually add water while kneading the dough. Keep kneading until there are no lumps left and the dough isn’t sticking to your hands or the bowl.
How to Shape Your Empanadas
When the dough is ready, take pieces of it and shape it into a ball that is a bit smaller than a tennis ball. Flatten it on top of a greased wax paper or plastic wrap. My preference is a piece of plastic wrap as wax papers have the tendency to break. For a more ecological option use bees wrap instead. To flatten the dough, wet your hands and push the ball with the palm of your hand until you form a thin disk of about 1 inch. Make sure that the edges are smooth and if they happen to split, use your finger to smooth it over.
After forming a circle, add the filling on one half. Fold the other half on top using the wrapper as help. Close the empanadas by pressing the edges down using the sides of your index finger (not the top). You want a smooth thin edge. A thick edge can burn easier when frying and become stale.
Frying the Empanadas
The best empanadas are nice and crunchy on the outside with a soft layer of dough on the inside. Here are a few tips:
- Cover at least 3/4 of the empanadas with oil;
- The oil has to be very hot and only use high-temperature oil;
- Use a spoon or spatula to splash some oil on the top side of the empanadas, if the oil doesn’t fully cover it;
- Turn as soon as the bottom gets a nice dark yellow crust.
A common question people have is whether it is better to bake or fry empanadas? I have yet to find a good way to bake empanadas and still have them taste similar to it being fried. Because it uses cornmeal, baking won’t give you the same results. For now, I recommend frying empanadas instead of baking them.
Guava Empanadas Recipe with Bacon
- Wax Paper or Plastic Wrap
- Paper Towels
- 2 cups (325 gr) pre-cooked cornmeal P.A.N.
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- sunflower oil (see note 1)
- In a non-stick pan, over medium heat, fry the lardon either medium or crispy (according to your preference). Transfer to a plate covered with paper towels.
- In a medium bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix well. Gradually add water while kneading. Keep kneading and adding water until the dough is soft, firm, and not sticky anymore.
- Place a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper on the countertop and grease it with a bit of oil. Create dough balls of 0.2 lbs/70 gr (size of a tennis ball). Press it on the wrap to form a disk of about 1 inch (2½ cm). Use your fingers to smooth the edges. Add ½ tbsp. of guava jam and 1 tbsp. of bacon to one half of the circle. Fold the opposite side over it using the wrap. Use the sides of your index finger to press the edges down.
- In a deep pan, add plenty of oil to cover at least ¾ of the empanadas. Heat the oil on medium-high and add the empanadas when the oil is very hot. Use a spoon to splash some oil on the top side. Turn them as soon as the empanada gets a nice crust (about 3 minutes). They're done when both sides have a dark yellow crust.
- Place empanadas on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the grease.
How much oil you need depends on the size of your pan. The wider the pan, the more oil you need. Just make sure to have enough to cover 3/4 of the patties and greasing.