Empanadas de Cajeta

Close up of three freshly baked empanadas beside a jar of cajeta.

These crisp and buttery Costa Rican cajeta empanadas are filled with a delicious caramel-like spread made with goat’s milk. Perfect for dunking in coffee or satisfying a sweet tooth!

Empanadas de Cajeta Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 box heavy whipping cream (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 3 cups of unbleached white flour (3 tazas de harina)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1 tbsp guava paste or guava jelly
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour for dusting
  • 1 recipe’s worth of cajeta

Kitchen Tools:

  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Empanada or tortilla press
  • Two pieces of plastic cut into the same size circle as the empanada press
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper (papel encerado)
  • Small brush for egg wash (optional)
  • Small spoon
  • Fork

Instructions:

Combine the flour and margarine in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly with a stand mixer or with your hands. Add the cream bit by bit, mixing the empanada dough until sticky but not watery. 

On a floured surface, take chunks of the dough and roll them into balls that are about 1 and ½ inches wide. 

Place plastic sheets or bags onto your empanada or tortilla press. This way, the dough won’t stick to the metal surface.

Place a dough ball in the middle of the press and press until a circle is formed. Move the flattened disc aside, and repeat the process until all of the dough has been made into circles.

At this point, you can go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Lay out your dough circles, and place about one tablespoon of cajeta in the center of each circle. You want to be careful not to add too much cajeta, or it will melt and run out of the empanadas as they bake.

On a lightly floured surface, close the empanadas by folding them over the cajeta dollops and then securing the seam by making marks around the edge with your fork. 

Brush the empanadas with the egg wash and place them on a lightly floured baking sheet (or one covered with parchment paper). Bake for 20- 30 minutes or until just golden brown. 

Some people sprinkle the empanadas with granulated sugar before serving, but that’s more common in Mexico.

About This Empanada de Cajeta Costa Rica Recipe

Crisp, flaky, and buttery, empanadas are one of Latin America’s most iconic pastries! Traditionally, empanadas consist of a homemade dough that has been flattened into a disc and folded over a filling of your choice.

These little pastry pockets are super versatile and can be prepared as sweet or savory snacks depending on the filling. From pineapple and guava to black beans and cheese, the empanada stuffing possibilities are truly limitless!

Empanadas are a culinary staple in Costa Rica, and we generally serve them at breakfast or during the coffee hour, a span of time from about 1-4 pm. I have to say, few things can beat a fresh cup of coffee and a dessert empanada!

With their distinctive caramel-y flavor, empanadas de cajeta make for especially delicious coffee companions! Cajeta is very similar to dulce de leche but is made with goat’s milk instead of the traditional cow’s milk. It’s slightly richer and more flavorful– if you can get your hands on some goat’s milk, I’d definitely recommend making a batch!

Here, I want to share with you the traditional Costa Rican 3-2-1 receta de empanadas (empanada recipe) adapted for cajeta filling. Happy breakfasting! 

Related Recipes You’ll Love:

If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out these other empanadas dulces (sweet empanadas)!

Substitutions

Costa Ricans always use margarine for this recipe, but I also like to use butter. The butter will give the empanadas a lighter yellow color and a flakier crust. 

You could also use vegetable shortening or lard to achieve the same consistency of dough, but again, the color would be a bit different.

I have often used just 2 cups of white flour and one cup of wheat flour and they taste great. Finally, you can substitute almond flour for a gluten-free empanada recipe.

While preparing the cajeta, it’s also possible to swap in brown sugar (azúcar morena) for the white sugar.

Variations

Empanadas are super versatile, and can easily be made either sweet or savory simply by changing up the filling. For a dessert empanada, you can swap out the cajeta for a dollop of dulce de leche, sliced pineapple, or guava paste. Shredded beef, cheese, and refried beans are all great filling candidates as well.

To make these empanadas vegan, you can substitute canned unsweetened coconut milk for the goat’s milk in the cajeta recipe. The flavor will be slightly different, but empanadas will still be undeniably delicious!

Another way to vary this recipe is by adding apple chunks to the empanada dough circles along with the cajeta. This way, you have caramel-apple empanadas!

Serving Suggestions

These cajeta empanadas are best served right out of the oven. I just cool them for about 10 minutes because the inside gets so hot it can burn your mouth. Dust the empanada batch with some powdered sugar (azúcar impalpable), drizzle with caramel sauce, and you’re ready to go! 

We eat these in the morning with hot coffee and eggs, or with a traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto breakfast. 

Empanadas de cajeta are also really good crumbled over a big scoop of vanilla ice cream– delicious!

FAQ

1.) Can you fry empanadas instead of baking them?- Yes! In fact, that’s how empanadas are traditionally prepared. Get out some vegetable oil and fry your empanadas about 6 minutes or until golden brown. Fried empanadas are especially good with a soft drink, like Sprite or Coca Cola!

2.) Do you eat empanadas with your hands?- Absolutely! Though you can certainly opt for a knife and fork, empanadas are a great finger food. 

3.) How do you keep empanadas crispy?- You can reheat your empanadas in a 300 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes. If you like, you can add a light brush of egg wash to your empanadas before baking.

4.) What are “Empandas rellenas“? – Empanadas rellenas” translates to “filled empanadas” in English. In the case of this recipe, we’re making empanadas rellenas de cajeta, or empanadas filled with cajeta.

Printable Recipe

Yield: 8 Empanadas

Empanadas de Cajeta

Close up of three freshly baked empanadas beside a jar of cajeta.

These crisp and buttery confections are filled with cajeta, a delicious caramel-like spread made with goat’s milk. Perfect for dunking in coffee or satisfying a sweet tooth!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box heavy whipping cream (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 3 cups of unbleached white flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1 tbsp guava paste or guava jelly
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour for dusting
  • 1 recipe's worth of cajeta

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour and margarine in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly with a stand mixer or with your hands.
  2. Add the cream bit by bit, mixing the empanada dough until sticky but not watery. 
  3. On a floured surface, take chunks of the dough and roll them into balls that are about 1 and ½ inches wide. 
  4. Place plastic sheets or bags onto your empanada or tortilla press. This way, the dough won’t stick to the metal surface.
  5. Place a dough ball in the middle of the press and press until a circle is formed. Move the flattened disc aside, and repeat the process until all of the dough has been made into circles.
  6. At this point, you can go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  7. Lay out your dough circles, and place about one tablespoon of cajeta in the center of each circle. You want to be careful not to add too much cajeta, or it will melt and run out of the empanadas as they bake.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, close the empanadas by folding them over the cajeta dollops and then securing the seam by making marks around the edge with your fork. 
  9. Brush the empanadas with the egg wash and place them on a lightly floured baking sheet (or one covered with parchment paper). Bake for 20- 30 minutes or until just golden brown. 
  10. Some people sprinkle the empanadas with granulated sugar before serving, but that’s more common in Mexico.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 427Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 4gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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