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Butternut Squash and Leek Empanadas

Butternut Squash and Leek Empanadas

This Butternut Squash and Leek Empanadas Recipe is the perfect addition to your appetizer spread this fall.

Butternut Squash and Leek Empanadas are flaky hand pies bursting with all your favorite fall flavors. They are stuffed with sweet squash, leeks and garlic that are sauteed together to make a filling that is smooth and delicious. It comes together with a melty gruyere cheese which ties everything together in the crispy dough that will have you and your guests screaming.

Every Hispanic child can attest to finding empanadas at every single major life event and party. They are easy party snacking, and can be the answer to anything you have leftover. This is why we love this recipe so much. It is another beautiful collision of cultures – classic American flavors in a traditional Latin empanada. They are perfect for snacking, a light lunch, a heavy breakfast and almost anything sweet or savory can be stuffed inside of it. 

What are Leeks and Why You Absolutely Need Them

While most of us are pretty familiar with butternut squash, leeks are something that not many know how to use. Leeks are not a very common ingredient, and we are here to try to change that. They are lowkey one of the most delicious ingredients that you can bring into your kitchen. Leeks are alliums, which means they’re related to garlic, chives, shallots, and onions. Once you taste them, you can tell almost immediately. They have a beautiful onion flavor that can add depth to almost anything you use them with. Think pasta, soups, stews and can be especially highlighted in something like this Empanada recipe.

Use them as you would use an onion, which is usually to help build the base of your dish. Leeks can also be enjoyed lightly roasted or grilled on their own, but we would highly suggest doing this when they are in season which is usually in the fall and spring.

Our Tips for the Perfect Butternut Squash and Leek Empanadas

What type of dough do we suggest using? We recommend using the Argentine style dough that is similar to puff pastry. The buttery dough is flakey and pairs well with the filling.

When using leeks, it is extremely important that you wash them very well. Do not skip this step or you will regret it.

If you don’t want to use the leeks, you can substitute for onions or shallots. But trust us, leeks make everything better.

This recipe calls for gruyere cheese, but you may substitute it for something you like better such as mozzarella, jack or a mix. A little addition of parmigiano to the other cheeses always adds a nice salty and nutty flavor. Just make sure that whatever cheese you use melts nicely. A lot of recipes will tell you not to overstuff your empanadas and they are absolutely right but nothing reminds us of our childhood than some of that cheese oozing out of the side when they are baking in the oven. 

Empanadas are a great make-ahead item because they be assembled a day in advance before baking. Once they are baked they can be heated up in the oven or air fryer or eaten at room temperature. 

We grew up with them as the craveable midday snack or as an appetizer to a big football game but we can’t think of a better pair than these empanadas being part of your Thanksgiving table. Try these perfect Butternut Squash and Leek Empanadas with our other delicious Thanksgiving recipes:

Butternut Squash and Leek Empanadas

Recipe by Abuela's CounterCourse: AppetizersCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 10 empanada disks, thawed in the refrigerator (we like using the ones with puff dough or the ones designated for baking)

  • 10 oz chopped butternut squash, if frozen be sure to thaw

  • 1 leek, thoroughly cleaned and finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

  • 3 tablespoons of oil

  • 8 oz of gruyere cheese, grated

  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream

  • 1 egg 

  • 4 sprigs of thyme

  • 4 sage leaves

  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper


  • In a non stick pan add the leek, butternut squash, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Saute on medium/low heat for 4-6 minutes until the leeks have started to wilt and the butternut squash starts to breakdown. Add the thyme and sage. If the garlic starts to turn too golden brown, add a couple tablespoons of water.
  •  Once everything has been sauteed, taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. 
  • Transfer the mixture to a plate and allow it to cool completely. While the mixture cools, add the egg and heavy cream to a bowl. Whisk together completely. Set aside until you are ready to brush the empanadas. 
  • Once you are ready to assemble your empanadas, remove the empanada discs from the fridge and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Layout the empanada discs on a large cutting board and begin filling them with the butternut squash filling. Fill it with a heaping tablespoon. Once they all have filling, brush half of the rim of dough with the egg wash. Then fold the empanada over and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Poke a small hole in the top of the empanada so steam can escape. 
  • Line a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Lay the empanadas down scattered on the sheet pan and brush with egg wash. 
  • Bake in the bottom rack of the oven for 15-18 minutes or until they are golden brown. 

Recipe Video