This Francophile's spin on the beloved Latin pastry pocket is ideal for make-ahead cooks because the unbaked empanadas can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to three months. When you're ready to eat, just pop them in the oven—no need to thaw before baking.

Makes 12 empanadas


  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups small-diced leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche
  • 4 ounces smoked ham, such as Black Forest, cut into 1/4" dice
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces (2 cups) baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. julienned basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 3 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted (2 packages)
  • Fleur de sel or sea salt for sprinkling


    Active time: 40 minutes
    Total time: 1 hour

    Preheat oven to 400°. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

    In a medium (10") saute pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add leeks and sauté until tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in crème fraîche and simmer 1 minute.

    In a medium bowl, mix ham and Gruyère. Add leek mixture, spinach, basil, Parmesan, salt, and black pepper. Mix and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk.

    Sprinkle a cutting board with flour, roll out 1 sheet of the puff pastry to an 11" x 11" square, and cut into 4 equal squares. Brush edges of each square with egg wash. Place 1/3 cup of the ham and cheese filling in the center of each square. Fold each square diagonally to form a triangle, lining up edges of pastry. Place empanadas on prepared sheet pans and press edges with tines of a fork to seal. Brush each with egg wash and sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling. (If making ahead, put sheet pan in freezer; when frozen, transfer empanadas to a resealable plastic bag.) Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

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