Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks, Sweets

Butternut Maple Empanadas with a Coconut Cornmeal Crust

October 5, 2015
How to make sweet butternut squash empanadas wrapped in a delicate coconut and cornmeal crust. These little handheld pies are a favorite fall treat!

I tried my hand at growing butternut squash this year.

Butternut Squash

By late summer I’d realized that vine borer worms had lived up to their name and indeed bored a new home for themselves deep in my pumpkin vines…..for the second year in a row (tear drop emoji face). I was pretty positive they had set up shop in my butternut squash as well, but to my joy and amazement the squash vines seemed as green and vibrant as ever (not to mention creeping their way into every square inch of the garden). Open-mouth smile emoji face!!

Butternut Empanadas

So while my pumpkins didn’t live to be hacked into scary Halloween decorations, my squash will be gladly eaten until at least Christmas, if not longer. At last check I had twelve of them out there so depending on our empanada intake, I’m guessing I have some time.

Coconut Cornmeal Crust

Aside from the squash, the garden is just about finished for the year but I’ve loved having all those veggies to play around with. I feel more freedom to create and experiment when I’ve plucked something out of my backyard and not paid $5.00 a pound for it at the grocery store.

Butternut Maple Empanadas with Coconut

This sort of experimentation has led to some pretty delicious recipes (including this one) that I’ve shared with you on the blog and am now sharing in a new cookbook called, The Casual Veggie Cookbook . This book is a treasure trove of veggie-centric recipes developed by myself and many other creative food bloggers and will be available on October 19th!


To celebrate the book several bloggers are putting together a virtual meet-and-greet party to give you a peek at the talented group of writers who are participating and what type of recipes you can expect to find in The Casual Veggie.


Click around to these links to see what I’m talking about:

Butternut Maple Empanadas with

My contribution to this fiesta are these butternut squash and maple empanadas. They are my interpretation of the famous sweet pumpkin empanadas made with piloncillo—the pure, unrefined cane sugar that is pressed into a cone and very common in Mexican baking. The burnt sugar notes in maple syrup have a similar flavor to the ones found in those hunks of sugar but is significantly easier to find in your average grocery store, just please do me a favor and don’t use Aunt Jemima.


The filling is wrapped in a cornmeal crust made with extra virgin coconut oil making them exceptionally delicious and dairy free! The contrast of the crunch of cornmeal with the smooth, creamy filling is a completely gratifying way to dip your toe into fall.


Butternut Maple Empanadas with a Coconut Cornmeal Crust Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This hot water dough comes together very easily and can be made up to 3 days in advance, wrapped and kept in the refrigerator. If you do make it in advance you will have to let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour before rolling out. The coconut oil gets very hard when cold. If the dough is still stiff after sitting an hour, give it a couple good whacks with your rolling pin to soften it up before rolling. Empanadas will keep up to 3 days at room temperature or wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months.
Serves: 12 empanadas
For the Dough:
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
For the Filling:
  • 1½ pounds whole butternut squash
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
To Finish:
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
For the Dough:
  1. Heat water and coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat just until oil melts, remove from heat.
  2. Combine remaining dough ingredients in a large bowl. Pour water mixture over flour and stir until dough is evenly moist. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
For the Filling:
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Remove stem from the butternut squash and cut squash in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds and lay squash, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and rub oil to coat the surface. Roast until very soft, about 1 hour. Let cool.
  2. Scoop flesh out of the skin and place in a food processor with remaining filling ingredients. Puree until smooth.
To Finish:
  1. Heat oven to 375°F and arrange racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Remove dough from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough into a large circle, about ¼-inch thick. Place a 6-inch plate on one edge of the dough and cut along the outside of the plate with a pairing knife to create a 6-inch circle. Repeat and re-roll the scraps until you have 12 circles.
  3. Lay circles out on the work surface and scoop 3 tablespoons of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold each circle in half to enclose filling and press all around the edge with the tines of a fork to seal.
  4. Place empanadas on the two baking sheets. Beat egg with a bit of water until smooth. Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.
  6. Serve warm with ice cream or room temperature.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

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  • grace October 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    that crust sounds GLORIOUS! the filling’s not too shabby either–great and innovative recipe!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:39 am

      Thanks so much Grace! I hope you get a chance to give it a try. 🙂

  • Christine | Vermilion Roots October 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I love butternut squash (or anything orange, it seems). Part of the work during my farm volunteer was getting rid of stink bugs in the squash crop. I still have nightmares about them. But anything to save the squash! I love this recipe. It reminds me of the curry puff we eat in Southeast Asia. See you on the 19th! 🙂

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Do you have a recipe for the curry puff on your site, Christine? Cause that sounds like something I need to make!

  • Brie@ToasterOvenLvoe October 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Wow these empanadas look delicious, you had me at cornmeal crust 🙂

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Thanks so much Brie! I’m with you on the cornmeal crust addiction. 🙂

  • Allie October 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    What a great use for one of my favorite fall vegetable. This cookbook is going to be a great resource for some healthy and seasonal recipes

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:21 am

      I couldn’t agree more Allie. Just browsing through it has given me tons of ideas. Thanks for dropping by my blog! 🙂

  • Elysia | Haute & Healthy Living October 5, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    These butternut empanadas look absolutely delicious Kate! The perfect food for fall!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:20 am

      Thanks so much Elysia! They are a great way to get into fall baking season. 🙂

  • Rachel @ Delicious Balance October 5, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Oh my goodness! These look and sound amazing!!!! Such a great use for butternut squash. I get stuck in a rut of roasting them. I can’t wait to have a garden when we have a yard…your experience sounds great (minus the worms!)!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:16 am

      Thanks Rachel! You will forget about the worms once you can step into your backyard and pick some produce just moments from eating them. 🙂

  • Willow | Will Cook For Friends October 5, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    My mouth is watering — I’m not used to seeing sweet empanadas, but they sound absolutely amazing! I’m a huge fan of using maple syrup in desserts (though I just recently discovered piloncillo, so I’ve been experimenting with that, too), and am pretty sure if I made a batch of these, I’d have a hard time sharing. What a fantastic and creative use for some of those butternut squash!

    So glad to meet you through this cookbook, and so excited for the 19th!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:10 am

      Thank you Willow! Isn’t it fun to play around with new ingredients? I’m thrilled to “meet” you too and see what fun stuff you have coming up. 🙂

  • Liz October 6, 2015 at 1:19 am

    Mmmm these look mouth-watering! I love the ingredients in your crust— I’m definitely going to have to try asap!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Thank you Liz! Please let me know if you try them, I’d love to hear what you think. 🙂

  • Kathryn Doherty October 6, 2015 at 1:31 am

    So excited to be part of this awesome cookbook project with you! And wow, so excited to try these delicious empanadas!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Thanks so much Kathryn! Your recipes in the book look phenomenal!

  • Adina October 6, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Your empanadas look great, I never had any empanadas, either sweet or savory. Read about them in countless books, but never cooked any. I have to change that!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Oh my goodness Adina, you must give them a try! Little pockets of heaven is what they are. 🙂

  • Mollie October 6, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Oh my goodness, yes!! These look absolutely divine! I’m so thrilled to have you in the cookbook!

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 7, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Thank you Mollie! The book is gorgeous and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

  • Elaine October 9, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Hola Kate!

    I’m so glad we met through contributing to The Casual Veggie and I want to make your empanadas (just with a gluten free twist to accommodate our food allergies).
    But, I love how you packed in the rich fall veggies into an empanada.

    Que rico!