(Last Updated On: November 7, 2022)


Each year on April 8th, National Empanada Day recognizes a delicious pastry that comes in several different forms. The name empanada comes from the Galician, Portuguese and Spanish verb em pandar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.

Empanadas are made by folding the dough or bread around a seasoned stuffing. The stuffed dough is then baked or fried. Very much like hand pies, these delicious pastries offer a variety of choices. You can make your empanadas with meat, cheese, vegetables or fruit fillings. However, they may be made with other ingredients, too.

A cookbook published in 1520 in Catalan, the Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood.

If you’ve never had an empanada, you might be surprised just how versatile they are. Different parts of the United States make them with their own style and flavors. Starting in the Southern and Southwestern United States where an empanada is called a Creole empanada, the dish becomes a savory meal. There, they fill the half-circle flaky crust with seasoned pork, beef or chicken, and cheese.

Head to the Southeastern part of the country and empanadas transform. A little more on the sweeter side, they fill these pastries with fresh or reconstituted dry fruit. Some choices include apples, apricots, peaches or sweet potatoes. Once fried, the pies have a crispy outer shell with piping hot fruit inside.

Further west in New Mexico, making empanadas for Christmas is a winter tradition. They make sweetmeats, similar to mincemeat, using ground pork, sugar, pinon nuts, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Everything is then sealed in a tortilla-like dough and deep-fried in lard.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalEmpanadaDay

  • Make your favorite version of empanadas. You can choose from a variety of fillings and make one for everyone in the family. Have everyone try their hand at making the dough and filling them. 
  • Share your favorite empanada recipes.
  • If you’re doubting your dough-making skills, try frozen or canned dough. While you’re cooking, be sure to share your recipes, too!
  • Use #NationalEmpanadaDay to post on social media.


National Day Calendar continues researching this delicious food celebration. 

Empanada FAQ

Q. Are empanadas and handpies the same thing?
A. They are similar in that they are pie-like pastries that contain fillings and fit in the hand.

Q. Can I use an egg wash on empanadas?
A. Yes. And egg wash will give the empanada a crispy crust.


April 8th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) History


SS Great Western sets off on its maiden voyage from Bristol, England to New York City. The steamship was the first of its kind built for transatlantic service. It completed its maiden voyage on April 23, 1838.


The states ratify the 17th Amendment giving the people the right to directly vote for their senators creating a direct election. Before the 17th amendment, each state’s legislature elected the senators.


Hank Aaron hits his 715th career home run. The Atlanta Brave was playing at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he hit Al Downing’s 1-0 fastball.

April 8th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) Birthdays

Mary Pickford – 1892

The American actress co-founded United Artists and helped establish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts. Pickford made her mark on the film industry when it was in its infancy and watched it transform into the world of talking movies.

Melvin Calvin – 1911

In 1961, the American biochemist was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Andrew Benson and James Bassham for his discovery of the Calvin cycle.

Winifred Asprey – 1917

Mathematician and computer scientist, Winifred Asprey earned her Ph.D. in mathematics at a time when very few women did. Asprey established the first computer lab at Vassar College in 1967. Vassar soon became the second college to acquire an IBM System/360 computer.

Betty Ford – 1918

In 1974, the Fords were suddenly thrust into the roles of President and First Lady upon the resignation of Richard Nixon. The 40th First Lady took on many roles, including equal rights advocate and she spoke openly about breast cancer awareness and drug and alcohol. In 1982, following her own treatment for alcoholism, the former First Lady established the Betty Ford Center.

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