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Guava and Cream Cheese Empanadas

Cook Time:
15 mins
Prep Time:
30 mins
16-20 empanadas

Chef notes

I grew up eating flaky guava and cheese pastries like these empanadas from Latino bakeries and coffee shops, and the sweet tropical flavor has always tasted like home to me. The salty-sweet combination is a staple dessert in Puerto Rico, where my family is from, and also enjoyed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Its origins come from Spain, where a sweet quince paste known as "membrillo" is often served with cheese. The recipe was brought to the Caribbean and Central and South America by Spanish conquistadors where the quince was replaced with locally available guava fruit, though the cooking and serving methods stayed the same. For these pastries, the traditional ingredient called for is guava paste, which is a thick jam-like confection that is often sold in sliceable blocks packaged in tins or plastic wrap.

Technique tip: Adding a tiny pinch of salt to the egg wash helps break up the proteins so you get a smooth coating.

Swap options: If you are unable to find guava paste, you can also use spreadable jarred guava jam, or substitute any flavor of sweet jam you prefer. Strawberry, pineapple and apricot will all pair really well with the salty cream cheese.


  • all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 (14-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts, such as Pillsbury
  • kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, whisked, for egg wash
  • 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, cut into 18 pieces
  • 14 ounces guava paste, cut into 18 thin rectangular slices (about 1- to 1½-inches long and 1/4-inch-thick)
  • turbinado sugar, to garnish



Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.


Sprinkle flour onto a cutting board or your work surface. Remove the first pie crust from pouch and unroll onto the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about 18 inches in diameter. Cut out rounds using a 4- to 5-inch round cookie cutter, re-rolling out scraps as needed. Repeat with second pie crust from package.


Whisk together egg with 1 tablespoon water and a tiny pinch of kosher salt.


Working with 1 dough round at a time, moisten the edges of the dough with the egg wash, then add one piece of cream cheese and one piece of guava paste in the center. Fold the dough over to close and use a fork to crimp the edges.


Place on prepared baking sheets and repeat with rest of the dough and filling.


Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.


Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown and heated through. Serve warm or room temperature.