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Spiced Pumpkin and Date Empanadas

pumpkin and fig empanada

Where has the time gone? Holidays are almost upon us and our kitchens, dining room tables and living rooms will be hustling with guests before you know it.

Do you have a plan?

My usual plan is all of my house guests will become test guinea pigs so that I can try out many new holiday recipes.  Now we all know that might not always be the best solution when trying to host a dinner party or gathering without a hitch. Smoke alarms, Kitchen fires and ordering a back up pizza should not be your first line of defense when hosting your lovely guests.

pumkin and fig empanada

So this year, I am going to be proactive and test and trial some dishes I have been wanting to make in Bam's Kitchen for holidays, in advance. I am going to actually use those crazy words called planning and preparation.

pumkin and fig empanada

When I hosts guests, sometimes it is not for an actual sit down meal but kind of like a relaxed social gathering with easy portable kinds of appetizers and drinks. My guests may come and go and take a seat wherever they please. Teenagers are even more causal about their gatherings as they are always last-minute and they like to congregate where they feel comfortable and that might be in the TV room or with an X-Box in hand.

pumkin and fig empanada When you think of holidays and especially Thanksgiving and some seasonal events you think of pumpkin pie. Delicious in its pure form indeed but not so convenient when hosting a gathering when guests do not have a table to sit at and all of that messy whipped topping.  I wanted to make something that you can pick up with one hand. I also wanted to make a pumpkin dessert that was more natural and had less refined sugar and not fried. I also needed to make something my teenagers would love, so I began to brainstorm.

pumkin and fig empanada

I began by making a delicate and flaky empanadas dough. Empanadas are a delightful Argentinean and Spanish influenced dish that has a delectable pastry dough that is folded over in half into a moon shape and has filling that can be either savory or sweet.

pumkin and fig empanada

Do you remember my recipe for Beef empanadas, I used the main concept of this savory great appetizer and made a dessert with a little bit more health consciousness as it is made with only natural sweeteners and is baked, not fried. I then created a delight spiced pumpkin mix and instead of all of the refined sugars I added natural dates and figs and just a touch of honey with delightful spices to the pumpkin mix. I filled the empanadas with the spiced pumpkin, date and fig mixture and then baked them until they were light and delicate in the oven.

pumkin and fig empanada

The first bite was like taking a bite into autumn as it has a of the flavors that remind you of this change of season. First the buttery, flaky and delicate crust is the first to hit your palate followed by the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, mace and nutmeg which is a perfect complement to the slightly sweet and spiced pumpkin. The dates and figs add another dimension of flavor and richness and give this dessert a delicate natural sweetness.  Delicious either hot out of the oven or at room temperature. You can pick up a spiced pumpkin and date empanadas with one hand and have a hot cocoa (or something a little stronger for the adults) in the other.

pumkin and fig empanada

Spiced Pumpkin and Date Empanadas

Serves 10 adults or 1 hungry teenager

  • empanadas dough (recipe below)
  • Pumpkin pie Spice mixture (recipe below)
  • salt
  • 2 cans of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 12 dates
  • 8 dried figs (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon of honey (or can use stevia, agave, or any other type of alternative sugar)
  • 1 beaten egg

Empanadas Dough Recipe

  • 3 cups flour (plus a little more for kneading)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons butter or shortening
Step 1: In a small bowl beat egg, and add water and vinegar and mix together.
Step 2: In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients of flour and salt. Add butter and use a blender to mix.
Step 3: Add the egg, water, vinegar mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with blender until just combined.
Step 4: On a clean and floured surface lay out the dough and kneed gently just a couple of times to bring the dough together.
Step 5: Form the dough into a ball and wrap in syran wrap and refrigerate for one hour. (During this time make your spiced Pumpkin and date empanadas filling-recipe below)
Step 6: Take dough out of refrigerators and pat flat with hands and then lightly dust with flour the surface you are setting it on and top and use rolling-pin to flatten dough.
Step 7: Step use a drinking cup or any device you have to cut out round circles from your dough (Just make sure you dip your cup in flour before cutting the dough so it does not stick)

Step 8: Make the Spiced pumpkin and date Empanada filling- Recipe below.

Empanadas Spiced Pumpkin and Date Filling Recipe:

  • 15 oz of canned pumpkin puree (or homemade baked pumpkin)
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (recipe above)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 dried pitted dates (puree in blender)
  • 8 dried figs (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and puree in blender)- Optional
  • 2 tablespoons of honey (or other sugar substitute such as stevia, agave, sweet and low, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy creamer (feel free to use regular or full cream if you like)

Step 1: Mix pumpkin, pumpkin spice, salt, puree dates and figs, honey and creamer together in a bowl until well incorporated.

 Pumpkin Pie Spice (adapted from Tony Hill, The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices)

Makes 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Step 1: Mix ground spices together and store in airtight container.

Spiced Pumpkin and Date Empanadas Putting it All Together:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C)

Step 2: Place 1-2 tablespoon of Spiced pumpkin and date filling on one half of the round shapes you created from the empanadas dough. Do not overfill as you want to be able to fold over and have room to crimp the edges of the dough so the delicious filing does not ooze out during the baking process.

Step 3: Fold the empanadas in half and press to seal edges.

Step 4: Fold over and crimp the edges of the empanadas to secure in the filling. Alternatively you can use a fork to crimp around the edges as well. Place your empanadas in a greased baking sheet.

Step 5: Brush the beaten egg on top of the empanadas. If you are not watching your sugar intake, you can dust the spiced pumpkin and date empanadas with a little granulated sugar (optional).

Step 6: Bake spiced pumpkin and date empanadas for about 15-18 minutes. The crust should be lightly golden.

Step 7: Spiced pumpkin and date empanadas can be enjoyed straight out of the oven or at room temperature. You can also make them in advance and put them in the freezer and just reheat in the oven for about 5-8 minutes just before serving to your guests.

Take Care,




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Healthy World Cuisine (HWC) Magazine is committed to provide a lifestyle traveling culinary experience featuring fresh ingredients, easy recipe preparation and culinary enjoyment. READ MORE...

Spiced Pumpkin and Date Empanadas

By HWC Magazine  , , , ,   

November 6, 2012

  • Cook: 1 hr


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  • Planning and preparation you say… must put that into practice before our guests arrive over Christmas.
    Gorgeous little empanadas Bam.
    🙂 Mandy

    • I know that concept of P and P is quite a crazy one. I am fresh out of fire extinguishers and pizza coupons so I thought I would give P an P a trial run.

  • No one will be Xboxing if these are in the room my friend, too gracious a host 😉
    Delicious job!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Thanks CCU. As I have noted, the x-box playing takes 2 hands so they will have to take a bit of a break from the games to have a quick snack.

  • Perfect party food BAM, tasty treats, portable and so much care and attention. did I mention perfect?

    • Claire you are so sweet. Thanks for your support! Take Care, BAM

  • Hi BAM, you are such a great friend and host, what a great preparation. I never plan anything like this, I always prefer to have my social gathering outside home (cafe/restaurant) to avoid the mess 😀 not a good host at all.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. I love to cook but I really do not like the cleanup part either. That is exactly why little grab and go snacks are perfect. No plate or utensils needed, just a disposable napkin and clean up is a snap. Take care, BAM

  • Those are too pretty. They look delicious. I like that you make your own pumpkin pie spice. We always do too.

    • Thanks so much. I make my own pumpkin pie spice and many other things from scratch out of necessity of living in Hong Kong. Getting all of the things readily,that I used to have access to the States, is not so convenient or even available here. However, there is always a will and a way. Take Care, BAM

  • dutchgoesitalian

    I’m all for planning and preparation 😀 These look delicious and perfect for any party!! Thanks BAM for the recipe…

    • Thanks Letizia. Will you be hosting lots of guests over the holiday or will it be a quite one in Italy? Take care, BAM

      • dutchgoesitalian

        I’ll be in Holland for the holidays!! So don’t need to prepare anything…my parents will do so 😉 Ciao, ciao! 😀

        • Have fun and enjoy the frites and mayo! Take care, BAM

          • dutchgoesitalian

            Oh I will for sure!! Hahaha, I adore frites with mayo and satay sauce….YUMMY!!! But I will keep your recipe in mind whnever we’ll have friends over 😉 Take care! Letizia

  • What a clever and delicious idea.

    • Thank you for your kind words Karen. Now, on to the next test item for my holiday kitchen…

  • I do planning and preparation but they do not always end up into practice. Love you addition of dried fruits to cut back on the sugar.

    • However P and P is half the battle… so job well done! I was reading some time ago that in ancient times dates and figs were used to naturally sweeten things before the invention of refined sugar. So going back to the basics… Take care, BAM

  • BAM! How did you know that I have leftover pumpkin puree in my fridge and dates in my cupboard? And that I LOVE empanadas? You must have read my mind. I really really want to make these! Mmm. They look so delicious. A pumpkin pie empanada!! And I love how flaky and light the dough looks, even with only three tablespoons of butter! You are a genius.

    • Hello Erika, I was actually thinking of you while I was making these little empanadas. I was thinking that maybe you can make some spiced pumpkin and date pancakes and top off with some spiced sweet bourbon glaze. How does that sound? Oh my goodness the ideas for pancakes are endless. Take care, BAM

      • I LOVE it!!! One of my next ideas was to make a date swirl pancake (like a cinnamon roll, but using cinnamon date paste instead of powdered sugar and butter to make the swirl)…I’m thinking I will have to combine it with pumpkin now! And possibly bourbon! Ahh so excited! So sweet of you to think of me 🙂 Also, I’m looking at your response to a comment below and I love the idea of “tapas and tinis.” might have to borrow that idea too 🙂

        • Now that sounds fancy and very cool to make swirled pancakes. I can’t wait to read about your finished product. Take care, BAM

  • The combination of flavors sounds so wonderful … I will be trying this soon! Thank you 🙂

    • I know I don’t often post desserts on Bam’s Kitchen as often as my teenagers would like as that requires that crazy verb called “measuring”. Measuring and weighing the flours and ingredients and such is so overrated. I am much more of a dash of this and dash of that kind of girl… Thank goodness this recipe is very forgiving. Take Care, BAM

      • I understand … I cook the same way, while baking does require measuring.

  • Mich – Piece of Cake

    spiced pumpkin and dates sound delicious in that pie skin!

    • A slightly different twist to a age old classic. Hope your day is grand. Take Care, BAM

  • Great idea. These would be perfect for “finger food” meal….

    • Thanks. I think my next gathering will be “Tapas and Tinis…” Short for Martini’s. Take care, BAM

  • Wow – nice job!! My house will be filling up starting Friday – 3 sets of grandparents will be visiting in 3 weeks. I haven’t even begun to start thinking about what to make – but I am with you – they will be my testers!!

    • Good luck with your visitors. Have you ever watched the film, “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation”? You should probably watch that to get you in the proper holiday spirit before their arrival. I know we always think as foodies that we have to put on some elegant feast but your family are there to visit you so enjoy your time with them.

  • Wow Bam, I am so envious of your guests! You really do put a lot of thoughts and care into cooking, these empanadas look absolutely delicious! Who wouldn’t want to have a portable pumpkin dessert that won’t add bulk to our waistline?

    • Thank you for your kind words and I am glad you like these little empanadas. So when is your kitchen back in service? Will it be ready before the holidays embark upon us? Take care, bAM

  • I’m so glad you’re doing some preplanning and experimenting ahead, we get to see what you’ve made and can try them too! These little hand-held pies/empanadas look fantastic.. I had to read the description of the taste over a few times.. savoring every moment!!

    • Thank you Smidge! Will you be having lots of holiday guests? I am also look forward to reading your upcoming posts and some old ones so I can get a menu in order by this upcoming week as will be hosting very soon. Hey by the way I used your recipe for your coffee cake for a bake sale and I received all kinds of happy responses. Take care, BAM

  • OMG these look and sound delicious! I love pumpkin in my food 🙂

    • Fall is the perfect seasonal time to enjoy pumpkins. I was even able to find a pumpkin to carve here in Hong Kong so we were quite happy. Take care, BAM

  • What a great combination for the filling. Sounds delicious.

    • Hello Clare, maybe we can brain storm together and find a way to make this recipe a gluten free option? any ideas for gluten free pie crusts? Take care, BAM

  • Those sound so good! What a unique recipe!

  • These look sweet and savory – yumminess in a pocket:) Happy Tuesday!

    • Happy Tuesday or maybe it is now happy Wednesday where you live to you too. I must admit that I had to test just a few to make sure they met my specifications.

  • I would gladly be a test guinea pig at your house if you fed me one of these! They look great, and such a nice treat without all the extra refined sugar. Good luck with your planning and preparation. Are you one of those people who starts their holiday shopping in August as well?!

    • Korena, you are welcome any time. Bam’s Kitchen is always open…
      Oh Korena, I think you have set your expectations of me way too high… Holiday shopping on the night before usually is my style. If my family back at home wonders where their gifts are, I can always blame that slow moving” HK post tug boat” going from China to the States…as the reason behind the delay. Take care, BAM

  • How do you continue to come up with such creative recipes – ALL THE TIME? Now this is something I’ll have to make with & for my daughter. I know she’ll love this one. And I do remember your beef empanadas. I’m wondering if you think they would freeze well. I’d love to have something like these & the beef made ahead & just whip out as if I spent all morning in the kitchen.

    • Thank You Diane. Your kind words made my day! I tested the concept of freezing these little spiced pumpkin and date empanadas and it works well. You can do it 2 different ways 1) Assemble the emapanadas but do not bake and put in freezer and then bake when you want them- much like the concept of the pre-made pies in the frozen food section. 2) Bake your empanadas in advance, let them completely cool and then freeze and reheat in the oven. I think option 1 works the best. Give it a try. Take care, BAM

      • I think I like the sounds of option 1 also, seems like it would taste fresher. Thanks.

  • Buona Sera, BAM! These look really good, just the right size and the perfect golden brown. I’m sure that they taste of Autumn and I bet your kitchen’s aroma matches the taste. I can see the guys grabbing a couple and heading back to the X-Box., to the game, or just about back to anything. Best of all, they’re not terribly sweet. What a great little empanada!

    • Gratzie John! I found a little secret. If you don’t give teenagers a plate they can usually only carry one empanada in each hand and head back to the game room. However, one of the more creative teenagers used his shirt tail as a carrying device to stock pile many back for the group. Now if I could just find away to lock the kitchen for their return runs back in the kitchen for seconds and third helpings. Until I get that sorted out, I highly recommend either doubling or tripling the recipe if you are serving teenagers. Take care, BAM

  • What delicious looking pouches! The filling looks great.

    • I think there are so many possibilities for different fillings. Maybe apples and cinnamon, pecan or cherry. Whatever your family enjoys. Take care, BAM

  • Oh my goodness your empanadas look so perfect!! And what a delicious sounding filling! Wish I’d been there!

    • You are welcome to stop by any time. Bam’s Kitchen is always open…Take Care, BAM

  • petit4chocolatier

    Oh My!! What a filling! Looks so good! I love the serves 10 and 1 hungry teenager; so true : )

    • Thank you! Do you have teenagers? Hmm maybe my serving options were incorrect. Maybe it should read something like this…”serves 10-20 adults and 1 hungry teenager for a light snack”. Take care, BAM

      • petit4chocolatier

        My last child has just tipped past the teens, and he could have several snacks from a meal when he is here! Great post and quote! I loved it.

  • Wow those empanadas are perfectly shaped, love the filling

    • Hello Ray, thanks for your kind comment. I am going to try experimenting with some different fillings as this one was such a big hit with the teenagers. Take care, BAM

  • Perfectly shaped and perfectly baked! Very helpful photos!

    • Thank you for your kind comments. You should see my camera, it is just full of flour and other food things from always having one hand cooking and one hand on the camera. I think I really need to invest in a tripod. Take care, BAM

  • Lovely recipe! My husband has been eating holiday food over the last few weekends – early recipe preparation for my blog 🙂

    • Thank you. I am sure your hubby is a very happy camper as you are such a wonderful cook. Take Care, BAM

  • This is such a great idea Bam! I love all the ingredients, spices and i bet dates and pumpkin go well together. I will have to give it a try!

    • Thanks Sibella. How is your drawing coming along? I can’t wait to see what you bake this upcoming week in Sibella’s Kitchen. Is is getting cold in Michigan? Any snow yet? Take Care, BAM

      • My drawing is done. It is being auctioned on a FB page and proceeds will go to help needy families in my hometown in Bosnia. MI and IN are fairly warm for this time of the year. This weekend supposed to be around 60 F, but they say this is the last warm weekend until the spring. Talk soon! Enjoy your weekend! 🙂

        • What a beautiful charity event! Enjoy your last lovely weekend before the snow. Take Care, BAM

  • Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen

    Your empanadas look excellent!! My grandma has made them my whole life growing up, but never like this – I love the ingredients you used. I love pumpkin in pretty much anything 😀

    • Thank you Kristi! It is a real twist on the original beef filled ingredients. i think actually these empanadas have so many possibilities with baked apples, cherries, pecans for the sweet but you could also take it on the savory side to try Moroccan chicken or even Indian potatoes and dals with a chutney. Have a super day. BAM

  • Hi Bam, these remind me a little bit of Cornish Pasties, which I posted a while back.. well, the beef version does. Obviously it will be different with pumpkin and date, but the filling looks lovely and rich… full of fall flavour 🙂

    You should pick up a set of round cookie cutters… makes cutting pastry discs really easy 😀

    • Hello Charles, how is your new bundle of joy doing? Are you getting any sleep? I should purchase a round cookie cutter as that would be handy for so many things. Take care, BAM

  • Great suggestion on using a drinking cup. Should have done that for those red bean paste pancakes posted on my site. 🙂

    • Oh yum red bean paste pancakes just like in Japan? I am on my way over to your website to check them out now. Take Care, BAM

  • These really look great! Love the idea of a dessert empanada – I don’t think I’ve ever had one. And the flavors you’ve put together are wonderful. Good stuff – thanks.

    • Now you and I need to brainstorm and think of one of Kitchen Riff’s delicious cocktails to go with my empanandas. Any ideas? Take care, BAM

  • Such a creative filling Bam — love it! I made empanadas a while back and would love to try out your recipe. Yes, those two crazy words can help to avoid a lot of hair loss and wrinkles, can’t they?

    • Thank you. I am all about doing any prep work and cooking in advance, before my guests arrive, so that I can enjoy in on the fun as well. Take care, BAM

  • I ‘SO’ love empanadas! unfortunately my oven hates me, cause I tend to over bake or burn stuff but I gotta try this, thank you for the recipe! 🙂

    • I have one of those terrible ovens as well. My oven is really hot on one side and much cooler on the other and it wont keep a constant temperature. Another option to baking them would be to fry them in just a bit of oil on the stove top. Take care, BAM

  • These look gorgeous! What a great idea! I really have to get over my fear of rolling pins 🙂

    • You are so funny… Actually my rolling pin was my great grandmothers and my little collectors item rolling pin is way over 180 years old. I use it faithfully and think of them fondly every time I use it. Take care, BAM

  • oooh, I can’t tell you how much I love this! What a great approach to empanadas! btw, I’m following you on twitter =)

    • Thanks so much for the follow! Looking forward to keeping in touch. Take care, BAM

  • What a great idea – it looks delicious!

    • Thanks Bernice. I think you hubby can have at least 2 of these after his big hike up to the summit. Take Care, BAM

  • the look amazing – and you have one very hungry teenager 🙂

    • I have 2 hungry teenager boys! uggh! They also come with hungry friends!

  • My hat off to you for making the pastry from scratch – love the idea of a sweet filling here 🙂

    • If you are having a lazy day, you could certainly substitute phyllo dough as this would be lovely as well. However, I think the empanada dough has a nice texture. Take Care, BAM

  • Lol, BAM about “feeds 10 adults or 1 hungry teenager”! Oh, how do I relate to that! 🙂 I have some dough raising right now for some pastry to feed just one very hungry teenager too! Come see what I made yesterday… 🙂

    • I just stopped over to your site and that is certainly on my list to try. However, I will triple your recipe just to make sure it is enough with the hungry teenagers. Take care, BAM

  • OMG Bam, this is love at first sight! 🙂

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I’ve never had empanada before but I’ve seen many kinds thanks to food blogs! I really want to make this at home one day. I love the pumpkin and date in this. I know I won’t be able to stop at one. 🙂 I only use puff pastry but homemade ones must be so good!!

    • Konnichi wa Nami-san, I know how everyone is very pressed on time with busy kids, so substituting puff pastry or pre-made pie crust is also a good alternative. I promise I won’t tell a soul. Ja Mata, BAM

  • I wouldn’t mind being a guinea pig in your kitchen Bam! I do love empanadas. These remind me of a dish we made last year that was from Uzbekistan. I have no doubt these are delicious. I like that you used dates too.

    • Thank you Kristy, I am on my way to your website to check out your post. I am amazed by how many different cultures have so many similar dishes. I love that! Take care, BAM

  • Now that Cameron and I have entered the pumpkin empanada world, you’ve inspired me to give these sweet ones a try. Nice post!

    • Thank you and I hope you do give them a try as they are actually quite easy to make and great to make ahead for gatherings. Take Care, BAM

  • I don’t think I’ve made sweet empanadas before….This looks delicious!

    • Thank you and I do hope that you give it a try as they are quite nice especially hot out of the oven, Take care, BAM

  • These sound delicious and they are absolutely adorable! I’m working on my pastry skills as we speak. Looks like you have it mastered!

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