Portuguese culture is…how shall I say…snack-centric. It’s another reason we’re MFEO. Every grocery store, market, bakery and café offers their own version of this tuna pie. Some are a little sweeter and more tomatoey. Others, like this one, are more tuna-based and savory.
It’s an easy recipe that’s also the perfect snack on the go. We’ve packed this savory tuna pie for hikes, beach days, and even a train ride to Porto. Much like my tinted moisturizer, it travels well and often.
Over the last year, I’ve eaten 241 tuna empanadas. And this one is my favorite.
(PS: the egg wash and crunchy salt on these pockets of magic give off strong hot pretzel vibes, which I’m not mad about, either.)
The simple ingredients you’ll need to make savory tuna hand pies:
- Canned tuna, preferably in olive oil
- Red onion
- Red bell pepper
- Green bell pepper
- Medium tomato
- Fresh garlic
- Regular and smoked paprika
- Coarse sea salt and black pepper
- Bay leaf
- White wine
- Refrigerated pizza crust
- Egg wash
- Olive oil
Looking for more tuna recipes? Try Smoky Tuna Dip next!
Step by step instructions for making the Portuguese Tuna Pie:
Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium. Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add your small pieces of diced mixed vegetables – onions, tomatoes, red and green peppers and a bay leaf to the pan with oil.
Sauté until vegetables are very tender, around 8 minutes. Add garlic, smoked and regular paprika, salt and pepper, and cook another 2 minutes.
Drain tuna of any excess oil (I usually save the tuna oil in a small bowl to make salad dressings or fry chickpeas). Add wine and drained tuna to the pan of sautéed vegetables and spices. Gently mix to combine.
Cook on medium low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove bay leaf. Transfer tuna vegetable mixture to a medium bowl to allow it to cool.
While filling is cooling, divide pizza dough into 4 pieces. Shape each quarter into a 5-6 inch round. I found that it was easier to use a small plate to measure out circles in the dough, rather than cutting the round into quarters and shaping each into a circle. But you’ve got to do what makes you happy here. Use all purpose flour to dust your countertop and cutting tools to prevent the dough from sticking or tearing.
Fill each dough round with ⅓ cup of tuna vegetable filling, leaving a one-inch border around the edges for sealing.
Fold over dough and seal by pressing closed firmly with a fork.
Gently transfer to baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush tops of empanadas with beaten egg mixture and sprinkle coarse salt over the top of your tuna pie.
Bake on center rack of oven until light brown, about 12-15 minutes.
Once golden brown and cooked through, remove from oven. Transfer baked tuna pies to a wire rack. Let each cooked pie cool 10 minutes before serving.
Looking for more Portuguese recipes? Try Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Caldo Verde next!
Tips and FAQ’s
Can I use regular chunk tuna in water for this recipe?
In Portugal, we love us some tinned tuna in extra virgin olive oil. Before moving here, I’d never even tried it when living in the United States. Now, it is a constant presence in my cupboard. But if you can’t find it in your local grocery store, go with the tuna in water. Just adjust the seasoning to your liking, as tuna in water has less flavor and salt than tuna in olive oil.
I have a couple of unbaked pie crusts in the refrigerator – can I use that instead of pizza crust?
Absolutely. Just heat oven and adjust the bake time according to the package instructions on the pastry crust. Pie crust has lots of cold butter or shortening in the dough, so you will get a flaky crusty instead of the chewy, vaguely pretzel-like crust. Both delicious and easy recipes. Something the whole family will enjoy!
Can I add cheese to this tuna pie?
I haven’t tested it with cheese, but I’d love to hear how it turns out! I would recommend starting with a half cup cheese in the filling. A melty white cheese like gouda or Monterey jack sounds delicious. A sharp cheddar cheese would also hit the spot. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese over the egg washed crust would bake up nicely, as well.
To store, wrap each tuna pie tightly in plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 weeks.
If you have extra tuna mix filling, it’s excellent in a panini with gouda cheese, or on toast with a poached egg. Or eaten straight out of the bowl while standing over the sink moaning in pleasure.Print
Easy Homemade Tuna Hand Pie (Portuguese Tuna Empanadas)
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
Super savory tuna empanadas wrapped in a chewy, salt-crusted pizza dough. It’s a pescatarian snacker’s dream come true.
2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained (8 ounces total)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup fresh tomato, diced
3 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon regular paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt + more for topping empanadas
1/2 teaspoon black pepper + more to taste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup white wine
1 refrigerated pizza crust
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water whisked together, for brushing dough
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
For the tuna filling: sauté onions, tomatoes, green and red bell peppers and bay leaf in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until vegetables are very tender, around 8 minutes. Add fresh, grated garlic, smoked and regular paprika, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook another 2 minutes. Add white wine and drained tuna to pan and gently mix. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, allow to cool. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove bay leaf.
For the dough pockets: While the tuna and veggie filling is cooling, divide pizza dough into 4 pieces. Shape each quarter into a 5-6 inch round. Fill each dough round with ⅓ cup of tuna vegetable filling, leaving a one-inch border around the edges for sealing. Fold over dough and seal by pressing closed firmly with a fork.
Gently transfer to baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush tops of empanadas with beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake on the center rack of your oven until golden brown – 12-15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 15
- Category: Lunch, Dinner, Snack
- Method: Oven baked
- Cuisine: Portuguese, American
Keywords: savory hand pie, tuna pie, tuna empanada
241! I also love tuna but you may wish to get your mercury levels tested (using hair analysis). I had to cut back/only buy Safe Catch tuna after my mercury levels spiked up with my tuna consumption.
That’s a good tip, Margaret. Thank you! Safe Catch tuna sounds like the best option.