This isn’t the first time Trader Joe’s has sold frozen empanadas. Back in September 2020, the grocery store tried to sell pumpkin empanadas, but the product wasn’t well-received at all. MyRecipes reports it neither worked as a sweet dessert nor a savory appetizer, and Club Trader Joe’s went so far as to say it couldn’t be considered an empanada at all, even if sold during pumpkin spice season.
While pumpkin apparently doesn’t work in empanadas, cassava most certainly does. In fact, in the Dominican Republic, it’s common to make empanadas with cassava, and they’re actually a well-known street food called cativias. Dominican Cooking shares that the dough is made with cassava flour, water, and oil, and if you look closely at the product label shared on @TraderJoesList, the ingredients are exactly the same.
Trader Joe’s, therefore, didn’t invent their own gluten-free flour; however, they clearly took notes from Dominican cuisine, and the resulting gluten-free empanadas are leaving customers pretty satisfied.