Beef Empanadas

 A few times when I was growing up I had the opportunity to bite into some homemade empanadas. My dad would buy them from a woman at work who ran a part-time home-based empanada company and if I was lucky, he would have leftovers to bring home. I’ve always been a sucker for anything to do with pastry, but usually when it encases a sweet, juicy filling. Empanadas are oh-so savory. They are like the snack-size, Latin version of calzones. The potato in these empanadas reminds me of a pasty. If you’ve never had an empanada, you need to try one. You’ll like it, promise. 

Now, there are pretty much an infinite amount of variations on the empanada out there, coming from all different places in the world. I chose what I wanted to include in my filling, despite the fact that it might not be “authentic”. I encourage you to do the same. Life is too short to be burdened by rules when it comes to your food. Make what you want! Throw a handful of cheese on your seafood, who cares?

Recipe Rundown
Taste:
Loads of flavor and spice without actually being hot spicy.
Texture:
The dough is to die for. Rich and buttery, just the perfect texture. The filling is moist, cheesy, and meaty with chunks of tender potato. These empanadas are a textural heaven.     
Ease:
I’ll admit, these empanadas require quite a bit of work. None of the steps are difficult, the dough is actually super easy to make and work with. Putting the actual empanadas together requires some patience, but you don’t have to fry!    
Appearance:
Anything encased in pastry is mouthwatering.
Pros:
So. delicious.
Cons:
Takes some time (and patience).
Would I make this again?
Yes!


Beef Empanadas
Adapted from from Saveur May/June 1999 via Use Real Butter
Makes about 20 empanadas  
Dough

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch paprika

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound ground beef (85-90% lean)
  • salt
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled, finely diced, and boiled (I used 2 yukon golds)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (or “Mexican blend” cheese)

For the dough:
Heat water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Mix flour, salt, and paprika in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour a little of the warm butter mixture in and stir with fingertips to make a wet paste. Pour in remaining liquid and work the dough with your hand until you get a wet, oily dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the filling:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onions, bell peppers, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and cumin until onions are soft. Add beef, season to taste with salt, and cook until beef is browned. Drain off the fat. Place filling in a large bowl and when cooled, add potatoes and scallions. Mix to combine.

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a large baking pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment. Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 20 golf-sized balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on lightly floured surface into 5″ circles. Place 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of each dough circle. Sprinkle filling lightly with cheese. Fold over and press edges firmly to seal. Crimp with the back of a fork. Place empanadas on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

   

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36 Responses to “Beef Empanadas”

  1. #
    1
    TAMMY — April 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I have been wanting to try baking my empanadas instead of frying them, but so far, my husband thinks it's heresy. LOL I may have to try this and see what happens!

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    tiedwithblue — April 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I never tried baking empanadas! This is definitely on my “Try Out” list :D
    They look so good!

  3. #
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    Maris — April 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    These look absolutely amazing! I wish i had one right now for lunch!

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    Tracey — April 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I've been wanting to try empanadas for a while now. I think I've only ever had them in restaurants, I need to remedy that :)

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    Flavia — April 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Empanadas are one of my favorite things to eat! I grew up knowing many people from Central and South America and had many opportunities to eat empanadas. I loved that I was exposed to international flavors so early on in my childhood. Great recipe!

  6. #
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    Tessa — April 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I love empanadas, but have never tried making them at home. Happy to have this recipe!

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    Tine — April 22, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Thanks for passing by!
    I'm really excited about your recipes. Oh gosh, those raspberry lemonade bars: got to try them soon. They look divine!

  8. #
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    Memoria — April 24, 2011 at 3:11 am

    I love that dough recipe, and the filling sounds yummy.

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    Kathy - Panini Happy — April 28, 2011 at 5:21 am

    I absolutely love empanadas and I don't make them often enough. I look forward to trying your recipe!

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    vivagood — April 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    sounds yummy! can't wait to try these. Just wondering though… when do you add the cheese?

    • handleheat replied: — April 29th, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

      Hi! I edited the recipe to specify when to add the cheese. You can add the shredded cheese onto the filling right after you dollop the filling onto the prepared dough round.

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    akbeck04 — May 9, 2011 at 6:18 am

    delicious! it's been so long since I've had empanadas, and I've never made them myself before….. Hmmm, definitely on my to-do list!!

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    Jenn — June 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    1) I love this blog.
    2). We LOVE these empanadas at my house! I am making them for my 3rd time today – added some smoked chipoltle peppers just to try something new. So easy and even a great “make the evening before” recipe! (I made ahead for cinco de mayo at my job and cooked them for lunch at work. My school smelled wonderful and every last empanada was gone!

    • handleheat replied: — June 30th, 2011 @ 12:36 am

      Jenn – SO happy to hear that!! I'll have to try the addition of chipotle… sounds delish!

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    pkb1152 — August 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I am making these again for the second time in 2 weeks. They are so good. A little time consuming but worth it!.

  14. #
    14
    Lisa — October 31, 2011 at 1:08 am

    This dough is seriously to DIE for. It is going in my box of tricks for sure, I also want to make individual pot pies with it. Just delicious.

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    erica — November 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I have made these about 4 times in the last few months. Love Love Love them!

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    Dawn Rose — January 29, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I tried this recipe for my weekly dinner party, and to say it was a success would be an understatement! They were so good I made them again the following night. I can't wait to play around with the recipe to see what other fillings I can use (chicken, steak, vegetarian….) It's definitely worth the time :)

    • handleheat replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 2:13 am

      So glad you liked the recipe :) Let me know what other fillings you come up with!!

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    Larni — February 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I made some last night and we all loved it! My boys couldn't get enough! It was so fun to make. Thank you!!

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    Karyn — February 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Made these for my valentine party and added pink food color to the dough… They were a hit! Thank you

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    Heather — February 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    You may not be able to reply to this in time, but a question in the event that you do read this! I have the dough made and in the fridge, but it was VERY soft and I can't imagine how I'll be able to roll it out. The recipe did say a wet oily dough, so I'm just going with it, but am nervous!! It will be able to be in the fridge probably 2.5hrs before I'll need to prepare the rest. Hope that's long enough!

    • handleheat replied: — February 21st, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

      The butter will harden inside the dough as it chills so it should be stable enough to role out. I remember this dough being very easy to work with!

      • Heather replied: — February 21st, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

        Thanks. I used margarine, which may have been a mistake, but here's hoping for the best!!

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    Heather — February 22, 2012 at 5:19 am

    In the end, they turned out great! The whole family loved them. Thanks for the recipe.

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    Maryann — August 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    The dough had such a nice texture after baking. I didn’t have all the ingredients for the filling but I did have the basics…..beef…onion and spices. Minus the peppers. My kids are very picky eaters and they loved it. Thank you so much for this great recipie!!!!

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    pixie — August 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    sooooo delicious! thankyou!

  23. #
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    vicky — October 1, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Made the dough, the best !

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    Insurance Agent & Mom of 4 — January 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    These sound amazing. I’ve never made empanadas, but am willing to try. I was thinking about using pre-made pie crust, but with all the rave crust reviews I may just have to go for it. What are empanadas usually served alongside? Rice and beans? Lettuce and tomoatoes? How do I make this a complete meal? Thanks!

    • Tessa replied: — January 7th, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

      I would definitely recommend trying out the dough – it’s really easy and so delicious! You could absolutely serve them with rice and beans and a salad of some sort. Really, anything goes with these. The filling does have onion, bell pepper, and potato in addition to the beef so they are quite hearty on their own. I hope you and your family enjoys them!

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    Insurance Agent & Mom of 4 — January 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Sorry I don’t know how to reply to my earlier comment, but you were right the crust was TOTALLY worth it. My whole family loved them and the dough was wonderful to work with. I ended up serving it with spanish rice, refried beans, sour cream and salsa. You’re right (again) they are a meal in themselves, but with kids I like to have extra options. :) Plus we have enough for leftovers. Thanks again for such an amazing recipe!!

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    Ren — March 21, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Could I leave the dough in the fridge for longer than two hours? I was going to make it before I leave for work and just leave it in there.

    • Tessa replied: — March 21st, 2013 @ 9:13 am

      That should be just fine! You may need to let the dough sit out at room temperature for a little while so it’s not too cold and hard to work with.

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    morgan — September 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I made these with ground turkey with the stuffing since i had a ton of frozen left over. Was a good call since we could cut the calories.
    Also, used whole wheat flour. It was my first time making pastry dough and it worked out just fine!

    • Tessa replied: — September 26th, 2014 @ 8:31 am

      Awesome! I love this pastry recipe.

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    Jacqueline — October 24, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Hi, I’m jackie. I just wanted to tell you I’m puerto rican and we make a different and yet similar “picadillo”. We use sofrito, recao (culantro), diced olives, white onions, salt, pepper, I pkg of Sazon or annito seeds color extracted by heating oil and draining it. We do use pot. Not usually cheese but optional.

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