This Beef Empanadas Recipe is made with red onion, garlic, jalapeños, potatoes, ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, limes, cilantro and bay leaves.
These empanadas are flaky and crispy on the outside with a hearty warm ground beef mixture on the inside. These are the best you have ever tasted. These are one of my favorite things to make, and can be served as an entrée or an appetizer. They are great for parties and you can save time by buying premade dough. These can be found in the frozen section of your grocery store. You can also use store bought pizza dough and divide into 6-8 individual empanadas.
Empanadas vary from country to country. In Puerto Rico you have ground beef and in Mexico you have shredded chicken and corn. They are all the same in the sense that they are homemade dough with some kind of meat or cheese, vegetable, and spices inside. My favorite empanadas consist of ground beef, red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, and tomatoes.
What are Empanadas?
Empanadas are a type of pastry that is popular in many Latin American countries, as well as in Spain and the Philippines. They are typically made by filling a dough pocket with various ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, cheese, or fruit, and then folding the dough over to seal the filling inside. The dough can be made from a variety of ingredients, such as wheat flour, cornmeal, or pastry dough, and is often seasoned with herbs and spices.
Empanadas can be baked or fried and are often served as a snack or appetizer. They are known for their portability and are a popular street food in many countries. The fillings can vary widely depending on the region and the cook's preferences, but some popular options include beef, chicken, pork, cheese, potatoes, onions, and peppers. Empanadas are often served with a dipping sauce, such as salsa or chimichurri, to enhance their flavor.
Beef Empanadas Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Olive oil
- Red onion
- Diced potatoes
- Ground beef
- Diced tomatoes
- Chili powder
- Bay leaves
- Empanada dough discs
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Beef Empanadas
Make the filling. Heat a large lidded saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil until the oil shimmers. Add the red onion and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, and salt and cook for 2 minutes. Toss in the ground beef, tomatoes with the sauce, chili powder, cumin, & bay leaves, breaking meat apart with a wooden spoon, for 4-5 minutes until brown and broken apart.
Add the lid on the saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Take the lid off, stir, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Allow the liquid to evaporate. If there is too much liquid, feel free to strain. Squeeze lime juice into the pot, combine, and stir in cilantro, until soft. Make the empanadas. Place an empanada dough disc down and add two tablespoons of the meat mixture on it. Fold over and with a fork, press down to seal to prevent filling from getting out.
Bake in oven. Brush each empanada with olive oil on each side. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.
Air fry the empanadas. Brush each empanada with olive oil on each side. Air fry at 400°F for 15 minutes.
What to serve with Beef Empanadas
- Salsa: A fresh and tangy salsa can be a great complement to the rich and savory filling of beef empanadas. You can make a simple salsa with diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Try making my Guajillo Red Salsa.
- Guacamole: Another classic pairing with beef empanadas is guacamole. The creaminess of the avocado and the bright flavors of lime and cilantro can help balance out the richness of the beef filling.
- Rice and beans: A side of rice and beans can provide a filling and satisfying accompaniment to beef empanadas. You can make a simple pot of rice and serve it with black beans, pinto beans, or red beans. Check out my Rice and Beans Recipe.
- Salad: A light and refreshing salad can be a great way to balance out the richness of beef empanadas. You can make a simple green salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and a vinaigrette dressing.
- Plantains: Fried or baked plantains can be a delicious and slightly sweet side dish that pairs well with the savory flavors of beef empanadas. try making my Tostones Recipe.
- Corn on the cob: Grilled or boiled corn on the cob can be a great side dish that adds some texture and sweetness to your meal. Try my Mexican Corn Recipe.
- Olive oil: You can use olive oil although vegetable oil works just as well.
- Empanada Discs: You can buy this in the frozen section of your grocery store, or next to the produce section. If you want to use potsticker or wonton wrappers, this could probably work too.
- Onion: I used a red onion as most Mexican dishes use red onions. You could use a white or yellow onion as well.
- Jalapeños: I used jalapeños but serrano peppers work just as well.
- Tomatoes: You can use fresh diced tomatoes, but to cut down prep time I like using from a can. You can also opt for the diced tomatoes with peppers in them!
- Ground beef: You want to use ground beef that Is 85% or 90% lean meat. Do not worry about using lean meat as the rest of the ingredients will keep your picadillo moist and juicy. Avoid super lean meats.
- Garlic: You can use fresh garlic for best flavor or garlic from a jar.
Beef Empanadas Recipe Variations
- Spicy beef empanadas: If you like a little heat, you can add some diced jalapeños, chili flakes, or hot sauce to the beef filling to make it spicy.
- Cheese and beef empanadas: You can add shredded cheese, such as cheddar or mozzarella, to the beef filling for a cheesy twist on traditional beef empanadas.
- Vegetarian beef empanadas: If you don't eat meat, you can substitute the beef filling with a mixture of sautéed mushrooms, onions, and diced potatoes for a vegetarian version of the empanadas.
- Sweet beef empanadas: For a dessert version of beef empanadas, you can add diced apples, cinnamon, and sugar to the beef filling, or substitute the beef with a sweet filling such as dulce de leche or fruit preserves.
- Mixing bowls: You will need a mixing bowl to prepare the empanada dough and the beef filling.
- Rolling pin: You will need a rolling pin to roll out the empanada dough to the desired thickness.
- Knife: You will need a knife to chop and dice the ingredients for the beef filling.
- Skillet or sauté pan: You will need a skillet or sauté pan to cook the beef filling before filling the empanadas.
- Baking sheet: You will need a baking sheet to place the empanadas before baking them in the oven.
- Pastry brush: You will need a pastry brush to brush the empanadas with egg wash or melted butter before baking.
- Oven: You will need an oven to bake the empanadas until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Air Fryer (Optional): I used my Instant Pot with the air frying feature but I hear the Ninja Air fryer works well too.
How to store Beef Empanadas
- Allow the empanadas to cool completely at room temperature.
- Place the empanadas in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. If you have more than one layer of empanadas, separate each layer with a sheet of parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together.
- Label the container or bag with the date and contents.
- Store the empanadas in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- To reheat the empanadas, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through and crispy.
Beef Empanadas Recipe Top tips
- Make sure the empanada discs are thawed before using them. You can let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for about an hour.
- Dust a little flour on the work surface and the empanada discs before rolling them out to prevent them from sticking.
- Don't overfill the empanadas or they may burst open during baking. A good rule of thumb is to use about 1-2 tablespoons of beef filling per empanada, depending on the size.
- Seal the edges of the empanadas tightly to prevent the filling from leaking out during baking. You can use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges of the dough together.
- Brush the empanadas with egg wash or melted butter before baking to give them a golden brown and shiny finish.
- Let the empanadas cool for a few minutes before serving to allow the filling to set and prevent burns.
- Experiment with different fillings and spices to create your own unique empanada recipe. Don't be afraid to get creative!
- If you're short on time, using pre-made empanada discs can be a great time-saver. Just be sure to follow the package instructions for baking times and temperatures.
- If you're making a large batch of empanadas, you can freeze some for later. Just be sure to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container or bag in the freezer.
- Serve the empanadas with a side of dipping sauce, such as salsa, guacamole, or chimichurri, to add extra flavor and texture.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove