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Beef Empanadas Recipe A Latin American Delight

Beef Empanadas are half-moon-shaped flaky pastries filled with hearty and perfectly seasoned beef filling. The combination of the buttery delicious mini pie crust and the tender beef with vegetables is just out of this world. Empanadas are great party food, and you can involve the kids in helping to make these perfect mini meat pies. In this post, I have included a video to show you how simple it is to make empanadas, plus many tips and how to store them safely!

Beef empanadas freshly baked.

What is an empanada?

Empanadas are crescent shaped pies from Galicia Spain. Beef empanadas and empanadas with different fillings like chicken, cheese, vegetables, and yes, you can turn them into dessert by filling them with fruits or cream, can be fried or baked.

In some recipes, you can find the addition of eggs in the dough. The dough recipe I share in this post has no eggs, and that is to make it easy on those who are allergic to eggs; and although I have brushed the pastries with egg wash, you can substitute that with milk or heavy cream, I will talk more about this in the tips below. 

Empanadas are tasty, baked, or fried, but baked empanadas are stored better, maintain a flaky texture, and are healthier.

Ingredients you need to make beef empanadas


All purpose-flour – I have used all-purpose flour to have a flaky yet light and manageable dough. You can mix whole wheat flour with all-purpose, but you might need to add more water, and the dough will come out flaky but a little different in texture than when using only all-purpose flour.

Butter – Unsalted butter is what I prefer to use in all my baking and cooking; however, if you only have salted butter, then omit the next ingredient.


Chilled water.

Milk – I find that the addition of milk makes the dough softer and maintains its flakiness for a longer time.

White vinegar – Kneading the pie dough can make it chewy instead of flaky, but vinegar prevents that from happening since it reduces the creation of gluten.


Ground beef – Chuck and ribeye are great cuts but expensive luckily, in this recipe, you can use any lean cut of beef. You can also use ground lamb meat instead.

Onion – Use yellow or red onion for more flavor.

Oil – Any cooking oil will do; you can go for half butter, half oil. Olive oil enhances the flavor of this dish too.

Bell pepper.


Spices – I have used Adobo mix, but if you don’t have or can’t get it, I have mentioned in the recipe card below how to make it with exact measurements!

Showing beef filling in empanadas.

How to make Homemade beef empanadas


  • In a bowl, add the flour, salt, and butter. Mix the butter with the dry ingredients using your fingers or a food processor until you get breadcrumbs texture.
  • Add water, vinegar, and milk. Knead until combined. Do not over knead.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap or place it in a plastic container and refrigerate for 20 minutes to an hour.


  • Brown the beef without adding oil; the goal here is to remove the water from the beef.
  • Add the oil. You can go for olive oil. Then add the onion and cook until translucent.
  • To the previous mixture, add the bell pepper, carrot, and spices. Cook until the beef is done.
  • It’s best to allow the filling to cool before using it.


  • Preheat oven to 400F/200C, place parchment paper on a baking sheet and keep aside.
  • On a floured surface, roll the whole dough to a rectangle shape that is ¼ inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles; it’s up to you to make the empanadas small or large.
  • Place one teaspoon or more from the filling in the center. Fold half of the circle over. Press the edges together firmly, then press gently with a fork to seal completely.
  • Brush the empanadas with milk or beaten egg wash.
  • Place on the previously prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Freshly baked beef empanadas on parchment paper.

Can I make Beef Empanadas in advance?

Yes, of course! You’ll be surprised, but you can safely store unbaked empanadas in the fridge or for a longer time in the freezer. When baking them, they will always come out amazing and with a flaky crust.

Storing empanadas in the fridge: If you filled the empanadas but want to fry them within two days, all you must do is place the filled empanadas in a Ziplock bag or airtight container and refrigerate for not more than three days.

Freezing empanadas: After filling and sealing the empanadas, Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not brush them with egg wash or milk. Freeze until solid, then transfer the frozen beef empanadas to a Ziplock bag and freeze for up to three months.

When baking frozen empanadas, do not let them thaw; place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush them with egg wash or milk, and bake them in a preheated oven. The baking time will be longer (between 30 to 40 minutes depending on how big and thick you made the empanadas).

Freezing cooked empanada: Although like most pastries, these empanadas won’t maintain the flaky texture for a long time, if you have a leftover, it’s best to freeze them and heat them in the oven instead of microwaving them.

Best tools to make Empanadas and save plenty of time and effort

I usually make a small number of empanadas enough for my small family. But if you have a big family, had guests, went out for picnics with your friends, or took some to a party. You will need to make many empanadas, and believe me, if you follow the recipe I share here, those mini pies will be gone in no time.

  1. To save you time, I recommend this Hamilton Beach food processor; it won’t just help make the dough but will also chop, shred, puree, and much more. The best part is that it has a Bowl scraper attachment, so there is no need for you to stop the food processor and scrape the sides of the bowl anymore, and it’s dishwasher safe!
  2. Roll the dough and let the Empanada or dumpling maker speed up the cutting and folding part. It is a set made of stainless steel. It has several accessories that will help you cut, fill, and seal the empanadas, but you can also use them to make ravioli, Chinese dumplings, and other mini pies in lesser time. It is a dishwasher-safe product.
Close up image of empanadas filled with beef and vegetables.

Tips to make the perfect beef empanadas

  • Use cold ingredients when possible. Chilled butter, chilled water, and chilled milk will help the crust stay flaky and have a great buttery flavor.
  • After kneading the dough for a few seconds, cover it and let it rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. It is best to keep it refrigerated for an hour. When the dough rests, the formation of gluten slows down, and the flour takes time to absorb the moisture from the liquid ingredients, which will help later in rolling it out.
  • Make sure the filling is not wet and is at room temperature. A wet filling will make the empanada soggy from the inside. Using a hot filling will melt the butter in the dough, and you will lose the flaky texture.
  • Only use white vinegar in this recipe.
  • This recipe is for baked empanadas, but you can fry them too. Skip the egg wash and shallow fry the empanadas from both sides.
  • If you don’t want to use egg wash to brush the beef empanadas, go for heavy cream or milk.
  • Preheat the oven 20 minutes before using it. It’s important.
  • Do not overfill the empanada. The crust will puff a little while baking and might break.

More Mexican recipes you will enjoy:

Mexican Chicken and Rice.

Guacamole Dip.

Chicken Empanadas.

Ground Beef Quesadilla.

Overhead shot of mini pies (empanadas).

Small image of beef empanadas 2021

Beef Empanadas

Beef Empanadas are flaky and delicious pie crust filled with perfectly seasoned beef and mixed with vegetables. These are the best beef empanadas you’ll ever make! Watch the video to learn more.
3 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican, Spanish
Keyword: Beef empanadas, chicken empanadas, meat pies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Dough resting time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 7 people
Calories: 250kcal
Author: Muna Kenny



  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ a cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar optional
  • 5 tablespoon chilled water you may need less or more depending on the brand of flour you use


  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 500 gm or ½ lb. ground beef
  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped or shredded carrot
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon adobo spice mix. If you don’t have adobo, mix ¼ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  • ¾ teaspoon salt


  • Milk or 1 beaten egg



  • In a bowl, add all the dry ingredients and the chilled butter, rub between your fingers, or use a food processer and mix until it turns into wet sand or breadcrumbs texture.
  • To the previous mixture, add vinegar and milk. Gradually add the water and knead for a few seconds until the dough comes together.
  • Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to an hour.


  • In a hot pan, brown the beef to get rid of access water. Add the oil and fry the beef for three minutes.
  • Add the onion and cook until the onion is tender and translucent. Now it’s time to add in the bell pepper and carrot. Cook on medium heat until the beef is done, then add the spices and cook while mixing for a minute.
  • Allow the filling to come to room temperature or until slightly warm. A hot filling will make the empanada crust thin and crispy instead of flaky.


  • Preheat oven to 400F/200C, place parchment paper on a baking sheet and keep aside.
  • On a floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness. Dust the cookie cutter with flour and then use it to cut the dough into circles; it’s up to you to make the empanadas small or large. You can use a glass or a bowl to give the round shape if you don’t have a cookie-cutter or if you want to make a bigger size empanada.
  • Place one teaspoon or more (depending on the size of empanadas you made) from the filling in the center of the circle. Fold half of the circle over. Press the edges together firmly, then press gently with a fork to seal completely. I have used two methods of sealing, which you can view in the recipe video.
  • Brush the empanadas with either milk or a beaten egg.
  • Place on a previously prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes to 20 minutes. That again depends on how big or small the empanadas you made; however, it shouldn’t take more than 17 minutes if it’s medium size.
  • Serve with your favorite dip or sauce.



  1. Use chilled ingredients.
  2. Only use white vinegar.
  3. Do not over knead the dough.
  4. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Never fill the pie crust with hot filling.
  6. Preheat the oven before baking the beef empanadas.
  7. The methods to storing the empanadas are in the post above.
  8. More tips in the post.
  9. This recipe was previously published in 2017. I have updated the post with new photos, more details and have updated the recipe.


Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 65mg
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?Follow me on Instagram @munatycooking or tag #munatycooking!


  1. One of my favourites! Yours look great, Muna. Happy Sunday!

  2. Chris5060707

    3 stars
    The food was really good and the recipe was easy to follow, but I was still a bit confused. If the dough is supposed to have a breadcrumb-like texture, I don’t get how it was supposed to make the empanadas themselves. Every time I tried to handle it, it kept falling apart. That might just be because Im bad at cooking, but can you help me? like how do your empanadas look so good (they looked nothing like mine)?

    • munatycooking

      Hi Chris! Did you add the wet ingredients? You should add the milk, water, and vinegar to the flour mixture to form the dough. Please let me know if this helped and if you have more questions do not hesitate to ask me.

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