Beef Empanadas Recipe – made with a flavorful filling of hearty ground beef, shredded cheese, and tender vegetables folded in store-bought empanada wrappers or pie dough and baked until golden and flakey. Super easy to make, these perfect little pockets of perfection are great for parties, weeknight dinners, or lunch on the go.
Beef empanadas – Savory flavorful beef filling enveloped in delicious golden, flaky, buttery pastry pockets. Sounds yummy, right? We should make some.
What are Empanadas?
If you’ve never heard of or seen an empanada, you may be wondering what they are exactly.
Believe it or not, empanadas are a type of pastry that is made by folding dough around a filling to create a half-moon shape and then either baking or frying them until golden brown and crispy. Originating in Spain, they have since become popular in other countries, particularly Latin America and the Philippines.
The empanada dough is typically made from all-purpose flour, water, and fat (such as butter, lard, or shortening), while the fillings can be quite diverse. Common fillings include:
- Meat – Beef, chicken, tuna, ham, chorizo, pork (specifically pulled pork), lobster, or even crab
- Cooked potatoes
- Veggies – Onions, carrots, bell peppers, peas
Empanadas are often enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or even as a meal, and they can be served hot or cold (although my preference is always that they be hot).
For the full list and amounts of ingredients needed to make this recipe, please scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
This Empanada Recipe is Filled With a Mixture of:
- Ground beef – feel free to substitute with ground chicken or ground turkey for a lighter version.
- Veggies – diced carrots, onion, and peas.
- Fresh garlic
- Spices – like salt, black pepper, and chili powder. For more warmth, add one-half to one full teaspoon of chipotle powder or ground cumin.
- Cheese – I added Colby Jack, but sharp cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack would also taste great.
- Beef broth – just a little to prevent the filling from drying out.
How to Make Perfect Ground Beef Empanadas
Start by preheating your oven to 375°F (175°C). Next, we’re going to prepare the beef filling. This can be done the day before you plan to cook your empanadas.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet until cooked, breaking it into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon or spatula. Once it’s cooked, drain the grease from the skillet and remove the cooked ground beef to a clean plate.
In the same skillet, sauté the carrots and onions until softened before adding the garlic and peas. Return the beef to the skillet with the beef broth, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Give it a good stir and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced almost completely.
Remove from heat and stir in one cup of cheese.
Meanwhile, whisk one egg with 2 tablespoons of water. This is your egg wash. Set aside.
Assemble your empanadas one by one. Place one empanada wrapper on a clean work surface. Add one tablespoon of cheese on one half of the wrapper, then top the cheese with about two tablespoons of the beef mixture. Brush the edges of the wrapper with the egg wash, fold the wrapper over the filling then press the edges to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the empanadas or twist the edges inward to seal them.
Repeat until you run out of wrappers or filling.
Place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
If you plan to freeze your empanadas, now is the time to do so.
To bake, evenly space 6-8 of the prepared empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden and the dough is flaky. Repeat until all of the empanadas have been baked.
Leftovers and Freezing
Keep leftover empanadas stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
To freeze empanadas, do so before baking, still raw and without the egg wash. Prepare them as outlined in the instructions, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and allow the empanadas to freeze for 2-3 hours before transferring the frozen empanadas to a freezer-safe ziplock bag for up to 2 months.
How to Reheat Empanadas
My go-to methods for reheating empanadas are the oven (or smaller toaster oven) or the air fryer. It takes a little more work than the microwave, but it returns them back to their original golden crispiness.
Oven or Toaster Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Reheat for 10-15 minutes or until they are warmed through, and the exterior is crispy. If reheating from frozen, you may need to increase the total cooking time.
Air Fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (175°C). Place the empanadas in the air fryer basket in a single layer so that they are not touching. Reheat for 5-8 minutes or until they are warmed through. If reheating from frozen, you may need to increase the total cooking time.
What Goes with Beef Empanadas?
Beef empanadas are plenty filling to be served as a meal on their own; however, usually, I’ll serve them with one (or more) of the following:
- A light salad with fresh greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
- The absolute best homemade guacamole.
- Homemade salsa or pico de gallo.
- Black bean soup (really good in the fall/winter months).
- Birria consomé for dipping (if I have any leftovers).
If you try making this Beef Empanada Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Beef Empanadas Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup carrots - diced
- ½ white onion - finely diced
- 1 cup frozen peas - thawed
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- ½ cup beef broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cup Colby Jack cheese - freshly shredded, divided
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoon water
- 20 premade empanada wrappers - (or frozen pre-made pie crust see notes)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Cook until browned, breaking apart into smaller pieces using a spatula.
- Carefully drain the grease from the skillet. Remove the cooked beef to a clean plate and set it aside.
- Return the same skillet to medium heat. Add the olive oil, carrots, and onions and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent and the carrots start to soften. Stir in the thawed peas and minced garlic. Cook for an additional 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Return the cooked ground beef to the skillet. Stir in the beef broth, salt, pepper, and chili powder and simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced almost completely.
- Remove from heat and stir in half of the cheese (1 cup).
- Meanwhile, whisk together one egg with two tablespoons of cool water in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place one empanada wrapper on a clean surface. To one side of the wrapper, add one tablespoon of cheese then top the cheese with about two tablespoons of the beef mixture.
- Brush the edges of the wrapper with the egg wash, fold the wrapper over the filling then press the edges to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the empanadas or twist the edges inward to form whatever design you prefer.
- Repeat this process for all 20 empanada wrappers. Once finished, place the empanadas on a baking sheet line with parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. Transfer the empanadas to the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 minutes. If you plan to freeze your empanadas, now is the time to do so.
- Evenly space 6-8 of the prepared empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the tops with the egg wash.
- Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden and the dough is flaky. Repeat the baking process with the remaining empanadas then serve with salsa and freshly chopped cilantro if desired.
- Small empanadas: 4-inch diameter (10-centimeter) circles (1 tablespoon of filling).
- Medium empanadas: 5-inch (13-centimeter) circles (2 tablespoons of filling).
- Large empanadas: 6-inch (15-centimeter) circles (3 tablespoons of filling).
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)