Empanada Recipe

Today, empanadas — those delectable pockets of flaky dough stuffed with savory meats, cheese, corn, or a vegetable blend — are commonly associated with food from Mexico and South and Central America. But, in fact, they likely have roots in Spain, according to Culture Trip. The empanada enjoyed in Spain in centuries past may have been a much bigger pie, while today, the term refers to smaller folded pockets of pure bliss that pair perfectly with many traditional Mexican and Latin American foods.

"I love to serve these with Mexican rice and calabacitas," says chef, food writer, and registered dietician Kristen Carli of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, adding, "They would also be great paired with black beans, guacamole, and sour cream." Frankly, you'll be hard pressed to find many savory foods that won't pair well with these empanadas. You'll also love how many different ways you can serve them. They work great as the centerpiece of a meal, with each diner served multiple empanadas, or as one smaller component of a larger feast with everyone getting a single serving. You can also make a large batch of empanadas and have them on hand for a few days as a delightful snack.

Before you choose how to serve empanadas, though, you have to make them. So, it's time to get cooking!

Gather your ingredients for empanadas

Once you're comfortable making empanadas, you can (and by all means should) try a range of different filling ingredients and spices. To start off, stick with this classic recipe for a great batch of empanadas.

You'll need two packages of frozen pie crusts (aka a total of four pie crusts), a pound of ground beef, diced yellow onion, diced red bell pepper, minced garlic, shredded Mexican cheese, an egg, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. To prepare this recipe, you'll also need a skillet, lined baking sheets, a fork, a small bowl, a brush, and a spoon. In other words, nothing fancy!

Prepare your oven and pans, and cook the beef for your empanadas

Start off the cooking by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and then prepare two large baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Then, it's time to cook the beef, which you will fully cook through in the pan, not in the oven.

Get a large nonstick pan or lightly grease a skillet and heat it up over a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the ground beef, breaking up chunks and stirring to ensure the meat cooks evenly. Once all of the beef has browned, add the cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and stir until the meat is cooked through. Then, remove the beef from the skillet, and set it aside.

Cook the vegetables, then blend with the beef

If you haven't already, go ahead and dice half a yellow onion and a whole medium-sized red bell pepper, and then return the skillet you used to cook the beef to a medium heat. And don't clean it out — you want the flavors and spices left in there!

In that same skillet, add the onion and bell pepper, and stir as they cook. Sauté the veggies until the onion is translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another minute more. Add the cooked and seasoned beef back into the skillet with the onion and bell pepper, and stir to combine. Then, cut the heat.

Stamp out discs from the pie crusts

Roll the thawed pie crusts out flat. Using the rim of a small bowl or large glass (or a cookie cutter if you have one of the right size), cut out three circles from each pie crust, which should be as many full circles as you cab get from a single rolled flat crust. Then, combine the crusts you have stamped holes out of into a ball, and roll it out using a rolling pin. Repeat cutting out circles of the crust in this manner until you have 16 discs in total.

Stuff, fold, and bake your empanadas

Add 2 tablespoons of the meat, pepper, and onion mixture to the center of each pie crust circle, then top that with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Fold each disc over in half, carefully keeping the filling inside, and then press the edges down and closed with a fork. "My best piece of advice is to make sure you don't overstuff these," says Carli. "They will break more easily when too full."

Repeat the filling and sealing until all empanadas are made and laid out on the baking sheets. Beat an egg in a small bowl, then brush the egg wash on the top of each empanada. Pop them in the oven to bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the crusts are a lovely golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Empanada Recipe
5 from 27 ratings
Serve these empanadas with Mexican rice and calabacitas for an extremely scrumptious meal.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Empanadas served on a plate and platter
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 2 packages of frozen pie crusts (4 pie crusts)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large skillet, add ground beef. Once cooked through, add 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Stir and remove from skillet, then set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, add diced yellow onion and diced red bell pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, about five minutes.
  4. Add beef back into skillet with onion and bell pepper, and stir to combine.
  5. Roll out pie crusts flat, then use the top of a small bowl to cut out three circles from each pie crust.
  6. Combine remaining crusts into a ball and roll out using a rolling pin. Then, repeat cutting out circles until you have 16 discs cut out.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of the meat and onion mixture to the inside of each circle and top with 1 tablespoon of cheese.
  8. Fold over in half, keeping filling inside, and press edges closed with a fork, repeating until all empanadas are made and on the baking sheets.
  9. Beat egg in a small bowl, then brush egg wash on the top of each empanada.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes until crusts are golden brown.
Calories per Serving 357
Total Fat 24.9 g
Saturated Fat 10.4 g
Trans Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 77.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Total Sugars 1.1 g
Sodium 305.3 mg
Protein 15.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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