Baked Beef Empanadas filled with juicy, taco-seasoned ground beef and melty Cheddar cheese come perfectly packaged in a golden exterior of buttery, flaky pie crust. They’re the ideal choice for a party appetizer as they can be made in advance and frozen for later! Serve Beef Empanadas along with tomatillo salsa, guacamole, and queso for a full party spread!
Got store-bought pie crust? Then it only gets better from here. Now, you’ve got a quick-fix, crazy easy Empanada Recipe on your hands excellent for slamming out a weeknight dinner in no time flat!
WHAT ARE EMPANADAS?
Empanadas are savory handheld pies of Latin descent. Similar to the American turnover, today’s empanada dough is flaky, buttery and pastry-like.
The most common fillings for empanadas is beef or chicken, but the possibilities are truly endless. Today, empanada fillings can range from an Americanized Ham and Cheese rendition to sweet dessert-like confections.
WHERE DO EMPANADAS COME FROM?
Empanadas evolved from a dish originally brought over to Latin America by conquerors from Northern Spain. In its most primitive form, it was a filling of chicken or tuna (often accompanied by peppers and onions) that was baked into a rectangular yeast dough and then cut into squares for serving.
As the dishes popularity spread throughout Latin America, the yeast dough version evolved into today’s pastry dough rendition. Each region developed its own take on how to fill the savory (and sometimes sweet) Latino pie.
ABOUT EMPANADA DOUGH
As surprising as it may be, if you’ve ever made Homemade Pie Crust, you’ve pretty much made empanada dough. In today’s kitchen, the two really don’t differ much.
EMPANADA DOUGH INGREDIENTS
- Cold Water
WHAT PREMADE DOUGH CAN I USE FOR EMPANADAS?
If you are going to use a premade dough for Empanadas, store-bought pie crust is best. However, if you like it a bit more buttery, you could also use crescent roll dough or puff pastry dough, and for a crispier exterior, some recipes will even call for filo dough.
HOW TO MAKE EMPANADA DOUGH
You can make Empanada Dough in the food processor, completely by hand…or (as mentioned above) use pre-made pie crust from the grocery store. While the latter is obviously the easiest of the methods, the food processor will also make very quick work of homemade empanada dough.
FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD
- Add flour and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine.
- Add butter and shortening a few pieces at a time until all fats are incorporated.
- Slowly drizzle in the water and process until dough forms.
- Wrap and refrigerate.
EMPANADA DOUGH BY HAND
- Whisk together flour and salt.
- Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender.
- Add water and stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms.
- Wrap and refrigerate.
BEEF EMPANADA FILLING
It doesn’t take much to make a seriously flavorful Beef Empanada. In fact, all you need is a few simple ingredients and less than 10 minutes:
- Ground Beef
- Taco Seasoning
- Cheddar Cheese
To make the filling, you’ll simply need to brown the ground beef, along with some taco seasoning. Then, allow the ground beef to cool, mix in the cheese, and you’re ready to fill some Beef Empanadas!
HOW TO MAKE BEEF EMPANADAS
The bulk of the work for most Beef Empanada Recipes comes from making the dough. This is not to say the dough is difficult to make by any means (especially if you have a food processor), but it does require some advanced planning.
If you are in a pinch for time, remember you can sub in a store-bought pie crust!
- Cook the ground beef, allow to cool and combine with cheese.
- Roll out the dough in a rectangle and cut into squares.
- Add filling to the center of each square and brush edges with egg wash.
- Pinch closed and crimp (if desired).
- Brush with egg wash and bake for 22-24 minutes.
SQUARES OVER CIRCLES
While many recipes call for getting out the round cookie cutters and cutting out little circles of pastry for your Beef Empanadas, we’ve found squares to be a much more efficient shape. Roll the dough into a rectangle of the indicated thickness, and use a knife or pastry cutter to divide it into squares, rather than rolling, enlisting the cookie cutter, and rolling again.
Cutting the dough into squares will save you from wasting dough to scraps and time. Of course, you can still mold your Beef Empanadas into that signature Empanada half-moon shape.
TIPS FOR MAKING BEEF EMPANADAS
- Make sure the dough is rolled out no thicker than an 1/8 of an inch.
- Cut the dough into squares rather than rounds to save on dough and time.
- Don’t overfill them!
- Don’t skip the egg wash! It helps seal the pastry and keeps the filling from spilling out.
EMPANADA STORAGE INFORMATION
Once your Beef Empanadas have baked and cooled, you have three options: Consume right away, refrigerate, or freeze! You can keep Beef Empanadas in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To store them, place in a sealed, airtight container or a gallon-sized ziplock bag.
CAN YOU MAKE EMPANADAS IN ADVANCE?
Empanadas freeze very well, and reheat beautifully! To make Beef Empanadas in advance, allow them to cool completely, then transfer them to either a freezer-safe, airtight container (without too much wiggle room) and seal, or store them in a freezer-safe, gallon-sized ziplock bag and place in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
HOW TO REHEAT EMPANADAS?
You can reheat frozen Empanadas in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or in the oven at 350° for 8-12 minutes.
5 MORE MEXICAN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Homemade Beef Chimichangas are loaded with a savory ground beef filling and topped with quick and easy stovetop queso! Plus, tips for frying to perfection and more.
- Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas are made with corn tortillas rolled with juicy, shredded chicken and melty cheese; they’re topped with a tangy, irresistibly creamy white sauce speckled with sauteéd jalapeños. Then, baked in casserole form.
- Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas are smothered in a flavorful enchilada gravy, full of taco-seasoned ground beef, and topped with melty cheese.
- Crock-pot Chicken Tacos is the perfect easy dinner idea for busy families and weeknight dinners. Cooked low and slow, this Mexican chicken picks up on every ounce of yummy the slow cooker has to offer. Shred, roll in a tortilla, and enjoy!
- Chicken Enchiladas Verde features corn tortillas rolled with shredded chicken and Monterrey Jack cheese. They’re topped with a generous serving of Verde Sauce, and baked until bubbly!
An easy, baked Beef Empanada filled with juicy, taco-seasoned ground beef and melty Cheddar, and wrapped in a golden exterior of flaky pie crust!
- 2 store-bought pie crusts or 2 dough rounds of homemade Empanada dough
- 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
- 1 (1 ounce) package of taco seasoning
- 1 1/4 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow to come to temperature. Add the beef, break apart, and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the beef, is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
Transfer the beef to a mixing bowl and stir in the cheese.
Preheat the oven to 400° and have ready 2 baking sheets lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Prepare the egg wash by whisking together the egg and the water. Set aside until ready to use.
Working with one at a time, roll out the dough into a rectangle so that it is no more than an 1/8" thick. Cut into squares about 3 1/2" x 3 1/2".
Dip your finger in the egg wash and run it along the perimeter of empanada dough. Add a tablespoon of filling to the center of the dough round.
Gently bring the edges of empanada upward to meet in the middle, and pinch firmly to seal. Fold the edges over and decoratively crimp with a fork, if desired. Repeat for each empanada.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, and brush lightly with the egg wash. Bake for 22-24 minutes, until or until golden. Allow to cool slightly, serve and enjoy.
If you are making the Empanada Dough from scratch, you'll need to add 10-15 minutes to the prep time and allow for two hours of chill time.
Makes 12-14 Beef Empanadas.
A flaky, buttery Empanada Dough that is easy to make and perfect for enclosing any empanada filling.
- 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes
- 8 tablespoons cold shortening cut into tiny cubes
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup of ice-cold water
Add flour and salt to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until evenly incorporated.
Add the butter and shortening cubes, a few pieces at a time with the motor running, until all fats are incorporated and pea-sized clumps begin to form. Slowly drizzle in a ½ cup of water, pulsing all the while.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and knead until the mixture comes together. (If you do not have a food processor, use a pastry blender and a large mixing bowl to cut in the fats, and a sturdy wooden spoon to stir in the water.)
Cut the dough ball in half using a knife or a pastry cutter, and form into two flattened round disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until chilled through, at least 2 hours.
Makes enough for about 14 empanadas.