Shredded Beef Empanadas

beef empanadas

An Empanada is a savory turnover filled with meat, vegetables, and or cheese, quite similar to a calzone.  Think of it as a homemade Hot Pocket! Take a simple dough, roll it out, layer it with the filling of your choice, seal it, and bake (or fry) until it’s crispy and delicious. Mmmmm!

Empanadas are either baked or fried — I prefer to bake mine since it is simpler to do and makes less mess in the kitchen. That’s my preference, but try them both baked and fried to see which you like better.

Also, this recipe is for beef empanadas, but you could easily substitute any filling you like, or make up your own. Most beef empanada recipes call for ground beef, though once again, I have a preference that varies from many other recipes. I prefer shredded beef, which admittedly takes longer to prepare than ground beef but it’s a “set it and forget it” method that may actually simplify the meal in the long run. And, once again, see which variation you prefer and make it your own. As you can see, this is a very versatile recipe and makes a delicious, fun dinner or snack.


Empanada Filling

  • 1 – 2 T olive oil or lard
  • 1 lb. beef top round (or preferred cut of beef), cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers, any color
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can tomatoes, stewed, chopped, whole, or puree
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Heat a large pan on med-high and add the oil or lard.
  2. When the fat is shimmering, add the beef and stir it around, turning the pieces as needed until all are thoroughly browned.
  3. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and stir well.
  4. Add the canned tomatoes and stir again.
  5. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally. It’s ready when the meat easily breaks into “shreds.”
  6. Remove from heat and combine all the ingredients to form the filling, breaking up the meat into a more or less uniform consistency.
  7. Stir in the chopped cilantro and set aside.
  8. Make the dough while the meat is cooking.


Empanada Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter or lard
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  1. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter or lard and mix it into the flour mixture with your fingers. “Process” until the dough resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually add the stock or water, stirring until dough forms a ball. Knead thedough for a minute or so, making sure it is smooth and consistent. If you are not ready to make the empanadas at this point, wrap the dough in plastic to keep it from drying out.  When the beef filling is cooked, you are ready to build your empanadas!



Shredded Beef Empanadas

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make dough into same-sized balls, using at least 2 Tbsp. of the dough for each ball, more if you want larger empanadas.
  3. Roll out each ball into a circle, square, or rectangle, keeping the dough an even thickness, like you are rolling out a pie crust. I used rectangles in this recipe — I wanted to make a homemade “Hot Pocket,” and this shape lent itself the best for that purpose.
  4. Spoon some of the meat mixture onto center of the dough, leaving at least 1″ around the filling.
  5. Moisten edges slightly with water and fold dough over the top to enclose the filling.empanadas #3
  6. Fold edges one over the other and seal with a fork. Arrange the sealed empanadas on
  7. a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes, or until empanadas are golden brown and crispy.
  9. Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce, with your choice of condiments: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, or anything you prefer.


Now, as they say, enjoy!

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