Beef Empanadas

Yields 15 Medium-sized Pies

c/o Association of Latin American Students (ALAS)



all-purpose flour 3 cups
salt 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon
unsalted butter 6 ounces (11⁄2 sticks)
egg 1
water 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup (as needed)
unsalted butter 6 ounces (11⁄2 sticks)


butter or oil 4 tbs
white onion 1 (diced)
garlic cloves 2-3 (crushed)
dry oregano 1 tbsp.
cumin 2-3 tsp.
annatto or achiote powder 2 tsp.
ground beef 1 lb.
egg 1 (whisked for egg wash)
salt and pepper to taste

Dough Prep

  1. Use a food processor to mix the flour and salt. Add the butter, cut in small chunks, and pulse until mixed.
  2. Add the egg and the water (in small increments) and continue pulsing until a clumpy dough forms.
  3. Split the dough into 2 large balls; flatten slightly into the shape of discs.
  4. Roll out dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate).
    You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape (does not need to be perfectly round) or use a tortilla press.

Filling Prep

  1. Heat the butter in a large frying pan, add the diced onions and crushed garlic. Cook until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the oregano, ground cumin, ground achiote or annatto, and salt /pepper.
  3. Add the ground beef, stir, and cook until the meat is fully cooked.
  4. Taste and adjust salt /pepper and any seasonings to your personal preference. Let the beef filling cool down completely before using to fill the empanadas.


  1. Place a generous amount of the beef picadillo filling on the center of each empanada disc.
  2. Fold the empanada discs and gently seal the edges with your fingers. Then twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers. For extra sealing you can use a fork to press down on the edges. 
    *If you have time, refrigerate the empanadas for 30 minutes to an hour, or the day before, this will help them seal better and prevent them from leaking.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 400 ̊ for medium sized empanadas, or 375 ̊ for smaller empanadas.
  4. Place the empanadas on baking sheet, lightly greased or lined with parchment paper.
  5. Brush the empanadas with the whisked egg mix; this will give a nice golden glow when baked.
  6. Bake at 400 ̊ for 20 minutes, or until golden on top.
  7. Serve warm, alone or with your choice of dipping sauce.
Beef Empanadas
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