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Beef Empanadas: A Delicious and Fun to Cook Homemade Recipe

Written by  July 1st, 2017
Beef Empanadas: A Delicious and Fun to Cook Homemade Recipe

Looking for another summer recipe, and would like to start from scratch? Well, look no further. These homemade beef empanadas will get you right to work. Originating in South American countries such as Ecuador, these empanadas are made with a meat picadillo filling of ground beef, onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, and achiote powder. In case you have never heard of achiote, it is also known as annatto, and is a spice and dye from the seeds of the achiote tree indigenous to Central and South America. To learn more about it you can go to: To find it, you would probably need to go to ethnic spice or food shops specializing in Central and South American foods.

These empanadas are best served with cilantro cream sauce and lemon slices on the side. This is one of my favorite recipes to bake at home when preparing for summer hangouts at my place. I love cooking these homemade empanadas to not only feed my friends, but to give them a taste of my Hispanic heritage coming from South American countries.

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Will create about 12-15 medium sized empanadas

Homemade empanada dough (or use about 12-15 store bought empanada discs):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) of unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ to ½ cup of water, adjust as needed
Beef empanada filling:
  • 4 tablespoons of butter or oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of dry oregano
  • 2-3 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of annatto or achiote powder
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, whisked – to be used as egg wash
Cilantro Cream Sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup packed roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 green onion roughly chopped, green part only

Homemade empanada dough preparation:
  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. To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same process, but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.
  3. Split the dough into 2 large balls; flatten slightly into the shape of disks. The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).
  4. To make the empanada disks, roll out the 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 (doesn't need to be perfectly round) - if you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls.
Beef empanada filling preparation:
  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. 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.
Beef empanada assembly:
  1. Place a generous amount of the beef picadillo filling in 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.
  3. If you have time, refrigerate the empanadas for 30 minutes to an hour before baking. This will help them seal better and prevent them for leaking. You can also prepare them the day before and bake them right before serving.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C) for medium sized empanadas, or 375F (190F) for smaller empanadas.
  5. Place the empanadas on baking sheet, lightly greased or lined with parchment paper.
  6. Brush the empanadas with the whisked egg mix; this will give a nice golden glow when baked.
  7. Bake the empanadas at 400F for 20 minutes, or until golden on top.
  8. Serve warm, alone or with your choice of dipping sauce.
Cilantro Cream Sauce
  1. Put the ingredients in a blender
  2. Purée until smooth,
  3. Mix for 10 minutes.
And voila! Ready to dip and eat.