Beef Empanadas

This recipe has been featured in a step by step “how-to” post on The Recipe Girl blog: How to Make Beef Empanadas.

Yield: 26 to 28 appetizer-sized empanadas

Prep Time: 1 hr

Cook Time: 25 min

Classic Beef Empanadas

These are a classic Argentine beef empanada with green olives and yellow raisins in the filling. They're served warm with a wedge of lime to squeeze onto each bite.


1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (use 85% lean, not the super-lean)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup pimento-filled green olives, sliced
1 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
several dashes of hot sauce, to taste
3 large eggs, separated

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, at room temperature (don’t use low fat)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 teaspoon kosher salt

lime wedges, for serving


1. Prepare the filling: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & bell pepper and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Raise heat to high and add beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a spoon to scoop out some of the liquid; discard. Stir in cumin, olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook until the meat is golden brown, liquid has evaporated and flavors have blended, about 4 more minutes. Cool completely in the refrigerator. Stir in 3 egg whites when mixture is cool.

2. Prepare pastry: Process butter, cream cheese and cream in a food processor or electric mixer. Add flour and salt and mix just until combined and dough holds together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into three pieces. Flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. If the dough is chilled overnight, take it out for about 15 minutes before rolling out.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter baking sheets or line with parchment.

4. Dust a rolling pin with flour. Working with one dough disk at a time, place the disk on a clean, well-floured surface (I use a silpat mat). Roll gently from the center of the dough to the top and bottom edges and from side to side. Reflour the work surface and/or rolling pin, as needed. You want the dough to be thin but not transparent.

5. Assemble the empanadas: Use an overturned bowl (about 4 inches across) to cut out circles. Gather scraps together, re-roll and cut more circles until you’ve used up all the dough. Scoop some filling into the center of the dough circle (about 2 Tbsp.). Wet the edge of the dough with water, using your finger to to rub. Fold the dough over to form a half-circle. Crimp edges with a fork, or fold over decoratively (using more water, as needed, to act as ‘glue.’) Repeat the process until all of the filling is used. The empanadas can be frozen at this point, or placed onto a baking sheet. If baking right away, chill the filled empanadas for a few minutes. Prick the top of each empanada twice with a fork. Beat 2 egg yolks with 2 Tbsp. water and brush egg wash over each empanada. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with lime wedges.


*Freeze leftover empanadas to reheat in the microwave.
*You’ll get a feel for how thin the dough should be rolled out and how much filling to use after you assemble your first couple of empanadas.
*Serving the empanadas with lime was a tip from my Peruvian friend. They’re delicious that way.

(Adapted from Mad Hungry via Serious Eats)

10 Responses to “Beef Empanadas”

  1. postedApr 16, 2010 4:00 AM

    Would omitting the raisins cause a huge difference?

    • postedApr 16, 2010 6:23 AM

      @Jennifer, Well, everyone has their own taste… I wouldn’t leave them out myself because I think they add a lot to the filling. I hate raisins myself & I found that you can’t even detect that they’re in there when you’re eating them. There are so many flavors & textures going on that you don’t even notice them.

  2. postedMay 27, 2010 11:20 AM

    What does cream cheese add as far as taste and texture to dough?

    • postedMay 27, 2010 11:36 AM

      @Emm, Wish I had a solid answer to that, but I’m pretty sure it adds to the flake factor… a nice, flaky crust, and for some reason it makes it easy to work with too. I’ve done pie crust with cream cheese as well. As far as the flavor, I’m not sure you can really detect it.

  3. postedDec 9, 2010 6:49 PM

    Dont leave out the raisins/// Im not crazy about raisins, and the first time my wife made these, I said yech.. raisins.. but after tasting them, I quickly changed my mind

  4. postedMay 20, 2011 8:26 AM

    Wow, these were yummy. Easy to make, thanks for pics.. I need visuals… Will be making again, only thing I did differently was use store bought pastry.

  5. postedJun 13, 2015 9:17 AM
    Ivonne Ortiz bayona

    why add white egg to the beef filling?

    • postedJun 16, 2015 9:59 AM

      helps the filling stick together.

  6. postedApr 12, 2016 1:56 PM
    Jessie Salinas

    Made them, delicious!! What are the baking instructions when frozen? Should they thaw, then bake?

    • postedApr 16, 2016 3:13 AM

      You can freeze them after they are already cooked… then re-heat in the microwave. Not sure of timing… you’ll just have to eyeball it!

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