How to Make Classic Beef Empanadas

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How to Make Beef Empanadas is what’s on the menu today!

beef empanadas

Our neighborhood’s Gourmet Group had another one of our dinner parties with the them: Gourmet Argentine Asado, which is an outdoor beef barbecue. All of the food at the party was excellent. I contributed the beef empanadas.

What are empanadas?

An empanada is a Spanish and Portuguese stuffed bread or pastry. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. In Argentina, empanadas are often served at parties as a starter or main course.

making the filling for beef empanadas

How to make beef empanadas:

You begin by making the filling for the empanadas. Sauté onions and bell pepper until softened. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add green olives, golden raisins, cumin, honey, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Then you can set the filling aside and let it cool. You’ll add egg whites to the filling after it has had a chance to cool down.

Note about the filling:

Don’t be afraid of adding green olives and golden raisins.. Traditional Argentine empanadas have both in the filling. The flavors they impart are important to the whole. There’s a sweet element (from the raisins & the honey), a little bit of spice (from the hot sauce and cumin) and the briny olives bring the flavors all together.

dough for beef empanadas

While the filling is cooling, you can make the pastry. Follow the instructions in the recipe for making the dough. Then dump the dough onto a floured surface, divide into disks, wrap with plastic wrap and chill.

adding filling to beef empanadas

Roll out the chilled dough and cut into 4-inch rounds. I use a plastic bowl turned upside down to cut the right size. Just look in your plastic bowl/Tupperware collection to find one that works.

You’ll place a round of dough onto a flat surface, rub the edges with water and put a spoonful of filling in the middle.

how to make beef empanadas

Follow the photos above to form the empanadas.

making beef empanadas

Then you’ll place them on a baking sheet, poke them with a fork and brush them with egg wash.

beef empanadas with tequila

They’re awfully good when eating alongside a shot of tequila!

beef empanadas with lime

When I arrived at the party with my basket of empanadas, our Peruvian hostess exclaimed, “We must have them with lime! It is traditional!” (Picture that with a very heavy accent… my Peruvian friend is adorable). So we sliced up some lime and everyone got busy nibbling and squeezing lime onto each bite (in between doing shots of some very good tequila).  They are so delicious.

Here are a few more Argentine recipes you might like to try:

beef empanadas
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Beef Empanadas

Great, authentic recipe!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 25 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Servings 28 appetizers
Calories 246kcal
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Argentine
Keyword Beef, empanadas



  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1 large)
  • pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • teaspoons 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
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling dough)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt


  • lime wedges



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


  • Process the butter, cream cheese and cream in a food processor or with a stand mixer. Add the flour and salt and mix just until combined and the 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.


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter your baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  • 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. Re-flour the work surface and/or rolling pin, as needed. You want the dough to be thin but not transparent.
  • 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 tablespoons). 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 tablespoons of water and brush the egg wash over each empanada. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let the empanadas 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.


Serving: 1empanada | Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 336mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 441IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg
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Lori Lange of Recipe Girl

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  • ollie wrote:

    I have loved these things since I first taste them years ago. A coworker mother would make them for us, but after our careers changed we lost contact. It’s been way too long. Can’t wait t try this recipe!!!!!!

  • Jenny wrote:

    I made empanadas for the first time using your recipe and was AMAZED by how they turned out! They were soo good and, just so I know I wasn’t imagining how great they turned out, my family loved them too. They are so worth the time to make. You did an amazing job with the recipe and created a beautiful blog for the step by step process in making them 🙂

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      So happy they turned out so great for you! I love this recipe.

  • Amy Ross wrote:

    Do you think you could make everything, then assemble them and freeze before baking? Then perhaps thaw them before baking? I’m trying to figure out how best to make them prior to a party I’m hosting! Thanks.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      @Amy Ross, Absolutely! That’s why this is such a great app- make it ahead & freeze. Then bake them up when ready to serve. I’d bake them frozen rather than defrost them.

  • car wrote:

    This is very far from traditional argentinean.. just sayin.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      @car, Well, I’m definitely no expert… but my friend who grew up in Argentina gave this recipe the green light as authentic, so that’s what I went with 🙂

  • Barbara wrote:

    I want, I want!
    Love your step by step photos and these look delish! I’ve used cream cheese in dough before when i made rugelach- it makes a lovely rich dough AND it’s easier to roll out, I think.

  • leslie wrote:

    I love these that the are baked and not fried!

  • Joan Nova wrote:

    What a great pictorial!! I was surprised by 2 ingredients – the honey in the mixture and the cream cheese in the dough. Must have been delicious.

  • Mari wrote:

    You forgot the best part! Adding a few slices of hard-boiled egg makes these perfect.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      @Mari, Oh! I didn’t see eggs in any of the recipes I looked at. Next time I’ll try adding those!

  • brandy wrote:

    Thanks for sharing these. They look so good, i’d eat them but my husband hates olives 🙁 i know i still married him. I guess i could fill those with pretty much anything. 😀

  • sharon wrote:

    I have always been too lazy to make empanadas since there is a vendor at the farmers market who sells them for $1 piece. But…this post is certainly inspiring. Thanks for the great step by step photos!

  • Fran wrote:

    Your empanadas turned out GREAT! Having lived in Buenos Aires for a year and a half I can spot a delicious empanada from afar and these look wonderful.

    I’ve made them, written them, photographed them and have savored them for the past 5 years and reading your post makes me want to make a batch pronto.

    I can’t wait to read the rest of the details about the party. For now I’ll just go look at the real estate listings to dream about moving back.

  • Memoria wrote:

    Wow. They look outstanding!! These are some of the best process photos I’ve seen. I love how you showed how to crimp the edges.

  • Cheryl Cormier wrote:

    these look amazing and as others said, great photos with descriptions! how time consuming/hard would you say they are to make on a scale of 1-10?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      @Cheryl Cormier, Oh gosh, I don’t know! They weren’t “hard” to make, but they were rather time consuming. I didn’t start them until 2pm & my party was at 6pm, but I wasn’t working the entire time. The dough you can absolutely make the day before… actually the filling too. Then when you need to assemble it’s rather easy to do.

  • Wendy wrote:

    Would authentic empanadas be made with green olives stuffed with pimento, or regular green olives? Just curious.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      @Wendy, I believe the pimento stuffed green olives are the ones you’re supposed to use. Every recipe I looked at called for those.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet wrote:

    Lori! Those look so professional! And not to mention delicious. Mmm mmm.

  • Juan wrote:

    This look incredible! Thanks for posting.


  • kirbie wrote:

    These look amazing! I love all the step by step photos

  • Sofia wrote:

    Very very nice. I have made some similar a while ago and I know it is a lot of work. They look absolutely delicious!

  • Heather (Heather’s Dish) wrote:

    these really couldn’t be more adorable! i love them…and will be making them for our Cinco de Mayo part-AY! 🙂