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Beef empanadas are crispy, airy tacos made from dough and filled with shredded beef. They are a favorite Mexican dish our family is famous for!

We use our beloved Enchilada Sauce, leftover Pot Roast, and this amazing empanada dough to make this Mexican classic!

Beef Empanadas served on a white plate.

Grandma’s famous Empanadas!

Mexican food is something I’ve grown up making and eating. From Homemade Spanish Rice to Chimichangas to Enchiladas – we love it all, but there is one tried and true dinner that my family loves most – my Grandma Luna’s empanadas.

The name “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb empanar which roughly translates to “wrap in bread”, so beef empanadas are essentially a breaded pastry filled with a savory center. 

They are crazy delicious and the recipe we all ask for on Christmas Eve and Cinco de Mayo.

Why we love them:

  • For generations. This recipe has been handed down from one Luna to another and results in the BEST empanadas.
  • Filling. These are filling enough to enjoy as a main dish, but are often enjoyed as an appetizer as well.
  • Easy. The steps are simple with a quick prep time, but the dough needs to set so give yourself enough time!
  • Versatile. Once you can master the dough, you can customize the fillings to what you like best!

Ingredients

  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • salt (and black pepper)
  • lard lard is more authentic, but shortening can also be used.
  • water
  • cooked shredded roast beef – You could also use an equal amount of cooked ground beef.
  • red enchilada sauce – store-bought or Homemade Enchilada Sauce
  • black olives
  • vegetable oil you can also use canola oil, peanut oil, or olive oil with a high smoking point

how to make Empanadas

  1. DOUGH. In a medium bowl, mix the dough ingredients. Pinch away golf ball–sized pieces of pastry dough and roll each one into a ball. Place dough balls on a glass or ceramic plate and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 4–6 hours.
  2. FILLING. In a medium bowl, stir shredded meat, red enchilada sauce, and diced olives. Mix and set aside.
  3. ASSEMBLE. Fill a medium saucepan or large skillet with ¾ inch oil. Heat over medium heat to 365°F.
    • Roll out each dough ball on a lightly floured work surface into a 5–6-inch round (similar to pie crust).
    • Add ¼ cup of roast beef mixture to empanada discs. Fold the other half over and seal. Pinch around the entire edge (or use the prongs of a fork).
  4. FRY empanadas in oil for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Serve warm with favorites such as Salsa and Guacamole.

Oven Baked Method

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Prepare, fill, and fold empanadas according to the recipe.
  • Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water and brush the egg wash over the tops of the prepared empanadas with a basting brush.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until the empanadas are golden brown.
Empanada dough rolled out on floured surface.

Recipe Tips

  • Filling. Don’t be stingy with the meat mixture, but also be careful to not overfill the center.
    • Be cautious of how wet the meat mixture is. If it’s too saucy it may cause the dough to become soggy.
  • Chill. Place assembled beef empanadas in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. This can help them “set” and stay together while being cooked.
  • Add flavor. Add other ingredients and seasonings to your filling such as diced onion, green olives, bell peppers, minced garlic, cumin, or chili powder.
  • Meat variation. We also make pork and chicken empanadas. Use our Pulled Pork or Shredded Chicken, omit the BBQ sauce, and add 505 Green Chili Sauce.
  • Serving suggestions. Try pairing with Spanish Rice, Cilantro Lime Rice, Cream Cheese and Chicken Taquitos, Homemade Salsa, or Esquites.
Empanada dough filled and folded over.

Storage Tips

  • Store ingredients ahead of time. Cover the homemade empanada dough with plastic wrap. Make it 6-8 hours in advance and let it rest on the counter at room temp. Or make this 24 hours in advance, take it out of the fridge, and let rest on the counter until ready to fry up.
  • Make ahead of time. Prepare according to recipe directions, but do not bake. Place unbaked empanadas in an airtight container separating the layers with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 1-2 days.
    • To freeze, place empanadas on a baking sheet, be sure they do not touch, and flash freeze. Once frozen, transfer them to an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for 3-4 months. Thaw in the fridge and cook according to directions.
  • STORE. Beef empanadas are best fresh. Keep leftovers in a Ziploc bag and place them in the fridge for 1-2 days before reheating and enjoying.
  • FREEZE. Wrap again with foil. Freeze for 3-4 months. Thaw if needed and reheat.
Fried beef empanadas served on a plate.

For Similar Main Dishes:

5 from 31 votes

Beef Empanadas Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Beef empanadas are crispy, airy tacos made from dough and filled with shredded beef. They are a favorite Mexican dish!
Servings: 12
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Let dough set: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients 

Dough

Filling

  • pounds roast beef, cooked and shredded (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1-2 cups red enchilada sauce, to taste (store bought or homemade)
  • ½ cup diced black olives
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients for the dough together with a wooden spoon until well combined and a little sticky. Pinch away golf ball–sized pieces of dough and roll each one into a ball. Place dough balls on a glass or ceramic plate and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 4–6 hours (we usually make ours in the morning to be ready for dinner).
  • In a medium bowl, combine shredded meat, red enchilada sauce, and diced olives. Mix and set aside.
  • When dough is ready, fill a medium saucepan with ¾ inch oil. Heat over medium heat to 365°F.
  • Roll out each dough ball on a floured surface into a 5–6-inch round.
  • Add ¼ cup of roast beef mixture to one side of each dough circle. Fold the other half over and pinch around the entire edge.
  • Working in batches, fry empanadas in oil for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Serve warm.

Video

Notes

Make Ahead: We don’t suggest making any fried foods ahead of time, but you can make the filling in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
Variations: We love to change it up and make pork or chicken empanadas.
o Pork: Use Pulled Pork and mix with your favorite green chile sauce.
o Chicken: Use the chicken mixture from our Flautas recipe in place of the beef.

Nutrition

Serving: 1empanada, Calories: 245kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 2268mg, Potassium: 405mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 231IU, Vitamin C: 43mg, Calcium: 320mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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