Beef Empanadas

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Our favorite Mexican dish – Beef Empanadas in Red Chili sauce. This crispy, airy taco made from dough and filled with red chile sauce, shredded beef, and olives is one of our favorite Mexican recipes!

Using our favorite red enchilada sauce, beef/roast recipe and this amazing empanada dough, these beef empanadas are requested in my home more than any other recipe. Every time we have a Mexican meal, these always make an appearance!

Beef Empanada on a white plate

Grandma’s Empanadas

Being hispanic, Mexican food is something I’ve grown up enjoying. From Mexican Rice to Chimichangas to Chicken Enchiladas – we love it all, but there is one recipe that my family loves most – my grandma’s empanadas.

Have you had them before? You can find them in restaurants, but in my opinion, they don’t taste 1/10 as good as the ones my Grandma Luna would make. Fortunately, my grandma taught my mom how to make them and my mom has in turn taught me how to make them.

What is an empanada?

So, what are empanadas exactly? They’re a a crispy, airy fried taco filled with red chile beef and olives.

The name comes from the spanish verb empanar which roughly translates to “wrap in bread”, so an empanada is essentially a breaded pastry filled with a savory center. They are so delicious that we have tons of family and friends who tell us all they want for their birthdays is a plate of empanadas.

Dependent on which country you have them, these can be sweet or savory. Most often they are filled with meat, like our classic recipe, but they are also may have fruit and other kinds of fillings.

We recently tried a green chili pork version that was phenomenal. Once you can master the dough, you can customize the fillings to what you like best.

Empanada Dough on a plate covered with saran wrap

Empanada Dough

The recipe isn’t very difficult at all, but if there was a difficult part it would be the empanada dough. That’s just because you want to make sure it’s mixed and rolled out to become the airy, pastry-type dough everyone loves in this recipe.

MIX. To make the empanada dough, begin by mixing your flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add shortening or lard (we think lard works best) along with the water and use a wooden spoon to mix. The dough will be a little sticky, but that is what we want.

SEPARATE & LET SIT. Pinch away a golf ball size piece of dough and roll into a ball. Set onto a plate and cover with Saran wrap for 4-6 hours (we usually make ours in the morning to be ready for dinner). If you want smaller empanadas, you can make the dough ball even smaller.

Beef Empanada Meat Filling in a bowl

How to Make Empanadas?

MEAT. Once you have your empanada dough made and covered for several hours, you will make your meat portion. As mentioned above, we typically cook up our meat as a classic Pot Roast recipe and shred the beef once done cooking.

SAUCE. We also like to make our Homemade Red Enchilada sauce (we use this most often in these empanadas and our Red Cheese Enchiladas), but you can also used any canned red sauce you like. Coat the shredded beef in the enchilada sauce and add a small can of diced olives. Set aside to start working on your dough.

FILL. Roll out a ball of empanada dough onto a floured surface to be about 5-6 inch. When dough is rolled out, put about 1/4 cup of meat mixture on one side of the dough, fold the other half of the dough over and pinch around the edges.

FRY. Deep fry these in about 1/2 inch deep oil on medium heat in a frying pan. You will fry until the dough is golden brown and then let set on a paper towel lined paper plate or dish.

Folding Tips:

  • You don’t want to be chincy with the meat mixture, but also be careful to not overfill the center.
  • Once assembled place the empanadas in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. This can help them “set” and stay together while being cooked.

Empanada Recipe Notes:

How to Make Empanadas - process shots of rolling and folding dough

MAking Ahead & STOring TIPS

You can make these ahead and either keep them in the fridge or freezer.

  • Store as separate ingredients: make dough and roll into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap. We typically make it 6-8 hours in advance and let it rest on the counter at room temp. You can also make this 24 hours in advance, and then the morning of, take out of the fridge and let rest on the counter until ready to fry up.
  • Freezing: If freezing, then wrap again with foil. Make the filling and store in a separate freezer safe, if applicable, container. Store in the fridge for 1-2 days or freezer for 3-4 months. Thaw if needed, assemble and cook according to directions.
  • Store as assembled empanadas: Prepare according to recipe directions, but do not bake. If storing in the fridge, then place empanadas in an airtight container separating the layers with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 1-2 days. If freezing, then 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, label and freeze for 3-4 months. Thaw in fridge and cook according to directions. NOTE: Be cautious of how wet the meat mixture is. If it’s too saucy it may cause the dough to become soggy.

How long do empanadas last? Like most fried food, empanadas are best fresh. Having said that, you can store in a Ziploc bag and place in the fridge for up to 24-48 hours before reheating and enjoying.

Empanada Recipe on a plate

I really hope you give these a try, because I think you’ll love them just as much as we do. They really are our favorite Mexican empanadas and ALWAYS get rave reviews.

What to serve with Beef Empanadas?

More Similar Main Dishes

Beef Empanadas Recipe

5 from 11 votes

Our favorite Mexican dish - Beef Empanadas in Red Chili sauce. This crispy, airy taco made from dough and filled with red chile sauce, shredded beef, and olives is one of our favorite Mexican recipes!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Let dough set 4 hours
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 303 kcal
Author Lil' Luna

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening or lard
  • 1 1/4 cups water

Meat

  • 2 1/2 lb roast beef cooked and shredded (I cook mine the day before using my Crock Pot Roast Recipe)
  • red enchilada sauce
  • diced olives
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Dough: Mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon until mixed well and a little sticky. Pinch away a golf ball size piece of dough and roll into a ball. Set onto a plate and cover with seran wrap for 4-6 hours (we usually make ours in the morning to be ready for dinner)

  2. Coat meat with red enchilada sauce and add a small can of diced olives (however much you like). Set aside.
  3. Roll out dough ball on a floured surface to about a 5-6 inch round.

  4. When dough is rolled out put about ¼ cup of roast beef mixture on one side of the disk. Fold the other half over and pinch around the entire edge.
  5. Deep fry in ½" oil on medium heat on both sides until golden brown.
  6. Let set on a paper towel lined paper plate. Serve warm.

Author

Kellyn Carpenter

Kellyn is a mom of 4 and loves to try and test out new recipes. She loves to find the best dinner and dessert recipes around and share them with those in the blogosphere.

More by Kellyn

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Comments

  1. Oh my goodness – I’m drooling. I would probably do some with carnitas too as that is my absolute TO DIE FOR favorite. If you happen to have a recipe for that – send it on my way. Seriously obsessed with it. 🙂 I can’t wait to make these. They look so good.

  2. Kristyn, Recipe states to leave the dough on a plate covered for 4-6 hours….my question is: do you leave it out on your kitchen counter or in the refrigerator? Please let me know ‘cuz I can’t wait to make these!

  3. 5 stars
    So I felt a little intimidated trying something as yummy and tricky sounding as Empanadas, but this was SO easy (& amazingly yummy!). They are literally like little meat donuts. My whole family gave it a thumbs up and my friends were impressed to hear I’d made Empanadas-I just tell them Lil Luna recipes are yummy and EASY. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

  4. I cant wait to make these. Im half mexican too and i dont look like it either. My grandma would always make her tamales with a black olive in the middle. Ive never seen anyone else do it. When i saw your empanandas with a black olive, it made me really miss my grandma. My grandma would Make her empanaDas Sweet by adding pumpkin in them. SounDs gross but its really good. Some meXican baKeries make them that way still. Thanks for sharing your recipe

  5. 5 stars
    I have never had an Empanada before and i love mexican food! how is that possible? These looks amazing! i just added these to my menu for the week!! Can’t wait to try them

  6. 5 stars
    TrulY one of the best mexican dishes around! You can find them in mexican bakEries but usually there sweet and not savory. They take a little more time but you will Not regreT it.

  7. 5 stars
    I greW up in a meat and potatoes family and didnt start eatiNg mexican food until after i was married. THanks fOr shaRing thIs delicious reciPe. its a keeper.

  8. What can I use, prepackaged, dough for these empanadas? I don’t have the patience to make homemade. Thx!

  9. I’d love to make these, but I don’t see the recipe anywhere? I looked over the post several times and read your notes, but what is the recipe, I think it has disappeared? How much flour, lard, ect? Thanks! I’ve loved every recipe that I’ve made from your blog.