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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to Make Empanadas?
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.
Coat the shredded beef in the enchilada sauce and add a small can of diced olives. Set aside to start working on your dough.
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.
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.
- 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:
- We think lard works better than shortening, but both work.
- Our favorite empanada sauce is our Red Enchilada sauce.
- Our favorite beef recipe is our Pot Roast recipe.
- We also make pork and chicken empanadas. Use our Pulled Pork or Shredded Chicken, omit the BBQ sauce, and add 505 Green Chili Sauce.
Can I make empanadas ahead of time?
Yes you can! You can 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.
- 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.
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 Empanadas?
- Mexican Rice
- Red Cheee Enchiladas
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Cream Cheese and Chicken Taquitos
- Homemade Salsa
Beef Empanadas Recipe
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!
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 cup shortening or lard
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 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
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)
Coat meat with red enchilada sauce and add a small can of diced olives (however much you like). Set aside.
Roll out dough ball on a floured surface to about a 5-6 inch round.
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.
Deep fry in ½" oil on medium heat on both sides until golden brown.
Let set on a paper towel lined paper plate. Serve warm.