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Simple Beef Empanadas and What We Love to Drink With Them!

Simple Beef Empanadas and What We Love to Drink With Them!

Savory beef, warm spices and olives make the zesty filling for these simple empanadas!

This post is brought to you in partnership with Diet Coke.

The first time you look at the ingredients in a basic empanada recipe, you may think it’s a joke. Raisins? Beef? Olives?! How can these things work together?

Well, if you’ve ever had an empanada you probably know that they go together just fine. Great, in fact! The savory olives and warm spices balance the little bites of sweetness from the raisins. Wrap it all in a flaky crust and you’re in for a treat.

We paired these empanadas with a frosty can of Strawberry Guava Diet Coke, a classic flavor combo that’s new on the shelves … and thankfully so! It’s fruity, fizzy, and smoothly sweet — a natural pairing for these savory pastries!

Making the Filling

Making the filling for these empanadas is similar to making a taco filling: you brown your beef in a little oil, add some onions, garlic, and spices.

Now this is where it takes a hard left turn from tacos! In goes tomato sauce, raisins, and chopped olives.

Make sure to let the filling simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors and, most importantly, let it cool to room temperature before you try to make the empanadas. If you add the hot filling to pie crust, it’ll be hard to shape the crust.

Shaping the Empanadas

You can actually buy pre-made empanada crusts at some Latin grocery stores, but you can also just use homemade or store-bought pie crust. Cut the pie crust into about 6-inch rounds. We use a small tortilla as a guide!

Instead of frying, we like to bake these guys at 400 degrees F. for 14-15 minutes until they are crispy and browned.

Serve hot with a cold Strawberry Guava Diet Coke!

Get the Recipe!

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup pimiento-filled green olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Several dashes hot sauce
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Cream Cheese Pastry Dough

To make the filling, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and then swirl in the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper. Saute until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the beef. Cook, stirring constantly to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for another minute.

Stir in the olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Cook until the meat is golden brown, the liquid has evaporated, and the flavors have blended, about 4 more minutes. Cool the mixture completely in the fridge. Stir in the egg whites.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter or line a baking sheet.

To form the empanadas, work with half of a disk of dough at a time, rolling out on a floured surface. Using an overturned bowl (about 5 inches across), cut out circles about 3 or 4 at a time from each piece of dough. Gather all dough scraps together, reroll once, and cut. Place 1/4 cup filling on one side of a dough circle. Wet the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough over to form a half circle. Pinch the edges of the dough together. Crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat the process until all the filling is used. The empanadas can be frozen at this point.

Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and chill for a few minutes. Prick each pie on top twice with a fork. When ready to bake, beat the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash over each empanada. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The empanadas can be cooled and frozen to reheat in a microwave.

Beef Empanada

– Where did I discover this recipe?

When I saw this recipe at Healthy World Cuisine I could not resist but try to make it…well Bobbi used pie crust for the empanadas and the crust look amazingly flaky and mouthwatering.

I chose to try a pre-made dough for empanadas and tapas…well, I must confess that the crust was not as flaky as I would like it to be, but for the convenience it is okay…it contained less fat therefore a bit crisp…

– Can you make it ahead?

Absolutely, you can use pre-made pie crust and make the beef filling in advance and even pre-filled the empanadas and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to place them in the oven.

I mainly followed the recipe from Healthy World Cuisine for the ground beef filling with minor modification and it was so tasty, the slices of olives gave a nice Spanish touch to these empanadas, I highly recommend, especially as the holiday season is around the corner…great if you are entertaining or just as a nice treat for your family.

– Okay, let’s take a look at the recipe.

By the way, I literally stuffed the empanadas, therefore had only a little leftover of the beef filling.


  • 1 package of pre-made empanada crust (12)
  • 1 lb ground lean beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup sliced green olive
  • 2 tablespoons red wine
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, for egg wash

In a frying pan, add the olive oil under medium heat and saut the onion and garlic, until slightly golden brown and aromatic. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the bell pepper, tomato paste, wine, olive and all the spices. Cook for 2-3 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Remove the pre-made empanada dough and place in a flat surface. Add in the middle approximately 2 tablespoons of the beef filling. Fold in half and press the edges around the half circle to seal. Make small folds throughout the edge. Repeat the same with all the remaining dough.

Brush the empanadas with the egg wash and bake in a pre-heated convection oven for 15 minutes at 350 0 F or until golden brown.

Easy Beef Empanadas

We love empanadas. We have no heritage that brought them to us or family member that taught us how to make them. Like most of our recipes, we just thought they were delicious and learned to make them. So I am not sure that you could ever call our version authentic – but these Easy Beef Empanadas are simple to make and qualify as fun food for our kids.

The whole wheat dough is made in the food processor and just dumped on a lightly floured surface and rolled out. The cutting into circles is fun enough that my kids argue over who gets to do it. Though you can buy a cutter made just for empanadas, we just flip a bowl upside down for perfect circles.

We love stuffing empanadas with all sorts of things. Just make sure you cook anything ahead, like meat or veggies that release a lot of water. For example, you would want to cook mushrooms ahead so that they don’t release all of their water inside the sealed dough. That would make a very mushy and unappetizing empanada. Rather than frying our empanadas, we bake them for a healthier option.

Whole Wheat Empanada Dough

Whole Wheat Chicken and Kale Empanadas

You can use any empanada dough recipe that you like. You can even buy it in most stores. This is our favorite Whole Wheat Empanada Dough. I like to keep it made ahead and frozen for easy weeknight meals. Move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before. Roll it out, stuff it and seal with your favorite goodies the next day. Looking for another dinner recipe? These Whole Wheat Chicken and Kale Empanadas are so good!

Kid-Friendly Easy Beef Empanada Recipe

These easy beef empanadas are a perfect weeknight recipe! They are so easy and delicious and inspired by Princess Elena of Avalor! Kids will love helping to make and eat this meal. Get your kids excited to try new recipes when they learn what a Princess might have enjoyed eating!

Beef Empanadas are a fun hand held meat pie. Tender and flavorful ground beef and vegetables are wrapped in a flaky crust! They are usually baked or fried, but either way they are cooked they are a delicious hand-held delicacy! In this recipe I used refrigerated pizza crust, but you could easily use either pie crust or puff pastry to get even flakier results! I choose pizza crust because its a little more durable and easier to use with kids. Sometimes pie crust and puff pastry can be a little more finicky the more you play with it &ndash and with small helpers in the kitchen, its important for things to be easy!

All of a sudden, and seemingly out of nowhere, princesses have become a BIG thing in our house. This comes as kind of a shock to Joel and I, since we have been lovingly pushing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) down our kids throats from the moment they were born. We are scientists at heart, so its not our fault. But all the sudden, our youngest is obsessed.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between strong, brave, and clever girls and the stereotypical damsel in distress princess, we have been talking about empowering characteristics of each of the Disney Princesses &ndash they they are brave, smart, courageous and kind. Princess Elena is a great example of this, because she is super loyal to her friends and family, she is brave enough to stand up for what is right (and fight off the evil queen who took over her country), and she is also humble and willing to admit when she is wrong.

Because I love a good excuse to introduce new cultures, ingredients and flavors into my children&rsquos diet, I thought this would be an amazing opportunty to talk about the different cultures and foods that each of the Disney Princesses might have enjoyed eating!

2 Recipes for Argentinian Empanadas Based on a Family Tradition

My mom made these empanadas the same way my grandmother made them, and my recipe is a version of that. My mom, Adriana, passed away last January, so let’s say it’s her recipe—she would like that. She’d also insist that the chicken ones have to have green peppers and tomato paste otherwise, they’re not chicken empanadas.

The beef empanadas are traditional porteñas, which means they're from Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and they always have ground beef, raisins, and green olives. When someone tells me they don’t like raisins, I say, well, pick them out! So they’re a little sweet, some people even sprinkle them with sugar before baking. Whereas in the north of Argentina, there’s an influence from Bolivian empanadas, so those are spicier and the meat is cut, not ground. In the south, some people add nuts and/or hard-boiled eggs. There are so many recipes. I don’t like them with hard-boiled eggs, it makes the empanada a little dry. And you already have meat, why do you need eggs?! So we skipped that in these recipes.

My family has a lot of women, so we usually take over the kitchen, and I was always in charge of closing the empanadas. It’s called repulgue. When I was 8 or 9, I was helping my grandmother and I started closing them. She got emotional because I was doing it the same way her mom did it, twisting the seal with my hands (instead of a fork)—but her mom, my great-grandmother, died when I was one, so how would I have known? It must be in my blood.

I grew up in Buenos Aires and I moved to New York when I was 26. I worked at an Argentinian bakery in Queens—I ate so many pastries!—and then I went to the Institute of Culinary Education. I never stopped cooking and taught classes in my house and other places. For four years I taught Spanish in an elementary school, and I taught a cooking class with the children—we made empanadas! It’s my dream one day to have a mobile school to teach children how to cook.

A few years ago I got a food vendor’s license to sell empanadas. I’ve been living in the same neighborhood for 19 years, so people know that I make them. I also participate in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution every year and help my friend at Food Not Bombs serving food to the homeless on Sundays in Jersey City.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup pimento-filled green olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Several dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 recipe Cream Cheese Pastry (recipe follows)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Recipe Summary

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 14 pitted green olives, such as Manzanilla, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (17.5 ounce) packages frozen puff pastry (each with 2 sheets), thawed
  • 1 raw egg, lightly beaten

Set racks in upper and lower thirds of oven, and preheat to 450 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cook beef in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer beef to a small bowl with a slotted spoon, and pour off grease from skillet. Melt butter in skillet and saute onions and green onion, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Return beef to skillet and stir in hard-boiled eggs, olives, raisins, cumin, salt, and pepper. Transfer mixture to a shallow bowl and chill until cooled, 10 to 20 minutes.

Unfold 1 pastry sheet, keeping remaining chilled, onto a lightly floured surface, dust lightly with flour, and roll out into a 12-inch square. Cut 4 (5 1/2-inch) rounds from pastry. Brush a 1/2-inch border around edges of 1 round with water, using a small brush or fingertip. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of filling onto half of round. Fold other half over filling and press edges together firmly. Crimp edges with a fork and transfer to one of prepared baking sheets. Repeat with 3 remaining rounds. Form 12 more empanadas in same manner with remaining pastry and filling, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets.

Brush tops of empanadas with beaten egg. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Costa Rican Empanada Recipes

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Who doesn&rsquot love a good traditional Costa Rican Empanada recipe? I adore them- and lucky for me they are easy to make. That means we make them for breakfast, snacks, appetizers and even as a main dish. Costa Rican empanadas can be sweet or savory- but they are always delicious handmade pockets of dough filled with bits of goodness.

Empanadas are supremely popular in all of Latin America. There are two main types of empanadas in Costa Rica- savory empanadas and dessert empanadas. Each has a different dough and different types of fillings, but they are both equally delicious. All empanadas in Costa Rica are generally accompanied by coffee, agua dulce, and good company. Both are served as a snack or breakfast, but only savory Costa Rican empanadas are found as street food.

The savory version is made from gluten-free corn dough, filled with beef, beans, cheese, potato, fish or anything else you can find in the kitchen. They are then fried in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. Always served with Salsa Lizano. I love to dip them in a homemade pink sauce, or salsa rosada.

The sweet version &ndash or dessert empanadas are made from a simple pastry dough with white flour, margarine and heavy whipping cream. They are filled with fruit or dulce de leche- think coconut, guava, pineapple, chiverre and more. Sweet empanadas are baked until golden brown, and also found frequently in bakeries throughout Costa Rica.

I&rsquove rounded up every Costa Rican empanada recipe I have ever published- and constantly updating this post with the latest Costa Rican empanada recipe creation I publish. Pura Vida!

You can just serve an empanada with hot coffee, tea, or agua dulce and great company. You can also make what we call an empanada arreglada&ndash which is adding shredded cabbage on top and slathering ketchup and mayonnaise on top.

We definitely always serve empanadas with Salsa Lizano- most people just pour extra salsa into the empanadas after taking one bite.

Can I make the dough ahead? &ndash You can but you need to store it in the refrigerator and bring it back to room temperature before forming the empanadas. I think it&rsquos more trouble than it&rsquos worth.

Do empanadas reheat well? &ndash Sort of. Some people pan fry them or microwave them. I think there&rsquos nothing better than a freshly fried empanada so we just eat them right away.

Where can I buy Maseca? &ndash I find it in the Hispanic aisle of almost any grocery store. You can also sometimes find it in the baking aisle. You can order it on Amazon to0- or buy it in 3lb packages at Sam&rsquos Club. Costco definitely does not carry it. Bob&rsquos Red Mill has a version on Amazon that I want to try too.

Our most popular Costa Rican recipes: