Empanadas

An instant crowd-pleaser, they’re also customizable. This means you can make some with meat to please the carnivores, a veggie-only option for the meatless crew, and a simple, sweet one for pickier palates.

While you can buy some versions frozen, few things beat a batch of freshly fried empanadas that you made yourself. And, when they’re this easy to make, you’ll find yourself reaching for the ingredients more often than you might think.

As mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to make an empanada. However, this simple step-by-step guide is a basic approach that you can use to get started. 

Using beef and a flour-based dough, this Argentinian-style empanada is a popular favorite, though you can swap the meat for any other filling you’d like.

DifficultyIntermediate

Yields10 Servings

Dough
 3 cups Flour (plus a little more to knead)
 1 tbsp Baking powder
 2 tsp Sugar
 ½ cup Shortening or lard
 1 Egg
 ¾ cup Chicken stock
 Salt
Argentinan Beef Filling
 2 lbs Ground beef
 2 tbsp Oil
 1.50 cups Chicken broth
 3 tbsp Ground cumin
 2 tbsp Sweet paprika
 1 tbsp Oregano
 2 tbsp Sugar
 ½ cup Raisins
 2 Medium onions
 2 Small bell peppers
 1 Small batch of green olives

Create the Empanada Dough
1

Beat the water, egg, egg white and vinegar together in a bowl and set aside.

2

Using a separate bowl, mix the salt with the three cups of shortening.

3

Use a pastry blender to incorporate the shortening into the dry flour mix.

4

Create a well in the dry flour mix and pour the liquid contents into the well.

5

Use a fork to mix the wet and dry ingredients together until the mixture stiffens.

6

Prepare a lightly floured surface and turn the dough out onto it.

7

Knead the dough until it is smooth, and most of the flour is incorporated.

Cut out the Dough
8

Using a rolling pin, roll out the empanada dough into a layer that's around 1/8 of an inch thick. Try to avoid making the dough any thinner than this, or it could leak and break during the frying process!

9

Next, cut the dough into circles. You can use standard round cookie cutters or a biscuit cutter to do so. Or, look for any food-safe circular cutter in your kitchen. From can bottoms to coffee container lids, there are myriad tools at your disposal.

The key here is knowing how big you want your empanadas to be.

Larger, traditional empanadas are around six inches in diameter. Smaller, mini empanadas (called empanaditas), are half that size, around three inches in diameter.

10

Continue cutting the dough until you don't have any left. Then, carefully pick up the scrap dough around the circles. If there's enough, roll it into a ball, re-flatten it, and cut it again to get at least one or two more empanadas out of the batch!

The dough recipe above will yield around ten circles that are six inches in diameter. If you accidentally poke a hole in any circle at any point during the cutting process, re-roll that dough and begin the step again. Attempting to patch it could cause it to tear and ruin your batch.

11

Once you've completed these steps, your dough is almost done! Next, wrap it in plastic and place it in the refrigerator for an hour or so. This is an ideal approach you plan to use the dough to make empanadas in the next day.

Don't leave the raw dough chilled for more than 24 hours. If too much time passes between creating and using the dough, you can also freeze it. If you're in a pinch for time, you can easily make this meal with store-bought pizza dough!

Argentinan Beef Filling
12

Now comes the fun part! Regardless of the kind of filling you choose, go ahead and put it in the refrigerator a few hours before you're ready to use it. For a traditionally Argentinian style empanada, you can create a simple ground beef filling by following these steps.

13

First, heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pot on high heat. Then, add two pounds of ground beef to the pot. Cook until just brown, around six to eight minutes.

14

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pot. To the pot, add two medium onions and two small bell peppers, along with salt and pepper to taste and cook for six to eight minutes.

15

Add in three tablespoons of ground cumin, two tablespoons of sweet paprika, and one tablespoon of oregano. Stir for one minute.

16

Pour 1.5 cups of chicken broth to the pot. Pour back in the reserved beef, along with two tablespoons of sugar.

17

Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, seasoning as needed.

18

When almost all of the liquid has evaporated, stir in half a cup of raisins. Then, your filling is complete!

Assembling The Empanadas
19

Chill your mixture for around three to four hours so your dough will retain its shape when you fill it, rather than softening or stretching. For that same reason, stick to mixtures and fillings that are more on the drier side. A watery filling could also compromise and weaken your dough.

20

Rather than spreading it from side to side, place a small spoonful of your filling in the middle of each of your empanadas. Try to retain around 1/2-inch of space all the way around the circle. Top the filling with two green olive halves for a true Latin American spin!

21

Worried you're not making the best use of your space? Are you feeling the need to add more filling to balance everything out? Don't be. You'll need that free space to crimp your empanadas to perfection in a few minutes.

Crimp the Edges
22

With your filling in place, it's now time to seal your empanadas! This is perhaps the most important step of all, as an improper seal could cause you to lose your filling. As they move around during the frying process, the pastries are extremely vulnerable to leaking or bursting.

When you're ready, fold one side of the dough over the filling and onto the opposite side, forming a semi-circle. First, use your fingers to pinch the edges together. Then, grab a fork and crimp down over the edges.

Struggling with stubborn dough that won't stick to itself? Try putting a little water on your finger. Rub it along the inside of the dough and try to pinch again.

23

Once all the dough has been folded and crimped, pop the almost-ready empanadas in the refrigerator. Let them cool for about 25 minutes to toughen up the dough, so it's easier to handle and less susceptible to breaking.

Fire Up the Fryer
24

You can't eat raw empanadas! Your next step is to fry those morsels up! Heat up a shallow layer of vegetable oil in the frying pan until it reaches 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

25

Then, carefully place a few empanadas at a time into the oil. Let them fry for around one to two minutes per side, flipping as each side becomes lightly golden.

Especially once you smell the hearty aroma, it might be tempting to throw the entire batch into the fryer. However, doing so not only crowds the pastries and makes them fry more unevenly, but it can also cause the oil's temperature to drop and your empanadas to open up.

Ingredients

Dough
 3 cups Flour (plus a little more to knead)
 1 tbsp Baking powder
 2 tsp Sugar
 ½ cup Shortening or lard
 1 Egg
 ¾ cup Chicken stock
 Salt
Argentinan Beef Filling
 2 lbs Ground beef
 2 tbsp Oil
 1.50 cups Chicken broth
 3 tbsp Ground cumin
 2 tbsp Sweet paprika
 1 tbsp Oregano
 2 tbsp Sugar
 ½ cup Raisins
 2 Medium onions
 2 Small bell peppers
 1 Small batch of green olives

Directions

Create the Empanada Dough
1

Beat the water, egg, egg white and vinegar together in a bowl and set aside.

2

Using a separate bowl, mix the salt with the three cups of shortening.

3

Use a pastry blender to incorporate the shortening into the dry flour mix.

4

Create a well in the dry flour mix and pour the liquid contents into the well.

5

Use a fork to mix the wet and dry ingredients together until the mixture stiffens.

6

Prepare a lightly floured surface and turn the dough out onto it.

7

Knead the dough until it is smooth, and most of the flour is incorporated.

Cut out the Dough
8

Using a rolling pin, roll out the empanada dough into a layer that's around 1/8 of an inch thick. Try to avoid making the dough any thinner than this, or it could leak and break during the frying process!

9

Next, cut the dough into circles. You can use standard round cookie cutters or a biscuit cutter to do so. Or, look for any food-safe circular cutter in your kitchen. From can bottoms to coffee container lids, there are myriad tools at your disposal.

The key here is knowing how big you want your empanadas to be.

Larger, traditional empanadas are around six inches in diameter. Smaller, mini empanadas (called empanaditas), are half that size, around three inches in diameter.

10

Continue cutting the dough until you don't have any left. Then, carefully pick up the scrap dough around the circles. If there's enough, roll it into a ball, re-flatten it, and cut it again to get at least one or two more empanadas out of the batch!

The dough recipe above will yield around ten circles that are six inches in diameter. If you accidentally poke a hole in any circle at any point during the cutting process, re-roll that dough and begin the step again. Attempting to patch it could cause it to tear and ruin your batch.

11

Once you've completed these steps, your dough is almost done! Next, wrap it in plastic and place it in the refrigerator for an hour or so. This is an ideal approach you plan to use the dough to make empanadas in the next day.

Don't leave the raw dough chilled for more than 24 hours. If too much time passes between creating and using the dough, you can also freeze it. If you're in a pinch for time, you can easily make this meal with store-bought pizza dough!

Argentinan Beef Filling
12

Now comes the fun part! Regardless of the kind of filling you choose, go ahead and put it in the refrigerator a few hours before you're ready to use it. For a traditionally Argentinian style empanada, you can create a simple ground beef filling by following these steps.

13

First, heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pot on high heat. Then, add two pounds of ground beef to the pot. Cook until just brown, around six to eight minutes.

14

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pot. To the pot, add two medium onions and two small bell peppers, along with salt and pepper to taste and cook for six to eight minutes.

15

Add in three tablespoons of ground cumin, two tablespoons of sweet paprika, and one tablespoon of oregano. Stir for one minute.

16

Pour 1.5 cups of chicken broth to the pot. Pour back in the reserved beef, along with two tablespoons of sugar.

17

Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, seasoning as needed.

18

When almost all of the liquid has evaporated, stir in half a cup of raisins. Then, your filling is complete!

Assembling The Empanadas
19

Chill your mixture for around three to four hours so your dough will retain its shape when you fill it, rather than softening or stretching. For that same reason, stick to mixtures and fillings that are more on the drier side. A watery filling could also compromise and weaken your dough.

20

Rather than spreading it from side to side, place a small spoonful of your filling in the middle of each of your empanadas. Try to retain around 1/2-inch of space all the way around the circle. Top the filling with two green olive halves for a true Latin American spin!

21

Worried you're not making the best use of your space? Are you feeling the need to add more filling to balance everything out? Don't be. You'll need that free space to crimp your empanadas to perfection in a few minutes.

Crimp the Edges
22

With your filling in place, it's now time to seal your empanadas! This is perhaps the most important step of all, as an improper seal could cause you to lose your filling. As they move around during the frying process, the pastries are extremely vulnerable to leaking or bursting.

When you're ready, fold one side of the dough over the filling and onto the opposite side, forming a semi-circle. First, use your fingers to pinch the edges together. Then, grab a fork and crimp down over the edges.

Struggling with stubborn dough that won't stick to itself? Try putting a little water on your finger. Rub it along the inside of the dough and try to pinch again.

23

Once all the dough has been folded and crimped, pop the almost-ready empanadas in the refrigerator. Let them cool for about 25 minutes to toughen up the dough, so it's easier to handle and less susceptible to breaking.

Fire Up the Fryer
24

You can't eat raw empanadas! Your next step is to fry those morsels up! Heat up a shallow layer of vegetable oil in the frying pan until it reaches 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

25

Then, carefully place a few empanadas at a time into the oil. Let them fry for around one to two minutes per side, flipping as each side becomes lightly golden.

Especially once you smell the hearty aroma, it might be tempting to throw the entire batch into the fryer. However, doing so not only crowds the pastries and makes them fry more unevenly, but it can also cause the oil's temperature to drop and your empanadas to open up.

Empanadas
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