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Beef empanadas

Simple beef empanadas

These homemade beef empanadas are made with a delicious meat picadillo filling. The empanada filling is very simple and contains ground beef, onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, achiote (annatto), salt, and pepper. I have quite of few empanada recipes posted, but realized that I was missing a simple basic beef empanada recipe.

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Beef empanadas

Beef empanadas {Empanadas de carne}

Easy and delicious recipe for homemade beef empanadas, made with a meat picadillo filling of ground beef, onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, and achiote (annatto).
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Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: Ecuadorian inspired, Latin American, South American
Keyword: Achiote, Beef empanadas, Meat, Picadillo
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 15 medium size empanadas


Homemade empanada dough (or use 15 store bought empanada discs):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 6 ounces 170 grams of unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ to ½ cup of water adjust as needed

Beef empanada filling:

  • 4 tablespoons of butter or oil
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of dry oregano
  • 2-3 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of annatto or achiote powder
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg whisked – to be used as egg wash


Homemade empanada dough preparation:

  • Use a food processor to mix the flour and salt. Add the butter, cut in small chunks, and pulse until mixed.
  • Add the egg and the water (in small increments) and continue pulsing until a clumpy dough forms. To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same process, but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.
  • Split the dough into 2 large balls; flatten slightly into the shape of disks. The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).
  • To make the empanada disks, roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape (doesn't need to be perfectly round) - if you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls.

Beef empanada filling preparation:

  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan, add the diced onions and crushed garlic. Cook until the onions are soft.
  • Add the oregano, ground cumin, ground achiote or annatto, and salt/pepper.
  • Add the ground beef, stir and cook until the meat is fulling cooked. Taste and adjust salt/pepper and any seasonings to your personal preference. Let the beef filling cool down completely before using to fill the empanadas.

Beef empanada assembly:

  • Place a generous amount of the beef picadillo filling on the center of each empanada disc.
  • Fold the empanada discs and gently seal the edges with your fingers. Then twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers. For extra sealing you can use a fork to press down on the edges.
  • If you have time, refrigerate the empanadas for 30 minutes to an hour, this will help them seal better and prevent them for leaking. You can also prepare them the day before and bake them right before serving.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C) for medium sized empanadas, or 375F (190F) for smaller empanadas.
  • Place the empanadas on baking sheet, lightly greased or lined with parchment paper.
  • Brush the empanadas with the whisked egg mix; this will give a nice golden glow when baked.
  • Bake at the empanadas at 400F for ~20 minutes, or until golden on top.
  • Serve warm, alone or with your choice of dipping sauce.

Beef empanadas

There’s something so satisfying about a simple beef empanada. Don’t get me wrong, I love coming up with different creative filling ideas for empanadas. Sometimes I even dream about an amazing new idea for an empanada filling. Then I wake up and write it down before I forget. Of course I don’t always get around to making all of them – but if you just need a bunch of random (and maybe genius) ideas for empanada fillings let me know.

Empanadas filled with meat or beef

The beef filling reminds me of Ecuador, especially because it’s so simple, yet has the flavors of the garlic, oregano, cumin, and achiote that are used in so many dishes. I didn’t add any hot pepper to the filling, but you can feel free to adjust the spices to suit your preferences. Or serve the empanadas with a spicy aji hot sauce on the side. You can make the empanada dough from scratch or also use the store bought discs.

Meat filled empanadas


Step by step preparation photos for beef empanadas:

Making empanada dough in the food processor

See more step by step photos and video preparation of empanada dough

Onions, garlic, and spices for the beef empanadas

Cooking onions for the beef empanada filling Ground beef empanada filling preparation

Beef empanadas preparation

Beef empanadas with chimichurri sauce

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  1. I used a different filling, yet I wanted to let you know this was the easiest, softest dough and came out thin< crispy and absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Also… I should add that I have frozen these after I cooked them and they heat up extremely well in a 300 degree oven.

  3. Wonderful recipe! I use the Goya discs. I also absolutely LOVE the quick chimichurri sauce that you serve with them! I just made 50 of these for a party tomorrow. I will make the chimichurri in the morning because I find that it doesn’t keep well in the fridge. It loses something. Thank you for such a yummy recipe!

  4. I’ve wanted to make empanadas for a long time, but I don’t like making and rolling out dough. I thought about trying them with store-bought pie crust. I’m sure that would’ve been good, but then I ran across Goya empanada dough discs in the freezer section at my grocery store. Bingo! I bought 2 packs of 12. With one pack, I wanted to make authentic Argentinian beef empanadas and landed here for the beef filling recipe. They were fantastic and looked just like the picture – except my edges weren’t as pretty. My family loved them. This recipe is going in my keeper file. I plan to use the second pack for fruit (probably pineapple preserves) empanadas.

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