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Empanadas mendocinas {Argentinian empanadas}

Empanadas mendocinas

Empanadas mendocinas are traditional Argentinean baked empanadas filled with beef, onions, paprika, hot pepper powder, cumin, oregano, hard-boiled egg and olives.

Rebecca of From Argentina With Love is having an empanada of the month event and if you’ve visited my blog before you know that I love empanadas and am always looking for new recipes to try. The empanada recipe for this month is the empanada mendocina from the Mendoza region in Argentina (also known for great wines). While empanada mendocinas are very famous, I have never made them before. So this was a great opportunity to learn how to make them and what makes them different from other meat filled baked empanadas.

Meat empanadas from Mendoza {Empanadas mendocinas}

I started with Rebecca’s recipe for the meat filling or picadillo. I adjusted the spice quantities a little bit, just based on my personal taste, and added fresh oregano and green onions. I also halved the quantity of meat (from 2 lbs to 1 lb) and had more than enough for 25 empanadas.

I wanted to learn what makes these empanadas so special and found out that when it comes to the filling you can make them either with ground beef or chopped beef. Also the empanadas mendocinas are known for not using raisins- which are common in other types of empanadas – and to finish the smoked paprika and picante or hot pepper are very important. In addition to the flavor, they give the meat a bright red coloring that is considered a distinguishing factor for empanadas mendocinas.

Argentinian empanadas filled with beef picadillo

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Argentinian empanadas filled with beef picadillo

Empanadas mendocinas {Argentine beef empanadas}

Recipe for empanadas mendocinas, traditional Argentine meat empanadas, filled with beef, onions, paprika, hot pepper powder, cumin, oregano, hard-boiled egg and olives.
4.73 from 850 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Argentina, Latin
Keyword: Argentinean Empanadas, Beef empanadas, Empanadas
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 20 medium empanadas or ~30 small empanadas
Author: Layla Pujol


Dough for empanadas mendocinas – makes about 20 medium or 30 small empanadas:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup of grasa - lard or butter or mix of both
  • ¾ to 1 cup of warm milk
  • ½ tsp salt

Beef picadillo filling

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 white onions diced, about 3 cups
  • 1/2 cup lard or butter
  • 2 tbs smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder or any ground hot pepper adjust to taste
  • 1 tbs finely chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ tbs ground cumin
  • 1 bunch green onions finely chopped
  • 3 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • ¼ cup sliced green olives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg white and yolk separated and lightly whisked


Empanada dough

  • Mix the flour and salt in a food processor, pulse until well combined.
  • Add the lard or butter, blend well.
  • Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts, pulse until small dough clumps start to form.
  • Make a couple of balls, flatten into disks and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate).
  • Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

Beef picadillo filling and empanada assembly:

  • Combine the ground beef, paprika, red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to use.
  • Melt the lard in a large frying pan or sauté pan, add the onions and salt, cook until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the meat mixture to the onions and cook on medium heat until the meat is done, stir frequently.
  • Let the meat mixture or picadillo cool down, and then mix in the chopped green onions and chopped oregano.
  • To assemble the empanadas add a spoonful of the meat mixture on the center of each empanada disc, add a slice of egg and sliced olive.
  • Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, you can also use water but the egg white is a good natural “glue” that helps seal the empanada.
  • Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers, as a final step use a fork to press down and finish sealing the empanadas.
  • Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when they bake.
  • Let the empanadas rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden on top.
  • Serve warm with chimichurri sauce or other dipping sauces.


Serving: 1g

Homemade Argentinian empanadas

The other thing that differentiates these empanadas is the dough, I was planning on making my standard baking empanada dough recipe for these or even using the store bought discs, but as I did my Google research I found out that the dough for empanadas mendocinas is unique because it is made with milk which give it a creaminess and softness that the standard empanada dough doesn’t have, so I adapted and translated the recipe for the dough from Recetas Ya and Club Gourmet.

The recipes all called for making the dough by hand, but of course I took the food processor shortcut and made a few conversions. If you have the time I really recommend making the dough from scratch (but with a food processor), it made such a difference and my empanadas just baked beautifully. This is my new favorite baking empanada dough recipe, most of the time I experiment with different fillings, and this time it was so much fun to try a different way to prepare the dough.

 Beef filled empanadas mendocinas from Argentina

Another important part of these empanadas – and empanadas in general – is the churito or repulgue – ie the curvy ornate seal. Rebecca has a very cool video on her post that shows how to do this. I confess that I’ve never really been good at making a nice perfect repulgue, but it seems to improve with practive. In addition, I’m always paranoid that the empanadas are going to leak, so my strategy is to seal them brushing the edges with egg white, then I press the edges with my fingers.

I do the best to make the churito or repulgue and then for a final seal I use the  tip of a fork to press down again, it works and actually doesn’t look too bad when the empanadas come out of the oven.

Argentinian meat empanadas

The day before I made these empanadas I just happened to be reading Ines del Alma Mia by Isabel Allende. The main character in the book is a woman from Spain who travels to South America (and helps establish a Spanish colony in Santiago, Chile). The book is part fiction part history, but one of her talents is making empanadas, which helps her and others survive during situations of limited food availability.

I have to admit that I didn’t really know a whole lot about the history of empanadas, but for some reason I thought that their origin was Argentinean or Chilean (I’m sure there’s a big dispute on the subject already and don’t want to get any wars started), but at least based on this book it seems they came from Spain (and probably before that from the Middle East). Though, I guess South Americans in general have done a better job of perfecting (and marketing) the empanada.

Empanadas mendocinas with chimichurri sauce

Finally, I had to make a couple of dipping sauces and made two slightly different chimichurri sauces for these. The first one is a blended sauce with a little bit of white wine vinegar and for the second sauce I chopped the herbs instead and used balsamic vinegar, both worked well, Nicolas isn’t much of a balsamic vinegar fan (I know, what is wrong with him?) but I loved it. An aji criollo type hot sauce or tree tomato hot sauce would also go well with these delicious empanadas.

Balsamic chimichurri sauce 
Quick chimichurri sauce 
Aji criollo hot sauce 
Tamarillo or tree tomato hot sauce 
Empanadas mendocinas with chimichurri sauce Empanadas mendocinas with balsamic chimichurri

Step by step preparation photos for Argentinian empanada mendocina dough:

Empanada dough preparation Making homemade empanada dough

Homemade empanada dough Making homemade empanada discs

Step by step preparation photos for the Argentinian beef picadillo filling and empanada assembly:

Empanada mendocina preparation Empanada mendocina preparation

Beef picadillo or filling for empanadas Empanada picadillo preparation

Empanada assembly Empanada assembly

Empanada assembly Making homemade empanadas

Baking empanadas mendocinas Empanadas mendocinas

Meat empanadas Empanadas mendocinas

Empanadas with chimichurri sauce Empanadas with dipping sauce

Empanadas mendocinas Empanadas mendocinas

Argentinean empanada recipe Traditional empanada recipe

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  1. Made these for super bowl. Everyone loved them! I added a clove of garlic and some finely chopped red bell pepper. I also Cut the butter in Half when cooking the onions/peppers/ garlic and reduced the cumin by half. Finally I traded a quarter tsp of chili powder for ground red pepper for a little more spice. Also omitted the egg. The dough was really easy to work with. I read on another recipe to roll the dough to 1/16 of an inch and by doing that I was able to get 20 empanadas. I’ve tried other recipes before and was never happy with the flavor. These were so delicious. Thank you so much for the amazing recipe. Will be making again soon.

  2. Made this empanadas today. They are absolutely amazing! A bit spicy for.me, but my family loved them. The dough is flaky and the filling says moist. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I’ve made these the past two weekends, learning empanadas were on my quarantine to-do list, they are fantastic! The dough, filling, & chimichurri are all spot on. Thank you!!

  4. Last summer I raveled to Ecuador with 40 of my middle school students. We stopped at an empanada shop in Quito and had the most delicious empanadas. These empanadas were made with out wheat flour. I am thinking it was either a plantain dough or maybe a hominy dough? Either way I am struggling to find a recipe to make them without wheat flour. Do you have any ideas?

    It’s common in Quito for the empanada platters at restaurants to feature the green plantain empanadas (empanadas de verde) and corn dough empanadas – these are called empanadas de morocho – and are made with morocho corn which is a type of cracked hominy corn. The cracked corn needs to be soaked for several days, then cooked and ground finely. In Ecuador most people buy the dough already made and just roll it out to make the empanadas de morocho. I’m working on a recipe for the dough, but it’s a bit tricky. I’ve heard people say they make a similar one using the pre-cooked white corn flour used for arepas (the main brand in the US is called Harina Pan and you can find it at most grocery stores). The Venezuelan corn flour empanadas are very similar, the main difference is the filling. The empanadas de morocho have a distinct filling that consists of cooked rice, ground meat, and veggies (carrots, peas).

  5. Hi. My son and I love empanadas. I tripled the recipe and just finished cooking the beef picadillo. The beef taste great, but the meat appears a bit soggy. Do you think I should use less butter when tripling the recipe? The onions were swimming in butter when I was sauteing them, before I added the meat. I ended up draining the juice from the meat/onion mix and now it’s cooling.

    1. Hi Ivonne – I would have left some of the liquid, it will solidify when the meat mix cools down. Then it will infuse extra flavor to the empanada dough when baking and also keeps the filling very moist.

  6. Can these be frozen after baking? I’m not too sure how boiled eggs would do in freezer.

    I haven’t tried freezing empanadas after baking (there’s not usually any leftovers). I have frozen them already assembled (with the dough unbaked and with a cooked filling – but I omit the eggs), and then bake them as needed.

  7. I come from eating lots of Argentinian food but never making it myself. I tried them out for a party last night and they were absolutely delicious!!! My new go to recipe for events. Thank you for sharing!!

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