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How to Make Empanadas

Created April 25, 2018
The search for the perfect appetizer is over. Packed with hearty flavor and tasty ingredients, it’s no wonder empanadas are popular all over the world. And now, you can make them in your own kitchen.

How to Make Empanadas

Empanadas are one of the most customizable items on the menu. With origins in Spain and presently popular in Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond, there are countless variations of this handheld snack, from sweet-filled to stuffed with seasoned beef. The word “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb empanar, which means to wrap or coat in bread, so its loose definition lends way to some seriously delicious and creative recipes.

You don’t have to travel too far to enjoy empanadas, though. In fact, you can easily make empanadas at home thanks to this kitchen-tested recipe that starts with Pillsbury pie crust.

What You Need:

  • 12-inch skillet 
  • Large cookie sheet 
  • Pastry brush 
  • Mixing spoon


  • 1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup) 
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 can (14 ½ oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, well drained 
  • 1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box 
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2 oz) • 1 egg, beaten

Step 1: Heat oven to 400°F. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in chili powder, salt and tomatoes. Remove from heat.

Brown ground beef, onion, and tomatoes in a skillet.

Step 2: On ungreased large cookie sheet, unroll pie crusts. Spoon about 2 cups beef mixture onto half of each crust, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top each with 1/4 cup cheese.

Spoon beef mixture onto half of pie crust.

Step 3: Brush edge of each crust with beaten egg. Fold untopped half of each crust over filling; press edge with fork to seal. Cut slits in several places in top of each; brush with beaten egg.

Fold untopped half of pie crust over filling; press edge with fork to seal.

Step 4: Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve.

Beef Empanadas

Types of Empanadas

You have learned how to make beef empanadas, but don’t stop there! Empanadas can be made with a variety of fillings, including other meats like pork or chorizo, vegetables or even fruit. Depending on the occasion and meal, you can pick the filling that best suits your taste.

Difference Between Empanadas and Samosas

Spicy Beef and Sweet Potato Samosas

While originating in Spain, empanadas are similar to a dish called samosas, which are popular in Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. What are samosas, exactly? Samosas are made up of dough that is either fried or baked and filled with vegetables or meats. However, samosas differ from empanadas in their shape. Empanadas have a very notable shape—the pocket of dough commonly looks like a semi-circle or crescent moon. Samosas are typically triangular or pyramid-shaped. Our street food-inspired samosa recipe features spicy beef and sweet potatoes and formed into bite-sized pyramids.

What to Serve with Empanadas

Wondering what you should serve with empanadas? It’s important to keep balance in mind. We suggest a fresh salad, like this layered chicken salad, or cut-up fruit.

If you’d like to dunk your empanadas, there are many different dips to make and serve with this dish. For example, our Italian-style empanadas go best with marinara sauce. You can also eat empanadas with enchilada sauce, salsa, sour cream, guacamole or nacho cheese (yes, please!). For sweet empanada recipes, drizzle with chocolate syrup or dunk them into a small dish of whipped cream.

Storing Empanadas

Whether making them tonight, or preparing for a future fiesta, empanadas can be made ahead of time. Baked empanadas can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Simply reheat them in the microwave or toaster oven when you are ready to eat.

To freeze, lay the unbaked empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Note: make sure to keep space between them, or else the empanadas will freeze together. After the empanadas are solid, transfer them into a freezer-friendly bag. Frozen empanadas will last up to three months and can be baked straight from the freezer, just add a few minutes to the cooking time.

Fully cooked empanadas can also be frozen, but note that the crust will lose a bit of its tender, flaky texture. Baked empanadas freeze best when they are wrapped individually in plastic wrap, which will help prevent freezer burn. When it’s time to eat them, warm up the empanadas in a toaster oven, or reheat them for a few minutes in the microwave.

More Empanada Recipes

Are you now a big-time empanada fan? We’ve got even more recipes for you to try. These recipes are quick, easy and, most importantly, shareable!

Still hungry? Make these Mexican dinners next.