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Easy Beef Empanada Recipe

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This Easy Empanada Recipe uses flaky pie crust and ground beef to create the perfect dinner. Ready in about 30 minutes, they make a great weeknight meal! Make a double or triple batch and freeze some for a future freezer meal!



These homemade empanadas are wrapped in a flaky pie crust, then capped off with a delicious beef filling. No kidding – they make a great weeknight meal! You can even make two or three batches to freeze for meal plans, or whip up a batch of these as a side dish.

I was first introduced to empanadas by a friend – and immediately fell in love.  The flaky crust, with delicious filling was one dish that I could eat on the go or eat at home with my family.  This of course made me want to learn how to make easy beef empanada at home. However if I was going to make them, I wanted to make them as authentic as possible. 



I then looked up how to make empanads online and found a few “authenitc” recipes.  I made a few different recipes, however none of them had the wow factor that my initial introduction to empanads had.  I found this frustrating.    

In making my own empanada dough, I found it took quite a bit of extra work, with results that didn’t fit the bill. I’m unsure if those recipes were really authentic at all. But, for that matter, I won’t know until I travel south of the border and taste a REAL baked empanada (which, unfortunately, won’t be happening any time soon). Since my initial attempt at making homemade empanadas, I’ve always kept my eyes open for other, better recipes.

I love that you can pack empanadas full of nearly anything and they always turn out delicious. You can use chicken, steak, ground beef, or even pulled pork, along with your favorite veggies and spices! There’s no “correct” filling, because every combination turns out yummy (or should I say, “nummy!”).



Because my attempt at an authentic recipe failed, I decided to just make up my own!  These aren’t exactly the most authentic ground beef empanadas… but this easy recipe just tastes SO GOOD, so let’s go with it! When paired with the right crust, you’ll be tempted to stuff yourself sick.

So what is the right crust you ask.  Well for me, after years of trying numerous recipes, I found that pie crust made the easiest, flakiest and tastiest empanada crust!  Now remember, these are not AUTHENTIC.  Instead they are my personal creation.  

So if you are looking for an easy recipe, that is quick, easy to freeze and oh so tasty, try these beef empanadas with my Butter pie crust

If you’re looking for a quick, tasty Mexican meal to cook for dinner instead of the traditional Taco Tuesday, try this recipe.  This recipe takes only 30 minutes! My family loves these beef and cheese empanadas, and I think you will, too!



What is an Empanada?

Basically, an empanada is a half-moon-shaped pastry turnover, filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. It can be either baked or fried. The name “empanada” comes from the Spanish word “empanar”, which simply means ‘to coat with bread.’

You can make your empanadas as massive or bite-sized as you please! For quick snacks or a full dinner, you can adjust the size or filling to suit your personal preference without much hassle.



Where Did Empanadas Originate?

Empanadas were first made in Galicia, the northwest region of Spain. The recipe dates as far back as 1520, when a chef named Robert de Nola wrote a cookbook that contained recipes for many different kinds of empanadas, including ones filled with seafood. It’s believed that empanadas were the first “pocket” food to have been created.

Take that, Hot Pockets! 

The Galicians threw various Empanada Festivals to celebrate the dish and the variety of different ways to make them. These festivals still remain a huge and proud part of Galician culture today.

Empanadas are also a staple of numerous Latin and Filipino cultures as well. Each has their own unique spin on the recipe and, of course, every family has their preferred twist. Even still, generally, empanadas will have the same look no matter the culture it heralds from.



What Type of Premade Dough Can I Use for Beef Empanadas?

When I was on my empanada discovery kick, I discovered the owner of  chef-in-training made her meat empanadas with premade pie crust. This premade pie crust dough tasted way better than the authentic crust recipe I used before, so I was willing to bend on my ‘real deal’ preference. You can’t argue with flavor! I definitely recommend using either homemade or store-bought empanada dough (A.K.A. Pie Crust) from now on.

This also saves me a ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen. I only have to cut out the crusts and go!

Traditional empanada dough is much less flaky than pie crust. However, it can be pretty difficult to get just right. There is a specific tenderness that soaks up your filling without becoming soggy in the process, and that’s seriously hard to replicate.

Fortunately, there’s no need to seek out a special store for good, premade empanada wrappers! You can easily use pie crust and find them at your local supermarket. They might not have a fully authentic flare, but it’ll save you the extra struggle in making them personally.



Can I Make These Ground Beef Empanadas Ahead of Time?

Of course! You can whip up huge or tiny batches and freeze them for later. Just be sure that you DO NOT bake these empanadas before you freeze them!

Prepare the dough, wrap it around your preferred fillings, and put them into the freezer on a cookie sheet.  Once frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer safe container.

Most pastry dough will last up to three months in your freezer, and my empanada recipe is no exception! Don’t forget to attach a little piece of tape to the container with the date, so they don’t grow too icy.

With that in mind, also remember to properly thaw them out before baking. Soggy isn’t fun!



What is Traditionally Served with Meat Empanadas?

Since they’re typically stuffed with both meat and vegetables, empanadas act as complete meals – all on their own! If you do create a side dish, however, your ideal pairing will depend on the filling you’ve chosen for the empanadas.

You can serve any number of dips or sauces with savory empanadas, including Cilantro Lime Dressing or Avacado Dip.  You could also serve a nice Spinach Strawberry Salad, Esquites Recipe or Authentic Mexican Rice alongside a heavier meat-filled empanada.

Sweeter empanadas do not usually require a side dish, either. You can dip them in a chocolate or caramel sauce, honey, or some other sweet syrup!



Perfect Side Dishes for Empanadas:


Desserts that Everyone Loves: 


Yield: 8 Empanadas

Easy Beef Empanadas

Beef Empanadas - one empanada cut in half to show yummy filling

These Easy Beef Empanadas use flaky pie crust and ground beef to create the perfect dinner. Ready in about 30 minutes, they make a great weeknight meal!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 package of pre-made pie crust (2 rolls)
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef - I use 90% lean, however 80% or less will work - just drain off the excess fat before continuing.
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 medium diced bell pepper, any color
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup Mexican blended cheese
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Prepare a cookie sheet with a baking mat, non-stick foil, parchment paper or oil. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet cook ground beef, onions and bell pepper until beef is cooked through, onions are translucent and peppers are soft.
  4. Drain any excess fat.
  5. Add cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili powder to ground beef mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from hot burner.
  7. Roll out pie crusts. Using a bowl similar to a cereal bowl, trace circles onto each pie crust. I can get 3 per crust. A smaller bowl will result in more circles.
  8. With leftover pie crust, mix together and roll out and continue cutting circles, until all dough is used. I can get 8 total.
  9. Lay a pie crust circle down. on prepared cookie sheet. Add 2 - 3 Tablespoons of filling to the middle of the circle. Top with 1 Tablespoon a cheese.
  10. Fold pie crust circle in half, keeping the filling inside, and press edges down with a fork.
  11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 for all empanadas.
  12. Arrange empanadas on cookie sheet.
  13. Beat egg in a small bowl and brush on top of each empanada.
  14. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until tops are golden.
  15. Remove from oven and serve with your favorite salads, salsas and guacamole.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 409Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 433mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 29g
Originally Published April 21, 2014

Photos & Text Updated: October 27, 2019


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Saturday 19th of November 2022

Can these be made ahead and frozen to bake later?


Wednesday 23rd of November 2022

Yes they can! I like to make them all ahead, bake them all ahead and then freeze them myself for quick on the go meals and snacks! Thanks for your comment Lisa!


Saturday 12th of November 2022

Glad to find a use for pie crust I had in back of fridge, took longer than 12 minutes to cook though, probably around 35 minutes

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Tuesday 8th of November 2022

I use flank steak. Being Puerto Rican born in HI. I learned from my mom and even enhanced her recipe. You got one thing right. Always use more bell pepper then onion! Instead of cumin, we use thyme and oregano. I try to use fresh ingredients. So, I grow my broad leaf oregano. Thyme needs to be crushed before adding if dry. Use a good amount of garlic, an 8 oz can of tomato paste. Adobo seasoning and salzon, known as achiote. Salt and pepper to taste and if you like it hot, add hot pepper flakes or sauce. ☺ for the crust, these days I use puff pastry. But the real recipe from my mom involved 5 cups flour, 1cup bisquick, 1 egg, cup and a half of Luke warm water, with an 1/8 teaspoon of yeast. Let yeast mixture sit for A while. Add water to Mixture a little at a time. Be flexible with thyme and oregano depending on how much meat you use.


Wednesday 19th of October 2022

This looks amazing. Mine are in the oven now, been in there for 17 minutes at 350 degrees and my pie crust still looks raw??

Carol Seaholts

Saturday 8th of October 2022

Tasty. I repurposed beef pot roast. No kidding. Rinsed the gravy off. Dried thoroughly. Chopped up onion, red & yellow peppers, added couple cloves garlic, homemade Taco seasoning. Added a little water & let simmer. Then followed your directions using the pie time, I’ll add a little more spice, but truly good. Impressive looking. Thanks for sharing. Carol

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