Beef & Cheese Empanadas: Baked OR Fried Recipe


  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) lard or vegetable shortening, melted
  • 3 cups flour, plus more as needed for kneading and rolling out the dough
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, plus extra for baking and/or frying
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup minced Spanish olives
  • 2 red holland chili peppers, minced (optional)
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon annato powder (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon chili de ├írbol (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 ounces cheese of your choosing—we used sharp cheddar, but any good melting cheese can work

Beef & Cheese Empanadas: Baked OR Fried Recipe

  1. First, make the empanada dough. In a mixing bowl, add the melted lard or shortening, flour, and hot water. Mix it until it comes together into a smooth ball of dough, adding a little more flour if necessary (depending on the humidity in your kitchen). Refrigerate the dough for one hour.
  2. Next, make the filling. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Brown the ground beef. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Next, add the Spanish olives, the chili peppers, the sun-dried tomato, the spices, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine, and let cook for an additional few minutes.
  3. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the tomato paste, stirring the entire mixture thoroughly to dissolve it, and let cook until the water has cooked off and the filling has thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
  4. Next, prep your dough! On a clean, floured work surface, roll the dough into a ⅛-inch layer. Using a round cookie cutter (or cup/bowl) in the size of your choice (you could make teeny tiny finger food empanadas instead of the bigger ones we made!), cut out as many rounds as you can. Peel away the spare dough and transfer back into the refrigerator.
  5. For each empanada, spoon filling into the middle of the dough and top with a generous amount of cheese, ensuring you have enough margin around the edge of the dough to fold it over and seal the empanada. You can also stretch the dough out a bit into an oval shape and put the filling on one half of the dough, to make the folding process easier. Fold in half and crimp the edges, either with a fork, or if you want to be fancy, with a traditional twisting technique. (YouTube is your friend!) Repeat these steps with all of the dough rounds, and repeat the rolling out & cutting process until there is no leftover dough.
  6. If you are baking the empanadas, heat your oven to 400 degrees. Brush the empanadas with oil prior to baking, and bake for 10-15 minutes. If you are frying the empanadas, heat a small, deep pot with enough oil to submerge a couple empanadas. Heat the oil to 350 degrees, and fry the empanadas until golden brown, in small batches of 2-3 (depending on the size of your pot and your empanadas). When they’re cooked through, transfer to a wire rack or a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
  7. Eat these empanadas on their own or with a nice salad!

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