Beef and Cheese Empanadas


Transport your taste buds to the streets of Latin America with the irresistible flavors of Beef and Cheese Empanadas. These golden, flaky pastries filled with savory beef, melted cheese, and aromatic spices are a culinary delight enjoyed around the world. Whether served as a snack, appetizer, or main course, these handheld treats are sure to satisfy your cravings for comfort food with a twist.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 package (14 oz) refrigerated pie crusts or homemade empanada dough
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) for brushing


  1. Prepare the Filling: In a skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef, onion, and garlic until the beef is browned and the onions are softened. Drain any excess grease. Add the ground cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper, stirring until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  2. Assemble the Empanadas: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Roll out the pie crusts or empanada dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a round cutter or a small plate, cut out circles approximately 4-5 inches in diameter.
  3. Add the Fillings: Place a spoonful of the beef filling onto one half of each dough circle, leaving a border around the edges. Top the beef with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and chopped cilantro, if desired.
  4. Fold and Seal: Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon shape. Press the edges together firmly to seal the empanadas. Use a fork to crimp the edges for a decorative finish.
  5. Brush with Egg Wash: Place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash for a golden, shiny finish.
  6. Bake to Perfection: Bake the empanadas in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.
  7. Serve and Enjoy: These Beef and Cheese Empanadas are best served warm with your favorite dipping sauce, such as salsa, chimichurri, or guacamole. Enjoy the delicious fusion of flavors with every bite!

Serving and Storage Tips for Beef and Cheese Empanadas:

  1. Serve Warm: Beef and Cheese Empanadas are best enjoyed fresh from the oven while they’re still warm and crispy. Serve them immediately as a delicious appetizer, snack, or main course.
  2. Dipping Sauces: Enhance the flavor experience by serving your empanadas with a variety of dipping sauces. Classic options include salsa verde, chimichurri, or a spicy aioli. Experiment with different flavors to find your favorite combination.
  3. Garnish with Fresh Herbs: Before serving, sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro or parsley over the empanadas for a burst of freshness and color. This simple garnish adds a vibrant touch to your dish.
  4. Make-Ahead Option: If you’re planning to serve empanadas for a party or gathering, you can prepare them ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Simply assemble the empanadas, place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Bake as directed when ready to serve.
  5. Freezing Instructions: Beef and Cheese Empanadas can also be frozen for future enjoyment. After assembling the empanadas, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container, separating the layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To bake from frozen, simply place the frozen empanadas on a baking sheet and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown.
  6. Reheating Leftovers: If you have leftover empanadas, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake the empanadas for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the microwave for a quick snack.
  7. Portion Control: If you’re serving empanadas as part of a larger meal, consider cutting them into smaller portions for easy serving. Quarter or halve the empanadas to create bite-sized treats that are perfect for sharing.
  8. Accompaniments: Serve your empanadas alongside traditional Latin American side dishes such as rice and beans, plantains, or a fresh green salad. The combination of flavors and textures will create a satisfying and well-balanced meal.

Variations of Beef and Cheese Empanadas:

  1. Vegetarian Option: For a meat-free alternative, substitute the ground beef with cooked lentils, black beans, or a mixture of sautéed vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Add extra cheese to enhance the flavor and creaminess of the filling.
  2. Spicy Kick: Amp up the heat by adding diced jalapeños or green chilies to the beef filling. You can also mix in a tablespoon of adobo sauce or hot sauce for an extra kick of flavor.
  3. Southwestern Twist: Give your empanadas a Southwestern flair by adding corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, and a sprinkle of taco seasoning to the beef filling. Top with shredded pepper jack cheese for a melty, spicy finish.
  4. Mushroom and Onion: Create a rich and savory filling by sautéing mushrooms and onions until caramelized and adding them to the beef mixture. The earthy flavors of the mushrooms complement the beef and cheese beautifully.
  5. Breakfast Empanadas: Turn your empanadas into a delicious breakfast option by filling them with scrambled eggs, cooked breakfast sausage or bacon, and shredded cheese. Serve with salsa or hot sauce for a morning pick-me-up.
  6. Spinach and Feta: Add a Mediterranean twist to your empanadas by incorporating sautéed spinach, crumbled feta cheese, and a touch of nutmeg into the filling. The combination of creamy cheese and earthy spinach creates a delightful flavor contrast.
  7. Seafood Variation: For a seafood lover’s delight, fill your empanadas with a mixture of cooked shrimp or crabmeat, diced bell peppers, onions, and a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning. Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese for a decadent treat.
  8. Pulled Pork Empanadas: Use leftover pulled pork as the filling for your empanadas, mixing it with barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, and shredded cheese. The sweet and tangy flavors of the barbecue sauce pair perfectly with the savory pork.
  9. Sweet and Savory: Create a unique flavor combination by adding a spoonful of fruit preserves, such as mango or pineapple, to the beef filling. The sweet and savory contrast will tantalize your taste buds with every bite.
  10. Empanada Bowls: Skip the dough altogether and serve the beef and cheese filling over rice or quinoa for a deconstructed empanada bowl. Top with diced avocado, salsa, and a dollop of sour cream for a satisfying meal.


1. Can I make the dough from scratch?

  • Absolutely! While store-bought pie crusts or empanada dough are convenient options, you can make the dough from scratch using a simple combination of flour, water, butter, and salt. There are many recipes available online to guide you through the process.

2. Can I freeze the empanadas before baking?

  • Yes, you can freeze assembled empanadas before baking for future use. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, ensuring they are not touching, and freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. When ready to bake, no need to thaw – simply bake from frozen, adding a few extra minutes to the baking time.

3. What type of cheese works best for the filling?

  • Shredded mozzarella, cheddar, or a blend of Mexican cheeses work well for the filling. These cheeses melt beautifully and complement the savory flavors of the beef. Feel free to experiment with different cheese varieties based on your preferences.

4. Can I make these empanadas ahead of time for a party?

  • Yes, empanadas are perfect for making ahead of time for parties or gatherings. You can assemble them up to 24 hours in advance, store them in the refrigerator, and bake them just before serving for a freshly baked appetizer that’s sure to impress your guests.

5. How do I prevent the filling from leaking out during baking?

  • To prevent the filling from leaking out, ensure the edges of the empanadas are tightly sealed before baking. You can also crimp the edges with a fork to create a decorative seal. Additionally, avoid overfilling the empanadas, as this can cause them to burst open during baking.

6. Can I use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef?

  • Yes, you can easily substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef in this recipe. Simply cook the ground poultry with the onions, garlic, and spices as directed until fully cooked and then proceed with assembling the empanadas.

7. Are empanadas served hot or cold?

  • Empanadas are typically served warm or at room temperature. They can be enjoyed hot out of the oven or cooled to room temperature, depending on personal preference. Leftover empanadas can be reheated in the oven or microwave before serving.

8. Can I make mini empanadas for appetizers?

  • Absolutely! You can use a smaller cutter or glass to cut out circles of dough for mini empanadas, perfect for serving as appetizers or party snacks. Adjust the baking time accordingly, as mini empanadas may cook faster than larger ones.

9. Can I add additional ingredients to the filling?

  • Yes, you can customize the filling to suit your taste preferences. Consider adding diced bell peppers, olives, corn, or even cooked rice to the beef mixture for added flavor and texture.

10. What is the best way to store leftover empanadas? – Store leftover empanadas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply place them in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through. Enjoy them as a quick and satisfying snack or meal!


With their crispy exterior and flavorful filling, Beef and Cheese Empanadas are a crowd-pleasing favorite that’s easy to make at home. Whether you’re hosting a party, looking for a tasty snack, or simply craving a taste of Latin American cuisine, these handheld delights are sure to impress. Give this recipe a try and experience the deliciousness for yourself!

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