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Beef Empanadas


Empanadas are a popular street food and fun to re-create in your own kitchen. These empanadas have a hearty beef and vegetable filling encased in tender cream cheese pastry crust. Traditionally empanadas are fried, but Lucinda prefers to make a healthy version by baking them. From the book "Mad Hungry," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).

Source: Mad Hungry, September 2010


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup pimiento-filled green olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Several dashes hot sauce
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Cream Cheese Pastry Dough


  1. To make the filling, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and then swirl in the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper. Saute until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the beef. Cook, stirring constantly to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for another minute.

  2. Stir in the olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Cook until the meat is golden brown, the liquid has evaporated, and the flavors have blended, about 4 more minutes. Cool the mixture completely in the fridge. Stir in the egg whites.

  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter or line a baking sheet.

  4. To form the empanadas, work with half of a disk of dough at a time, rolling out on a floured surface. Using an overturned bowl (about 5 inches across), cut out circles about 3 or 4 at a time from each piece of dough. Gather all dough scraps together, reroll once, and cut. Place 1/4 cup filling on one side of a dough circle. Wet the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough over to form a half circle. Pinch the edges of the dough together. Crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat the process until all the filling is used. The empanadas can be frozen at this point.

  5. Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and chill for a few minutes. Prick each pie on top twice with a fork. When ready to bake, beat the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash over each empanada. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The empanadas can be cooled and frozen to reheat in a microwave.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Keano2
    20 OCT, 2013
    I loved the flavor and the choice in pastry was excellent. I have never made a cream cheese pastry before. It was beautiful. I did change the raisins to mushrooms (fresh and dried). I made a sour cream dipping sauce to go with and everyone loved both. This recipe opened up my eyes to the possibilities of this recipe. Yummy. One question....has anyone made a big batch of this dough and put it in the freezer?
  • empanadas
    20 JUL, 2012
    Great recipe! Only thing I changes is: I added 2 cloves of chopped garlic, I didnt put egg yolk in the mixture and I made bite sice empanadas, of 3 inch discs instead of 5 inch, but other than that I stuck with the recipe 100%, I even made the cream chesse pastry dough from scratch. The combination of the pastry and the filling are just perfect. They have such an authentic South American taste, It's just perfect. Perfect to make in advance, and frezze, and then just pop in the toaster oven.
  • herrfaron
    23 MAR, 2012
    Great recipe! I highly suggest doubling the dough recipe. I also ended up with a lot of extra meet.
  • JPDeLaney
    28 DEC, 2011
    I've used Lucinda's cream cheese/butter crust before and it's wonderful. The empanadas were delicious and easy to make. I'm trying to impress a new beau, and he liked them too!
  • Velouria
    3 JUN, 2011
    My husband said these were the best meat empanadas he's ever had! Did anyone else have leftover filling? I followed the recipes exactly but ended with quite a bit of the meat mixture left over. Hmmmm....
  • TawniLS
    24 FEB, 2011
    I am in LOVE with Mad Hungry! I made these for my husband and parents. My dad said I took him back 50 years ago when he lived in Argentina. These empanadas are delicious, authentic, and easy enough for an amateur cook as myself.
  • jrjinaustin
    5 OCT, 2010
    I made these last year for the super bowl and enhjoyed them very much