Beef Empanadas (Puerto Rican Style)

Every now and then I get somewhat nostalgic and start to reminisce about foods that I used to have when I was young. This past weekend was one of those times. It did help that I had all the ingredients to indulge in this latest craving. Now, I realize there are a lot of people (especially Latinos) that have their own version and different ingredients of what goes into the “empanada” and I’m not here to tell you to replace your version, just offering an alternative, if you’re so inclined, to experiment with another version. You only have to go here for more information on the various types of empanadas there are throughout Latin America and other places. I’m starting this recipe with the filling that I use and that most Puerto Ricans use, called picadillo. The reason I’m starting with the picadillo recipe is because I will be posting several recipes later on which will call for it. It is a staple for many dishes done by Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Cubans as well.


I’m also sharing the recipe for the dough that I find works best for me and my family. This dough is light and flaky and easy to work with, but if you have one that you feel will work best for you, by all means use it!  



If you don’t feel like making your own dough, Goya also sells “dough disks” that will work but to me nothing brings me more satisfaction as me doing it myself, just sayin 🙂 The dough is filled with the picadillo or whatever you prefer. Some have used chicken, seafood, pork or you can change it up and fill them with cheese (which is how my son, Evan, prefers them). Growing up, me and my sisters and brother had the cheese kind in the mornings with coffee (yes, you read right…coffee was given to us “young’uns” and I survived to write about it!). This recipe brings me the most comfort when I want to go back in time. Try it, I think you will agree that they are absolutely the perfect appetizer (or snack, lunch, etc.) you can have. 

The final result…delicious Empanadas de Carne!

Buen Provecho!

Beef Empanadas (Puerto Rican Style)



  • 2-3 tbsps olive oil
  • ¼ cup onions, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (seasoned to your liking)
  • 4 oz. of tomato sauce (or 3 tablespoons of tomato-paste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 1 tsp of the brine from the green olives
  • ½ tsp of kosher salt


  1.  Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté until translucent, add garlic stir then add green pepper (if using), stir until green pepper is tender.
  2. Add ground beef to this mixture and stir continuously until beef is browned. Drain fat and return to skillet. Reduce heat.
  3. Stir in tomato sauce (or tomato paste), vinegar, olives, and salt, if needed and oregano. Sauté for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.



  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour, plus a little more for kneading
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, or fine sea salt
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 egg white plus 1 whole large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 3 TBSP of chilled vegetable shortening
    (OPTIONAL (see NOTE below): 2 TBSP. Achiote oil)
  • oil (for frying empanadas)


  1. Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat water, egg white, whole egg and vinegar until foamy.
  2. Add in, if using, achioté oil and mix well.
  3. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or a fork. Flour mixture should look like little peas.
  4. Make a small well in the center of the flour and then pour your liquid ingredients into the center.
  5. Beat the flour into the wet ingredients until it’s too stiff to continue (I use this tool it’s the best thing ever created!) but don’t go crazy over beating or you will wind up with a hard dough, not bubbly and flaky when you fry the empanadas.
  6. Place your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it just until all the flour is incorporated and you have a nice smooth dough.
  7. Turn it into a ball and wrap this ball in plastic and refrigerate at least for one (1) hour or up to overnight. You can also freeze it at this point if you won’t be using it for a few days. 

NOTE: Doing the achioté oil is TOTALLY optional but I add this oil to my dough (see picture above). It imparts color to the dough and makes it pretty (I’m into pretty, sorry) but you can just skip this part if you’re fine with the color of the dough (make it YOUR OWN). I’m just obsessed when it comes to things like this.

ACHIOTÉ OIL (for those interested) is made by doing the following:

  • ¼ cup of Achiote seeds (also called annatto seeds)
  • 1 cup of corn oil, extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil

1.  Place the oil and achioté seeds in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until you see it begin to bubble (PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THIS).

2.  Remove from the heat as soon as you see lots of little bubbles forming around the saucepan.

3.  Allow oil to cool then strain and discard the seeds.

WARNING: If you let it boil too much past the somewhat dark orange color stage, the seeds will burn and turn green. This is NOT a good thing and this oil will no longer work for this or any recipe. You can save the oil in a cool, dark place and the oil will keep well for 1 to 2 months.



  1. RosiEscapes says:
    I love empanadas. Every South American or Spanish speaking country I go , I must have one. Love the food :-)
    • Angie says:
      Aren't they delicious? About the only ones I feel I don't like (maybe because of the additions to it) are the Argentinian ones, but I'm sure that plenty of people love them, just not for me :-)

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