Beef & Cheese Empanadas

Makes 12 servings

Empanadas are tiny little presents that you get to eat with your hands, and this recipe is one of our favorites! Put out bowls of inclusions, like chopped olives, raisins, or hard-boiled egg, so your family can work together to prepare their own special empanadas.

Empanada Dough


  • 1 1/2 cups (7 oz/198 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz/71 g) masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz/113 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/113 g) ice cold water, plus more as needed



  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (2.3 oz/65 g) finely diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 oz ground beef, 85% lean
  • 1/2 cup (4.5 oz/128 g) beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (3 oz/85 g) grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Oil, as needed for frying


  1. For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel cutting blade, combine the flour, masa harina, and salt. Pulse for 15 to 20 seconds.
  2. With the food processor off, add 4 tablespoons of the butter. Pulse for 3 to 5 seconds, or until the mixture appears rough and pebbly. With the food processor off, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Pulse for 4 to 5 seconds, or until the mixture appears rough, with irregular pieces of butter approximately the size of small walnuts.
  3. With the food processor off, add the egg and 2 tablespoons of the ice-cold water. Pulse for 3 to 5 seconds, or until just combined. Check the dough by pressing it to the side of the bowl. If it does not hold together, add a small amount of water (about 2 tablespoons), pulse for 3 to 5 seconds, and check it again. The dough should just hold together when pressed to the side of the bowl. It should not form a ball or mass of dough in the bowl.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a 5- to 6-inch disc and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight, until firm.
  5. For the filling: In a medium sauté pan, heat the 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook just until heated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef and cook until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain off the fat from the pan. Pour in the beef stock and allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Cook until thickened and some of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and season the mixture with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 20 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to combine.
  6. Roll out the empanada dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut it into 4 1/2-inch discs with a round cutter, rerolling scraps as necessary. Make at least 1 dozen discs. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each disc. Brush the edges of each dough disc with water, fold in half, and seal the seams using the tines of a fork. Transfer the empanadas to sheet pans lined with parchment paper, cover, and refrigerate until very firm, at least 1 hour, before frying so that the butter in the dough does not melt when the empanadas are fried. The empanadas can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours, or frozen for up to 3 weeks. Defrost frozen empanadas before frying them.
  7. Fill a deep skillet with 2 inches of oil and heat the oil to 360°F. Fry the empanadas in batches, adding them to the hot oil a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown and crisp, turning as needed to brown both sides. Alternatively, the empanadas can be brushed with egg wash and baked fresh or frozen at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.



    No cumin in the ingredient list, but is added in Step 5. How much cumin?


    What is masa harina ?


      Hi there! Masa harina is corn flour that has been treated with an alkaline solution (the process is called nixtamalization), which affects the flour’s flavor, texture, and usability. It is used for many traditional recipes, like tortillas. You should be able to find it from several brands in your grocery store’s international aisle or at specialty Latin markets.


    any way to get metric measurements?

Leave a Comment