Ground Beef Empanadas Recipe – How to Make it in 16 Simple Steps

Pieces of beef empanadas on a rustic spread on top of a wooden table.

With a Southwestern style filling enclosed by a flaky pastry dough, our recipe for Ground Beef Empanadas is a wonderful way to shake up your Taco Tuesday dinner. Whether you make your pastry dough from scratch or buy a refrigerated pie crust, this recipe will soon be a family favorite.

Hearkening back to the 1500s, empanadas are small hand-pies filled with a savory filling. These baked or fried treats first became popular in the northwest region of Spain. While this recipe does take a little time to make, your family will still enjoy your efforts. With classic Southwestern seasonings, our recipe for Ground Beef Empanadas may add a new twist to your typical Taco Tuesday offerings.

Pieces of beef empanadas on a rustic spread on top of a wooden table.

Ground Beef Empanadas Recipe

April Freeman
Empanadas can be a very versatile meal. We have instructions for a Southwestern, taco flavored empanada, featuring tomatoes, cumin, cheese, and beef. However, if you are an adventurous cook, the sky’s the limit on how you can change the filling to suit your taste. You could use chicken or pork instead of beef.
Prep Time 45 mins
Baking Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 Servings


  • Large bowl
  • Pastry blender
  • Large skillet
  • Large Baking Sheet
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pastry Brush


Beef Filling Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 8 ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese your choice of a variety

Pastry Dough Ingredients

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Shortening
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Iced Water
  • 1 pc Egg


  • You definitely want to make the pastry dough at the beginning of this recipe. That way, you can allow the pastry to chill in the refrigerator while you are preparing the meat filling. In a large bowl, measure out the flour and salt. Use a fork to blend them together.
  • Using a fork or a pastry blender, add the shortening to the mixture, cutting it into the flour until coarse crumbs form.
  • Stir the water into the pastry dough, tossing it with a fork. Start by adding about ¼  cup and stir the dough.
  • Add the rest of the water a splash or two at a time, just until the dough begins to ball up and stick together. You don’t want any dry portions of dough left, but you don’t want it too wet and gummy to handle.
  • If you accidentally add a bit too much water, sprinkle a bit of flour in the bowl to firm it up a little bit. When the dough is mixed correctly, you will be able to grab the whole dough ball and press it together in a ball. Return the dough ball to the bowl and refrigerate it while you are creating the beef filling.
  • In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and chop the meat up into little pieces. Add the garlic and cook it until it is golden brown and fragrant about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the garlic, cumin, salt, cajun seasoning, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add the tomato sauce as well, stirring all of the ingredients until everything is fully mixed together. Simmer the meat mixture for fifteen or twenty minutes or until the mixture is thickened.
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove the empanada dough from the refrigerator and divide it into two equal pieces. Take one of the pieces and put it on a lightly floured surface, pressing it into a disk.
  • Use a lightly floured rolling pin and roll it out to a 12 to 14-inch diameter circle. Take a bowl or plate that is about 6 inches across and press it into the dough to give you a template for cutting the dough. Cut the dough with a knife into a circle.
    The dough is flattened and cut into circles.
  • Repeat this until you have several circles on the pastry. Peel away the extra dough, setting it aside. 
  • Then, take about a tablespoon of the shredded cheese and about ¼ cup of the meat mixture and place it in the center of each circle.
    The empanada filling is arranged on the dough.
  • Fold the circles over the top of the filling and crimp the edges with a fork. Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and repeat this process with the remainder of the dough, reusing the scraps until you run out of meat filling.
  • Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat it with a fork. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg over the empanadas.
  • Bake the empanadas for about 15 minutes or until the crusts are a light golden brown.
    A close look at baked empanadas fresh from the oven.
  • Remove from the oven and serve.


You could add Mediterranean type seasonings rather than Southwestern. You could substitute refried beans for the beef to create a vegetarian treat. However, if you just want to stick to our recipe, we feel very confident that you will love the savory-spiciness of our beef blend.
Our recipe walks you through the process of making the pastry dough from scratch. The shortening based dough will turn out light and flaky, and it’s pretty simple to make, especially if you have made a few pie crusts in your time. However, if you are in a rush or you lack the confidence to make the dough yourself, we do have a suggested shortcut.
Rather than making the pastry dough on your own from scratch, you might want to purchase refrigerated pastry dough from the grocery store’s dairy case. You will be able to skip the whole portion of the recipe that details making and rolling out of the pastry dough. Chances are, you won’t even be able to taste the difference.
Keyword Ground Beef Empanadas, Recipe, Snack
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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