Beef Empanadas

18 Apr

Print the recipe page!  beef empanadas

Before we were married, my husband spent two years in Chile as a Mormon missionary where he enjoyed many an authentic empanada.  It’s funny because he’s pretty picky as we’ve since had them at restaurants, always quickly comparing them to the ones he remembers.  In fact, there’s only been one restaurant’s empanadas that he’s been happy with in all the places we’ve tried!

Considering myself up for a good challenge, I’ve been wanting to find an empanada recipe that would pass his test to make at home normally and w/ a few food storage substitutions be able to use in our food storage plan.  Well, this recipe worked!  He happily (even quietly) finished off a plate of four of these and said they were “good”, which for him is really quite a compliment.

Makes 12 empanadas



2 1/2 cups Thrive ground beef (rehydrated with 2 cups warm water)

3/4 cup freeze dried onion flakes (rehydrated with 1/2 cup water)

1 large slice of bread, de-crusted and cut into quarters

1/2 tsp. chicken boullion

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. chili pepper

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1 TBS dried cilantro

1/3 cup raisins (or one individual sized box of raisins)

1/3 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped (*see note)

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar


2 1/4 cups flour

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 TBS apple cider vinegar


3-4 TBS olive oil (for baking empanadas)


For the Filling:

Rehydrate freeze dried onions and freeze dried ground beef with required water 20 minutes.  Process slice of bread combined with 2 TBS remaining water from rehydrated onions (using either a food processor or a manual food mill) until paste forms.

Drain rehydrated ground beef, reserving 1/2 cup of it’s remaining water.  To the rehydrated beef add the bread paste, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Cook rehydrated onions in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring in garlic, cumin, chili pepper and cloves;  cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add beef mixture, reserved 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 tsp chicken boullion.  Simmer until mixture is moist but not wet, 3-5 minutes.  Transfer mixture back into a bowl and stir in cilantro, raisins, olives and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Dough:

Mix together flour and salt in a medium bowl and make a well in the center.  Pour 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 TBS apple cider vinegar into the center of the flour mixture and stir together.  Mixture will be sticky.  At this point, if time/circumstances allow, dough can be refrigerated for an hour to make the dough easier to work with;  if not, it’s not a big deal, a good dusting of flour will work just as well.  Roll out golf ball sized dough balls into rounds on a well floured board.  Use a 6 inch round bowl to trim the edges of the dough into circles.


Place about 1/3 cup filling in the center of each dough round.  Turn half of the dough over (making a semi circle) and crimp edges of empanadas using a fork.  Brush empanadas with olive oil.

To Bake:

Using a sun oven:  In an oven heated to 300 – 350, place empanadas on parchment paper lined trays.  Bake for 60 minutes with a pencil closed in the sun oven’s door to allow steam to escape.

Using a conventional oven:  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Pour 2-3 TBS of olive oil, spreading evenly with a spatula, onto baking tray and heat inside oven for 2 minutes.  Pull out hot baking tray and place empanadas on to bake, returning to oven for 15-17 minutes.


Making the bread paste…

save 1/2 cup of remaining water from the rehydrated beef and mix beef mixture together…

Cook onions, adding in seasonings.  Add in reserved water, beef mixture and chicken boullion and simmer 3-5 minutes until the mixture is moist but not wet.

Transfer the meat mixture to a bowl and add in the olives, raisins, cilantro and vinegar.

Ready to go!  Set the filling aside and start making the dough.

Making the dough

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and measure out the water, oil and vinegar.

Pour the liquid into into a ‘well’ in the flour mixture and stir to combine.

dough will be loose and sticky; cover and refrigerate it if you can to make it easier to handle, however, even without refrigeration it can still be rolled out just fine with a good dusting of flour.


Spoon about 1/3 cup of filling onto each dough round.  Fold dough over and crimp to seal using a fork.

Brush with olive oil and carefully transfer to the baking sheet.

Baking in a Sun Oven:

In baking in my sun oven, I placed the empanadas on a tray lined with parchment paper.  The temperature in my oven was 350, dropping toward the end to 300, and the empanadas cooked for 60 minutes.  They cooked just fine, but they never browned or got the outer crisp-ness I was looking for so I popped them in the oven afterward to fix that.  If we had to make empanadas in the sun oven it would still be okay, maybe I can try again pan frying them for just a minute after they’re baked this way to get the crispiness we like.

Here they are after baking for 60 minutes…

while they cooked and tasted good, they lacked the crispiness in the crust I was wanting…

Baking in a Conventional Oven:

In a regular oven of course, things were a lot easier.  At a temp of 425 I first heated 2-3 TBS of oil on a baking sheet for a couple of minutes, brought it out and placed the empanadas on it to bake for about 15 minutes.  The bottom and top both browned and  crisped up nicely, turning out just the way I wanted them to.

In they go…

And out they come…

Time to enjoy an empanada or two…or three…



  • Just FYI about the filling.  For anyone wanting to sub in canned ground beef (or fresh for a normal/ 3 month type of dinner),  this recipe calls for 1 lb ground beef.  In place of the freeze dried onions, you’d use 2 finely chopped onions sauteed in olive oil along with 4 minced garlic cloves in place of the garlic powder.  If you’re up for it (and if eggs are available), many traditional empanadas would also include 2 hard-cooked eggs (chopped) to add into the filling along with the olives and raisins.
  • Be sure you’re buying pitted green olives, since pitting olives yourself is an unnecessary chore.  If you’re unable to find any pitted olives other than pimento filled, use those instead, removing the pimentos before chopping.

4 Responses to “Beef Empanadas”

  1. PlicketyCat April 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    You can swap freeze-dried chicken chunks, pork chunks, beef chunks, sausage crumbles, or canned chicken/beef for the ground beef in this recipe one-for-one for additional tasty varieties. These are also good with mashed bean & rice filling.

    A tip for crisping these in the sun oven is to place them on foil or a bread/pizza stone instead of parchment paper and brush them with a little oil. They won’t get as crisp and brown as a standard convection oven, but they at least get a bit “tanned” LOL

    • myfoodstoragecookbook April 27, 2012 at 3:22 am #

      Jennine, I’ve missed you! Thanks for the filling and sun oven idea; I’ll look forward to trying that!


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