30-Minute EASY Cuban Beef Empanadas Recipe in 8 simple steps

These EASY Cuban Beef Empanadas come together quickly in about 30-minutes and are absolutely bursting with flavor! They start with a pre-made crust instead of homemade empanada dough — making them quick to put together! These minced beef empanadas are perfect for appetizers or tapas parties, and even Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Homemade Beef mince Empanadas are just good. Luckily, this shortcut version is quick & easy to make, and if beef isn’t your thing, swap in ground chicken, pork, or lamb, too.

A plate of cuban beef empanadas with dishes of sour cream and salsa for dipping.

What are Enpanadas?

Enpanadas are a meat-filled dough pocket or hand pie. The type of dough you use is completely up to you. 

A pin image for easy shortcut beef empanadas that start with a pre-cut empanada disc instead of a homemade empanada dough making this recipe ready in about 30-minutes!

What kind of dough should I use to make Beef Hand Pies

  • Homemade Empanada Dough: similar to pie dough, empanada dough is rolled out and cut by hand into small, typically 4-inch, circles. If you prefer to make your own dough, Laylita has a great Empanada Dough recipe.
  • Pre-Rolled Pie Crust: You could also opt for a pre-rolled pie crust sold in the refrigerated section. This will turn out sweeter than traditional empanada dough and can be thinner than traditional empanada dough.
  • Canned biscuits or crescent rolls: pressed and roll thin for a flakier shortcut empanada. These are least-like traditional empanada dough but are tasty in a pinch.
  • Empanada Dough Discs: If the grocery store near you carries them, they are in the frozen food aisle near the international foods section of the freezer case. Smaller Asian, Hispanic, and international food stores may also carry them if you are having trouble finding them.
A package of pre-cut empanada wrappers.

Ingredients

Beef empanada recipes vary from recipe to recipe and country to country but usually contains a savory, lightly spiced meat mixture. The ingredients in this recipe are:

  • Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil. If you prefer, you may substitute another oil you have on hand.
    Ground beef: I use extra lean ground beef, if you substitute for another grade beef, remember to drain any excess fat. Conversely, if you substitute ground chicken or turkey, remember that you may need to add some extra oil and seasonings to keep the empanadas from being too dry and bland.
    Green bell pepper:
    These are a must-have in a Cuban sofrito. If you must, you may omit the peppers but there will be a significant loss of flavor. For a spicier sauce, omit green bell pepper and add diced jalapenos. If you are not afraid of the heat, leaving in the seeds and white interior veins of this pepper. This is where the majority of the heat comes from. For a milder spice, remove the seeds and white veins inside the jalapeno.
    Red bell pepper: Another part of the trinity. Red bell peppers add sweetness to the sauce.
    Yellow Onion: Onions complete the onion and lend such a great flavor to the dish
  • Tomato sauce: I prefer fire-roasted or organic tomatoes which creates the base of the sauce.
    Cumin: Increase or decrease the cumin to your tastes. It has a warm, Earthy flavor but can be overpowering. Start with the basic amount and increase as you go.
    Ground cayenne pepper: Cayenne gives the sauce its spiciness. If you prefer spicier empanadas, increase the cayenne. A little bit goes a long way. For a spicier sauce, increase the cayenne.
    Garlic: Garlic is sweet once it caramelizes in the pan but can turn bitter if burned, so be sure to watch it when you add it into the trinity of vegetables.
  • Dried oregano: I use Mexican oregano, but if you don’t have any, regular oregano would do just fine.
    Salt: If you are watching your salt intake, start with the minimum amount listed, and increase from there.

Optional:

  • Chipolte in Adobo: if you prefer a more smoky, spicy flavor.
  • Jalapenos: remove the seeds and white rib for a mild spice or leave it all on for a bit more heat.
  • Taco seasoning: if you prefer a Tex-Mex flavor, add a tablespoon of taco seasoning.
A tray of empanada wrapper circles with 2 tablespoon scoops of meet in the center. The next step we will fold it in half like a taco and seal the edges with water and  a fork.

Expert Tip:

For a spicier filling, increase the amount of cayenne to taste. I like the hint of background heat that this dish brings to the party. It’s subtle and delicious.

In addition to the cayenne pepper, you may also choose to omit the bell pepper and replace it with diced jalapenos. If you are not afraid of the heat, leave in the seeds and white interior veins of the jalapeno pepper. This is where the majority of the heat comes from. For a milder amount of spice, remove the seeds and white veins inside the jalapeno.

Baking Instructions

Scroll down below to the printable recipe card for full recipe instructions and tips.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare a baking tray with a silicone mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil and set it aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and green peppers and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
  4. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute being careful not to burn the garlic. Then add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, about 10 minutes. Drain off any excess fat and oil.
  5. Stir in tomato sauce, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and oregano. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle. If the mixture is too hot it can cause holes in the dough during preparation.
  7. Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of meat mixture into the middle of the empanada wrapper, fold in half to form a half-moon; moisten the edges with water and pinch to seal or crimp edges with a fork.
  8. With a pastry brush, lightly brush egg wash over the top side of the empanada dough. (This encourages browning.)
  9. Place empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet [See Step 2].
  10. Bake Empanadas until crisp and golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

 

A tray of empanadas which have been filled and the edges are being crimped with a fork.

How Do I Repair a Torn Empanada Dough Disc?

  1. Holding the disc in one hand, lightly wet your finger on the other hand and trace the tear with water. [See photo 1 belo]
  2. Press the seam together to repair the hole, [See Photo 2 below]. If needed, you may also lay the disc down on a lightly floured surface to press the seam together.

two images showing how to fix a tear in the empanada disk. First, wet the edge of the tear, then on a flat surface, pinch the dough together and crimp it back together.

Freezing Instructions

Absolutely!

  • Prepare the recipe as instructed. After the empanadas come out of the oven, allow them to cool completely.
  • Flash freeze the empanadas on a rimmed baking tray in the freezer to prevent them from sticking together. Transfer the empanadas to a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag.
  • To reheat, place frozen empanadas in a pre-heated 350 degrees F oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Empanadas may be frozen for up to 3 months.

KD Email Graphic
a close up photo of a plate of baked empanadas. You can see the pattern on the edge where it has been crimped with a fork. The empanadas have a varied coloration of golden yellow to golden brown from the way the egg wash cooked in the oven.
A plate of baked beef empanadas with sour cream and salsa for dipping.

Easy Shortcut Beef Empanadas [ Empanadas de Carne]

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
These EASY Beef Empanadas come together quickly in about 30-minutes and are absolutely bursting with flavor! They start with a pre-made crust instead of homemade empanada dough — making them quick to put together! These minced beef empanadas are perfect for appetizers or tapas parties, and even Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Homemade Beef mince Empanadas are just good. Luckily, this shortcut version is quick & easy to make, and if beef isn't your thing, swap in ground chicken, pork, or lamb, too.
4.78 from 31 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Resting Time 5 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Cuban
Servings 10 servings
Calories 214 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion , diced fine
  • 1/2 medium green pepper , diced fine [See Note 6]
  • 1/2 medium red pepper , diced fine
  • 2 Jalapenos diced [Optional]
  • 1 tbsp Chipolte in Adobo Sauce more or less to taste, [Optional]
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes , or more if you prefer a saucier filling.
  • 1/4 tsp cumin more or less, to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper , more or less depending on your spice level
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives , optional
  • 1 teaspoon garlic , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and ground black pepper , more or less to taste

For the Empanada Dough:

  • 10 (1 pkg) Empanada Dough Discs [See Note 5]
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking tray with a silicone mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it us with a spoon or rubber spatula, about 10 minutes.
  • Add onions and peppers and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
  • Stir in tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes), chipolte in adobo (if adding), cumin, cayenne, garlic, oregano, sliced olives, salt, and black pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust spice level to your tastes.
  • Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  • Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of meat mixture into the middle of the empanada wrapper, fold in half to form a half-moon; moisten the edges with water and pinch to seal or crimp edges with a fork.
  • With a pastry brush, lightly brush egg wash over the top side of the empanada dough. This encourages browning, but may be omitted for egg-free empanadas.
  • Place empanadas on a foil-lined sheet pan sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Bake Empanadas until crisp and golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Notes

  1. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
  2. To Freeze Empanadas:
    • Prepare the recipe as instructed. After the empanadas come out of the oven, allow them to cool completely.
    • Flash freeze the empanadas on a rimmed baking tray in the freezer to prevent them from sticking together.
    • Transfer the empanadas to a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag.
  3. To reheat, place frozen empanadas in a pre-heated 350 degrees F oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Empanadas may be frozen for up to 3 months.
  5. What kind of dough should I use to make Empanadas?
    • Homemade Empanada Dough: similar to pie dough, empanada dough is rolled out and cut by hand into small, typically 4-inch, circles. If you prefer to make your own dough, Laylita has a great Empanada Dough recipe.
    • Pre-Rolled Pie Crust: You could also opt for a pre-rolled pie crust sold in the refrigerated section. This will turn out sweeter than traditional empanada dough.
    • Canned biscuits or crescent rolls: pressed and rolled thin for a flakier empanada.
    • Empanada Dough Discs: If the grocery store near you carries them, they are in the frozen food aisle near the international foods section of the freezer case. Smaller Asian, Hispanic, and international food stores may also carry them if you are having trouble finding them.
  6. For a spicier filling, increase the amount of cayenne to taste. I like the hint of background heat that this dish brings to the party. It’s subtle and delicious.
    In addition to the cayenne pepper, you may also choose to omit the bell pepper and replace it with diced jalapenos. If you are not afraid of the heat, leave in the seeds and white interior veins of the jalapeno pepper. This is where the majority of the heat comes from. For a milder amount of spice, remove the seeds and white veins inside the jalapeno.

Nutrition

Serving: 1EmpanadaCalories: 214kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 7gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 164mgPotassium: 118mgFiber: 0gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 275IUVitamin C: 13.3mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 2.1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

77 thoughts on “30-Minute EASY Cuban Beef Empanadas Recipe in 8 simple steps”

  1. I made this last night and it is delicious! Just wondering what is considered one serving for the nutritional information? Is that 1 prepared empanada?

    Reply
  2. I made these last night with premade pie crust… They turned out okay… 1) I think the premade pie crust was too thin 2) I think I prefer a bit more spicy taco-ish flavor… this filling was more sweet… still good though (considering I kept eating spoonfuls of the stuffing while preparing the rest). My 15 yo loved it! I also served it with brown rice, cucumber, avocado, tomato salad with lime and lemon, and homemade chimichurri and avocado cilantro for dipping. I also used crushed tomatoes because I didn’t have tomato sauce. Otherwise, great recipe!

    Reply
  3. Never had an empanada before but was intrigued enough to try them. Maybe it was just me but they were just OK. They turned out well & the crust was easy to work with but not what I expected.

    Reply
  4. Can I make these smaller? I intent to make some for a big crowd. Would it be possible to make them smaller? And how will it affect cook temperature and cooking time? Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Turned out good! Added adobo, jalapeño pepper chopped fine and extra garlic. At the end of cooking time broiled on low for 5 minutes to get a nice brown color.. Did take about 2 hours from start to finish,

    Reply
  6. I made these tonight. Had to omit the red pepper simply because I didn’t have one available. We used ground turkey. My boyfriend liked them so much, he ate 4 of the 9 I made tonight. Thank you for this recipe! We will be making these again.

    Reply
  7. I made your easy beef empanadas. The recipe was awesome, so much better than any others I’ve made in the past. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Jean,
      I used pre-cut empanada circles. If you are using homemade dough you could use an extra large cookie cutter, freehand cut around a small plate, or use the circle of an egg ring or something like that. Alternatively, you could cut 4-inch squares and just alter the shape using a pastry cutter. You can also cut them smaller and use less filling per empanada. The bake time would still be the same since its for solely cooking the dough.

      Reply
    • Hi Jean,
      I used pre-cut empanada circles. If you are using homemade dough you could use an extra large cookie cutter, freehand cut around a small plate, or use the circle of an egg ring or something like that. Alternatively, you could cut 4-inch squares and just alter the shape using a pastry cutter.

      Reply
    • Try using a pizza cutter around a small plate…which is what I did since I needed circles a bit larger. Worked great.

      Reply
  8. Great recipe and easy to make. Made it for a Mexican themed party last night. Received rave reviews! Will definitely make again.

    Reply
  9. My first time and (Yay) I mastered it. My husband and I really enjoyed This recipe which was very easy to follow, however I did tweak it just a bit by adding diced potatoes, a dash of curry power & a few Caribbean spices. They came out delicious Thank you!

    Reply
    • I always say any recipe is just a starting point for you to dress up to your tastes. I would never have thought curry but now that you say it, I bet that’s amazing. We do curry in our Jamaican beef patties.

      Reply
  10. Some Asian markets, multi-ethnic/cultural markets have them & are generally where phyllo dough, puff pastry, wonton/spring roll wrappers. The brand name is Goya. Good luck to all!

    Reply
    • There are more than one brand of empanada discs in the markets, but I would agree that Goya is the brand I reach for first. My Asian market only just started carrying these wrappers. Publix sells out of them quite frequently. The Mexican market does carry them as well.

      Reply
  11. Yummy recipe! I have tried it with both Pillsbury dough and empenada wrappers. The dough gives a softer, flakier, buttery taste but the empenada wrappers are also a lot easier to use! Rolling the dough out is time consuming and also difficult because it easily shrinks.

    Reply
  12. My favorite dip for empanadas and also any raw veggie, and tortilla chips, and….well everything! Is homemade sofrito mixed with sour cream. I also add a sazon packet. SOOOOO good.

    Reply
  13. How long do you thaw these wrappers? I bought frozen Goya brand wrappers at my local Mexican market and they have no instructions for thawing prior to use.

    Reply
    • Hi Lucia, Mine did not have a thaw time either. I wait only long enough until I can peel them apart. I’ve waited until they were fully defrosted and they were quite warm and tore easily and wound up out of round. I’d say about 45 minutes defrosting on the kitchen counter or in the refrigerator overnight.

      Reply
  14. Coming back by to tell you these were amazing. My store carries the frozen wrappers you described which made assembling these a breeze. They tasted great (added a touch more salt) and freeze well, too.

    Reply
    • Angelo, that is so kind of you to say. Thank you for taking the time to come back and comment. I am usually light handed with the salt in my recipes allowing you to adjust it to your own palette. I am so glad you enjoyed these!

      Reply
    • Yes! I have updated the recipe to reflect this. Freeze a sheet of unbaked empanadas until solid, then transfer into a freezer bag. Frozen empanadas will keep for up to three months and can be baked straight from the freezer. Add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
      Fully baked empanadas can also be frozen, though they lose a bit of their flaky texture. To reheat, unwrap as many empanadas as you want and warm in a low oven or toaster oven.

      Reply
  15. Seeing the picture of your empanadas make me miss my friend because we often ate these together when we were in college, thanks for this recipe.

    Reply
    • I buy them at my local grocery store in the ethnic section of the freezer section. If not there, a local ethnic store specializing in Mexican or Spanish ingredients would most likely carry them, too.

      Reply
  16. I love beef empanadas. My abuela used to make them all the time. Each family has their own special recipe but this looks very similar to hers. I will have to try it out.

    Reply

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