Cuban Beef Empanadas are fried (or baked) hand pies filled with a spiced ground beef mixture with lots of sliced green olives and served with a chimichurri sauce. Homemade dough recipe is included!
Cuban Beef Empanadas = Perfect party food
Not a typical potluck recipe, but you just might become the hit of the neighborhood BBQ party when you show up with a big ol’ tray full of these Cuban beef empanadas.
Let the other people bring the potato salad, you’ve got empanadas baby!!
The best kind of meat pie recipe
Cuban beef empanadas are my favorite kind of hand pie of all time because they are fried and they are filled with picadillo. This is hands down, my best ground beef recipe ever, but it can also be made with other meats.
The picadillo itself is pretty healthy when made with a lean ground beef (sirloin), bison, turkey, or chicken.
I make picadillo once a month, even when I’m not making empanadas. It’s a wonderful filling that can be stuffed in all sorts of things, like:
- acorn squash halves
- avocado halves
- top tortilla chips for nachos
- wrap it in a flour tortilla
The picadillo’s flavor is even better when it’s made a few days before. All the ingredients have time to really come together and improve the overall flavor.
A little side note: Most of the Cuban picadillo I’ve eaten in South Florida had raisins in it to add a touch of sweetness.
My recipe doesn’t have them in it, but you can add them to make it more traditional. Just add 1/2 cup raisins to the mixture after the meat has browned.
How to make a homemade empanada dough
Empanadas can be made with the store-bought dough discs found in the ethnic freezer section of the grocery store, but they taste so much better when made with homemade dough.
I always make my own and I’ve included the recipe for you below. Wait until you see how easy the dough is to make!
Homemade dough is flakier and tastier than the pre-made kind. It is truly super simple to make and can be frozen for convenience.
Just make up a double batch, freeze one, and take it out the next time you need it.
The dough can also be used with other savory fillings (like veggies) or make sweet hand pies (with fruit and/or cheese).
Did you enjoy this Cuban Beef Empanadas recipe? Don’t forget to leave me a comment below and please share it with friends and family.
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup solid shortening, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 3/4-1 cup warm water
FOR THE PICADILLO FILLING:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, minced
- 1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, minced
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 pound ground beef (can substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken)
- 1/2-3/4 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup raisins, optional
- 2-3 cups oil for frying
- Serve with: chimichurri sauce
FOR THE DOUGH:
- In a bowl, mix together the 2 1/4 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Add the 1/4 cup chilled shortening pieces and mix into the flour mixture using fingers, can also use a pastry blender or two knifes. Using fingers, lightly mix in the 3/4-1 cup warm water a little at a time until the mixtures forms into a ball and isn't sticky anymore.
- Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
FOR THE PICADILLO FILLING:
- Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and once oil is hot, add the 1/2 cup onion, 1/2 cup bell pepper and 2 whole cloves of garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the 1 pound ground meat to the skillet, stir well and continue cooking until beef is browned and fully cooked, about another 10 minutes.**After browning meat, can drain any excess fat from the pan.
- Add the 1/2-3/4 cup sliced olives, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup sherry, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano. **Can also add the optional 1/2 cup raisins to the mixture now**Stir well so all ingredients are combined, cover pan and lower heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until mixture thickens.
- Check seasonings and add salt, if needed. Set aside and let mixture cool before filling each empanada.
ASSEMBLING THE EMPANADAS:
- Remove dough ball from refrigerator and separate into 10 equal sized balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball into a thin circle. Place a few tablespoons of the picadillo onto the center and fold half of the dough over, sealing the edges by pressing down with a fork or twisting the edges over to form a seal.
- Heat 2-3 cups oil in a large frying pot or deep fryer to 365F/185C degrees. **See recipe notes on how to bake empanadas instead of frying**
- Gently place 1-2 empanadas at a time in the hot oil (do not crowd) and cook until brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from oil and let drain on wire rack. Repeat with remaining empanadas.
- Serve warm with lots of chimichurri on the side.
Recipe Notes & Tips:
- Cooked empanadas can be frozen in a freezer proof bag or plastic container for up to 3 months. Let fully thaw before reheating in a 325F/163C oven for 5 minutes.
- These empanadas can be successfully baked! TEA reader Elaine did it and she said they turned out great. Here are her instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C degrees. Place the empanadas on a non-stick baking sheet, brush the tops with a beaten egg, and bake for 25 minutes.