Cuban empanadas are fried hand pies filled with a spiced ground beef mixture with lots of sliced green olives and served with a chimichurri sauce. Recipe for homemade dough is included!
Alright, I know this isn’t a very traditional or typical Labor Day recipe, but you just might become the hit of the BBQ party when you show up with a big ol’ tray full of these Cuban empanadas.
Let the other people bring the potato salad, you’ve got Cuban empanadas baby!!
Cuban empanadas are my favorite kind of hand pie of all time because they are fried (duh…) and they are filled with picadillo. Maybe you can find some calorie saving comfort in knowing that the picadillo is pretty healthy and can be made with lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken.
I make picadillo once a month, even when I’m not making empanadas, because I like to fill lots of stuff with it, like hollowed out potatoes, acorn squash halves, avocado halves, etc. If there are any leftovers, make some nachos with it (you’re welcome).
The picadillo can also be made a few days ahead, as the ingredients meld together and the flavor improves with time.
A side note: Most of the Cuban picadillo I’ve eaten in South Florida had raisins in it to add a touch of sweetness. My recipes omits them, but to make it the more traditional way, just add 1/2 cup raisins to the mix after the meat is browned
Use a homemade dough for better Cuban empanadas
Cuban empanadas can be made with store-bought dough discs found in the ethnic freezer section of the grocery store, but they taste so much better made with homemade dough. I always make my own, so I’ve included the recipe and wait until you see how easy to is to make!
Homemade dough is flakier and tastier than the pre-made kind. It’s really 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 homemade dough! The dough can also be used with other hand pies fillings, like fruit or veggies.
Did you enjoy this Cuban empanadas recipe? Don’t forget to leave me a comment and share it with friends and family.
- for the dough:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup solid shortening chilled and cut into small pieces
- 3/4-1 cup warm water
- for the picadillo filling:
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 1/2 cup red or green bell pepper diced
- 2 fresh garlic cloves 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 Tb Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 2-3 cups of oil for frying
- Serve with: chimichurri sauce
To make the dough:
In a bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add the 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 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.
To make the picadillo filling:
Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and once oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the ground meat to the skillet, stir well and continue cooking until beef is browned and fully cooked, about another 5 minutes.
Add the sliced olives, tomato sauce, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, cumin, and dried oregano. Stir well so all ingredients are combined, cover pan and lower heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Set aside and let cool before filling the empanadas.
Heat the oil in a large frying pot or deep fryer to 365F degrees.
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.
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. 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 oven for 5 minutes. Enjoy!
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 degrees. Place the empanadas on a non-stick baking sheet, brush the tops with a beaten egg, and bake for 25 minutes.