Beef & Cheese Empanada Recipe (Baked Or Fried)


Mom would periodically pull out an empanada recipe from her collection of recipes for delectable fried meals when my best friend and I were kids. To be clear, we didn’t utilize homemade Goya wrappers, à la Top Chef. They came out wonderfully crispy, crunchy, and full of oozing cheese-filled meat and spices every time I made them.

Since the empanada is a Hotpocket’s cooler cousin, I figured we could all need a little more shameless gooey cheese and meat time in our lives now and then.

I had no notion that the bakers and fryers of empanadas had their splinter groups. Great baked empanada recipes can be found with a simple search on the internet. Fried empanada recipes are also quite good.

All of these dishes, however, differ slightly from one another. A fried and a baked empanada recipe are very different. Exactly what do you mean by “filling?” The flavors? The dough?! Is there something I’m missing? Is it possible that I had no idea there was a cultural enclave in the area? Whether empanadas should be fried or baked may vary by location (if you know, please share your knowledge in the comments! ), which is why I chose to make a recipe that combines the two methods to eliminate any ambiguity and preserve the best of both worlds: fried and baked.

For all of you non-Spanish speakers out there, I can confirm that this recipe for beef empanadas is equally delicious, baked, or fried, and you don’t have to alter any of the ingredients.

Let’s get started!


  • 2 oz. of lard( melted)
  • 3 cups of flour (plus more as needed for kneading and rolling out the dough)
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 3 tbsp. of neutral oil (plus extra for baking or frying)
  • 1½ lb. of ground beef
  • 1 red onion (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ¼ cup of minced Spanish olives
  • 2 red holland chili peppers (minced, optional)
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes (minced)
  • 2 tsp. of cumin
  • ½ tsp. of paprika
  • ¼ tsp. of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. of annatto powder (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. of chili de árbol (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. of sugar
  • ½ tsp. of salt
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 3 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 8 oz. of cheese (225g, we used cheddar, but any good melting cheese can work)


  1. Make the dough for the empanadas first. The boiling water, melted lard or shortening, and flour should be mixed in a large bowl. Make a smooth ball of dough by kneading it with your hands until it comes together (depending on the humidity in your kitchen). Remove the dough from the refrigerator for an hour.
  2. Make the filling next. Using a medium-sized frying pan, heat the oil to medium-high heat. After it’s been cooked thoroughly, ground beef shouldn’t be pink in the middle. Add the onion, garlic, and sauté until they’re soft and transparent. Add the Spanish olives, chili peppers, sun-dried tomato, spices, sugar, and salt to the mixture. Before serving, let the stew boil for a few more minutes.
  3. Turn on the heat and add the water. Mix thoroughly to dissolve the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until the water evaporates, and your filling gets thicker. Before serving, turn off the heat and allow the pan cool fully on a rack.
  4. Next, have your funds ready! Before serving, turn off the heat and allow the pan cool fully on a rack. Cut out as many circles as you can with a round cookie cutter (or cup/bowl) of your choice. Remove the leftover dough from the peel and store it in the refrigerator.
  5. Spoon filling into the center of the dough for each empanada and top with a large amount of cheese, making sure the dough has enough margin around the edge to be folded over and sealed. You can also make the folding process easier by stretching the dough into an oval shape and putting the filling on one half of the dough. Using a fork or a classic twisting technique, crimp the edges once they have been folded in half. It’s (YouTube is) a great resource. Repeat the process of re-rolling and cutting all of the dough rounds until there is no more dough left to deal with.
  6. 400 degrees is the ideal temperature for baking empanadas. Bake the empanadas for 10-15 minutes before brushing them with oil. The empanadas should be fried in a small, deep pot with enough oil for a couple of empanadas. For batches of 2-3 empanadas, you need to heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain them on a wire rack or dish lined with a paper towel after they’re done cooking.
  7. You may eat these empanadas on their own or with a side of salad.
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