Skip to main content

Beef Empanada


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
80 ounces ground beef chuck, preferably 70/30
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins 
½ cup chopped green Spanish olives with pimentos (from about 16 large olives)
Freshly ground pepper
Store-bought empanada shells (muy hojaldrosa style)
Canola oil, for frying



Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the scallions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until the beef is broken up and browned.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring to coat the other ingredients with the paste, for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the oregano, paprika, cumin, and cinnamon and cook just until the meat is thoroughly cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the raisins and olives. Transfer the meat to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold and set, preferably overnight. (You want the oils and juices to coagulate so that the filling can easily be scooped and held in the center of the empanadas)

When ready to fry and serve the empanadas, lightly flour your work surface. Place a rounded tablespoonful of filling in center of 1 circle of empanada dough. Brush the edges of with water, fold the circle in half, and seal using the back side of a fork. Place on a baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Pour oil into a wide, deep, heavy-bottomed skilled and heat over low heat to a temperature of 350˚F. Add the empanadas, a few at a time, and cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the empanadas to the paper-towel-lined plate to drain, let the oil return to 350˚F, and repeat until all the empanadas have been fried and drained. Serve hot.

Makes 10 empanadas, enough to serve 4 to 6.