Beef empanadas

Valentine Warners juicy, spiced beef pastries are a taste of Latin America, best served with ice-cold beer
By Valentine Warner
Beef empanadas
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8-10
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the filling

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded, finely chopped
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • large pinch ground cinnamon
  • large pinch ground cumin
  • large handful green olives, stones removed
  • 1 handful raisins
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • large pinch dried red chilli flakes
  • large pinch demerara sugar
  • 400 g minced beef
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch curly parsley

For the pastry

  • 400 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 80 g butter, chilled, cut into cubes
  • 200 ml warm water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Tips and Suggestions

The empanadas can be assembled and frozen up to 1 month in advance. Freeze them, unbaked, on a parchment-lined baking sheet until firm, then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag.

You can use ready-made puff pastry instead of making your own pastry.


1. For the pastry: sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water, stirring with a butter knife until the mixture comes together to form a dough (you may not need all of the water).

2. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. until it becomes smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film or grease and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, make the filling.

3. For the filling: heat the oil in a large pan and fry the peppers and onion for 3-4 minutes, or until softened and starting to brown.

4. Add the garlic, then add the spices, olives, raisins, dried oregano, chilli flakes and sugar. Fry for 1-2 minutes, then add the minced beef and fry for 6-7 minutes, or until golden-brown.

5. Set aside to cool slightly, then fold in the grated egg and chopped curly parsley.

6. Remove the pastry from the fridge, discard the cling film and roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 5mm. Cut into 10cm/4in circles.

7. Place two tablespoons of the filling mixture into the centre of each circle. Brush some of the beaten egg around the edge of one half of each pastry circle, then fold over the other side and seal by pinching the edges together. Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork.

8. Place enough vegetable oil into a large, heavy-based pan to come 5cm/2in up the sides. Heat the oil until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown in 30 seconds when dropped into it.

9. Carefully lower the empanadas into the hot oil, two at a time, and cook them on both sides until they are a dark golden-brown and cooked through. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining empanadas.

10. Allow to cool and serve with ice-cold beer.

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