Argentinian beef empanadas

Are you looking for something delicious, that will please the entire family and will keep your kids entertained for a while? I’ve got you covered: make these Argentinian beef empanadas. They taste amazingly good and you and your kids will spend some time in the kitchen folding them, ideal for these days of confinement… They freeze very well too so now is a great time to prepare a big batch and have them ready in the freezer for any last-minute meal.

I got this recipe from my Argentinian friend Santi. We had his empanadas many times at his house and always loved them so much that I decided to ask him how he makes them and venture to the unknown and intimidating world of the empanadas.

View from above of eight beef empanadas on a chalkboard tray

The filling

For the filling I use ground beef, onion, red bell pepper, green olives, hard boiled egg and a mix of spices that has paprika, cumin, oregano and pepper. I have to admit that I do not make it from scratch, instead I buy a premade pack of “empanada seasoning” in my local Argentinian supermarket. Here in Miami we’re lucky that there is a big Latin American community so we have many specialty stores that carry many products from different Latin American countries. But I you can’t find an empanada seasoning spice blend, just use the mentioned spices in a proportion that tastes good to you.

close up of the inside of a beef empanada cut in half

The dough (tapas)

As for the dough (called tapas in Argentina) I buy it frozen at the Argentinian food market. Here we can find them in our regular supermarket as well, but Santi told me I should buy a particular brand (La Saltena criollas) that I can only find in that specialty store. And thank God he told me which ones to buy! They have a zillion types of tapas: criollas, hojaldradas, to bake, to fry… ; and another zillion brands…

So far, I have tried the criollas and the hojaldradas and I like them both. The criollas are more a pie-dough type of tapa, and the hojaldradas are a puff pastry style dough and are more flaky.

side view of Argentinian beef empanadas on a chalkboard tray

Repulgue

Repulgar or how to seal an empanada. A word I had never heard before and has made it to my top 10 favorite words ever! So yeah, there is a particular way to seal empanadas, and it’s not intuitive… It’s not difficult either but it requires a bit of practice. At the beginning I used to seal my empanadas by pinching the edges with a fork, it was easy and it delivered. But then one day I was at my friend’s Santi and Manuela and Julia, the person who helps them at home, was doing the proper repulgue so I asked her to show me. I did pay attention and the following time I made empanadas at home I tried it myself. With what I remembered from Julia and a bit of help from YouTube I managed to get my first real repulgue! It takes a bit of practice, but by the time you’re on your 20th empanada you’re a pro. I can proudly say that my Argentinian friends are impressed with my repulgue 😊.

close up from above of a beef empanada

To do a repulgue first fold the empanada in half to get a half moon shape and press firmly the edges of the dough to seal it. If your dough does not stick together, lightly dampen the edges with a wet finger and press. It is important that the empanada is securely sealed otherwise it will leak when cooking. Then, take one corner of the empanada and think of a triangle. Fold the outer tip of the triangle over itself and press the dough firmly. Form a second triangle right next to the first with the tip of dough that has been left exposed, and continue all around the edge. Fold the last triangle in to give it a nice round shape. As it is a bit complicated to explain in writing, I leave you this YouTube video that will help you with the technique. Nevertheless, if you don’t feel like going there, just seal them with the fork and you will be fine (just don’t tell your Argentinian friends 😉).

six beef empanadas from above on a black chalk tray

When you have your Argentinian beef empanadas closed, they just need to be brushed on top with some egg and baked for 15 min or until they are golden. If you plan to freeze the empanadas, make sure you bake them before freezing otherwise they will stick to each other in the freezer and they will break if you try to separate them (I know from experience, I learnt the hard way…).

Making empanadas takes a bit of time, but it is totally worth it because 1) they are delicious and 2) they are a great backup meal to have handy in the freezer.

So now that you might have some time, get into the kitchen and make some Argentinian beef empanadas!  

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six beef empanadas from above on a black chalk tray

Argentinian beef empanadas

  • Author: Carla
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 40 empanadas 1x
  • Cuisine: Argentinian

Description

These Argentinian beef empanadas are flavorful, moist and an amazing crowd pleaser. Engage the kids to help fold them and you’ll have a great freezing meal.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 40 frozen empanada dough tapas
  • 1 medium-large onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 ½  lb ground beef
  • 5 ½ oz green olives (no pits)
  • 2 ½ tbsp empanada seasoning*
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 egg to brush
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Remove empanada dough tapas from the freezer and let defrost at room temperature.
  2. Finely chop the onion and red pepper and sauté at medium heat until soft, about 5 min.
  3. Add the ground beef and season with salt, pepper and spice mix. Cook until done, about 5-10 min.
  4. Chop olives and hard boiled eggs and add to the meat.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  6. Fill the empanada and close it using the repulgue technique or just by pinching and sealing the edges with a fork. This will be the most labor intense part of the process (get some help if you can 😉).
  7. Place the closed empanadas in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Brush the empanadas with a beaten egg.
  9. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 min or until golden on the top.
  10. Eat or freeze.

Notes

  • The empanada seasoning is a spice mix of paprika, cumin, oregano and pepper. If you can’t find it at a specialty store, make your own blend using these spices. You may need to try the proportions but just taste as you add them to the meat. I would probably start a teaspoon of cumin, paprika and oregano and a pinch of pepper and then scale up from there.
  • For the repulgue technique on how to close the empanadas you can watch this video, or simply seal them with a fork.
  • Empanadas freeze amazingly well, just bake them before freezing otherwise they would stick to each other in the freezer.

Keywords: Argentinian, beef empanadas



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