These savory hand pies have become a favorite around our table. Puerto Rican empanadas are so delicious and perfect for dinner or a snack.
These tasty little snacks are also known as baked empanadas, Puerto Rican Empanadillas and Pastelillos de Carne. They a flavorful hand pie recipe with ground beef and potato filling that is just bursting with flavor!
You can make this easy recipe with homemade dough or use frozen Goya discos.
Our family loves finding Puerto Rican pastelillos de carne in their lunch box or as an after school treat.
Puerto Rican Appetizers
These Puerto Rican appetizers will also be the hit of your next party. Empanadillas are the perfect party appetizer for a crowd. Follow your next course with Picanha Steak and we’ve got a party!
Nothing makes me more excited than trying different cultural foods. I love the chance to experience what people from other countries eat on a daily basis.
There are certain dishes common to different cultures across the globe. Dishes that every country seems to have its own version of. One of those dishes is this Spanish beef empanadas recipe.
What is an Empanada?
An empanada is basically a savory pie that’s perfectly hand-sized. You cook ground meat down with spices, then pack it into a pastry shell made from homemade empanada dough. You can save some time by using pre-made Goya empanadas dough.
Any meat pie recipe can be baked or fried, so how you prepare them is up to your preference! Empanadas are not too different from a Polish pierogi recipe.
Pierogies are generally made with potatoes and cheese and are cooked differently from these Puerto Rican empanadas.
Empanada filling varies across cultures, but the basic concept is the same. The one thing all homemade meat pies recipes have in common is that they are all delicious!
If you love empanadas, you must try our Chicken Empanada Recipe! It is out of this world with flavor!
Another favorite type of meat pie you might like to try is our Individual Guinness Beef Pot Pies. These homemade meat pies feature a rich Guinness beef stew topped with a flaky puff pastry crust.
How to Make Empanada Dough
This empanada dough recipe works the same as pie crust, resulting in flaky and delicious meat pies. For this baked empanada recipe, I made my own empanada dough.
Homemade dough is enjoyable to make and so delicious! Plus, as far as empanada dough goes, it’s super easy to make.
- Combine 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour and 1 stick of chilled butter cut into small pieces. Then add 1 egg, ¼ cup cold water, and a pinch of salt to a food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Pour the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a ball with your hands. The egg helps to hold the mixture together.
- Wrap the plastic around the ball of dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Goya Discos for empanada dough
To make life easier, you can purchase ready-made empanada dough such as Goya Discos. They are sold in the frozen food section at your supermarket.
Another easy option that works well is using a pre-made refrigerated pie dough. Any of these methods work well because the filling is packed with so much flavor.
Rolling Dough for Puerto Rican Empanadas
- Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and begin to roll the dough out with a rolling pin. Try to get the dough as thin as possible.
- Next, take a small plate or bowl about 5-6 inches around and place it on the dough. Use a knife to cut the dough, using the bowl as a guide. Carefully pick up the discs of dough and set them aside.
- Ball up the extra dough and roll it out again for another round of discs. Repeat this until all of the dough is used up.
- This process should yield 10 to 12 discs.
How to Make Empanadas
Making the Empanada Filling:
You can make the empanada filling while the dough chills in the fridge. Empanada filling uses the following ingredients:
- 1 pound ground beef (we recommend Certified Angus Beef® brand)
- 1 medium potato (parboiled*, peeled, and diced small)
- 1/4 cup Goya Sofrito* plus 2 additional tablespoons
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 packet Goya Sazón con Azafran*
- 20 Spanish olives, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded
How to Parboil Potatoes:
Parboil, meaning to partly cook food by boiling, is a technique used to soften foods (like potatoes) before cooking with them.
- Place your potatoes in a pot and cover them with cold water.
- Add a pinch of salt, cover the pot with a lid, and turn the stove on high heat.
- Once the water starts to boil, reduce the heat slightly to keep it from boiling over. Continue boiling for approximately 5-10 minutes. Shorter if you diced the potatoes and longer if you left them whole.
- Test your potatoes with a fork, if it goes in with only a little resistance, you’re done.
- Remove the boiled potatoes from the heat and drain your pot. Let the potatoes cool a little. And that’s it, your potatoes are now parboiled.
What is Sofrito?
Sofrito is a Puerto Rican cooking base consisting of tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, and spices. You can easily find it in the international aisle of most grocery stores.
What is Sazon Seasoning?
Sazón means “seasoning” in Spanish. It is usually a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic or garlic powder, coriander, and cumin.
Sazón con Azafran, or Sazón with Saffron, is a seasoning packet sold in an orange and yellow box by the Goya brand. You can easily find it in the international aisle.
Once you have your recipe for baked empanadas ingredients, follow these instructions to make the filling.
Baked Empanadas Filling:
- Parboil the potato for 7 to 10 minutes. After that, it should be easy to peel and dice into small pieces.
- Heat a large skillet to medium and add ground beef.
- Cook the beef completely, breaking it up as it cooks*. Drain any excess grease after it has fully cooked.
- Add the diced potato, Goya sofrito, and a ¼ cup of water.
- Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. At this point, stir in the can of tomato sauce, one Goya Sazón con Azafran seasoning packet, and another ¼ cup water. Stir and cook another 5 minutes.
- The final step is to add 20 chopped Spanish olives to the pan and stir!
- Adding a little water to the pan as the beef cooks, makes it easier to break up into small pieces.
- While you are making the filling, preheat your oven to 350°F to prepare the meat pies for baking.
Assembling your Puerto Rican Baked Empanadas
It’s time to assemble your baked empanada recipe! Follow these instructions to add the filling to the empanada dough and form the pastries:
- Place the pastry rounds on a clean surface and spoon 2 heaping Tbsp. or so of the empanada filling into each round.
- Top with a sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese. Be careful not to over-stuff the rounds, or they will break apart as they cook.
- Brush the edges of each pastry with a little bit of water using a finger. This will help hold the dough together.
- Fold one side over the other and press the edges together with your fingers. Make sure the edges are sealed tightly.
- Then crimp them together with your fingers or by pressing a fork evenly along the edge until sealed. Repeat with each empanada.
Baking Puerto Rican Beef Empanadas
Once your empanadas are ready to be baked, you’re in for a treat. The process doesn’t take long and is well worth the result!
- Spray a baking sheet(s) with cooking spray and place the meat pies on it. You may need two baking sheets or, alternatively, you can bake them in two batches.
- Pop the pan(s) into an oven that has been preheated to 350°F.
- Bake the empanadas for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is nice and golden.
Can you freeze empanadas?
Yes! To freeze the pastelillos, place them next to each other on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Be careful they aren’t touching or they’ll wind up sticking together!
Let them freeze that way, then transfer them to a freezer bag or other freezer-safe container. We recommend bags so they don’t get any freezer burn.
How to reheat empanadas
You can bake them straight out of the freezer, but be sure to add approximately 5 minutes to the cooking time.
Once the easy meat pie recipe is finished, remove the pan(s) from the oven and serve immediately!
The meat is savory, the dough is a little sweet, and the olives provide a salty kick. You will LOVE these meat pies!
What to Serve with Puerto Rican Meat Pies
We recommend trying a dipping sauce with these beef empanadas! An avocado crema or even a Mexican crema is quite nice with this dish. Our all-time favorite side dish is Elote Recipe (Elotes Mexicanos).
You could even try serving them with Romesco Sauce, which is a smoky Spanish sauce that pairs well with meat.
If you’re enjoying these baked empanadas as the main course, try pairing them with our favorite rice, Portuguese Rice. It is so easy to prepare and truly the best rice!
Try more of our Spanish recipes:
These easy family dinner ideas have an international flair we think you’ll love:
- Mexican Lasagna with Corn Tortillas
- Authentic Carne Asada Recipe
- Slow Cooker Carne Picada
- Chilaquiles Rojos Mexican Skillet
- Instant Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup
And don’t forget dessert! These easy dessert recipes with few ingredients pair perfectly with any one of the above recipes.
- Carlota de Limon (Charlotte Russe Dessert)
- Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
- Guava Coconut Cookies
Baked Puerto Rican Meat Pies🖨 Print 📌 Pin 📝 Comment
Dough (or use 12 Goya Discos)
- 2 1/2 cups All purpose flour (plus more for sprinkling)
- 1 stick butter
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pound ground beef ((we recommend Certified Angus Beef® brand))
- 1 medium potato ((parboiled, peeled, and diced small))
- 1/4 cup Goya Sofrito (plus 2 additional Tablespoons)
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 packet Goya Sazón con Azafran
- 20 Spanish olives (roughly chopped)
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese (shredded)
Making Empanada Dough
- Add 2 ½ cups AP flour, 1 stick of cold butter cut into small pieces, 1 egg, ¼ cup cold water, and a pinch of salt to a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Pour dough mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form mixture into a ball with your hands. Wrap the ball of dough tightly in the plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove dough from the fridge. Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface. Roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin as thin as possible. Place a 5-6 inch round bowl or plate onto the dough. Run a knife along the edges of the bowl until you have cut a round disc. Remove the dough round and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the dough. The dough will need to be formed into a ball and rolled out a few more times to cut the rest of the dough rounds. Repeat until all the dough has been cut into rounds.
Making Empanada Filling
- Parboil a medium potato for 7 to 10 minutes, then peel and dice into small pieces.
- Mince 20 Spanish olives.
- Heat a large skillet to medium and add ground beef. Cook completely and chop it into pieces as it cooks. Drain any excess grease when finished cooking. Add the potato, sofrito, and ¼ cup water to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent the potatoes from sticking. Add tomato sauce, 1 Sazon con Azafron seasoning packet, ¼ cup water, and a pinch of salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Toss the olives into the pan and stir.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the pastry rounds onto a clean surface. Spoon 2 Tbsp. or so of the meat filling into a pastry round. Top it with a sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese. Rub the edges of the pastry round with a little bit of water. Pull one side of the pastry over the other and press the edges together with your fingers. Seal the edges tightly and crimp them together with your fingers or a fork. Try not to over-stuff the pastry rounds or they will break as they cook. Repeat with the remaining pastry rounds.
- Spray a baking sheet(s) with cooking spray. Place half of the empanadas on each pan. Place the pan(s) in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. You can use two separate pans or bake them in two separate batches.
- Remove the pan(s) from the oven when the empanadas are finished baking and serve immediately.
- You can substitute making dough for frozen Goya pastry rounds. Make sure to defrost for at least 30 minutes before you begin cooking.
- Goya Sofrito and Sazón con Azafran can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores. Sofrito is a Puerto Rican cooking base consisting of tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, and spices, while Sazón con Azafran means “seasoning with saffron”, and it’s a seasoning packet using salt, pepper, garlic or garlic powder, coriander, cumin, and other seasonings.
- We recommend using Certified Angus Beef ® brand beef for the ground beef filling.
- Parboil your potatoes for an easy experience peeling and chopping them. They will also cook more quickly in the filling, costing you less time overall. If you’re not sure how to parboil a potato, it’s easy to do. Parboil, meaning to partly cook food by boiling, is a technique used to soften foods (like potatoes) before cooking with them. You can also parboil foods with skins like potatoes, for example, to easily peel them. In this case, we parboil potatoes to partially cook them in addition to making them easier to peel and cut.
Photo Credit: Christine Rooney
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