Cheesy Beef Empanadas

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Add'l Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins

We start with a tender, flaky homemade empanada dough and wrap it around a hearty mixture of ground beef and cheese and bake them till golden perfection. Let me show you how to make the best Cheesy Beef Empanadas you’ve ever tasted!

Stack of crispy ground beef empanadas.

An Easy Beef Empanadas Recipe

Now that I’ve shared my homemade empanada dough recipe with you, it’s time to fill up those wrappers! You can fill empanadas with anything from chicken to shellfish, but today is all about Cheesy Beef Empanadas.

These flaky, golden-brown pastries are packed with melted Colby Jack cheese and juicy ground beef – each crispy bite is absolutely divine. Every Spanish family makes them a little differently, but this is Jorge’s favorite way. Sometimes I do add olives to mine, but he prefers the classic cheese and beef combination!

Besides the fact that they’re delicious, I love these empanadas because they’re so versatile. You can serve them as an appetizer, a pre-dinner snack, dinner itself, etc. I won’t judge if you decide that they’re good for breakfast too, so long as you get in on this cheesy action!

Ingredients for beef empanadas.

Recipe Ingredients

The ingredients for these homemade beef empanadas are pretty standard, especially if you decide to make your own dough. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Olive Oil: for cooking the onion and ground beef; canola oil will also work.
  • Onion: use 1 small white onion, diced.
  • Jalapeño: just 1, deseeded and diced. If you’re not a fan of heat, feel free to leave this out.
  • Garlic Cloves: I used 2 cloves, minced.
  • Ground Beef: feel free to reduce the fat content by using extra lean ground beef.
  • Seasonings: I used salt, ground black pepper, cumin powder, and ground oregano.
  • Empanada Wrappers*: 12-15 of them (6-inch round).
  • Colby Jack Cheese: you’ll need about 8 oz, freshly grated.
  • Egg: to brush on the empanada wrappers before baking.
  • Water: for the egg wash.

*You can make homemade empanada dough or use store bought uncooked pie crust for this, simply cut the pieces into 6-inch round pieces and adjust the baking time to 20-25 minutes or until light and golden on top.

Bowl filled with beef empanadas.

How to Make Cheesy Beef Empanadas

Prepping these beef empanadas won’t take you more than 10 minutes. There’s just 3 easy steps that go into cooking the seasoned ground beef filling:

Prep Work: Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, a silicone baking mat or spray with non-stick spray.

Cook Onion, Jalapeño & Garlic: Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion once hot. Cook, stirring often, until the onion becomes translucent. Then add the jalapeño and cook for another three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, or until it becomes fragrant.

Sauteed onions and garlic.

Cook Ground Beef: Add the beef and sprinkle in the salt, pepper, cumin and oregano and stir to combine. Cook, breaking up the beef and stirring often, until the beef turns a dark brown color and has cooked through. Drain off the rendered fat, set the pan aside and let it cool for 10 minutes.

How to Fill and Press the Edges

Once you have the filling ready, you can start to fill and fold the empanada wrappers. I actually look forward to this part because I think it’s super fun, but maybe that’s just me. 😉

Fill the Empanada Wrappers: Once cooled, add a spoonful of it to the center of an empanada wrapper and add a tablespoon of cheese on top.

Empanada wrapper with ground beef and cheese.

Pinch the Edges of the Dough: Fold it in half, pinch the edges around the border and twist the edges into a classic empanada border or use a fork or empanada press to press in the edges to seal.

Crimped empanada wrapper.

Arrange on Baking Trays: Add empanadas to the two baking trays, leaving room for spreading. Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl and brush it over the empanadas.

Uncooked empanadas on a tray.

Bake Empanadas: Bake empanadas for 25 to 27 minutes or until light and golden on the top. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Baked empanadas on a tray.

Tips for Success

Not too difficult, right? Here are some tips to get you even more prepared to make the perfect beef empanadas:

  • Don’t Skip the Egg Wash: this is what gives the empanadas their golden-brown, crispy exterior.
  • Empanada Dough Substitutes: if you don’t want to use store bought or homemade dough, you can also use uncooked pie crust, puff pastry, or even canned biscuits in a pinch.
  • Use Up Leftover Beef: you don’t have to stick to ground beef if you’ve got some leftover pot roast or something, sitting in the fridge. We stuff all different kinds of leftover meats in empanadas!
  • Add in Vegetables: corn and chopped carrots add some extra nutrition and texture to these yummy empanadas.
Bucket of beef empanadas.

What Goes with Cheesy Beef Empanadas?

While golden empanadas are delicious all on their own or as an appetizer, you may want to serve them with other sides to create a full meal:

  • Arroz Con Gandules: also known as Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas is our favorite side dish to serve with empanadas if we are making a meal out of them!
  • Corn: Treat yourself to some buttery grilled corn on the cob!
  • Salad: A big green salad is a good addition to lighten up this meal.
  • Sweet Plantains: As everyone knows, no meal is complete without some sweet Fried Plantains!
Crispy golden brown beef empanadas.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

These cheesy beef empanadas can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container or in a large Ziploc bag for up to 1 week. When you want to eat them again, just put them in the oven again for a few minutes until they reach the desired temperature.

Can You Freeze Empanadas?

You can definitely freeze empanadas. After you’ve filled them and pressed the edges of the dough together, place them on a baking tray and freeze them for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Then you can store them in a freezer bag or an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Pile of cheesy beef empanadas.

Additional Add-Ins:

Depending on your families’ background and history, there are many different common additions added to the filling of beef empanadas. You can feel free to add any of them to your beef empanadas!

I love adding green olives to mine like so many of our Puerto Rican friends do, but Jorge’s Puerto Rican family never added olives! There are no wrong choices, add what you like to yours. Here are a few popular options:

  • Salty: green olives, pimentos, and capers
  • Vegetables: potatoes, celery, peas, carrots and even tomato paste
  • Spicy: fresh or pickled jalapeños
  • Herbs: marjoram, oregano and thyme
Yield: 12-15 empanadas

Cheesy Beef Empanadas

Stack of crispy ground beef empanadas.

If you're wondering what to have for dinner tonight, try these Cheesy Beef Empanadas! Made with a homemade pastry dough and filled with juicy ground beef, they're totally crispy and delicious.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and diced (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried, ground oregano
  • 12-15 (6-inch round) empanada wrappers*
  • 8 oz Colby jack cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, a silicone baking mat or spray with non-stick spray.

2. Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion once hot. Cook, stirring often, until the onion becomes translucent. Then add the jalapeño and cook for another three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, or until it becomes fragrant.

3. Add the beef and sprinkle in the salt, pepper, cumin and oregano and stir to combine.

4. Cook, breaking up the beef and stirring often, until the beef turns a dark brown color and has cooked through. Drain off the rendered fat, set the pan aside and let it cool for 10 minutes.

5. Once cooled, add a spoonful of it to the center of an empanada wrapper and add a tablespoon of cheese on top.

Six unbaked empanadas on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

7. Fold it in half, pinch the edges around the border and twist the edges into a classic empanada border or use a fork to press in the edges to seal.

Overhead image of 6 baked empanadas on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

8. Add empanadas to the two baking trays, leaving room for spreading. Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl and brush it over the empanadas.

9. Bake empanadas for 25 to 27 minutes or until light and golden on the top. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

*You can make homemade homemade empanada dough or use store bought uncooked pie crust for this, simply cut the pieces into 6-inch round pieces and adjust the baking time to 20-25 minutes or until light and golden on top.

Storage Options: these empanadas can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container or a in large Ziploc bag for up to 1 week. To reheat, I like to heat them in an air fryer or oven to crisp the outside again!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 206Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 331mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 15g

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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