Apéro-time Empanadas

The appetizer that works every time!

Empanadas are the Central -and South American version of pasties, crescent-shaped, savory pastries filled with a variety of ingredients. They are usually fried, but we prefer baking them to golden perfection. They are quite versatile and can be filled with meat or even made in a delicious Caribbean-style vegetarian version simply by replacing the meat with boiled and shredded  (sweet)potato and carrots. Even better... you can make them ahead of time and freeze, so you always have something to serve unexpected guests that is (almost completely) homemade and thaws/ reheats/ bakes quickly. When we have a party or for any fancy occasion like Christmas -or New Year's eve, these beef-olive-raisin empanadas are on the menu as a favorite finger food. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients and preparation - Appetizer Empanadas

For about 40 appetizers

  • 175 gr lean minced beef - for this recipe, minced turkey or chicken can also work
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion (grated also works)
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped or minced through the garlic press
  • 1/2 TSP of cumin powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4th TSP of cayenne pepper - for a warm taste rather than spicy use just 1/8th of a teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup of green olives with red pimentos finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP of golden raisins finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 pre-made pie crusts (brisée)
  • 1 egg beaten well
  • you will need:
    • a fork
    • an egg wash brush
    • a circular dough/ cookie cutter of about 8cm (3 inches) in diameter
    • baking sheet and baking paper (usually included with store bought pastry dough)
  • Conversion chart



  • FIRST remove dough from the fridge so that it can reach room temperature (or as instructed on the package)
  • sautée onion to glassy
  • stir in garlic and sautée for 1 minute more
  • stir in the beef and cook through, breaking the beef apart
  • if there is too much fat, please drain at this point
  • return beef to the skillet (keep it cooking)
    • stir in cumin
    • stir in cayenne pepper
  • stir in for a minute or so
  • add olives, raisins and tomato sauce
  • cook to bubbly and set aside to cool
  • at this point taste if it needs salt (I never add salt)


  • Roll out the dough a little (not too thin)
  • With a round form/cookie cutter, punch circles with a diameter of about 8cm (3 inches - make a ball of the rest of the dough and roll it out again until there is little or no dough left)
  • add 1 tsp or so of filling in the heart of each round piece of dough
  • moisten the edge with either water or egg wash - this so when you fold the dough over, it will stick
  • fold over to form a crescent and seal by pressing the tines of the fork all the way 'round the semi-circle
  • spread them out on baking paper on a baking sheet
  • with a fork prick 4 to 8 holes in the middle of each half moon to let the steam escape
  • brush beaten egg over each empanada
  • Bake at 190C (375F) for about 20 minutes (ovens differ so set your timer to 15 minutes to check)
  • bake until the empanadas are golden brown and crispy
  • before they're baked
    • after the empanadas are formed (before egg wash), carefully place them on baking paper on a baking tray (flat) and put them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
    • then put them in the freezer for 2 hours
    • pack them individually in plastic wrap and then in a freezer bag for up to 3 months
  • after they are baked
    • they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 7 days
    • or keep them individually packed in a freezer bag for 1 month or so (they get drier)
  • serve: suggestions beneath the pictures - keep scrolling
click image to enlarge
Serving Suggestions
  • Serve with any or all of the following dips: sour cream, salsa, 3/4 salsa to 1/4 sour cream ratio and/ or guacamole.
  • with a cocktail or a cold beer



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