Empanadas are believed to have originated in Spain or Portugal. The word empanada comes from the word "empanar" which means to coat with bread or pastry. So, an empanada is a bread or pastry that surrounds some kind of delicious filling. Empanadas were brought to South America by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. Just about every country in South America, as well as many regions within each country have their own version of the empanada. This recipe is from my friend Pablo's aunt Liliana, who is from Rosario, Argentina. It is a classic empanada with a meat picadillo. Personally, it's my fave. These empanadas make a great starter, or they can be served as the main course. They are wonderful with a nice Argentinean red wine, like a malbec, or bring out the sangria on a hot summer day.

This recipe is for about 4 dozen, or 48 empanadas. That sounds like a lot, but they go fast, and they are real crowd pleasers for gatherings.

2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp cumin
2-3 tbsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup sugar
hard boiled eggs cut into eighths, green olives,
if you like, raisins optional
48 tapas (discs of dough) I like "La Saltena" brand, sold in the freezer section of Latin American specialty grocers. I suggest "para freir" for frying. You can also get "para hornear" to bake, but in my opinion the result is inferior.
Vegetable oil for frying, or lard if you dare

In a large skillet heat the extra virgin olive oil until super hot. Add the diced onions, and stir frequently until they become slightly golden. Add this point add the ground beef, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon.

Add the salt, pepper, and cumin, mix together well, then add the paprika a bit at a time. The mixture will start to  take on a reddish color. It should be red, but not too dark.

Continue cooking and stirring the mixture for appoximately 10-15 minutes longer. Next, add the sugar, and stir for another 5 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.

At this point, let the mixture cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate it for about 12 hours. It is best to make the filling the day before you are planning to use it.

If you are using the frozen tapas or discs of empanada dough, let them thaw at room temperature for about an hour before you intend to use them. Put about a tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center of each disc, I always put a green olive at the end. Traditionally, you would also add the wedge of hard boiled eggs, and raisins are optional. I omit them. Press the dough closed all the way around, then fold the dough over with your fingers and crimp closed. You can also use a fork to seal the empanada shut, but you can do just fine by hand, once you have a system down.

When you are ready to cook the empanadas, heat your oil to a high heat (around 375 degrees) in a fryer. Drop the empanadas in, and  let cook for about 3-4 minutes, until they look a nice golden color. Be sure to turn them over during the cooking process. When done, set them on a paper towel lined baking dish to absorb any excess oil until ready to serve. They are best served and eaten immediately. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!


  1. Growing up my best friend was Portuguese and this was a snack we could always count on when home from school. Oh boy they were good. I will have to give your recipe a try and see if this is something I can create.

  2. Empanadas are so good, my favorite one are with pork and melted white cheese, so delicious.


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