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Argentinian Empanadas

The spicy and flavorful beef empanada recipe of my Argentinian mother, along with a pinto bean vegetarian option created by her granddaughter. 
Servings 24 empanadas (6-8 servings)


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lbs ground beef 90% lean (use slightly less oil and water if 80%)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2-1 cup water (as needed to prevent sticking)
  • 1/3 cup raisins (option to chop)
  • 1/3 cup pitted halved green olives
  • 2 Tbsp diced jalapenos ("sweet pickled" if possible)
  • 1 egg beaten for the egg-wash of the dough before baking

Vegetarian Version - replace beef with pinto (or other) beans

  • 1 lbs dried pinto beans or 2 cans cooked beans


  • In a large fry pan, heat the oil and saute the chopped onion and red pepper.
  • Mix in the ground spices, oregano, salt and sugar. Add 1/2-1 cup water to maintain moisture / prevent sticking.
  • Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly.
  • Add the chopped raisins, halved olives and diced pickled jalapenos. Simmer for 2-4 more minutes. Add water if needed to keep moist, or simmer longer if too watery. You want some loose liquid but not big soupy puddles.
  • Transfer the filling to a different container and cool in the refrigerator about 30 minutes while you prep the dough.
  • Follow the assembly instructions on the Goya Discos packaging or in this homemade dough recipe I wrote for Breadtopia.
  • Preheat your oven to 375F while you assemble 12 of the empanadas on a greased baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg for a shiny crust.
  • Bake for 25 minutes while you assemble the final 12 empanadas, repeating the egg wash and 25 minute bake. 
    If you don't have two baking sheets, place the second batch of empanadas on a sheet of parchment paper and carefully transfer it to your baking sheet after the first batch is cooked.
  • Cool the empanadas on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Store in the refrigerator in a closed container. Pop them in the microwave or toaster oven to reheat, or enjoy cold.