Easy Beef Empanadas

Easy Beef Empanadas use a store bought dough instead of making it from scratch! Make these empanadas for easy dinners, parties or game days!

Not only are these beef empanadas super tasty, but they’re the most perfect hand held food! Perfect for watching the game or taking on a picnic or tailgate, even for holidays. Also be sure to check out our addicting Dry Rub Chicken Wings (no sauce, no mess) and these easy, portable Buffalo Chicken Meatballs!

beef empanadas on a white platter

What Are Empanadas?

An empanada is a fried turnover from the Latin America, European Philippines or Indonesian culture. The filling can consist of meat, cheese and vegetables that are tucked inside the pastry and either baked or fried.

In this case, we’re using store bought frozen pastry discs for these Easy Beef Empanadas because they’re super easy to use and totally delicious. Of course you can make your own empanada dough if you have the time, but in a pinch buying store bought really does the trick.

Do You Bake Or Fry These Beef Empanadas?

Well, I have to tell you, we did it both ways. You can brush the tops of the finished empanadas with egg wash and bake them if you don’t want to fry, but they really aren’t AS delicious in my opinion.

An Air fryer would probably do the trick too, but deep frying is really the best way to make these beef empanadas taste the best. And let’s be honest, we aren’t deep frying all the foods these days so once in a while…let’s go for it.

Also, you don’t need an actual deep fryer or a Fry Daddy, just a deep pot filled 1/3 of the way with oil and a deep fry thermometer will work perfectly. We have never owned or purchased a deep fryer for the sole purpose of frying food and I can’t say that we ever will!

Beef empanadas with cheese and beef filling

Can I Switch Up The Filling In This Empanada Recipe?

Definitely. There are SO many different ingredients that you can switch up or add to this filling!

  • Ground Turkey, Ground Pork, Shredded Chicken or Turkey: Swap out the ground beef for ground turkey, chicken or pork and follow the directions as is. If you want to use leftover chicken or turkey, make the filling as is – skipping the step of browning the beef and then stir in the chicken or turkey at the end.
  • Cheese: You can leave the cheese out (but why would you?!) or add in many different types of cheeses. We used a Mexican blend mixed with mozzarella but you can use any type of melting cheese you like. Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack would also be great choices!
  • Vegetables: Corn, black or green olives, diced tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and diced bell peppers would all be delicious in these empanadas. A typical empanada ingredient to add is raisins, so if you’re looking for a more authentic flavor, raisins would be a great addition.

beef empanadas on a platter with salt

Can You Make These Empanadas Ahead Of Time?

Oh yes, and we do it pretty often. You can make these Easy Beef Empanadas, bake them and let them cool. Freeze them in freezer bags and then pull the out when it’s party time. Bake them from frozen in a 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes and they’re ready to go!

Because who wants to be frying up food right before your guests arrive?

Looking For More Appetizer Recipes?

beef empanadas on a white platter

Easy Beef Empanadas

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x

These beef empanadas use store bought dough instead of making it from scratch! We make these tasty appetizers for parties, game days or tailgating!



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 can (15 ounce can) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package frozen empanada discs (10 rounds)
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying


  1. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the beef with the onion until cooked through. Drain any drippings from the skillet.
  2. Add the salt, oregano, cumin, pepper, beans and garlic to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in both cheeses and then turn the heat off and set the skillet aside to let the filling cool.
  3. Fill a deep, heavy bottomed pot 1/3 of the way full with oil. Heat the oil up until it reaches 350 degrees, using a dry thermometer.
  4. While the oil is heating, start making the empanadas by adding about 1/4 cup of the filling to one side of the empanada. Brush the edge with egg wash and then fold over the dough and seal with the edges of a fork. Make sure that the edges are sealed well so that the filling doesn’t leak out when you fry.
  5. Fry the empanadas for about 2-3 minutes until the dough is crispy and browned. Remove and set aside on a paper towel lined platter and immediately season with kosher salt.
  6. Repeat with the remaining empanadas. Keep finished empanadas in the oven at 300 degrees to keep warm.

Recipe Notes

Don’t overcrowd your pot while frying. Add just a few empanadas at a time, depending on how large of a pot you are using.

  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


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