Chile and Beef Empanadas

Empanadas a la Criolla


Serves 8 (3 empanadas per person)

These small pastries, whose origin is probably Middle Eastern, have a delicate crust with a wonderful filling of contrasting flavors. Empanadas are very popular throughout South America as street food and are sold in bars and sandwich shops as well, filled with a variety of ingredients.

Chef Notes
The empanadas can be made early in the day and rewarmed before serving. They freeze well and can be made several days in advance. Other pastry recipes in this chapter work well with the filling.


  • 2 cups [480 mL] flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup [240 mL] vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup [60 mL] cold water


  • 8 ounces [225 g] lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons [30 mL] olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon [15 mL] comino (ground cumin)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons [30 mL] parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons [30 mL] cilantro, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, fresh or canned, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup [120 mL] raisins
  • 12 large pimiento-stuffed olives, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup [240 mL] salsa, for service

Advance Preparation

1. All advance preparation may be found in the ingredient list.

Preparation of the Pastry

2. Combine the flour, salt, and vegetable shortening in a food processor and process until the mix resembles coarse meal. Or use a bowl and a pastry blender.

3. Add the cold water, a little at a time, until the dough reaches a smooth, slightly sticky consistency. Wrap in plastic Rim and refrigerate. (The dough can be made 1 day in advance.)

Preparation of the Filling

4. Sauté the ground beef in the oil, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook until well done.

5. Add the onion, garlic, chiles, comino, and salt and pepper and continue to cook over medium heat until the onions soften.

6. Add the parsley, cilantro, tomatoes, and raisins and cook un- til almost no liquid remains. The mixture will be quite dry. Set aside and allow to cool. (The Riling can be made 1 day in advance.)

Preparation of the Empanadas

7. Roll out the dough, about Vs inch [3 mm] thick, roughly 16 X 20 inches [40 X 50 cm], on a lightly floured surface and cut into twenty-four 3-inch [8-cm] circles.

8. Place an olive half on each round, then a teaspoonful of the Riling in the center. Fold the pastry over to form a half- circle and seal the edges of the pastry with the tines of a fork.

Cooking Method

9. Arrange the empanadas on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees F [190 degrees C] for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned.


10. Serve 3 empanadas per person, warm. Two tablespoons [30 mL] of salsa may be served on the side.

  • from:
  • The Appetizer Atlas
  • A World of Small Bites
  • by Arthur L. Meyer and Jon M. Vann
  • Wiley 2003
  • Cloth; 624 pages; $45.00
  • ISBN: 0-471-41102-7
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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Page created 2003. Modified March 2007

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