Argentinian-Style Empanadas

published Feb 26, 2024
Empanadas Recipe (Argentinian-Style)

Take a trip to Buenos Aires with one bite of these beefy empanadas.



Prep2 hours 30 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 50 minutes

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overhead shot of cooked empanadas on a plate, with one broken open.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

There are as many types of empanadas as there are cooks in Argentina, but this recipe is reminiscent of the famous empanadas porteñas (which are usually fried and much larger in size) that you’ll find throughout Buenos Aires. Although most of the traditional fillings for these are made with hand-cut beef, ground beef makes a good substitute and will save you even more time. 

Argentinians will balk at the way I shape empanada discs, but many years ago, I devised a way to use a tortilla press to shape perfect discs, which saves me the time it takes to roll each one with a

rolling pin

How to Make Empanadas

  1. Make the filling. Cook the filling in a skillet and chill before using.
  2. Make the dough. Mix the ingredients easily in a bowl, then knead briefly and let it rest before shaping.
  3. Fill and shape the empanadas. The filling is placed on one half of each dough circle; it’s then folded into a half-moon and sealed shut.
  4. Bake the empanadas. The empanadas go straight into a hot oven and bake until golden.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

If You’re Making Empanadas, a Few Tips

  • Embrace pre-packaged dough. If you are pressed for time, instead of making the dough, use pre-packaged puff-pastry empanada rounds (labeled “de masa hojaldrada”) that you’ll find in the freezer section of many grocery stores. If you use it, you may find yourself with a bit of filling left over (the dough doesn’t stretch as does the traditional dough I give you here) — eat it by itself when nobody is watching or use it to top a baked potato.
  • Make the filling in advance. Feel free to make the filling a day in advance and keep it chilled until ready to use. It’s much easier to fill empanadas with chilled filling that won’t disintegrate as you shape them, making the process less messy (and keeping your dough nice and clean). 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

What to Serve with Empanadas

In Argentina, empanadas are usually served as appetizers and are enjoyed alongside a glass of good wine. However, at home, I like to serve them with a salad and call it a meal.

Empanadas Recipe (Argentinian-Style)

Take a trip to Buenos Aires with one bite of these beefy empanadas.

Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 50 minutes

Makes 24

Serves 12

Nutritional Info


For the filling:

  • 1

    large white onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 2 teaspoons

    smoked Spanish paprika

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/4 pounds

    lean ground beef (90% lean)

  • 1 1/2 cups

    beef broth

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1/3 cup

    sliced pimento-stuffed green olives (also called olive salad)

  • 3

    cold large hard-boiled eggs

  • 2

    large scallions

For the dough:

  • 8 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 4 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup

    vegetable shortening

  • 2 1/2 cups


  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 tablespoon



Start the filling:

  1. Finely chop 1 large white onion (about 2 1/4 cups). Finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine.

  3. Add 1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef and cook, breaking up the beef into smaller pieces, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed but the beef is still moist, 20 to 30 minutes.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 1/2 cup raisins and 1/3 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives, and stir to combine. Let cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a bowl or airtight container. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 1/2 hours or up to overnight. Meanwhile, hard-boil 3 large eggs if needed and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Make the dough and finish the filling:

  1. Make the dough when you’re ready to assemble and fill the empanadas so that you can use the dough while it’s warm. Place 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 4 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine; make a well in the center.

  2. Place 3/4 cup vegetable shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, about 30 seconds (alternatively, melt on the stovetop). Heat 2 1/2 cups water until hot (about 140°F). Pour the shortening and 2 cups of the water into the well. Starting at the center, slowly and gradually stir in the flour with a flexible spatula until a dough starts to form. Add the remaining 1/2 cup water and knead with your hands until a soft and sticky dough forms.

  3. Lightly flour a work surface and transfer the dough onto it. Knead, adding more flour as needed, until it forms a ball that is no longer sticky, 1 to 2 minutes. Invert the bowl over the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the eggs. Trim and thinly slice 2 large scallions (about 1/3 cup). Add the eggs and scallions to the beef filling and stir to combine. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the filling out onto the baking sheet into 24 portions (about 2 heaping tablespoons each).

  5. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 24 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces or 1/4 cup each). Working with one piece at a time, form into a small roll by cupping your palm and rolling the dough on the work surface into a round, tight ball. Place on the baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 5 minutes so the dough can relax. Meanwhile, cut out 24 (roughly 5-inch) parchment paper squares.

  6. Shape the dough into wrappers: On a well-floured surface, press each ball slightly into a flat disc. Cut a zip-top freezer bag open on 3 sides (like a book). Place a disc in the bag. Press between a tortilla press or by pressing down on it with a heavy skillet to flatten into a 5- to 5 1/2-round that’s about 1/8-inch thick (or roll it out with a rolling pin). Remove from the bag and cover with a parchment paper square. Repeat pressing the remaining discs, stacking them with a parchment paper square in between each one.

Fill and shape the empanadas:

  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 425ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until combined.

  2. Place 1 portion of filling in the middle of a dough disc. Fold the disc in half to form a half-moon. Press the edges together well until about 1/2-inch-wide to completely seal in the filling.

  3. If you’d like to make a rope-like design on the edges: Starting at one end of the half-moon, lift the dough with your thumb and index finger and roll a small portion inward, pressing it into the rim (the index finger will be your guide). Repeat by grabbing another small section of the dough right next to where you pinched with your thumb and index fingers, roll it inward between your fingers, and pinch it again into the rim tightly. Repeat until you reach the end of the half-moon and tuck any excess dough underneath.

  4. Place the empanada on a baking sheet and repeat until all the empanadas are assembled, spacing them evenly apart, 12 per sheet. Brush the empanadas with the egg wash.

Bake the empanadas:

  1. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from front to back and between racks. Bake until the tops are lightly golden-brown,10 to 20 minutes more. Let cool on the baking sheets for at least 3 minutes before serving hot or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: 1 1/4 pounds finely chopped boneless beef chuck roast can be used in place of the ground beef.

Make ahead: The filling can be cooked up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Refrigerate the baked empanadas in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 8 to 10 minutes.

To freeze the baked empanadas: Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat from frozen in a 350°F oven until warmed through, about 12 minutes.