My Baked Empanadas are flaky pastry pockets filled with a flavorful Mexican picadillo made from ground beef, potatoes, and tomatoes plus a slice of creamy Monterey Jack cheese.

These from-scratch beef empanadas are made using economical ingredients in about an hour, making them totally approachable for any home cook. 

Mexican Picadillo Empanadas on a wooden board with a side of salsa verde on a blue Mexican linen

What Are Beef Empanadas?

Essentially the Mexican version of British pasties, beef empanadas are savory hand pies filled with picadillo beef. (Empanadas can be made sweet, savory, or spicy.)

What is Mexican Picadillo Beef?

Picadillo (Ground beef and potato) is an economical Mexican dish that is typically served as a filling in crispy tacos. Depending on where you go in Latin America, picadillo can also include ingredients like raisins, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. While I’m probably biased, I think Mexican picadillo is the most approachable since it doesn’t include any of these potentially divisive additions.

Why I Love this Recipe

While I love pretty much every empanada I’ve ever tried, I’m particularly partial to this from-scratch recipe. The homemade empanada dough is made with stout beer and salted butter, making the empanadas light, flaky, and flavorful. The texture is perfect and does not get soggy after baking, even after a couple of days in the refrigerator.

The use of beer in the dough adds a slightly malty, yeasty flavor and the carbonation contributes to a lighter texture. Feel free to use stout (my beer of choice) or any dark beer, as the carbonation is part of the leavening for the pastry. You can also use non-alcoholic beer or even club soda if you prefer, but you only need a small amount of beer for the dough and the alcohol will burn off during cooking.

Perhaps the best part of this empanada dough recipe is that the butter is creamed at room temperature. That means there is no need to have ice cold butter or to chill the dough, and you also don’t have to worry about over-mixing it like you would with other short, flaky pastry recipes. When making your own empanada dough is so simple, why ever bother with the frozen discs you get at the store?

All in, this easy recipe for baked picadillo empanadas comes together with just 20 minutes of prep and 40 minutes of bake time. So, what are you waiting for? Flaky, buttery, meaty deliciousness awaits!

ingredients to make dough for beer empanada dough butter, beer, egg, flour, and salt

Ingredients & Substitutions

You only need 13 ingredients to make a big tray of these cheesy, beefy baked empanadas. Here’s what to grab:

  • Olive Oil – Your normal cooking oil is perfect here.
  • White Onion – You can also swap in yellow or red if you prefer.
  • Ground Beef – I typically reach for 85/15 and drain off excess fat. You can also use leaner 93/7 beef or lean ground bison, or swap in ground poultry like chicken or turkey if you prefer.
  • Garlic Salt – Or garlic powder and kosher salt.
  • Black Pepper – Freshly cracked pepper will give you the best flavor.
  • Tomatoes – I prefer using meaty varieties like romas. You can also use drained canned tomatoes if needed.
  • Potato – I suggest using either starchy varieties like Russet potatoes, or “in-betweeen” varieties like Yukon gold potatoes.
  • Monterey Jack Cheese – Feel free to swap in any white melty cheese you like including Oaxaca, Asadero, or pepperjack.
  • Salted Butter – You can also use unsalted butter and add a bit extra salt to compensate.
  • Egg – For binding the dough.
  • All-Purpose Flour – I typically use regular white flour for my empanada dough.
  • Salt – For seasoning.
  • Dark Beer – I typically like the flavor that a dark porter gives the dough, but any dark beer will do.

How to Make Baked Empanadas

As promised, this easy recipe for empanadas is simple enough for any home cook. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Make Picadillo. Sauté onion until translucent. Add ground beef and brown. Drain off excess grease. Add garlic salt, pepper, tomatoes, and potato and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are done. Salt to taste.

Mexican ground beef picadillo in a cast iron skillet.

Step 2: Make Empanada Dough. Using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, place the butter in the bowl and turn the mixer on medium-low speed and cream. Add the egg and combine. Combine flour and salt in a bowl and add to mixer and combine. Add the beer, as needed, to ensure the dough is soft and smooth.

ingredients to make dough for beer empanada dough butter, beer, egg, flour, and salt.

Step 3: Make Egg Wash. Crack an egg into a bowl and beat it thoroughly with a fork. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Stir until combined.

Step 4: Assemble. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Divide empanada dough into 14 pieces and roll into small round circles. Place a small dollop of filling on one side of each of the dough circles. Place a slice of cheese over the filling.

empanada disk filled with picadillo and a slice of cheese.

Step 5: Seal. Wet the bottom edge of the circles with egg wash to help seal the two halves. Fold over the dough to cover filling and seal off the edges with a fork pressing down along the edges or using a pastry cutter. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

pastry cutter trimming dough for empanadas on a wooden cutting board.

Step 6: Bake Empanadas. Brush each empanada with egg wash and puncture with a fork. Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, then broil until golden brown. Enjoy hot, warm, or at room temperature.

brushing egg wash on empanadas on a baking sheet.

Optional Variations

While I love this easy method for making baked beef empanadas, there’s always plenty of room for customization. Here are a few variations to consider:

  • Air Fryer Empanadas – Keep your kitchen cooler by using your countertop air fryer instead of the oven. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F, then, working in batches as needed, cook empanadas for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
  • Dairy-Free Empanadas – Swap in plant-based butter or shortening in the dough and either opt for vegan cheese or omit it altogether.
  • Vegan Empanadas – Follow the instructions for dairy-free empanadas above, but also swap in meatless crumbles (like Beyond or Impossible) for the picadillo and your favorite store-bought egg replacement (like JUST Egg or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer) for the dough. Brush assembled empanadas with melted vegan butter in place of the egg wash before baking.

Expert Tips

  • Use room temperature beer so that the empanada dough is easier to knead. If the beer is cold, the dough will seize up.
  • Make-Ahead: If you want to make these picadillo empanadas ahead of time, I suggest waiting to assemble them until you’re ready to bake them off or they will become soggy. You can make the dough and picadillo the day before and refrigerate them.

How to Store Leftover Empanadas

Keep baked empanadas at room temperature for 2 hours on a plate or baking rack covered with a paper towel or cloth linen. When they are fully cooled, place them in a sealed container and refrigerate them for up to a week or freeze them for up to 2 months.

Serving Suggestions

I recommend serving these empanadas warm with a dollop of salsa verde or your salsa of choice. For a spicier kick, serve empanadas with a chile toreado.

empanadas displayed on a Mexican talavera serving tray with a dish of salsa verde on top of a colorful Mexican tablecloth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use the beer-infused empanada dough for dessert empanadas?

Absolutely! You can use this deliciously flaky beer-infused empanada dough for both savory and sweet empanadas. To make sweet empanadas, add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the dough and/or sprinkle the tops of assembled empanadas with raw sugar before baking for additional sweetness.

How do you seal an empanada?

The absolute easiest way that doesn’t require any special equipment is lightly wetting the rim of the dough with egg wash, water, or milk, then pressing and crimping it together using a fork. You can also use an empanada press, or use any of these fancy pastry folds to repulgue the empanadas.

Pro Tip: If you’re serving both sweet and savory empanadas (or two different types of savory empanadas), use two different crimps to help differentiate them from one another.

How do I keep my empanadas from getting soggy?

First, don’t assemble the empanadas until you’re ready to bake them or the liquid from the filling will make the uncooked dough soggy.

Second, make sure to let the baked empanadas cool COMPLETELY on a cooling rack before storing them. If you put them into a container before they’re cooled to room temperature, condensation will form and cause the dough to get soggy.

Finally, make sure you use a toaster oven, air fryer, or regular oven to reheat your empanadas. While you can technically heat them in the microwave, they won’t retain their crispiness if you do.

baked empanadas on a cooling rack.

More Empanada Recipes

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #muybuenocooking.

open empanada on a Mexican black plate filled with Mexican picadillo drizzled with salsa verde.
wooden cutting board with picadillo empanadas next to a bowl of salsa verde

Cheesy Picadillo Empanadas

5 (4 ratings)
Cheesy Picadillo Empanadas are filled with ground beef and stuffed with potatoes, tomatoes, and a slice of creamy Monterey Jack cheese.

Ingredients

Picadillo

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato or 2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, sliced

Beer-infused empanada dough

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions 

Picadillo

  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until translucent.
  • Add ground beef and brown. Using a potato masher, mash meat so you have small pieces of meat with no big chunks. Drain off excess grease.
  • Add garlic salt, pepper, tomatoes, and potato and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are done. Salt to taste.

Empanada Dough

  • Using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, place the butter in the bowl and turn the mixer on medium-low speed and cream.
  • Add the egg and combine. 
  • Combine flour and salt in a bowl and add to mixer and combine.
  • Add the beer, as needed, to ensure the dough is soft and smooth.

Egg Wash

  • Crack an egg into a bowl and beat it thoroughly with a fork.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of water. Stir until combined.

Assemble and Bake Empanadas

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Divide empanada dough into 14 pieces. Roll out the dough balls into small round circles. Place a small dollop of filling on one half of each of the dough circles.
  • Place a slice of cheese over the filling.
  • Wet the bottom edge of the circles with egg wash to help seal the two halves. Fold over the dough to cover filling and seal off the edges with a fork pressing down along the edges or using a pastry cutter.
  • Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  • Brush each empanada with egg wash.
  • Puncture the top of each empanada with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking.
  • Place the empanadas on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes on lower rack in the oven. If after 15 minutes you notice the bottoms of the empanadas starting to brown, move the cookie sheet to the top rack. 
  • Bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Set oven to broil and bake on top rack for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Enjoy the empanadas warm or at room temperature. 

Video

Notes

Serving: 14g, Calories: 448kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 873mg, Potassium: 386mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 724IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 121mg, Iron: 3mg

Photography by Jenna Sparks
Originally published: July 2020.