Beef and Onion Empanadas

These empanadas use Puerto Rican recaito. It is a blend of onions, herbs, garlic, and peppers that adds a burst of delicious flavor to the filling.

Beef and Onion Empanadas from The National Onion Association

These tender and delicious empanadas can be used in so many ways! They make great party snacks and appetizers, or you can pair them with a salad for a full meal.

Our version uses a simple homemade crust. Feel free to substitute your favorite recipe, or take a shortcut and use a pre-made dough for pie crust from the store. The filling combines lean ground beef and chopped onions. Then recaito is stirred in to add a deeper flavor with more sweet onion and bright cilantro.

These empanadas have a generous amount of filling so you’ll need to stretch the dough around it and pinch to seal them well for baking. Also be sure not to roll your dough too thin so that there is plenty to work with as you stretch and shape your empanadas.

Beef and Onion Empanadas

Makes:  10


2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
6 to 7 tablespoons ice cold water

1 pound lean ground beef
¼ cup diced yellow onion
¾ cup recaito
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 large egg
1 tablespoon water


To make the crust, place the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts, 5 to 6 times, until the butter is distributed throughout the flour in small pieces.

With the processor on low add the water 1 tablespoon at a time. Pause at 5 tablespoons and allow the dough to begin to come together in the center of the bowl. Continue to add water until the dough forms a ball. Remove the lid, gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a flat surface. Form into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, make the filling. Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Add the onion. Continue to cook until the beef is no longer pink, about 3 more minutes. Drain any grease if necessary.

Stir in the recaito and salt and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll the dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Use a 4 ½-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles. Re-roll the dough until you get 10 circles. Place them all on a flat surface and transfer an equal scoop of the cooled filling onto each circle. It will be approximately ¼ cup filling for each. Fold the dough around the filling to create a half-moon. Pinch the ends together to seal each empanada.

Place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, or on a non-stick baking sheet. Whisk together the egg and water in a small dish. Brush each empanada with the egg wash.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. All to cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.


Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association

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