Beef and Cheese Empanadas

If you’re craving a savory snack that’s both satisfying and easy to make, look no further than these delicious beef and cheese empanadas. This recipe combines seasoned ground beef, sharp cheeses, and a crispy dough shell to create a mouthwatering treat that’s perfect for any occasion. Follow the steps below to create your own batch of homemade empanadas.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Slap Ya Mama® seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 11.6 ounces 5” empanada dough (such as Goya)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


Preheat the Oven Preheat your oven to 425°F to ensure it’s ready for baking the empanadas later.

Prepare the Meat Mixture In a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat, add the ground beef, chopped onion, diced jalapeno, and the seasonings (ground cumin, Slap Ya Mama® seasoning, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, and chili powder). Stir the mixture and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute or two. Once cooked, drain any excess grease from the pan and return it to the heat. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and let it cook for another 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Prepare the Egg Wash In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water until well combined. Set this mixture aside; it will be used to give the empanadas a beautiful golden brown finish.

Assemble the Empanadas To assemble the empanadas, lightly wet the edges of each empanada dough round with water. Place a small amount of shredded sharp cheddar cheese in the center of each dough round. Add a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture on top of the cheese, followed by a bit more cheese. Fold the dough in half to enclose the filling, then pinch the edges together. Use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges, ensuring they are sealed well. Place the assembled empanadas on a baking sheet. Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash to help them bake to a golden brown.

Bake the Empanadas Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake the empanadas for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy.

Serve and Enjoy Once baked, remove the empanadas from the oven and let them cool slightly before serving. These beef and cheese empanadas are perfect on their own or paired with your favorite dipping sauce.

Cook Time and Servings

  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Servings: 12 empanadas

Serving and Storage Tips :

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Dipping Sauces: Serve your beef and cheese empanadas with a variety of dipping sauces to enhance their flavor. Popular choices include salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or a spicy aioli.
  2. Side Dishes: Pair the empanadas with a simple side salad, black beans, or rice to make a complete meal.
  3. Garnishes: Add a touch of freshness by garnishing with chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, or a squeeze of lime juice.
  4. Serving Temperature: Empanadas are best enjoyed warm. If they’ve cooled down, you can reheat them in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes to regain their crispiness.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Store leftover empanadas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure they are completely cooled before placing them in the container to avoid condensation, which can make them soggy.
  2. Freezing: Empanadas can be frozen for longer storage. Place the cooled empanadas on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid. Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  3. Reheating: To reheat refrigerated or frozen empanadas, preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and heat for 10-15 minutes if refrigerated, or 20-25 minutes if frozen, until heated through and crispy.
  4. Microwave Option: While reheating in the microwave is quicker, it can make the empanadas less crispy. If you choose this method, microwave on high for about 1-2 minutes, checking to ensure they are heated through.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can enjoy your beef and cheese empanadas fresh and flavorful every time.


Empanadas are versatile and can be customized to suit different tastes and dietary preferences. Here are some creative variations to try:

1. Chicken and Cheese Empanadas

  • Ingredients: Substitute the ground beef with shredded cooked chicken. Use the same spices and seasonings.
  • Additions: Consider adding corn, black beans, and a squeeze of lime juice to the filling for extra flavor.

2. Vegetarian Empanadas

  • Ingredients: Replace the meat with a mix of sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and black beans.
  • Seasoning: Use the same spices as the original recipe or add a dash of smoked paprika for a smoky flavor.
  • Cheese: Stick with sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack, or try crumbled feta or goat cheese for a different twist.

3. Spicy Beef Empanadas

  • Ingredients: Keep the original ground beef filling but add more heat by increasing the amount of jalapeno and red pepper flakes.
  • Additions: Include diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a smoky and spicy kick.

4. Breakfast Empanadas

  • Ingredients: Replace the beef with scrambled eggs, cooked bacon or sausage, and a mix of shredded cheddar and mozzarella.
  • Seasoning: Add a sprinkle of chives and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Serving: Serve with a side of salsa or hot sauce for a breakfast twist.

5. Sweet Empanadas

  • Ingredients: For a dessert version, fill the empanada dough with a mix of diced apples, cinnamon, and a bit of sugar. You can also try fillings like sweetened cream cheese and berries or Nutella and banana.
  • Topping: Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar before baking.
  • Serving: Serve with a drizzle of caramel or a dusting of powdered sugar.

6. Beef and Potato Empanadas

  • Ingredients: Add diced cooked potatoes to the beef mixture.
  • Additions: Include peas and carrots for a heartier filling.
  • Cheese: Stick with the original cheese choices or try a milder cheese like Monterey Jack.

7. Seafood Empanadas

  • Ingredients: Replace the beef with cooked shrimp or crab meat.
  • Seasoning: Use Old Bay seasoning along with the original spices.
  • Additions: Consider adding a bit of cream cheese to the filling for a rich, creamy texture.

Tips for Customizing Empanadas

  • Dough: You can use store-bought empanada dough or make your own. Puff pastry or pie crust can also work in a pinch.
  • Spices: Adjust the spices to your taste preference. Feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices to create unique flavor profiles.
  • Cheese: Mix and match cheeses based on what you have available. Just ensure they melt well to create a gooey, delicious filling.

By experimenting with these variations, you can enjoy a new and exciting twist on the classic beef and cheese empanada every time you make them.


1. Can I make the empanada filling ahead of time? Yes, you can prepare the beef filling up to two days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When ready to use, reheat the filling slightly to make it easier to work with.

2. Can I use a different type of meat for the filling? Absolutely! You can substitute ground beef with ground chicken, turkey, or pork. Just adjust the seasoning to complement the meat you choose.

3. How do I prevent the empanada dough from getting soggy? Make sure the filling is not too wet. If it seems too liquidy, cook it a bit longer to reduce excess moisture. Additionally, let the filling cool before assembling the empanadas to avoid steam making the dough soggy.

4. Can I bake empanadas instead of frying them? Yes, this recipe specifically calls for baking the empanadas, which results in a healthier option with a crispy texture. Simply follow the baking instructions provided.

5. What should I do if I can’t find empanada dough? If you can’t find empanada dough, you can use puff pastry or pie crust as a substitute. Roll it out and cut it into circles similar to the size of empanada dough.

6. How do I freeze empanadas properly? To freeze empanadas, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat directly from the freezer by baking at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

These FAQs should help you successfully make and enjoy your beef and cheese empanadas, whether you’re cooking them for the first time or looking to try new variations and techniques.

Enjoy making these beef and cheese empanadas for a delicious, homemade treat that will impress your family and friends!