RECIPE: Beef empanadas

These homemade empanadas will bring Latin flavor to your kitchen

HOUSTON – Whether you fill them up with beef, chicken, chorizo, seafood or just vegetables, empanadas are a popular food in Latin America because they are so diverse and can be eaten at any occasion.

These crunchy turnovers are made with flour dough and can be fried or baked. Preparing the dough at home is easy, and once the dough is ready, the steps are simple.

“When pressing the empanadas, don’t press too hard and use a tortilla maker. Then, add the filling," said Mayra Marevich, owner of Unicori Costa Rica, who has an empanada stand at this weekend’s Houston Latin Festival. She stopped by our studio to share a delicious beef empanada recipe.

To see the complete interview, check out the video above.


For the dough or masa
•    1½ cup precooked Goya yellow cornmeal
•    1 cup cold water
•    ½ tablespoon sazon Goya with azafran, or 1 beef bouillon cube with a few threads of saffron)
•    ½ teaspoon salt
•    ½ teaspoon pepper  

For the filling
•    2 cups white potatoes, peeled and diced
•    1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
•    1 tablespoon olive oil
•    ¼ cup white onions, chopped
•    1 cup tomato, chopped
•    ½ teaspoon salt
•     ¼ cup green onions, chopped
•    1 clove garlic, chopped
•    2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
•    2 tablespoons red bell pepper, chopped
•    ¼ teaspoon black pepper
•    ½ pound ground beef or chicken  
•    Vegetable oil
•    Salsa Lizano (Costa Rican sauce)

To prepare the dough or masa:

Combine the instant corn masa flour with cold water. Add salt and pepper. Knead dough until the dough does not stick in your hands. Then, divide the dough in balls of 3 inches each (use a tortilla maker or pin roller to flatten the dough ball).

To prepare the ground beef:

Have a frying pan on medium temperature with olive oil. Add chopped garlic, then ground beef and sauté. Add dice boiled potatoes, chopped onions, bell peppers, beef bouillon, salt, black pepper and salsa Lizano (or achiote sauce or paprika to add color). Once cooked, cool for 15 minutes before making the empanadas.

To prepare empanadas:
Put one full tablespoon of ground beef as filling and then fold to make the empanada shape, similar to a half-moon. Press edges hard to seal the empanada.

Add vegetable oil to a deep fryer and when very hot, put three to four empanadas and fry for five minutes until golden brown. Remove and place in bowl or plate on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve hot.

Recipe provided by Mayra Marevich.