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Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas

Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas packed with veggies and meat and wrapped in flaky pie crust make for an irresistibly fun and filling meal the whole family will appreciate.

Ground Beef Empanadas surrounded by cheese and wrapped in flaky pie dough are a fun and satisfying dinner or lunch!

The last few months could be titled “The Summer of the Un-schedule” for our family. We’ve bent the routine almost to breaking, squeezing fireworks and festival trips into the time slot that used to be reserved for bedtime. We’ve eaten at least half of our meals outside, with little P eating two bites of whatever comes off the grill before begging to return to the important work of digging and building in his sand pile. We’ve stayed up until the fireflies appear and we’re smacking mosquitos off our legs, then slept until an hour that can only be described as “brunch.”

It’s been a fun season. I’ve always considered myself a summer girl, and P seems to be the same. I love spending my days outside, coming in late smelling like sunscreen and chlorine and bonfire smoke. I love grilling and sweet mint tea and basically living off garden veggie sandwiches. I like bending the rules a bit to make memories. After all, an 8 PM bedtime can never give me the sight of Patrick’s face mesmerized by a sky lit up with fireworks, or him yelling “Boom boom, pow, boom!” for the next month straight.

And yet. Every year, at about this time, I find myself craving a return to something a little more normal. I look forward to eating around a dinner table like civilized human beings and turning in before the clock rolls past 10 PM. Suddenly menu planning feels more like a refreshing bit of structure and less like a pointless chore I’ll just put off another week. Then I start dreaming of stews and casseroles and I know. Back to school time is almost here.

It feels bittersweet, this return to routine and order, but I also know the change of pace will be good and healthy for all of us. While we don’t have to worry about backpacks and school supplies quite yet, I enrolled P in a once a week morning program to give both him and myself a little taste of preschool life. For the first time, I’ll be packing lunches and dropping him off. It feels scary and exciting and impossible that we’ve reached this point.

Ground Beef Empanadas are loaded with veggies, meat, and cheese and wrapped in flaky pie crust for a delectable hand held meal!

I’ve already determined I’ll be the weird mom sending my kid to preschool with a lunch box full of empanadas and guacamole. I’ll throw in a PB&J every now and then just so he doesn’t feel left out, but I’m going to keep feeding my kiddo Mexican food as long as he’ll let me. These empanadas are perfect for a school lunch. Hand held pockets of ground beef, vegetables, and cheese wrapped in flaky pie crust have all the fuel your kids need for the day. Did you know a 3-ounce serving of beef provides more than 10 essential nutrients and half the daily recommended protein? All that protein and B vitamins help keep kids satisfied and energized for their day.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these are also deliciously kid friendly. I kept the spice to a minimum and added a spoonful of shredded cheese to keep everyone happy. I liked eating these with salsa, but they’re also good plain or with a dollop of sour cream. The recipe makes 10-11 empanadas, and they can be made ahead and frozen if you want to save them for busy weeks. They’re like a Mexican hot pocket, only a thousand times better. Pack a little cup of salsa or guacamole and fruit on the side, and your kiddo will be set for the day!

These Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas--think tacos meets Hot Pockets--only a thousand times better!

You can visit Ohio Beef on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find more beef nutrition facts, cooking tips, and recipes or to meet one of the 17,000 committed beef farming families in Ohio.

Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas

Prep Time 45 minutesPrep Time
Cook Time 15 minutesCook Time
Total Time 1 hr Total Time
Yields 10


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 egg


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and cook until browned, crumbling the beef as you go. Add the garlic, onion, jalapeno, and pepper and saute until softened. Drain off any excess oil, then season the beef with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, paprika, and chili powder and cook until mixture is slightly thickened and heated through, 2-3 minutes. Add additional salt if necessary, then remove from heat.
Roll the pie crusts out on a lightly floured surface or piece of wax paper so that they're slightly larger and thinner than the traditional pie crust. Use a bowl that's about 4 inches in diameter to cut circles out of the pie dough. Put about 2 heaping Tablespoons of the beef mixture on one half of each of the circles. Fold the other half over the beef then use a fork or crimp to seal the edges. If you're having trouble getting them to stick, put a little water along the edge with your finger.
Gather up any scraps and re-roll and cut circles until no dough remains. You should be able to get 10-11 empanadas. Place all of the empanadas on the sheet pan. Whisk together the egg with a Tablespoon of water and brush the tops of the empanadas. Place in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden and crisp on the edges.


Recipe Notes

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Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas are a fun, easy, and filling meal that's great for dinner or for packing in school lunches!
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  • Ellen Taylor August 19, 2017, 3:00 PM

    Hey Courtney,
    This is one of my favorite snacks for breakfast and evening. Just love it. However, found some new ingredients and will try according to your recipe soon.

  • Monica August 27, 2017, 8:49 PM

    This was tonight’s dinner and it was amazing. Thx for the great recipe. Its a keeper, for sure.

    • Courtney August 28, 2017, 3:14 PM

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know!

  • Rebecca August 29, 2017, 5:28 PM

    When are you supposed to add the cheese?

    • Courtney @ NeighborFood August 29, 2017, 9:38 PM

      Sorry about that! I sprinkle the cheese on top of the ground beef before folding and sealing them. I’ll add that to the recipe!

  • Christy September 3, 2017, 10:04 PM

    These were delicioso!! Mine weren’t nearly as pretty because I was fielding calls and refereeing kids, but that didn’t effect the taste! I’m a new Ohioan. We moved from our lifelong home in Texas about a month ago. 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Courtney September 5, 2017, 4:05 PM

      So glad you enjoyed them! Taste always trumps looks in my book. 🙂 Welcome to the Buckeye state! I hope you’re settling in to your new home.

  • Bernadine Bruce September 8, 2017, 8:55 PM

    I must say I tried the empanadas, they were lovely, I made my own dough, I did not have some ingredients, and I used minced soya, all in all it was good

    • Courtney September 11, 2017, 4:52 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed them! Thanks for letting me know!

  • Linda September 11, 2017, 2:05 PM

    You referenced putting in school lunch…..are they very good at room temperature?

    • Courtney September 11, 2017, 4:07 PM

      They taste alright at room temp, but would be better microwaved for a bit if there is access to a microwave.

  • Liz M September 17, 2017, 9:17 PM

    So tasty. Next time I will skip the parchment paper(just spray the pan instead)…I forgot it burns inside my gas stove. ?

    • PLiz M September 17, 2017, 9:31 PM

      Also I used half ground beef and half ground sausage. So yum!

      • Courtney September 21, 2017, 2:31 PM

        So glad you liked it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!

  • Kathy Bryan October 3, 2017, 3:22 PM

    Do you think these could be made in advance, frozen and then baked at a later date?

  • Jen January 23, 2018, 4:08 PM

    Can you use crescent rolls?

    • Courtney Rowland January 24, 2018, 12:04 PM

      That’s a good question! I would probably suggest using store bought pie crust over crescent rolls, but if that’s what you have on hand, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try! You’ll likely not quite have the half moon shape, but that’s ok!

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