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 enjoy. We’ve now updated this popular post to include all your FAQS and tips for making ahead and freezing empanadas.
If you enjoyed these, you’ll also want to try our Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas!
Ground Beef Empanadas: Perfect for Lunch or Dinner
I’ve already determined I’ll be the mom sending my kid to preschool with a lunch box full of empanadas and guacamole. I’m going to keep feeding him Mexican food as long as he’ll let me.
These cheesy ground beef empanadas are perfect for a school lunch or a quick dinner. Everything you need is right there in a flaky little pocket: protein, veggies, and of course, cheese.
To keep these kid friendly, I kept the spice to a minimum and added a spoonful of shredded cheese. the whole family loved it, and I think yours will too!
- Ground beef– You can use 80/20 or a leaner ground beef for this recipe.
- Garlic and onion
- Jalapeno– I seed the jalapeno, but if you prefer more heat leave some or all of the seeds in.
- Bell Pepper– green, red, or yellow works fine.
- Canned tomato sauce– This is plain tomato sauce, not spaghetti or marinara sauce.
- Oregano, paprika, and chili powder, to season the filling.
- Mexican cheese blend– Cheddar also works well if you prefer.
- Pie crust + Egg Wash– You can use any store bought refrigerated pie crust or my favorite Buttermilk Pie Crust recipe.
How to Make Ground Beef Empanadas
- Prep. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Saute the ground beef and vegetables. 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.
- Add the rest of the filling ingredients. 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.
- Prepare the crust. 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 4 inch round bowl or cookie cutter dusted in flour to cut circles out of the pie dough.
- Fill and fold the crust. Put about 2 heaping Tablespoons of the beef mixture on one half of each of the circles. Sprinkle with a small handful of cheese. 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.
- Bake. 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.
What to Serve with Empanadas
We enjoy eating these with salsa, but they’re also good plain or with a dollop of sour cream.
Other sides include Black Bean and Corn Salsa with Air Fryer Tortilla Chips, Mexican Rice, guacamole, or Tomato Cucumber Salad.
Make Ahead and Freezer Directions
The recipe makes 10-11 beef empanadas, and they can be made ahead and frozen if you want to save them for busy weeks.
To make ahead of time, assemble the empanadas completely, omitting the egg wash. Place on the prepared baking sheet and cover with saran wrap. They can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.
To freeze, bake the empanadas, then allow to cool. Wrap in saran wrap then place in a ziplock bag. Reheat from frozen at 400 degrees, for about 20 minutes.
Alternatively, you can freeze the unbaked empanadas. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and flash freeze for 1 hour, then place in a freezer bag or container, with parchment paper between any stacks. Bake from frozen as per the instructions, adding a few minutes to the baking time.
Can I use tortilla shells, biscuit dough, or crescent dough for empanadas?
Tortilla shells are not strong enough to support the empanada filling.
I have not tried this with biscuit dough, but a commenter said this worked well for them. Be sure to roll it out to 1/4 inch thick.
I don’t recommend using crescent dough.
Can I use Goya empanada dough?
Yes! This is a great short cut.
Can I air fry empanadas?
Yes! Air fry them at 390 degrees for about 10 minutes.
More Mexican Beef Recipes
If you’re craving more meaty Mexican meals, try our Crock Pot Barbacoa Tacos and Mexican Beef Stew.
This Taco Tater Tot Casserole and Doritos Taco Salad are both great kid friendly dinners. And don’t forget everyone’s favorite Walking Tacos!
Of course, you can’t ever go wrong with a classic Ground Beef Taco recipe, but if you want to mix things up a bit, try our Taco Spaghetti or Mexican Cornbread Casserole.
Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas
Cheesy ground beef empanadas are the perfect hand held dinner or lunch. Serve with a side of sour cream and salsa for a family friendly weeknight meal.
- 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 4-5 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. Sprinkle with a small handful of cheese. 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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 387mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 27g
Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.
I’m keeping this story from the original post here, as a reminder to myself of this season of life:
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 burgers and Mexican chicken 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.
I tried this but accidentally used a can of pizza crust instead of pie crust lol. They just tasted more like pizza pockets instead lol
Can you use regular tortilla shells for this
No unfortunately tortilla shells won’t be strong enough and won’t stick together to form the pocket needed for the fillings.
Can you uses this Goya shells for this recipes?
I think that would work just fine!
Can you use regular Goya shells for this receipe?
What temp did you air fry them at?
I would air fry at 390.
Could you prep these earlier in the day and then refrigerate them?
Absolutely! Make the empanadas in advance and just refrigerate them (covered or in an airtight container) until you’re ready to bake!
These were SUPER yummy!!!! Family friendly too. I used a 2.25 lb. portion of 85/15 ground beef plus doubled all the other ingredients (& added a little extra seasonings till I thought it tasted best) so it made a lot. I used 2 packages of Pillsbury Pie Crust (2 crusts to a box – so 4 pie crusts total). I did end up having a Ziploc of mixture left which I’m freezing for another day! 😉 I made some of the smaller ones at first which were good for the kids but us adults want a larger one with plenty of filling so I tried various bowl sizes. The one that worked best was a 6.25″ diameter salad bowl and I didn’t really make the pie crust any thinner because when I did the first batch, they were leaking juices while they baked. So the thicker dough (the way it comes out of the package) worked out better. After the egg wash on top, I sprinkled with a little salt too. Everyone loved them! I would say the mixture, like a chili or meatloaf, is even better 1-3 days later because the flavors melded. They even heated up in the microwave for lunch the next day nicely! First time I made them, I served with a salad, last night I did corn niblets.
Thanks so much for sharing! I’m so glad you enjoyed the ground beef empanadas.
Made tonight for my son’s Spanish class. I wish I would have made enough for the dinner tonight! I let the family taste them and they LOVED them, as did I. Definitely will make again! Thanks for the recipe!
I’m so glad you all loved them! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
Made these with ground bison! Delicious!
Great! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
Could I use biscuit dough instead?
That’s a good question! I haven’t tried it, but I think if you rolled the biscuits pretty thin they would work well!
I actually went ahead and tried it, it was great!! Yes, rolling them thin worked so well. The egg wash made the biscuit dough so golden and crispy. They were a hit! Thank you!
So glad to hear that! Thanks for sharing!
I wanted to try something different with the ground beef and found this recipe. I made this with my son and I have to say it came out so good!! Thank you for the great tasting recipe! I will definitely recommend this!
Just a note that 22 minutes is an extremely long time to leave something like this in the oven. I used philsbury dough and they were done in about 7-8 minutes
These look delicious! As far as freezing goes, I make jamaican beef patties which are very similar and freeze before baking but I freeze them on a baking sheet first and then bag them up (I use a vacuum sealer) that way they don’t stick together and they hold their shape. They bake perfectly right out of the freezer every time!
Can these be made ahead of time, frozen, and baked when needed? If so, how long should they bake?
Yes, you can freeze them! I prefer to freeze them baked and then just reheat in the oven for about 20 minutes. You can also freeze them unbaked, but you’ll need to use parchment paper and likely a little flour to keep them from sticking to each other.
The brand Goya sells the ready made dough discs..less work, absolutely delicious and yes you can freeze them then fry or bake whenever..just use wax paper in between them so they dont stick and use freezer bags to store and also sprinkle flour on the wax paper first before laying the ready made empanadas
Can these be frozen and if so, before or after baking AND how you you reheat them to make them crispy
They can be frozen! I would probably freeze after baking and then bake from frozen at 425. Add a few minutes to the bake time, and you should be good!
Can you used empanadas disc?
Can I use egg wash ? and parchment paper to bake them on.
Yes feel free to use empanada disks and parchment paper!
Can you use crescent rolls?
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!
Do you think these could be made in advance, frozen and then baked at a later date?
So tasty. Next time I will skip the parchment paper(just spray the pan instead)…I forgot it burns inside my gas stove. ?
Also I used half ground beef and half ground sausage. So yum!
So glad you liked it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
You referenced putting in school lunch…..are they very good at room temperature?
They taste alright at room temp, but would be better microwaved for a bit if there is access to a microwave.
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
I’m glad you enjoyed them! Thanks for letting me know!
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!
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.
When are you supposed to add the cheese?
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!
You never added the part about when to add the cheese so I made these without, thanks a lot!
This was tonight’s dinner and it was amazing. Thx for the great recipe. Its a keeper, for sure.
So glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know!
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.
Awesome! Hope you love it!
I actually made these tonight did them the same way but put them in my air fryer for 10 minutes. They came out perfectly. Just make sure the puff pastry is rolled pretty thin. I have the big air fryer so I put 6-8 at a time. Out of the 2 sheets of puff pastry I made 25 total beef/cheese empanadas.
Ooo yummy! This is convincing me I need an air fryer!
We use our air fryer for almost everything we cook. In fact I cooked shrimp last night. I will do shrimp empanadas soon in the air fryer.