Beef Empanadas

One of the things that we were told that we had to try during our recent trip to Ecuador were empanadas. We got a sampler platter of them, which was a great way to try several varieties. Empanadas are dough stuffed with chicken, beef, cheese, or other fillings, usually they have some spices like cumin and chili powder that can be baked or fried. They can also be sweet and made with fruit for a dessert. We decided to make ours using ground beef and peppers, which made for a nice flavor profile. Although you can make your own dough, you can also choose a pre-made dough or even phyllo dough. You can make the stuffing as spicy as you like, but we found the ones in Ecuador to have spice, but not be spicy. They are usually served with some sort of dipping sauce like guacamole, salsa, or we made an adobo aioli. They might not be the prettiest, but they were very tasty. We made a small batch, but you can certainly can increase it to feed a larger crowd.

Empanadas in Ecuador
Our Version of Empanadas with Aioli Sauce


  • 1/4 lb Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/4 tbsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
  • 1 Clove Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Green Pepper – chopped
  • 1/4 Red Pepper – chopped
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion – chopped
  • Vegetable Oil
Peppers and Onion
Stuffed Empanadas


Heat a medium frying pan to medium-high heat with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Brown the ground beef with the garlic salt and drain off the grease and set it aside. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil and then add the tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, oregano, seasoned salt, minced garlic, bell peppers, and onion. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the beef back to the pan and heat for another 5 minutes. Put the mixture aside and let it cool to room temperature. Roll out the dough on a cutting board with flour to keep it from sticking. Cut the dough into 4 to 6 inch rounds. Spoon filling onto each round making sure not to overfill them. Wet the edges with either water or egg so that it will stick when pressed together. Carefully fold the dough over and press the edges together with a fork or with your fingers. At this point, you can deep fry the empanadas until golden brown or bake them in the oven. We did a combination of the two where we fried them in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until the sides were golden brown and then finished them in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees.

Sautéing Filling
Frying the Empanadas
Ready to Eat

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