Delicious, golden brown beef empanadas are perfect for just about any occasion. They are a complete meal on their own, but when you add a table full of sides you are sure to create a meal your guests will remember!
When it comes to delicious finger foods, there are few dishes more beautiful than Empanadas.
These crescent-shaped pockets of dough, stuffed with meat and vegetables, can be found all over Latin American countries. It’s easy to see why they are so popular.
You start with a simple, subtle flaky crust, stuff it with your favorite protein, vegetables or even fruits and sugar if your heart desires, then fold them into the perfect hand-held dish to take on the go or enjoy fresh and warm.
With plenty of protein, vegetables, and spices that create a beautiful aroma, savory empanadas are really a complete meal all on their own. However, if you have made up a batch for a party and are looking for more options to complement the dish, I’ve got you covered.
With a platter of empanadas and a few of these sides, you can create a meal that will be difficult to forget.
Empanadas may have originated in Spain or Portugal as slices of meat pie, but as immigrants traveled to different parts of South America, the recipe was taken and adapted for more working people.
Larger meat pies cut into slices became small, hand-held pockets that are perfect for packing and taking on the go–like a much more traditional version of a hot pocket.
Since their inception, empanadas have spread around the world as a popular street food. You can find different varieties of empanadas in many Latin American countries including Mexico, Spain, Ecuador, and Colombia, but they are perhaps the most popular in Argentina.
Every country, region, and even chef has their own unique recipe for empanada filling. The very simple crust is perfect for just about any filling you can imagine.
In general, most empanadas call for a protein like chicken, pork, beef, or fish, along with a simple vegetable like corn, potatoes, peas, or carrots. The protein and vegetables are pre-cooked in a tomato sauce and plenty of warm spices like chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and oregano.
You may also see dessert versions of empanadas. These are made with the same dough but filled with fruit, nuts, and sugar and coated in cinnamon and sugar or powdered sugar.
Traditional empanadas are fried in a skillet with a few inches of oil but it is not uncommon to find empanadas that are baked in an oven.
Few cooking methods can beat the flavor and crispness that comes from frying in some oil, but baking your empanadas is a healthier option. Brush the pockets with an egg wash before baking to give them a beautiful shine.
Typically fried empanadas are best eaten right away so they do not become stale. Baked empanadas are great for packing in a lunch box or taken to go.
You can also cook empanadas on a grill for a nice smoky flavor or in an air fryer for a crispy texture with less oil. You may need to test out different temperatures and cooking times to find the right directions for your recipe.
Empanadas are a great meal for meal prepping. You can mix up the dough and the filling several days in advance. You can also stuff the dough and wait to cook them later or even cook them completely and enjoy them over the course of several days. They make delicious leftovers.
Store any uncooked dough or filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.
If you decide to pre-stuff your dough, simply line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the stuffed, uncooked empanadas on the baking sheet. Make sure to cover them! Keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook, up to 48 hours later.
If you would like to freeze your empanadas, you can stuff the uncooked dough, place them on a lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to a ziploc. Thaw them in the fridge overnight in a single layer before cooking.
Stuffed with protein and vegetables, empanadas are a great meal all on their own. Feel free to top them with sour cream, salsa or a homemade chimichurri. Keep reading for some suggestions of sides.
There are so many different sauces that would complement the flavors inside an empanada. For a traditional beef empanada, you can serve it with chimichurri sauce, sour cream, hot sauce, salsa verde, or even honey mustard.
The size of the empanada may vary, depending on the chef making them. In general, empanadas are small enough to be held in one hand. If you are making empanadas for a group, plan on at least two per person, along with sides. If empanadas are being served as the main course some people may eat four or five.
Empanadas can be eaten at any time of day! It’s not unusual to see empanadas served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a snack between meals. Empanadas can be filled with a wide variety of different fillings that make them a great fit for any time of day.
It’s perfectly acceptable to pick up an empanada with your hands to eat it. If the empanada is hot, you can place it on a plate, cut it in half and then pick it up or eat it with a fork.
- This Easy Beef Empanada recipe comes together so quickly and is perfect for a weeknight meal.
- These Chicken Empanadas from Food with Feeling are a great way to use up any shredded chicken.
- If you are looking for a dessert option these Caramel Apple Empanadas from Persnickety Plates are delicious and quick.
- Homemade empanada dough can be difficult to master. It’s similar to a pie crust in the ingredients it calls for, but the texture is not quite the same. If you have trouble making your own you can sometimes find pre-made empanada dough at the grocery store (or purchase it online). If you cannot find empanada dough, you could use pie crust or a pastry crust but bear in mind that the results will be different than homemade.
- Empanadas are great for making ahead and it’s a good idea to pre-stuff some dough if you are cooking for a crowd.
- If you are pre-making your filling or your dough, allow all your ingredients to come to room temperature before you try to stuff. The cold filling will not bend and may cause tears in your dough. You want your filling and your dough to be soft and malleable.
- Get creative with your fillings! Traditional beef is delicious, but the homemade empanada dough is great with so many things.
- Seal the edge of your empanadas with a little bit of egg. Press the edges with a fork to make sure all the filling stays inside.
- For a fancier finish, try folding the edges of your empanada to create a braided look. Watching a video of this process is very helpful to show how easy it is.
What to Serve With Empanadas
Savory Fillings: Ground beef, shredded beef, chicken, pork, cod, refried beans, black beans, pinto beans, cheese, sweet potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, green olives, red bell peppers, eggs, and bacon, eggs, sausage
Sweet Fillings: Apples, cherries, brown sugar, peaches, fresh strawberries, cream cheese
Toppings: Chimichurri sauce, guacamole, salsa verde, pico de gallo, sour cream, cabbage, chipotle crema, hot sauce, red onions, Mexican coleslaw, tomato salsa, strawberry salsa
Sides: Mexican rice, cilantro lime rice, roasted potatoes, Mexican street corn salad, black beans, fruit salad, simple green salad, brown rice, Mexican sweet corn cakes, sweet potato fries, Mexican potato salad
Recipes to Serve with Empanadas
Here are 27 of my favorite options to serve with Empanadas!
Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce
Dulce de Leche in the Instant Pot
Argentinian Beef Stew
Black Beans Rice
Black Beans Rice is a spicy and incredibly delicious, nutty flavored vegetarian Mexican rice recipe that is a frequent dish at our dinner table.
These pan-fried plantains are easy to make side dish ready in less than 15 minutes, with a caramelized and crispy texture on the outside and a soft melt-in-mouth texture inside. Ripe and sweet yellow plantains taste the best with this recipe.
Air Fryer Corn on the Cob
Quick, easy, and perfectly cooked – air fryer corn on the cob is totally going to change the way you cook corn. Crispy and slightly charred and then smothered in butter and herbs for a flavor-packed side dish.
Bean and Cheese Tacos
Filling and vegetarian-friendly, these bean and cheese tacos are the easiest way to eat Tex-Mex. It’s as simple as seasoning some refried beans, shredding some cheese, and dishing it out into tortilla shells. Dinner’s ready in minutes!
Homemade Pico de Gallo
Honey Lime Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes
These Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes shake things up with sweet and tangy honey lime dressing. They make for a great side, especially Taco Tuesday!
Learn how to make avocado sauce with this easy Avocado Crema, a tasty recipe to spice up any Mexican-inspired dish. Made with fresh avocados, Mexican crema, lime juice, and cilantro, this light and creamy vegetarian sauce is so versatile and is ready to add a burst of flavor to your weekday menu.
Best Baked Churro Chips
This Mexican Churro Chips Recipe is the absolute best and so easy! They are baked sopapillas and so crunchy and just like the ones you buy from a restaurant, made easily in the comfort of your own home. And we have the secret to making them the absolute BEST: using raw tortillas.
Are you in need of a Stiffy? Well, you definitely need to try a Mezcal Guajillo Cocktail. This delicious Mezcal beverage is balanced with citrusy Cointreau and fresh lime juice. The mix is amped up with Guajillo Pepper simple syrup and a Chipotle sugar rim.
Calabacitas con Elote with Brown Rice and Quinoa
Calabacitas con Elote with Brown Rice and Quinoa is a healthy spin on the traditional, Mexican squash and corn recipe. Loaded with fiber, vitamins, and healthy carbs, this is a fuel tank-filling recipe you can feel good about.
Creamy Salsa Dressing
This creamy salsa dressing recipe combines salsa, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and lime juice for a delicious, tangy condiment perfect for salads, as a dip, or drizzled over your favorite Mexican dishes!
Monterey Jack Queso
This authentic restaurant-style Monterey Jack Queso is the ultimate party appetizer! It’s made with milky Monterey Jack cheese, flavorful green chiles, and the perfect amount of spice. The final result is unbelievably smooth, creamy, and decadent. All you need is 8 simple ingredients, 20 minutes, and a big appetite!
Favorite Black Beans Recipe
This easy, from-scratch Black Beans recipe combines bold savory flavors like onion, garlic, and smoky cumin with humble beans, and transforms them into something special. Two pantry-staple SECRET ingredients are added at the end to create a wonderfully balanced flavor profile!
Instant Pot Black Bean Soup
Homemade Guacamole Recipe
Quick Pickled Red Onions
These Quick Pickled Red Onions are so quick and easy to make and they are so versatile. Add them to sandwiches, burgers, salads, or tacos for an easy way to add lots of color and flavor. They are a tangy addition to any dish!
Fried Tomatoes with Corn Salsa
These Fried Tomatoes are on another level! They’re fried in a skillet, then topped with simple, flavorful corn salsa, meaning they can be enjoyed on their own or as a side dish to any meal.
Green Tomato Salsa
What do you do with all of the green tomatoes left on the vines in September, October? Why, you make this amazingly delicious Green Tomato Salsa! Green Tomato Salsa couldn’t be easier, and it cans and freezes well!