Wrap beef and gooey melted cheese in a flaky pastry case and you have a match made in heaven! These beef and cheese empanadas are such a treat, especially eaten warm and steaming straight from the oven.
Have you ever tried beef empanadas with cheese? It is a classic yet surprising combination – but, believe me when I say they are irresistible! The cheese acts as a seasoning for the beef so it is salty and mouth-watering, and you can’t help but take big bites, the cheese molten and stringy!
My beef and cheese empanadas recipe is the perfect snack, lunch, dinner, or appetizer – they’re the kind of food that doesn’t follow mealtime rules! You may be thinking that they look quite complicated to make, or that you’re not a big fan of making pastry and this seems like a challenge. To that, I say these empanadas are so easy. The dough is incredibly forgiving and can be whipped up in a couple of seconds in a food processor! From there, you fill the dough with a mixture of ground beef, herbs, tomatoes, and cheese, seal, and slide into the oven. I urge you to try them so that you don’t miss out on beef and cheese empanadas any longer!
WHAT ARE EMPANADAS?
Sometimes the best foods come in handheld pockets. There is something so satisfying about holding a warm pastry case full of savory meat or vegetables and cheese as you slowly eat your way through. Many cultures have a form of warm savory pastries, from samosas in India, mooncakes across south-east Asia, briouats from Morocco, beef patties in Jamacia, and Cornish pasties in England. Empanadas are one of the most famous of these handheld pastries and they come from Latin America including Cuba and the Dominican Republic, but their origins lie in Galicia in Spain.
When the Spanish colonized South America, they brought empanadas with them, and since then these parcels have become a crucial part of the food culture in the different South and Central American regions, each country adding their own regional slant by either substituting the flour-based pastry for corn or masa or changing the shape or fillings.
HOW DO YOU MAKE BEEF AND CHEESE EMPANADAS?
There are two components to empanadas: the dough and the filling.
Empanada dough may sound daunting, but believe me, it is so satisfying to make, and quick too if you have a food processor. Furthermore, it is very forgiving, unlike French pastry which requires cold hands and quick movements.
So, how do you make empanada dough?
- Briefly blend flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor then add some butter.
- Blitz until it forms fine breadcrumbs.
- Add an egg along with water or milk and pulse until a rough ball of dough forms.
- Take it out of the processor and knead briefly.
- Divide into four and flatten them into discs. You can store these in the fridge or freezer for whenever you want to use them.
- At this stage, you can cut and roll them out into circles and fill one half with your beef and cheese mixture.
HOW DO YOU SEAL THE EMPANADAS?
After you fill your empanada, you need to cover the filling with the other half of the dough. From there, you have many different ways to seal an empanada, so here are some suggestions:
- Just press the edges together using some egg white or water as a seal.
- Use a fork’s prongs which also creates a pretty pattern.
- Crimp the edges by pinching the dough together at intervals.
- Fold and twist the edges going around the curve of the empanada – this is called a churito.
The way you seal your empanadas is up to you!
WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN THE BEEF FILLING?
To make my beef and cheese empanadas you need easy-to-find ingredients from the supermarket, or you should already have them in your store cupboard. You will need:
- Ground beef
- White onion
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Fresh cherry tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Shredded cheese
- Salt and pepper
I love using store cupboard ingredients for my recipes so then it is easier to whip up a creative flavorful meal without needing to go to the store! The addition of basil in my beef and cheese empanadas lifts the flavor so it is incredibly fresh and complements the cheese.
As for the cheese, you can use Monterey Jack as it melts easily, or you can try Cheddar or even mozzarella for a really stringy molten center!
Can you believe how easy my beef and cheese empanadas are? Before you know it, you’ll have a homemade empanada in your hand full of rich beef and melted cheese. And don’t worry if you don’t want to share, I won’t tell!
BEEF AND CHEESE EMPANADAS
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 2 ½ cups Flour
- ½ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Baking powder
- 6 tablespoons Cold butter
- ½ cup Water or milk
- 1 Egg
FOR THE BEEF:
- 1 White onion diced
- 8 oz. Ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- ½ pint Cherry tomatoes sliced lengthwise
- 4 tablespoons Chopped basil
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- ½ cup Cheese
- 1 Egg yolk
- In a skillet, fry the onion in oil for about 3-5 minutes, then add the ground beef. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, breaking it into smaller pieces.
- Add the chili powder, garlic powder, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped basil, salt and pepper to the ground beef, cook for 10 minutes until the cherry tomatoes are soft then set aside to cool.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Place the all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor’s bowl and blitz it to combine.
- Add the butter and process it until the butter resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg and water or milk and process the mixture until rough dough forms.
- Knead the empanada dough lightly, then divide it into 4 equal portions.
- Roll out each portion of empanada dough until it is ¼-inch thick, then cut 2 rounds with a large cookie cutter.
- Add 1 or 2 spoonfuls of ground beef mixtureto the center of each empanada round, then add a tablespoon of cheese, leaving a ½-inch border around the center of the dough.
- Dab the edges of the empanada dough with water, fold one half over the filling, press to seal it, then create a border either with a fork’s prongs or by twisting and rolling the dough.
- Arrange the empanadas on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then whisk the egg yolk in a bowl and brush it over the empanadas.
- Bake the empanadas for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve and enjoy!