Baked Beef Empanadas may replace Taco Tuesday, Tostada Tuesday, and my love for burrito bowls. Tender, flaky, and buttery crust with a savory and slightly smoky beef filling, these baked beef empanadas are a dream.
I used my biscuit dough to make the crust which now means I’ll be eating biscuit based foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since these can be cooked from frozen and they can be heated in the air fryer, this also means I’ll be keeping my freezer stocked with them.
I must be dreaming because these baked beef empanadas are only 2 WW SP a piece. When I say that, I’m not selling you some itty bitty empanadas--these are full-on hand-sized empanadas.
Baked Beef Empanadas has been a recipe my wife has been requesting I make for almost 2 years now. When 2 and 3 Ingredient Dough was first on the scene, my wife suggested baked beef empanadas. When we got an air fryer, again baked beef empanadas.
I came up with my biscuit recipe which is one of my favorite recipes to make, and again she was saying, “you know, these would be great for baked beef empanadas.” It’s not that I didn’t trust her suggestions, it was just that I was never a big fan of empanadas; that is to say, I never actually tried one and I dumb because they are awesome.
Empanadas are flaky dough hand pies filled with a meat mixture that’s either fried or baked. Baked beef empanadas are so good, and I ate three while my wife said: “I told you so.” Moral of the story? I should listen to my wife more. Don’t be like me and wait to make these baked beef empanadas--make these ASAP.
That Dough Though
Empanada dough is meant to be flaky and light, not bagel dough. Look, I love 2/3 ingredient dough. It has its place and purpose with things like pizza, bagels, and pigs in a blanket. It does not make good empanada dough. I mean, it makes adequate and “fine” empanada dough, but it’s more of a stromboli than empanada. Trust me, the biscuit dough is where it’s at.
The only thing different than my traditional biscuit dough is that I added 1 tsp of cumin to the dough to make it a little savory. If you’re not too familiar with cumin, it’s amazingly flavorful--it’s a low, smoky flavor that is one of my favorite spices to use in cooking.
Math is involved.
The beef empanada filling may look familiar--it’s the same filling for my baked beef tacos. Unlike the tacos, there’s no cheese in this and trust me you don’t need it. The beef empanada filling makes 3 ½ cups (56 tbsp). The filling comes to 0 WW SP for 1-2 tbsp. The filling will be 1 WW SP for 3-8 tbsp.
The reason why this is important to know is that the points will be determined by the size of your empanadas and the filling. My 5-inch empanadas will use 2 tablespoons while the 4-inch tablespoons will only use 1 tbsp. You’ll see that no matter what size empanada shell you use, there will be some extra empanada filling leftover.
Eat it in a taco, with a spoon, or freeze and save it for later if you’d like. Just saying, I mixed it with some queso and ate it with chips--divine.
The size of the empanada shells is important too. Five-inch shells will yield 22 empanada shells. Four-inch shells will yield 34 shells. The five-inch shells are 2 WW SP for one, 3 WW SP for two, 5 WW SP for three, 7 WW SP for four, and so on.
The four-inch empanada shells are 1 WW SP a piece for 1-8, then it gets a little wonky. My advice is to put the shell and beef filling in your WW tracker separately and track them separately. It allows for more flexibility.
Let’s get cooking
The filling for the baked beef empanadas is really easy to put together, and it can even be done the day before. Saute the garlic and poblanos until the onions are translucent.
While they cook, mix the seasonings with the beef. Add garlic to the pan, brown the beef, then add the tomato sauce, refried beans, and chipotle. Want to use up more of that can of chipotle? You have to make some chipotle mayo; that stuff is good on everything.
Once you are done making the filling, put it aside and make the biscuit dough.
Making Empanada Shells from biscuits
For this recipe, you are going to follow my biscuit recipe until you’d cut them up and bake them. You’re then going to do something I’d never thought I’d say; you’re going to get a ROLLING PIN and roll the dough.
Any southern grandma or adult Yankee man who thinks he’s a southern grandma will tell you that biscuits should never be rolled. It’s okay. To make this easier, I cut the dough in half, and I placed the second half in the refrigerator until I was ready. You’ll still want to keep the dough cold.
Lightly flour a cutting board and your rolling pin and roll out the dough to be slightly thinner than store-bought pie crust. With half the biscuit dough recipe, I rolled out the dough to be 12 inches by 18 inches. For a five-inch shell which is what I recommend for a traditional size, I used one of my daughter’s bowls.
For appetizer-sized empanadas, I recommend using a 4-inch cookie cutter OR a cleaned can of tomatoes. After you cut the discs out, take the scraps, roll it out again, and cut them again. Repeat this process until all your empanadas are ready.
Filling the empanadas
I cut all my empanada dough into shells and refrigerate them while my oven preheats. You want to keep this dough cold so the dough stays flaky. Lay the empanada shells onto your cutting board and spoon the filling into the middle. Remember, 2 tbsp for a 5-inch shell and 1 tbsp for a 4-inch shell.
Fold the disk in half to make it a half circle (kind of like a pierogi) and then seal the edges crimping with a fork. I found dipping the fork in a little bit of flour really helps make the dough not stick. Do this for all the beef empanadas and finish them with an egg wash.
Spray your baking sheet with your preferred cooking spray and bake your beef empanadas at 450 for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve baked beef empanadas with some freshly made salsa verde, salsa, or even some chipotle mayo. If freezing, let cool and freeze in freezer bags. Reheat in an air fryer at 360 until heated through (about 5-10 minutes depending on your air fryer).
- 1 lb 96% lean ground beef
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 poblano (diced and seeded)
- 1/2 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 can fat-free refried beans
- 1 tbsp chipotle in adobo (minced)
- 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour (divided)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup cashew milk (unsweetened)
Prepare the Filling
- Sautee onions and poblano pepper in a cast-iron skillet (optional but preferred). Sprinkle a pinch of salt and cook until onions are translucent. While onions and peppers cook, add cumin, oregano, paprika, and salt to the ground beef and mix well.
- Add garlic to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook until fully cooked and no longer pink. Reduce heat.
- Add tomato sauce, refried beans, and chipotle. Stir until fully incorporated. Turn heat off and set aside.
Prepare the Empanada Shells
- Combine 2 cups self rising flour, baking powder, and cumin.
- Add butter, cashew milk, and greek yogurt. Stir the dough until it comes together and is shaggy.
- Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of flour onto a cutting board and dump the dough out.
- Shape into a rectangle, fold, flatten back down. Repeat this step five more times.
- Cut the dough in half and refrigerate the second half while you work.
- Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll thin and into a 12" x 18" rectangle (thinner than pie crust).
- Cut dough out into 5" (or 4" if making appetizer-sized baked beef empanadas)
- Take the scraps, roll it out, and cut dough out until you used all the dough.
- Refrigerate empanada shells and prepare the other half of the dough.
- Filling the Empanada Shells
- Lightly flour your cutting board.
- Take a piece of dough and flatten it into a 4-inch circle. They will be thin. Don’t worry. You can use a rolling pin, a tortilla press, or a 28oz can of tomatoes (just cover the can in saran wrap first).
- Spoon 2 tbsp of filling into the middle of the disc. (1 tbsp for 4" empanada)
- Fold dough over unto a half-moon shape. Crimp edges with a fork, making sure you seal the edges completely.
- Refrigerate until all empanadas are ready for baking.
- Mix egg and a tsp of water. Give all empanadas an eggwash.
- Place empanadas on a baking sheet sprayed with your preferred cooking spray.
- Bake at 450 for 13-17 minutes until dough is golden brown.