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An image of an empanada cut in half so that the filling is exposed served on a white plate on a red linen with bottles of hot sauce in the background.


These Cuban-style beef empanadas are filled with a flavorful picadillo. They’re great for breakfast, brunch or as a mid-day snack.
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword ground beef
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
cool the filling 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 702kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion finely diced
  • 1 Carrot finely diced
  • 1 Celery Rib finely diced
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef we use ground sirloin
  • ¼ cup White Wine
  • 8 ounce can Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Beef Broth
  • ½ cup Pitted Spanish Olives halved or chopped
  • 10 Large Empanada Discs
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • Oil for frying enough to cover the bottom of a large, deep skillet by 1 inch – use a neutral (flavorless) oil with a high smoke point (we use canola oil)


Make the empanada filling

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Raise the heat to medium-high, add the ground beef, salt, pepper, cumin and oregano to the skillet. Stir to combine the ingredients well, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon or a spatula.
  • Arrange the ground beef in one layer and cook for 3 minutes undisturbed. Stir well, arrange in one layer again and cook 3 minutes or until browned. Stir and break up any remaining large pieces.
  • Add the wine to the skillet; cook about 1-2 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates, stir frequently.
  • Lower the heat to medium. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth and the olives, stir to combine.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook the picadillo for approximately 15-20 minutes until most of the liquid cooks away. Stir occasionally. Keep it at a simmer, if the sauce is boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit.
  • If the picadillo is still too saucy after the cooking time, then uncover the skillet and let it simmer for a few minutes.
  • Taste the picadillo and add salt, if needed. As a reference we added ¼ teaspoon to ours.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and allow it to cool. Then, transfer the meat to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled through.

While the picadillo cools, prepare a station to build the empanadas

  • Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper to place the empanadas.
  • Prepare a small bowl with the beaten egg.
  • Working with one empanada disk at a time, add 2 heaping tablespoons of the picadillo in the middle.
  • Moisten around the edges of the dough with the egg using a pastry brush.
  • Fold the round in half, press the edges together gently.
  • Use a fork to press the edges together and ensure the seal.
  • Set the empanada on the lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the ingredients.

Fry the empanadas

  • Heat the oil over medium high heat. We need the oil at about 325°F to 350°F add 1-2 empanadas, depending on the size of the pan. Fry them for 1-2 minutes until golden.
  • Carefully flip and fry for another 1-2 minutes until golden on both sides.
  • Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula and set on a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack or on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining empanadas.
  • It may be necessary to lower the heat a bit for the second, third (etc.) batch. If the oil is too hot the empanadas may brown too much and too quickly.


We recommend using lean ground beef for this recipe. However, fat content in ground beef can be a little unpredictable and you may end up with too much oil. An easy way to remove it after browning (or at the end) is to pile the ground beef to one side of the skillet and tip it slightly so the oil pools on the opposite side of the meat. Scoop out the oil using a large spoon. Continue scooping until most or all the oil is gone. Then level the skillet, place it back over the heat and continue with the recipe.
If you need to stack the empanadas, use a piece of parchment paper in between so they don’t stick and break.


Serving: 2g | Calories: 702kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1534mg | Potassium: 549mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2375IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 7mg