Empanaditas de Carne (Small Beef Turnovers)

This post is also available in Spanish

Empanaditas de Carne (Small Beef Turnovers)

My grandmother often made these Empanaditas de Carne for us while growing up in Colombia. Back then, all I cared about was eating them, not learning how to make them. Mamita never wrote down any recipes, so unless I was there when she made a dish, and paying attention, I never learned how to make the recipe! This recipe is my mom’s adaptation of my grandmother’s Empanaditas de Carne.

These small beef turnovers are popular all over Colombia and are served as party appetizers and sold in school cafeterias for kid’s lunches. Nowadays, you can buy them frozen at supermarkets all over Colombia. They are always a huge hit with the kids. They love the fact that they can simply pick these up with their hands and gobble them down without the unnecessary use of cutlery.

Buen provecho!



(About 2 dozens of empanaditas)


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup ice water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white onion, shredded
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground achiote
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup diced and cooked potatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
Salt to taste
1 egg yolk


  1. o make the filling: In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, achiote, cumin and cook for about 6 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add the beef and cooked potatoes, and cook for about 7 minutes. Add the broth, season with salt and cook until meat is cooked through.
  3. To make the dough: Place the flour and salt in a food processor.
  4. Add the butter, and water until a dough forms.
  5. Form a ball, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Cut out round disc shapes with a round cutter or a small plate.
  7. Fill empanada discs with beef mixture. Brush the edges with egg and close the filling by pressing the edges together to form a half moon.

  8. Preheat oil in a deep pot to 375 degrees F. Fry the empanadas in the oil for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  9. Empanaditas de Carne (Small Beef Turnovers)

If you like this page, you can say thanks by sharing it


  1. Warren says

    When I lived in Caracas I ate many of these, always made with wheat flour pastry. I read some time ago that in Venezuela and Colombia that they are also commonly made with masarepa although I don’t recall ever seeing them. I just spent a week in Bogotá and found the cornmeal version and like it quite a lot. It was obviously sweetened and I really enjoyed the added flavor of the cornmeal. Do you think you could publish a recipe for the masarepa empanada dough?

  2. says

    a family recipe, hooray! those are the best, and these look so delicious, erica. i’m usually more a fan of fruity turnovers, but i can’t resist the beef! :)

  3. says

    I am working on a Savory Pie cookbook. It’s comes out in November from Ulysses press. I have an Spicy Chicken Empanada recipe in the book. I also have a smaller version like this made with Cotija cheese. I wanted to call them Emanditas as you did here. But my publisher made me call them bocaditos. Which name do you think is better? GREG

  4. Roberto says

    We had these and they were so good. We served them with had sauce on the side and they were gone very fast.

  5. Linnelle says

    What would be a good sauce recipe for these? Would you use the same as you would for the main empanadas recipe with AJI PICANTE?

    Thanks! I am excited to try to make these to share with my Food & Culture class.


  6. Anonymous says

    Hello Erica. Thanks so much for this recipe. I baked them in the oven @400 as we are watching calories. They were muy delicioso. My picky 15 yr old daughter lived them and so do I. Thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.