Empanaditas de Carne (Small Beef Turnovers)

by Erica Dinho on August 7, 2012

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)

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook August 7, 2012 at 8:28 AM

I have to try your recipe, they look fantastic. I had a friend who made similar and we couldn’t get enough. Now I need to try myself.


2 Warren August 7, 2012 at 9:48 AM

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?


3 Erica August 7, 2012 at 10:32 AM
4 Anonymous August 7, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Thank you!


5 Warren August 7, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Thank you!


6 rebecca August 7, 2012 at 10:03 AM

wow love these got a few for me :-)


7 Belinda @zomppa August 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Can never say no empanadas. I love that they are easier now to access, but I hope young ones don’t forget to learn how to make them!


8 Jenn and Seth August 7, 2012 at 2:52 PM

these look soooo delicious! definitely want to try these soon!


9 Miriam August 8, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Lovely turnovers :)
Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters


10 Joanne August 9, 2012 at 7:14 AM

What fun little treats!


11 grace August 10, 2012 at 4:49 AM

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! :)


12 sippitysup August 11, 2012 at 12:18 PM

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


13 Erica August 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Greg, I like “Empanaditas”.


14 Chris August 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Erica these look AMAZING. That dough is so flaky and light and oooooo I just want to grab it and it it! Pinning this.


15 Norma-Platanos, Mangoes and Me! August 14, 2012 at 9:12 AM

You are brave…I buy my discs….looking good!


16 Roberto August 15, 2012 at 5:24 PM

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


17 Erica August 16, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Thank you everyone! I appreciate your comments and feedback!


18 Linnelle September 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM

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.



19 Erica September 6, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Yes…use the same Ají. Delicious!


20 Florencia November 13, 2012 at 6:24 AM

Do you think they can also be baked?


21 Erica November 13, 2012 at 7:34 AM

Yes, But the dough is different for baked empanadas.


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