How to Make Filipino Beef Empanadas

Empanadas that came to the Philippines via Spain have become a national favorite in the country and remain a big favorite for snacking or as party appetizers. This is the classic way of making delicious Filipino beef empanadas with a buttery flaky crust and tasty beef filling with potatoes, carrots, and raisins for that perfect sweet and savory flavor combination. May be baked or fried.

Whenever I went to the shopping malls in the Philippines, particularly, SM Shoemart, you can be sure I never come home empty-handed. Nope, I don’t necessarily buy clothes or shoes but my favorite snacks which are often sold at kiosk or mall stands? Can you guess what these are?

EMPANADAS! I buy several varieties – from the traditional beef empanadas with a tasty picadillo filling, ham and cheese filling, perhaps seasoned chicken or pork – or even some sweetened dessert-type filling, too.

Now, perhaps you’re wondering how come there are empanadas in the Philippines? How did they end up there?

Let’s have a brief history lesson here! in 1521, Spain arrived in the Philippines and for over 300 years (365 years to be precise, I believe!) they colonized my beloved country.

Beef Empanada

So it’s not uncommon to find so many delicious Spanish dishes in our local cuisine that are being cooked and enjoyed to this day. That certainly (and thankfully!) included these delicious empanadas.

Empanadas, also known as turnovers or hand pies, are the perfect snacks or party appetizers that may be filled with either sweet or savory fillings.

The traditional filling would be ground beef seasoned with soy sauce and has potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, peas or raisins. Some or all of the vegetables mentioned are included.

What makes the Filipino empanada so yummy (apart from the tasty filling) is the dough, too! The Filipino version of empanada dough has a little added sugar making it slightly sweet which combined with a good amount of butter is super tasty. Just the perfect complement to the savory filling.

Empanadas may either be baked or fried. It’s up to you how you like to cook it!

If you are serving this for a party, use a small round cookie cutter so you can make as much as 28 pieces of the empanada. But if you wish for it to be more of a snack or even light lunch use a larger size round cutter like a small plate perhaps. You can make up to 12 large empanadas.

Don’t fancy making the dough? I think it’s worth the effort but sometimes we don’t have time! In that case, simply use a puff pastry dough then follow the instructions on how to fill it in the recipe card below. The photo below shows the fried empanadas using puff pastry.

Don’t they look delicious, too?

5 from 12 votes
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How to Make Filipino Beef Empanadas

Empanadas that came to the Philippines via Spain have become a national favorite in the country and remain a big favorite for snacking or as party appetizers. This is the classic way of making delicious Filipino beef empanadas with a buttery flaky crust and tasty beef filling with potatoes, carrots, and raisins for that perfect sweet and savory flavor combination. May be baked or fried.

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Asian Cuisine, Filipino, South East Asian, Spanish
Keyword easy filipino empanada recipe, how to make filipino beef empanada
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 28 small pieces or 12 large
Author Manila Spoon

Ingredients

Empanada Beef (Meat) Filling

  • 2 tbsp oil optional if the meat you’re using has a good amount of fat content
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes diced
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • Ground black pepper to taste (optional)
  • 2 red potatoes diced
  • 1/2 a piece of a large red bell pepper diced (optional)
  • 1 small carrot diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup peas

Empanada Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • ¾ cup water, divided

Instructions

Empanada Beef (Meat Filling)

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Sauté the garlic and onion for about a minute. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until the onions and tomatoes have softened about 5 minutes.
Stir in the ground beef and pork. Crumble with a fork to prevent clumping. Season with soy sauce and black pepper and cook until the meat has turned brown.
Add the potatoes or red bell pepper and carrots and then simmer covered for about 5-8 minutes or until the veggies have softened.
  2. Uncover then stir in the raisins, raise the heat and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the peas and cook for another couple of minutes.

Empanada Dough

  1. In a bowl of the stand mixer using the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and butter until it resembles cornmeal. 2. Add 1/2 ice water to the dough while the mixer is running. Add 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is clumpy but soft (don’t let it get sticky!)3. Divide dough into two, form a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. 4. Roll into 1/8 of an inch thick and use a large circle cookie cutter to cut the circles out. 

  2. In a boil of a stand mixer with paddle attachment mix together the flour, sugar, salt and butter until it looks crumbly. Pour about 1/2 cup of the ice water into the dough while the mixer is running. Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup ice water and continue to mix until the dough looks clumpy but soft (it should not be sticky).

  3. Divide the dough into two and form into small disk then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour. Roll into about 1/8 of an inch thick and use a round cookie or scone cutter to cut it up. You may make small rounds up to 28 pieces or large ones (up to 12 pieces).

  4. Don't wish to make the crust? Simply buy and use store-bought puff-pastry then follow instructions on making the rounds.

Preparing the Empanada for Baking or Frying

  1. To fill the cut-up dough, place a small amount of filling (about a rounded tablespoon if making small empanadas) in the middle. Do not overfill.

  2. Fold the empanada so that you form a half-moon shape. Either crimp the edges to seal with your fingers or simply use a fork to seal it. Brush the empanada with a little egg wash (use one beaten egg) for color.

  3. Fry the empanadas in a deep fryer until golden brown all over. For a healthier alternative, bake the empanadas in a preheated 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes or just until nicely browned all over. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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14 Comments

  1. Louise Kelley
    October 3, 2021 / 9:37 am

    5 stars
    You can buy frozen empanada discs at most large grocery stores. Saves a TON of time

    • abigail
      Author
      October 5, 2021 / 3:55 pm

      I sometimes use store-bought but some prefer to make the dough from scratch so I added this recipe for those who don’t mind a little extra work. Certainly, the pre-made dough/discs are great when you’re in a hurry.

  2. Claudia Lamascolo
    October 6, 2021 / 5:32 am

    5 stars
    I have never tried to make these before and came across this. I especially love the vegetables in it and the crust sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Byron Thomas
    October 6, 2021 / 7:03 am

    5 stars
    These were better than store-bought. It was my first time making them at home. Thank you!

  4. Melanie
    October 6, 2021 / 10:51 am

    5 stars
    We are empanadas super fans over here and this version looks amazing! Will definitely try it soon! Thanks for the step-by-step explanations, super helpful!

  5. Tatiana
    October 6, 2021 / 2:11 pm

    5 stars
    I have never added raisins to empanadas before and guess what we absolutely loved it. Made the flavor really unique.

  6. Molly Kumar
    October 7, 2021 / 12:33 am

    5 stars
    Wow, they look so crispy on the outside and that delicious filling! I’d try them soon as I love empanadas and have most of these ingredients.

  7. Marisa Franca
    January 13, 2022 / 8:35 am

    5 stars
    We’ve made Mexican empanadas before and your version really captured my interest with the combination of meat and vegetables. We’ve only had the meat version. We made your recipe and the entire family went nuts over it. Looks like I’ll be making this recipe again this weekend. It’s perfect when you’re watching sports on TV.

  8. Gloria Duggan
    January 13, 2022 / 9:27 am

    5 stars
    Love empanadas. Hubby and I made them in a cooking course once. These sound so delicious.

  9. Priya Srinivasan
    January 13, 2022 / 3:06 pm

    5 stars
    Wow they look inviting! Crispy outer and a delicious filling! This would definitely be a hit at parties!!!

  10. Natalie
    January 14, 2022 / 5:32 am

    5 stars
    These empanadas look delicious. I have to give them a try. My boys will flip when I make them these.

  11. David Paterson
    February 12, 2022 / 1:56 pm

    The Cornish Tin Miners went to Europe (including Spain) to work. One wonders if the Cornish Pasty went with them and originated the Empanada or vice versa
    I look forward to trying these.

    • abigail
      Author
      April 13, 2022 / 1:12 pm

      Yes, you can freeze them. When you fancy eating them, simply take out the number of empanadas you want, and then allow them to thaw in the fridge or in the microwave. Then, reheat them in a moderate oven heat or air fryer so they don’t turn out soggy and get kind of flaky again.

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