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.
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?
How to Make Filipino Beef Empanadas
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
- 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
Empanada Beef (Meat Filling)
- 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.
- 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. Set aside to cool down.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer with the 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 ice water and continue to mix until the dough looks clumpy but soft (it should not be sticky).
- Divide the dough into two and form into small disk then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour. Roll to about 1/8 inch in thickness. Use a round cookie or scone cutter to make the circles. You may make small rounds up to 28 pieces or large ones up to 12 pieces.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Last updated on November 9th, 2023 at 11:04 pm