So let me just start out by saying that this is my favorite food from Argentina! They are so fun to make and even more fun to eat! There’s nothing like rolling the edges of the pastry to perfection. I’ve made them side by side with a 92-year-old woman from Argentina, and also with my 5-year-old niece! It’s safe to say that they are a favorite for the whole family!
I am so in love with empanadas that once, I paid someone in Argentina $10 just to deliver them to my house! My friend and I waited for almost two hours because this company was so popular that everyone was buying them that night. Consider these babies to be your new Friday night pizza. We even made up a song about them while we were waiting for them because GUYS. These things are so good!
Now, the fun thing about empanadas is that you get to be creative. They are like a savory pastry, which means you have a lot of room for creativity. I have had chicken, beef, pork, and tuna empanadas. I’ve even made dessert empanadas with my friend with apples and cinnamon and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmmmm.
But the most common and basic of the ones that I’ve tried are the chicken empanadas and the beef empanadas. When I make them, I have to make some of each because I just cannot choose between them! So especially for you all, I’ve listed both recipes below. Along with some tips and tricks to make your first time a little easier!
The “shells” for empanadas are easy to make and easier to buy! I like to buy mine pre-made because it saves a lot of time and the empanadas typically come out looking a lot prettier. If you are going to buy them, you can find them in most Latin-American grocery stores, or any store that sells General Mills products. I looked up a Latin-American grocery store and found one about 10 minutes away from my house, and the shells were super easy to find in the freezer section.
“Para horno” means for baking, and “para freir” means for frying. The BEST brand is La Salteña, but Goya is really good too.
To make the shells yourself, this is a great recipe. You will have to roll out the circles yourself, not too thin.
Filling: (Choose chicken or beef)
-Chicken (2 large chicken breasts) OR 1 lb ground beef
-2 Chicken bouillon cubes OR 2 beef bouillon cubes
-1 Medium Onion
-½ Red Bell Pepper
-1 Tbsp. Garlic
(optional) 2 Hard-Boiled Eggs, (this is how they prepare them in Argentina. Be sure to try it, you won’t be disappointed!)
(optional) 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
(optional) Laurel leaves
(optional) Lemon or Lime juice (I prefer a real lemon)
Preparing the Filling:
Boil chicken, (or cook beef in saucepan), with bouillon cubes until fully cooked. Shred chicken (or separate beef). Finely chop onion and red pepper as small as possible.
Together in saucepan, sauté onions, red pepper, and garlic. Add in cooked meat when onions are slightly transparent. Add seasonings as desired. I prefer 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1 tsp of cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.
(optional) Remove egg shells from hard boiled eggs, and chop into tiny cubes. Add to mixture.
(When preparing chicken, add a 1/8-1/4 cup of canola oil at the end to prevent it from being too dry).
Remove mixture from heat.
Preparing the Empanadas:
To bake: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil, and set aside. Fill a small bowl with water, and place near preparation area. Fill each empanada shell with 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. of filling, and wet the edge of the shell with your finger. Fold and pinch together until the shell is sealed. As I learned in Argentina, you can fold the edge like a pie, or use the edge of a fork to fully seal it. Place on baking sheet, and lightly brush the top of each with egg white. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Depending on the quality of the oven, they may need to be flipped to cook evenly on top and bottom.
**Empanadas can be fried, but I believe they taste much better baked, and my family agreed! It takes longer, but it’s healthier and they last longer as leftovers.
Serve warm! Slice a lemon or lime in half and squeeze a bit of juice into them as you eat them. It will change your life.
—To get the best flavor, I like to add a few whole laurel leaves to the meat as it cooks, and then remove them before combining the other ingredients. It’s a secret I learned from the best chefs in Argentina! The flavor is phenomenal!
—Don’t drain the meat too much! It’s good to be juicy and moist. However, if it’s too runny, it will spill out. No one wants a dry empanada, but you also don’t want it running out while it bakes.
How did yours turn out? Any more recipe suggestions? Tell us in the comments below!
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Ready to take on an Argentine dessert? This is the recipe!
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