• The Curious Traveler

How to make empanadas

Hi there! As the destination manager for Argentina, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to scout our Patagonia Hiking Adventure a couple of years ago. I was mostly excited for the mountains but was delightfully surprised by the fantastic food, including the famed empanadas—Argentina’s most popular snack.

Although these half-moon, stuffed pastries originated in Spain, Argentina has been dubbed the empanada capital of the world—every region has their own filling variety. Argentine empanadas are smaller than their Spanish cousins and either baked or fried. Everyone has their preference, but I think both are equally delicious.

I thought it would be fun to try making them at home with my daughter! The recipe below is from Bon Appetit and was developed by their Test Kitchen Manager who just so happens to be from Buenos Aires. It uses frozen puff pastry, but if you’re ambitious, you can make your own (this recipe looks good, but I haven’t tried it.)


 – 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

 – 2 lb. ground beef (20% fat)

 – 2 medium onions, chopped

 – 2 small red bell peppers, seeded, chopped

 – Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

 – 3 Tbsp. ground cumin

 – 2 Tbsp. sweet paprika

 – 1 Tbsp. dried oregano

 – ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

 – 1½ cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth

 – 2 tsp. sugar

 – ½ cup raisins

 – 3 packages (12 each) Puff Pastry Dough for Turnovers/Empanadas or 2 boxes of general puff pastry thawed and cut into 5- to 6-inch diameter circles

 – ½ cup pitted green olives (Picholine or Spanish), rinsed well, cut in half lengthwise


  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large pot over high. Cook beef, breaking up with a spoon, until browned but not completely cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving as much fat in pan as possible.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, bell peppers, and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, stirring, until tender but not browned, 6–8 minutes; season with salt and black pepper. Add cumin, paprika, oregano, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add chicken stock and reserved beef along with any accumulated juices to pot. Stir in sugar, 4 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, until most of the liquid is evaporated, 15–20 minutes; taste and season with salt and black pepper, if needed. Stir in raisins.
  4. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and chill at least 3 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°. Let dough sit at room temperature 15 minutes to temper. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  6. Remove 6 rounds from package, keeping plastic divider underneath, and arrange on a work surface. Place 2 Tbsp. filling in the center of each round.
  7. Top with 2 olive halves. Brush water around half of outer edge of each round. Using plastic divider to help you, fold round over filling and pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, crimp edges.
  8. Remove plastic and transfer empanada to sheet pan spacing 1″ apart. Repeat with remaining rounds (you’ll get about 12 empanadas on each tray).
  9. Bake empanadas, rotating tray halfway through, until golden brown and slightly darker around the edges, 25–35 minutes.
  10. Do Ahead: Filling can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Unbaked empanadas can be made 3 months ahead; freeze on sheet tray, then transfer to freezer bags and keep frozen.

Good luck and buen provecho (Spanish for bon appetit)!


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