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Apr 1, 2020

Empanadas de Picadillo

These empanadas de picadillo are made with puff pastry wrapped around a mixture of seasoned ground beef and potatoes.

Empanadas de Picadillo

These empanadas are baked, not fried, and are wonderful fresh from the oven or reheated later in the toaster oven. While they may not win a beauty contest, these were pretty much one of the most popular dishes from my kitchen.

About empanadas.

Empanadas are savory hand pies that are typically filled with chopped meats and vegetables seasoned with warm spices and chiles. They are crescent shaped and are either fried or baked. There are many variations throughout Latin America and the Philippines.

Empanadas de Picadillo with puff pastry

These empanadas are filled with a mixture of the following ingredients:

  • Yukon Gold potatoes.
  • A mixture of finely chopped onions, bell peppers, garlic, and ground cumin.
  • Ground beef.
  • Tomato puree.
  • Vinegar, capers, green olives, and chile powder. 

onions, peppers, and garlic
Onions, peppers, and garlic. 

This picadillo recipe will give you more than you need to fill the empanadas. You can serve the extra meat mixture with rice and beans.

You will need a pound of puff pastry as well, either homemade or store bought. If you want to try making your own, I recommend this recipe. For these empanadas, I used frozen puff pastry.

Tips for making these empanadas de picadillo.

Before cutting the puff pastry, roll the dough out enough to be able cut four 6-inch circles from each piece. I actually gathered the scraps and make extra empanadas. The dough wasn't quite as flaky, but the empanadas were still delicious.

To cut the rounds from the puff pastry dough, I used a 6-inch cake pan inverted over the dough. I ran a knife around the dough for perfect circles. If you have a 6- inch (or approximate) bowl, that would work too. You could also make a 6-inch round pattern with parchment or wax paper.

Make-ahead tip: You can assemble and refrigerate the empanadas before baking later in the day. While these are best the day they are made, if you have leftovers, you can also refrigerate them. To reheat leftovers, place them in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. We loved having plenty of leftovers.

Another make-ahead tip: You can also make the filling a day in advance and assemble the empanadas the next day.

You will also need a parchment lined baking sheet.

Empanadas de Picadillo with ground beef, potatoes, capers, and olives

Welcome to National Empanada Day!

National Empanada Day is April 8. Here are some recipes to choose from for your celebration. For mini (appetizer-sized) empenadas, be sure to try my chicken empenadas with chiles

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Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays by cooking and baking together with the same ingredient or theme each month. Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board!

Empanadas de Picadillo

Empanadas de Picadillo
Yield: 8 servings
These empanadas de picadillo are made with puff pastry wrapped around a mixture of seasoned ground beef and potatoes.


  • 8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters for larger potatoes, and halved for smaller potatoes. 
  • 1/2 large yellow or brown onion (about 4 ounces), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound ground beef, 90 percent lean, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons sliced pimento stuffed green olives (martini olives)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 pound puff pastry, thawed if frozen


How to cook Empanadas de Picadillo

  1. Place the potatoes in a medium sauce pan and cover with water to about 1 inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil, and boil for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and set aside while preparing the picadillo. This will par cook the potatoes. 
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor (I used a mini food processor) and pulse until finely chopped (but not pureed). 
  3. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil and then add the onion mixture. Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes, and then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for another minute. 
  4. Add the ground beef and mash it into the vegetables with a wooden spoon. Cook, pressing the meat and stirring until the meat is crumbly, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Stir in the tomato puree, water, salt, and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. 
  6. Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks and add them to the meat mixture. Stir in the capers, olives and cayenne powder. Simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Cool completely before assembling the empanadas. 
  7. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  8. Gently roll out the 2 sheets of puff pastry to about 13 inches by 13 inches. Cut each piece into four 6-inch disks for a total of eight. 
  9. Place the disks,  one at a time, on a lightly floured surface, and roll to about a 7-inch round. 
  10. Brush the edge of the round with water and add about 3 tablespoons of filling to the middle of the circle. Fold half of the dough over the filling to form a crescent, and press the edges together with your fingers. Place the empanada on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough circles. You will have leftover picadillo. 
  11. Cut a 1-inch slit through the dough over the thickest part of the filling. 
  12. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the empanadas are golden and the filling is bubbly. 
  13. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before serving. They can also be served at room temperature. 
Fat (grams)
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picadillo, empanada
Beef, Main dish
Latin American, Cuban

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Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe was adapted from Bake! Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking by one of my favorite bakers, Nick Malgieri. I also have his book about pastry.

Would you like to comment?

  1. They sound delicious. I love the idea of using puff pastry.

    1. Thanks Stacy! It's not as pretty, but it was delicious.

  2. I love these filling ingredients!! I have some capers in the fridge that need a home.

  3. What a tasty filling, Karen! And I always have puff pastry in the freezer. I think your empanadas look perfect.

  4. I love these flaky empanadas, they sure might be tasty.

  5. Very good recipe and very easy to teach and enjoy making and eating at home
    thanks for sharing this recipe


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