Picadillo Beef Empanadas Recipe

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Picadillo Beef Empanadas

Jacinda Santiago


This is my go-to quick & easy snack for my twins when they are hungry and I want to avoid processed food. You can fry or bake these, I always fry them but use only a small amount of healthy oil.

Recaito and sazon can be found in the ethic food aisle. Recaito can also be found frozen along with the empanada disks.

I typically keep picadillo in my fridge or freezer as it has many uses. You can use picadillo as a taco or tortilla filling, in a casserole or as an accompaniment to white or yellow rice.

pinch tips: How to Freeze Fish, Meat & Poultry




15 Min


35 Min



1 lb
lean ground beef (ground turkey or veggie crumbles can also be used)
2 Tbsp
olive oil, extra virgin
1 can(s)
tomato sauce, no-salt added
1/4 c
golden raisins (optional)
1/4-1/2 c
olives with pimiento, sliced
bay leaves
1 Tbsp
sazon, store bought or homemade (see below)
2-4 Tbsp
recaito, store bought or homemade (see below)


1 pkg
frozen empanada disks (can substitute w/pie crust dough, rolled out and cut into smaller disks)
oil for frying


1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
cumin seeds
1 Tbsp
1/2 Tbsp
garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp
onion powder
1 tsp
1/2 tsp
annato, ground (a.k.a. bijol)


2 bunch
cilantro, fresh
2 bunch
culantro, fresh (can substitute with 4 additional cilantro)
spanish onion
8 clove
red bell pepper
green bell pepper
ajicito pepper (optional - can omit if you cannot find or add more green bell pepper)

Directions Step-By-Step

In a large frying pan (one with a lid) over medium heat, add the olive oil and then the ground meat. Cook the meat is thoroughly browned, chopping the meat as finely as possible throughout the cooking process.
Drain any excess fat from the pan and add the sazon, recaito, tomato sauce, bay leaves, olives & raisins.
Cover and cook for 10 minutes until beef is well done. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
When the picadillo has cooled enough to be handled, assemble the empanadas. Lay one disk on your work surface and add a few spoonfuls of picadillo slightly off center. Fold the disk in half and press the edges to close. Then press the tines of a fork around the seam for a solid seal.
The empanadas can be refrigerated or frozen until ready to cook. If you freeze them, be sure to allow them to defrost thoroughly before frying or baking.
If frying, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the empanadas, turning to fry each side until golden brown. If baking, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange empanadas on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden. If baking you can also brush the empanadas with an egg wash to give them a golden crust.
Cooked empanadas can also be refrigerated or frozen and reheated in the microwave.
TO MAKE THE SAZON SEASONING: Add the peppercorns and cumin seeds to a small frying pan and toast over medium-low heat until fragrant. Allow to cool and add them to a spice grinder and grind to a fine consistency. Add the additional spices and grind in a mortar & pestle. Bottle in a spice jar. This can be used to season any meat as well as making Spanish style rice.
TO MAKE THE RECAITO: Chop the onion and peppers (remove all seeds) so they will fit in your food processor. Then add all the ingredients to the food processor and puree until it has the consistency of smooth pesto sauce. Can be frozen into small usable portions for later use or refrigerated for up to two weeks. This can be used to flavor any meat or casserole as well as Spanish style rice.

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