Mini Beef and Cheese Empanadas

We continue onto Week 2 of College Football, which means another delicious Football bite! Todays recipe is an easy bite sized appetizer that makes for a great choice for tailgating parties. A savory beef and cheese filling stuffed into a miniature crisp crust. No need to fumble with plates and forks, you can eat these babies right out of your hand. These bite sized empanadas are super easy to make and can even be prepared beforehand if you are hosting a big tailgating party. Just prepare them and keep them in the fridge until ready to bake. This way we don’t miss any critical plays messing around in the kitchen. 🙂 They even freeze beautifully, so you can have empanadas anytime the craving hits.

Mini Beef and Cheese Empanadas

Bite sized empanadas stuffed with a savory beef and cheese filling and baked in a miniature crisp crust.

Yield: about 48 empanadas


For Dough:
3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (18 1/4 ounces), plus more for dusting the work surface
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1 ¼ cups ice water, divided

For Filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 pound (85 percent lean) ground chuck
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1/2 cup)
1 large egg, beaten


To make the dough, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process flour, sugar, and salt until combined, about six 1-second pulses. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with butter bits no larger than small peas, about 16 pulses.
Transfer mixture into medium bowl. Working with 1/4 cup of water at a time, sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and stir it in using a rubber spatula, pressing the mixture against the side of the bowl to form a dough, until no small bits of flour remain (you may not need to use all of the water).
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Press each dough half into a cohesive ball, then flatten into a 6-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, about 2 hours or up to 2 days.
To make the filling, heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beef and cook, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the broth, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the mixture is moist but not wet, about 8 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. Stir in the cheese and continue to chill until needed, up to 3 days.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on floured work surface to 18-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut 24 circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, discarding the dough scraps; wrap the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat with the second disk of dough and the second prepared baking sheet.
Working with the first batch of dough rounds, place a heaping 1 to 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each dough round and moisten the edge of the dough round with water, using either your finger or a pastry brush. Fold the dough in half over the filling, making a half-moon shape. Pinch the seam along the edge to secure. Crimp the seam using the tines of a fork. If the fork becomes sticky, quickly dip it in flour. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Wrap the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making a second batch of empanadas using the remaining dough rounds and filling.
Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Unwrap the empanadas and brush with the egg. Bake until golden brown, about 20-22 minutes, switching and rotating the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Note: to store, make sure each baking sheet is covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. (After the empanadas are completely frozen, about 8 hours, they can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer. Transfer back to a parchment-lined baking sheet before baking.)

If you’ve missed them, make sure to check out the rest of my College Football Bites: :)

Week One: Make Ahead Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket 


One Year Ago: Quinoa and Black Bean Salad 

Two Years Ago: Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes


16 Responses to “Mini Beef and Cheese Empanadas”

  1. #
    Melissa B — September 8, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    I love these! They look like little dessert pies! Your recipe would also be wonderful for a meal at home or a potluck!

  2. #
    Christin@fortmillscliving — September 8, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

    The filling for the empanadas sounds amazing. Bet it smells wonderful as it cooks!

  3. #
    ChgoJohn — September 8, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

    Empanadas are great, aren’t they? Best of all is that they can be frozen. Love being able to pop a couple in the oven for a quick lunch.

  4. #
    Regina — September 9, 2012 @ 6:57 am

    Never made these, but now I want to try them as they sound wonderful! Did you have them yesterday for the big game? Both our teams won yesterday, go Gators!

  5. #
    Hotly Spiced — September 9, 2012 @ 7:05 am

    Your empanadas look great. These are great finger food and perfect for the football season.

  6. #
    Laura Dembowski — September 9, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

    Yum! But I totally wish I could see the inside. Are you also a professional football fan?

  7. #
    JulieD — September 9, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

    I love Empanadas and Cook’s Illustrated!! Yours look so perfect!!

  8. #
    Parsley Sage — September 9, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    I love LOVE LOVE empanadas! They’re one of the best party food you could make so I fully support you rocking them for football 🙂 Yours look fabulous!

  9. #
    9 — September 9, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

    Christina–I was on vacation this past week and have only just now had a chance to see your blog’s makeover. Congrats on the new look–very nice! And your empanadas look fantastic. Made me hungry just looking at them…

  10. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — September 10, 2012 @ 1:24 am

    Can’t even believe it’s football season already! These look great for game days!

  11. #
    Nami | Just One Cookbook — September 11, 2012 @ 12:36 am

    Hi Christina! Your blog has a new look! I love it! Very pretty and easy to read, too. And your Empanadas look perfect and my husband would totally request this when we’re hosting a get together for games. Meat and cheese in the warm Empanadas… yummy!

  12. #
    baker street — September 12, 2012 @ 2:22 am

    I love the new layout christina! the beef and cheese empanadas look just fantastic. 🙂

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