Beef Empanada and an Afternoon Prepping with Tasha

Empanada is also known as “turnover” or stuffed pastry which is usually made by filling the dough with savory or sweet ingredients, folding it over, sealing and baking or frying it. It could be served as appetizer, snack or a meal on its own.

Turnovers are very flexible dish since you can make so many versions depending on what stuffing, spices or pastry to use. Some use regular flour to make pastry dough while others prefer wheat. In southern states, they prefer to use corn flour instead.


Changing the stuffing also changes the flavor profile of empanada, for instance:
* Asian – (savory)  – use ground pork or tuna, cabbage or potato,
garlic, onion, carrots, and parsley
* Italian – (also called panzerotti) use minced beef, almonds, walnuts, chocolate,
sugar, cinnamon, basil, and cloves
* Mexican – (spicy)  use ground beef, onion, garlic, tomatoes, corn, beans, cilantro,
cumin, cayenne, jalapeno, and coriander or taco seasoning
* American – (sweet) use apples or any fruit, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon


So, I first thought of making empanada when I was checking out things at St. Vincent de Paul. That’s what I do sometimes; I just go to thrift stores thinking I could find something different. It’s like a treasure hunt. Someone’s trash is another man’s treasure as they say.

And there I saw this one piece of turnover press for $2. Since I don’t have one yet, I took it and thought one day I will make empanada. Then it just sat in my cupboard for weeks waiting for the right day. Many more days have passed and I already forgot the turnover press.


One day, my daughter Tasha and her boyfriend Brenden came over to the house and stayed for the weekend. She just graduated college this year and after three months she already got her first full-time job working as a state employee.

Since my kid is already a young adult and doesn’t live with me anymore; when she comes to visit, it always feels like I am taken back to the time when she was little and I would come up with fun things to engage her and make her busy especially on weekends. It doesn’t change. It’s still the same feeling and anticipation trying to plan or do things together.

So, my plan was to make empanada using the turnover press I bought at St. Vinny’s that has been sitting in my cupboard and it almost already slipped off my mind. That being said, I planned on making pastry dough from scratch and have Tasha help out.

As it turned out, the entire afternoon was well worth spent on making the pastry, cooking the beef and vegetable stuffing and assembling the empanada. Catching up conversation with my daughter about her new job and new place that they just moved in was the defining moment for this empanada recipe 🙂


Beef Stuffed Pastry or Turnover
Yield: 10-12 Pcs.

Ingredients for pastry dough
* flour – 4 cups
* salt – 2 tbsp.
* unsalted butter – 1 stick, cut into thin slices
* egg – 1 large, beaten
* water (or milk) – 1 cup
* egg wash – 1 egg, beaten diluted with 2 tbsp. water

Ingredients for beef filling
* ground beef – 1 lb.
* onion – small, chopped
* mixed vegetables – 1 cup (I used the frozen pack)
* celery – 1 cup, chopped
* cilantro – 1 cup, chopped
* spices – ½ tsp. each (garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, paprika)
* salt and pepper – 1 tsp. each
* cornstarch – 1 tbsp.

Prepare the pastry
1. Combine flour and salt. Add egg and mix with rubber spatula.
2. Add butter slices and mix with hand.
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3. Add water and knead the dough very lightly using hands.
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4. Cut the dough into equal portions.
5. Place portioned dough in a bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least half hour.

Cook the filling
1. Brown ground beef and add the spices.
2. Add onions and sauté for few seconds.
3. Add the rest of the vegetables and cornstarch. Simmer for few minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the cilantro, mix well and turn off stove.
5. Scoop the vegetable mixture into a strainer to remove excess grease.
6. Transfer the vegetable into a dish and divide into equal portions. Set aside.

Assemble the empanada
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
1. Dust the surface with half a handful of flour.
2. Rollout portioned dough on the surface using rolling pin. Every time dough sticks on the surface, dust more flour.
3. Bring the pastry over to the turnover press and press slightly into the mold.
4. Scoop out one portion of vegetable on one side of the press.
5. Brush the eggwash around the turnover press before finally pressing and sealing the pastry.
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6. Laydown all the stuffed pastry on greased baking sheet.
7. Brush the surface of the pastry with eggwash and relax the pastry for 10 min.
8. Before baking, make a slight cross-cut on the top of each pastry.
9. Bake the empanada @ 375 F for 25-30 min. or when bubbles start coming out of the cut.

Thank you for reading and happy cooking!

2 thoughts on “Beef Empanada and an Afternoon Prepping with Tasha

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