Step-by-Step Guide to Flaky Beef Empanadas Made from Scratch

Hello there, fellow culinary enthusiasts! Are you in the mood to try something unique, flavorful and easy to make? Then let me introduce to you my Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas recipe.

These savory turnovers are a beloved dish in Panama and throughout Latin America. They are made of a flaky dough filled with a delicious blend of ground beef, onions, tomatoes, and spices. Not only are they fun to make, but they also offer an explosion of flavors that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

In this recipe, we will be using mini pie crusts instead of making the empanada dough from scratch, which cuts out a lot of preparation time without sacrificing flavor. Don’t worry; You’ll still get that authentic Panamanian empanadas experience!

I absolutely love panamanian beef empanadas because they are so versatile. You can serve them as appetizers, snacks or even as a main course paired with a refreshing salad on the side.

So, let’s grab our aprons and get cooking! Join me on this culinary journey where I will guide you step-by-step on how to make the tastiest Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas
Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas

Welcome to this incredible mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas recipe! Are you a foodie looking for a unique and tasty experience? Then, you’ll love this dish! It’s simply the perfect type of food that you can pop into your mouth anytime during the day.

These scrumptious beef empanadas give you a chance to savor some of Panama’s most iconic dishes. The Panamanian beef empanadas are small savory turnovers that make the perfect pairing with almost anything – from coffee in the morning to beer at night.

These mini empanadas are filled with seasoned ground beef, diced onions, garlic, sweet red bell peppers, cilantro, tangy tomato paste, vegetables, broth and wine – all enclosed in a crispy and flaky pie crust. Not only are they delicious but they’re also easy to make and can be stored for later eats or make-ahead meals.

Whether it’s your first time having them or not, these beef empanadas will leave an unparalleled taste in your mouth that will linger long after the last bite. You’ll love this recipe because it is diverse enough to cater to different dietary preferences; you can easily swap out ingredients based on your liking or dietary need. Additionally, they’re loved by children and adults alike, making them the perfect choice for family dinners or Sunday brunches with friends.

Ravenous just thinking about it? What are you waiting for? Try this flavorful and baked mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas recipe today and create a culinary adventure in your own kitchen!

Ingredient List

 Golden-brown and crispy on the outside, hot and juicy on the inside!
Golden-brown and crispy on the outside, hot and juicy on the inside!

Here’s a list of ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

Empanada Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon achiote seeds (also called annatto seeds)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Empanada Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

You can also add other ingredients such as cilantro, diced tomatoes, or olives to give your empanadas more depth of flavor.

The Recipe How-To

 These bite-sized empanadas pack a punch of Panamanian flavor.
These bite-sized empanadas pack a punch of Panamanian flavor.

Now that you have all the ingredients on your hands, let’s start making some delicious mini Panamanian beef empanadas. I will guide you through each step, so don’t worry if you have never made empanadas before!

Preparing the Empanada Filling

  • Step 1: In a large skillet or pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat.
  • Step 2: Add one medium diced onion and one small diced red bell pepper to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes until they are slightly tender.
  • Step 3: Add two chopped garlic cloves, bay leaf and a teaspoon of achiote seeds (also called annatto) to the skillet. Cook for an additional minute.
  • Step 4: Add one pound of ground beef to the skillet and stir it with the vegetables. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until meat is browned.
  • Step 5: Once the meat is cooked, add two diced tomatoes (or one can of diced tomatoes), two tablespoons of tomato paste, half cup of beef broth, and one-fourth cup of dry white wine to the skillet.
  • Step 6: Stir everything together and cook on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Step 7: Finally, stir in half cup of chopped cilantro and set aside the filling to cool down.

Making Mini Empanadas Dough

  • Step 1: In a large bowl, mix three cups of all-purpose flour, one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of sugar.
  • Step 2: Add eight tablespoons (one stick) of unsalted butter cut into small pieces and mix it with your fingers until it looks like wet sand.
  • Step 3: In a separate bowl or mixing cup, beat two eggs lightly, and add one-fourth cup of white vinegar and one-fourth cup of ice water.
  • Step 4: Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir it with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough.
  • Step 5: Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for one to two minutes, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Shaping and Baking Empanadas

  • Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Step 2: Dust a flat and clean surface with flour.
  • Step 3: Roll out the empanada dough into thin rounds. Use a small cookie cutter, glass or any round shape mold to cut out circles from the dough.
  • Step 4: Place one tablespoon of beef filling in the center of each circle. Add sliced olives or cheese if desired.
  • Step 5: Brush lightly the edges of each dough circle

Substitutions and Variations

 Perfect as a party appetizer or a savory snack any time of day.
Perfect as a party appetizer or a savory snack any time of day.

If you like to experiment in the kitchen, here are some substitutions and variations that you can try to make your Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas Recipe even more interesting and diverse.

First of all, you can try using different types of ground meat, such as pork or chicken, instead of beef. You may adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly, to ensure that the meat cooks thoroughly.

If you prefer a vegetarian option, you can replace the ground meat with cooked black beans or mushrooms for a delicious savory filling.

For a bit of a kick, you can try adding some chopped jalapenos or serrano peppers to the filling mixture. This will give your empanadas a spicy flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients.

You can also try adding different vegetables, such as corn or peas, to the filling mixture to give it some extra texture and flavor.

If cilantro is not your thing, you can replace it with another herb such as parsley or oregano. Similarly, if you don’t have any white vinegar on hand, you could use apple cider vinegar or lime juice instead.

Finally, for an even more indulgent treat, consider adding some cheese to your Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas Recipe. Try mixing in some shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese into your filling mixture for an extra burst of flavor. You could also prepare a separate batch of cheese empanadas by simply omitting the beef and replacing it with a mixture of different cheeses.

Overall, these substitutions and variations are great options if you’re looking to add some variety to your empanada-making game. Feel free to mix and match different options until you discover the perfect combination that suits your taste buds.

Serving and Pairing

 Don't let their small size fool you - these empanadas are packed with tender beef.
Don’t let their small size fool you – these empanadas are packed with tender beef.

These mini Panamanian beef empanadas look as cute as they taste. They make the perfect party appetizer or snack that are easy to serve and easy to impress your guests.

But the journey to create a perfect dish doesn’t stop with just making it. Presentation is key, which means that how you serve these little treats is just as important as how good they taste. One option is to arrange them in patterns, like wheels or crescents, or display them stacked on a platter with a colorful dish of cilantro or your favorite dipping sauce such as salsa or guacamole.

Now, let’s talk about pairing our little delights. Nothing goes better with beef than red wine! You can try pairing these empanadas with a light-bodied red wine such as Malbec or Carmenere from Chile. The slightly peppery notes in these wines complement the spiciness in the empanadas filling deliciously. For beer lovers, try pairing them with an amber ale or brown ale, which will balance out the savory flavors in the pastry nicely.

If you’re serving them as a main course, why not extend the Latin American theme and make it more festive? You can add some sides like black beans and rice, yucca fries or even avocado salad to create an authentic Central American meal experience.

Remember, these mini Panamanian beef empanadas should be enjoyed with company! Just grab one (or several) and enjoy the burst of flavor in each bite while sharing stories and connecting with friends over good food and drinks.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Freshly baked and ready to bite into in just 20 minutes.
Freshly baked and ready to bite into in just 20 minutes.

Nothing beats the convenience of having a batch of Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas on hand for a quick snack or meal. Luckily, this recipe is incredibly freezer-friendly!

To make ahead, once the empanadas are assembled and sealed, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze them until firm. Transfer the frozen empanadas to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months.

When ready to enjoy, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the desired amount of frozen mini empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

These beef empanadas are also great for meal prep, especially if you have a busy week ahead. Stored in an airtight container, these savory turnovers will keep in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Simply reheat them in the microwave or oven until warmed through.

If you happen to have leftovers, these Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas make for a fantastic next-day lunch or snack. To store leftover baked empanadas, let them cool completely before placing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Pro tip: avoid reheating leftover empanadas in the microwave as they can become soggy. Instead, heat them up in the oven or toaster oven for crispy results!

No matter how you choose to store or reheat these Panamanian Beef Empanadas, they’re sure to be a hit with family and friends alike!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Your taste buds will thank you for the perfect balance of meat and dough.
Your taste buds will thank you for the perfect balance of meat and dough.

Creating delicious and crispy empanadas is an art form. But, with some tips and tricks, you can ensure perfect results every time you whip up a batch of these savory turnovers. Here are some essential tips for making the best Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas:

1. For the best flavor, use fresh ingredients

Fresh ingredients are key to achieving those bold flavors that make Panamanian beef empanadas so irresistible. Make sure to pick fresh red bell peppers, onions, and garlic cloves from your local market. Similarly, select ripe tomatoes and high-quality ground beef to ensure a rich and hearty filling.

2. Use achiote seeds for vibrant color

Achiote seeds or annatto seeds are used widely in Latin American cuisine for their vibrant color and slightly sweet taste. Toasting them in oil or butter brings out their deep red pigment which will give your empanadas that signature hue. A single teaspoon of these seeds should be enough to impart a warm color to the filling.

3. Keep the dough chilled

Ensure that your dough remains chilled throughout the process of making mini Panamanian beef empanadas. From mixing the flour and butter, to adding cold water before kneading, everything must stay cool. Warm dough can cause melting butter which then leads to soggy empanadas. To prevent this, keep the dough refrigerated until it’s ready to be rolled out.

4. Cook over medium heat

To prevent burning or under-cooking, cook mini Panamanian beef empanadas on medium heat. This allows for even cooking of the ground beef filling and will guarantee a crisp golden crust when baking in the oven.

5. Be creative with fillings

While we have talked about savory beef empanada filling in this recipe, don’t be afraid to get creative with other options like cheese empanadas, meat empanadas or olives. The empanada dough recipe is also quite versatile, so if you’re craving baked empanadas or other variations like Venezuelan empanadas, you can always switch it up.

In conclusion, with these tips, you can elevate your mini Panamanian beef empanadas from ordinary to extraordinary. By using fresh ingredients, toasting achiote seeds for color, keeping the dough chilled, cooking over medium heat and experimenting with fillings, you will create a crowd-pleasing dish every time.


As with any recipe, you may have some questions or concerns about the preparation of these delicious mini Panamanian beef empanadas. Fortunately, I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help alleviate any possible confusion and ensure that your empanadas come out perfect every time. So, let’s dive in and address some of the most common queries about this mouthwatering savory turnover!

Is it better to fry or bake empanadas?

When it comes to preparing empanadas, you have two tasty options to choose from. Baking them in the oven yields a wholesome snack, while quick frying is perfect when you’re in a time crunch. Either way, deliciousness is guaranteed!

What are 3 types of empanadas?

Tucumán is renowned for its National Empanada Festival featuring three traditional fillings – beef, tripe, and chicken – encased in dough and cooked in a clay oven using beef fat.

How many mini empanadas per person?

When planning an event or party, it’s important to keep in mind how many empanadas to order for your guests. Generally, it’s recommended to order two to three empanadas per person to avoid either running out or having excess leftovers. Although delicious, it’s worth noting that empanadas are not the most nutritious option.

What is the difference between Argentinian and Venezuelan empanadas?

When it comes to empanadas, there is a distinct difference between the Argentinian and Venezuelan versions. The Argentinian empanada is typically made with a flour-based dough, much like a savory pie crust. In contrast, Venezuelans use corn dough to encase their empanadas, making them gluten-free. Those who choose the beans and plantain variety will even find it satisfying for their vegan diet.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a delicious and easy-to-make recipe that is perfect for any occasion, then this Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas Recipe is sure to please. With its combination of ground beef, vegetables, and savory spices, these mini empanadas are a flavorful way to satisfy your hunger.

Whether you’re serving them as an appetizer at your next party or enjoying them as a main course for dinner with the family, these empanadas are sure to impress. They’re easy to make, and with a few simple substitutions and variations, you can customize the recipe to your liking.

So why not give this recipe a try? With its delicious blend of flavors and simple instructions, you’ll be able to make homemade panamanian beef empanadas that will rival those made by professional chefs. Don’t wait – start cooking today!

Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas

Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas Recipe

I havent made these yet but I cant wait to try a coworker brought them in. yum!
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Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Panamanian
Servings 12 empanadas
Calories 201.1 kcal


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon achiote seeds (also called annatto seeds)
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped seeded tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or 1/4 cup low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil (for frying)


  • MAKE THE DOUGH: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat the eggs with the wine and vinegar and drizzle over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough just comes together. On a lightly floured work surface, gently knead the dough until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  • PREPARE THE FILLING: In a medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the achiote seeds and cook over moderately high heat until the seeds darken and the oil is orange, about 1 minute. Discard the seeds. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper and cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato, tomato paste and chicken stock and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
  • On a generously floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. With a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible (you should have about 24). Reroll the dough scraps and stamp out additional rounds if possible. Brush the excess flour off the rounds. Working with 1 round at a time and keeping the rest covered with plastic wrap, form the empanadas: Spoon 2 teaspoons of the filling on one side of the dough round. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Cover with plastic wrap while you form the remaining empanadas.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil to 350°. Fry 4 empanadas at a time, turning once, until browned and crisp, 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a baking sheet. When all of the empanadas have been fried, reheat them in the oven and serve.
  • The filled, uncooked empanadas can be frozen on a baking sheet, then transferred to an airtight bag. Bake them in a 350° oven without thawing.
  • NOTES.
  • Alternatively, you can bake the empanadas: Preheat the oven to 350°. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of milk. Evenly space the uncooked empanadas on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and brush with the egg wash. Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 74gCalories: 201.1kcalCarbohydrates: 18.5gProtein: 5.3gFat: 11.3gSaturated Fat: 5.9gCholesterol: 62.2mgSodium: 226.4mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 1.9g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Meat, South American
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.