When you’re looking for a quick and tasty appetizer or a lighter dinner option, Mexican beef empanadas are the perfect choice. Made with homemade flaky and golden brown empanada dough, these empanadas are filled with slow cooker tri tip and salsa verde, resulting in a mouthwatering dish that will satisfy your cravings.
The best part about these empanadas is that you can make all the components ahead of time. This means you can have them ready to bake whenever you’re in the mood. You can even freeze them before baking for even more convenience. Just preheat your oven, place a few frozen empanadas on a sheet pan, and bake for 25 minutes. Voila! You’ll have a warm and delicious appetizer or dinner ready to serve.
If beef isn’t your preference, you can easily switch up the filling. Check out my recipe for empanadas mendocinas for a different twist. And don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with some cinnamon apple empanadas or baked rhubarb empanadas for dessert.
Watch the Video
To see the entire process of making these mouthwatering beef empanadas, watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Tri tip roast: Also known as bottom sirloin, this flavorful cut of beef is best suited for slow cooking or braising. Its marbling adds incredible flavor to the empanadas.
- Salsa verde: While you can find salsa verde in most grocery stores, making your own roasted salsa verde will elevate the flavor of these empanadas even more.
Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Instructions for Tri Tip
Whether you choose to cook the tri tip in an Instant Pot or a slow cooker, the instructions remain the same. You don’t need to sear the meat before cooking, saving you an extra step. The only difference is that when using an Instant Pot, you should use a trivet, which significantly reduces cooking time.
Meal Prep Tip: You can make the beef filling ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.
Empanada Sizes and Filling Amounts
Keep in mind that one batch of my empanada dough recipe yields enough pastry for approximately 24 appetizer-sized empanadas, 18 medium-sized empanadas, or 12 large empanadas.
- For small empanadas, cut 4-inch diameter circles and add 1 tablespoon of filling to each.
- For medium-sized empanadas, cut the circles 5 inches in diameter and add 2 tablespoons of filling.
- For large empanadas, cut 6-inch diameter circles and add 3 tablespoons of filling.
Tips for Rolling and Filling the Pastry
- Reroll the dough as needed: Don’t worry about any leftover dough scraps. You can gather them up and reroll them to make more empanada circles.
- Don’t overfill the empanadas: Remember that you’ll be folding the pastry circles in half, so be careful not to overstuff them. Overfilling can cause tears or leakage during baking.
- Prevent sticking: Line your baking sheet with a silicone pastry mat or parchment paper to prevent the empanadas from sticking.
- Brush with egg wash: Give your empanadas a beautiful golden brown color by brushing the tops with whisked egg wash.
Storing and Freezing
If you want to prepare the empanadas ahead of time, you can store them cooked or uncooked in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer storage, freeze them in an airtight container or large zip-top plastic bag. They will stay fresh in the freezer for about 3 months.
To bake frozen empanadas, simply place them on a baking pan, brush them with egg wash, and add an additional 5-7 minutes to the cook time mentioned in the recipe. If you need to reheat baked empanadas, you can either use a 375°F oven for 10 minutes or microwave them on high power for 2 minutes.
This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking on Feb. 6, 2015, was last updated on Aug. 24, 2021.
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