Easy Empanadas

It is May 2020, Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching. Due to the recent pandemic, we are all sheltering in place. That means no celebrating this year’s holiday at our favorite Mexican restaurant We thought why not celebrate at home by making something new. Empanadas! We have all been cooking a lot more at home and in order to make this as easy for you as possible we decided to use a store-bought pie shell dough. You can certainly make your own dough and these would be even better.

Empanadas would be a fun family project as older kids could get creative with making their fillings, younger ones might like rolling and forming the shells.

We experimented with the air fryer as an option for cooking and pan-fried some of the empanadas in oil. We found that the pan-fried were crispier and we liked that texture better than the air fried, however, the air fried version allowed more of the filling flavors to shine. The third option is you could bake them, someone made me some baked empanadas a few years back and they were good also. Whichever way you decide to go they will be delish!


  • 2 Boxes of Refrigerated Pre-Made Pie Shell Dough
  • 1 Pound of Ground Beef, Chicken, or Pork
  • 2 and 1/2 Cups of Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup of Pickled Jalapenos (minced)
  • 3 Ounces of Tomato Paste (1 half of a small can)
  • 1 Cup of Diced Tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Oregano (or Approximately 1 Tablespoon of Fresh)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 1 Egg for Eggwash


  1. Prepare the filling by adding the olive oil to a skillet and heat on medium
  2. Add the onions and cook until translucent
  3. Add the garlic let it cook for 1 minute or until you can smell it has released its scent
  4. Add the meat and cook fully through
  5. Add the tomato paste until incorporated with the meat
  6. Add the tomatoes and the jalapenos
  7. Simmer until everything is well incorporated, stir and watch the heat, cook until mixture is no longer liquid
  8. Let the meat mixture cool to a warm, not hot temperature and then fold in your cheese
  9. Place your dough on a lightly floured surface (unroll it if you are using the pre-made pie crust)
  10. Roll the dough to 1/6 or 1/4 depending on how thick or thin you like your dough
  11. If you have the empanada molds you can cut the circles with the back of the mold spread open, If you do not have the molds, you can use a biscuit cutter to make the circles, or use a knife to form a circle.
  12. Place a teaspoon or so of the mixture in the center of the circle. Brush the edges with water If you are using the molds fold it over and press, then remove gently. If you are shaping by hand fold the dough over and press the edges with a fork. Regardless of which method you are using, make sure all the meat is inside the pastry with no chance of leaking out or you will have a mess when cooking.
  13. Brush each empanada with the egg wash
  14. To air-fry, place empanadas in a 400-degree f preheated air fryer, lined with parchment paper in a single layer not touching. Cook for 10 -11 minutes flip the empanadas very gently halfway.
  15. To pan-fry, heat the oil over medium heat once the oil has reached a frying temperature. I test by dropping a tiny drop of dough in a pan if it sizzles its ready. Carefully place the empanadas in the frying pan with a spatula. Flip over once you see the sides start to brown. Cook until both sides are the color you like.
  16. To bake, place a Silpat or parchment paper on a baking sheet and cook at 400-degrees f for 20 minutes until golden brown.