Mini Empanadillas (Puerto Rican Beef Turnovers)

Mini Empanadillas (Puerto Rican Beef Turnovers). This is an authentic recipe of Puerto Rican Beef Turnovers. They are full of flavor with a flaky outside.

Besides gathering with family, one of my favorites things during the holiday season is the food. There’s nothing better than sampling all of your family’s amazing dishes. When I was growing up one of my family’s favorite recipes was Empanadillas aka Puerto Rican Beef Turnovers. Empanadillas are very similar to empanadas except the dough is thinner. Some people also like to add other ingredients to give the dough an orange color. They are typically made much larger than what you’ll find in this recipe, but I wanted to share a “mini” version that would make a perfect appetizer for your holiday gatherings. Although the traditional recipe calls for a beef filling, you can pretty much use any filling that you enjoy. So if you have an awesome meat, seafood or vegetarian filling you want to use-go for it!


2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter (cold)
1 egg
3/4 or a cup of cold water

For this recipe I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour. This flour is great because is not enriched with any additives so it produces light, airy baked goods. The empandilla dough was very light and flaky which made this recipe even better.

Beef Filling-
2 lbs of ground beef
Adobo (or salt & pepper)- found in the Latino products aisle
1/4 cup of Sofrito- same as above
1 small envelope of Sazon- same as above
2 garlic cloves (peeled and chopped)
1/2 of an onion diced
1/2 green pepper diced
1/2 red pepper diced
1 small potato diced
1 cup of tomato sauce


Mix flour, salt, butter (slice up the stick of butter first) and egg with a food processor or mixer. Start adding water slowly until you get a nice stretchy dough consistency.
The dough shouldn’t be sticky, if it is, add more flour to the mix. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This step is not absolutely necessary, but it does make the dough easier to work with.

Beef Filling-
Season ground beef with Adobo to desired taste, add chopped garlic cloves and brown the meat in a skillet. You may also use salt and pepper instead of Adobo if you prefer. Once meat is cooked add Sofrito, Sazon, tomato sauce, onions, green peppers, red peppers and potatoes. Let it simmer until potatoes are tender.

Take your dough and roll it out with a rolling pin. Make sure to sprinkle flour on the surface, your rolling pin and hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Once your roll the dough out, use a cup or a round cookie cutter to cut circular shapes.

Place a spoonful of beef filling on the dough and fold it shut.

My favorite method for sealing empanadillas is to use a fork. Simply press on the edge with a fork on both sides and you’re done. You’ll want to fry each side of the empanadilla in hot oil. Simply remove when the empandilla gets a light golden color. You can also bake them, but I prefer to fry my empanadillas since it’s the authentic way to make them.

The dough will yield at least 2 1/2 dozen mini empanadillas. You can also make them larger if you prefer and serve them for lunch or with dinner. The filling will be more than sufficient and I actually wound up with some leftover meat that I used to add over my rice.

What are some of your favorite family recipes? Feel free to comment and share below! Also make sure to click here to download a $1 off coupon for any Bob’s Red Mill product!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

About Jesenia Montanez

Jesenia is the blogger behind The Latina Homemaker where she shares homemaking tips, frugal living advice, delicious recipes and everything in between. She is a God loving, happy wife, mom of 3, that loves indulging in a delicious cup of coffee paired with a great book. When she's not spending time with her family or blogging, she is busy helping others grow their online presence.


  1. Karen says

    This sounds great. When do you add the tomato sauce and can Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking flour substitute for the wheat flour? Very gluten intolerant

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Hi Karen! Add it with the peppers etc. and yes, you can use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking flour instead. :)

  2. Emily Wells says

    These sound amazing! I’m going to make them larger and have them for dinner tomorrow night. :)

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Yay! How did they turn out Emily?

  3. Judy Rhoades says

    YUMMY, these sound so much better than some the others I’ve read, they actually have ingredients and flavor. Me personally I’d leave out the potatoes (carbs on carbs)

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Haha! I hear ya on the carbs part, but it’s so good. :)

  4. lorie says

    can you bake them instead of frying?

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Absolutely Lorie! I actually have in the past and still taste great. Frying is just the traditional way to make it. :)

  5. says

    Mmmm, que ricas!! thanks for sharing your recipe, I’m sure these homemade empanadillas are a good treat.

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      They are definitely delicious, I can certainly vouch for that. :) Thanks for stopping by Alejandra!

  6. KIM says

    Yum! I’m making these tonight but subbing sweet potatoes for the regular and although I like them fried much more my thighs suggest that I bake them. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Leona says

    Yum!! Do you think these can be frozen before frying and fried straight from the freezer?

  8. says

    I’ve been wanting to make my own and these remind me of home!! YUM!!!!

  9. Lauren says

    I am a puerto rican girl and this is almost the exact recipe I use. It is very authentic and delicious.

  10. Dave says

    This recipe looks perfect, Jesenia! Thanks so much. I had an empanadilla de carne at the Plaza del Mercado in San Juan and fell in love. Can’t wait to try this out.

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Awesome! The empanadillas there are AMAZING, I hope mine can do those justice. :)

  11. Vero says

    Hello Jesenia,

    These bad babies look amazing! I’m not a stranger in the kitchen but when making a new recipe, I like to be sure I have the right stuff. Sofrito, never used it before. Would that be the one by Goya? And I guess the same goes for the Sazon and Adobo. Or would anything with that name do? And can you please specify what type of pepper? Bell pepper? Chili pepper? Thanks a bunch!

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Goya will probably be the easiest to find, but any brand will do. As far as peppers, the red and green peppers mentioned are bell peppers. However, depending on you’re taste preference, you can tweak this recipe and add anything you prefer. Thanks for stopping by! :)

      • Vero says

        Thank you for the quick reply! Can’t wait to make these.

  12. vero says

    Hi again,
    I was super excited to find sofrito at the store. Getting my ingredients ready for these bad babies. However, there are a bunch of different Sazones. Con achiote, sin achiote, con zafron., etc,. Help a girl out and narrow down for me please! Thanks love

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      It’s a personal preference, but in our home we use the one with achiote (con achiote). Hope that helps! :)

      • Vero says

        Sure does! Love the color achiote gives my food. Thank you!

  13. says

    Great recipe! Empanadas/empanadillas are one of my favorite Latino foods :) I may be using this recipe for a live cooking demonstration at school that’s timed. In the event that I don’t have enough time to make dough in advance, are there any store-bought doughs that would work, too?

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Hi Melanie! That’s awesome your doing a cooking demonstration. Yes, you can purchase the empanadas discs in the freezer aisle. I believe Goya is the only one that sells them right now. We just like the flakiness of the homemade dough, but it’s good either way! :)

  14. Nica says

    What a great recipe! The filling was SO good! The dough was so flaky! My family really enjoyed these; we were eating them hot out of the fryer with crema & salsa! Keeping this recipe to make them with my mom next. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us.

    • Jesenia Montanez says

      Glad to hear your family enjoyed them Nica! I’ve never tried them with crema & salsa, but will definitely be doing so. Sounds yummy. Thanks for stopping by and for the tip! :)

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