Empanaditas (Mini Empanadas)

Some friends invited my husband and I to a party recently.  Their menu was what I would call heavy hors 'doeuvres. That is one of my favorite kind of party menus because you can usually get many different kinds of small bites in one evening. That makes my taste buds very happy (said in the voice of Marvin the Martian) tee hee hee.  I wanted to contribute to the small bite menu so I decided to make small empanadas, a.k.a. empanaditas. I've actually made these twice now so it's time to record this recipe for posterity.

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Empanaditas (Mini Empanadas)
1 empanada dough recipe
1 lb hamburger
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 small to medium onion, petite diced
1 medium russet or 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and petite diced
3/4 cup of tomato sauce
1/4 cup (or so) of fresh chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
olive oil for sauteing and baking

For the dough (straight from latinfood.about.com)
3 cups flour, plus a little more for dusting
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg
1 egg white
1 teaspoon of white vinegar

1. In one bowl mix together the salt and the flour.  Using a pastry blender or two knives "cut in" a generous 3 tablespoons of shortening.  I use a heaping tablespoon because I don't deep fry the empanadas, I bake them. Set aside.

2. Whip the rest of the wet ingredients in another bowl with a fork.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture.  You can stir the dough-to-be for a little while with a fork or spoon, but after a while you just need to dig in with your hands.  Now after making a few batches of this dough now (one of which I just had to throw away because it was too tough) I have learned not to force more flour into the dough if it doesn't want it.  Huh? You'll know what I mean.  As you mix the dough with your hands there is a point where the dough is not sticky anymore and it is coming together.  If there is more dry flour in the bottom of your bowl at this point, don't force it to be a part of the dough.  My last batch I probably had 1/8 to 1/4 cup of flour that just didn't make the dough ball but it didn't matter, the dough was beautifully soft and pliable without it.

4.  Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the filling (adapted from this Cuban Picadillo Recipe with Ground Beef)

1. In a large frying pan, saute the small diced onions in olive oil.  Add a little salt and pepper, and after 3 minutes add the minced or crushed garlic.

2.  When the onion is softened and the garlic is fragrant add 1 lb of hamburger to the pan.

3.  Break up the hamburger into the smallest pieces possible as it cooks.

4.  Add the oregano, cumin, beef stock, and tomato sauce.  Cover and simmer on medium low heat for 15 minutes.

5.  Add the diced potato, cover, and simmer on medium low until the potatoes are tender and the liquid is evaporated (but the mixture is still moist).

6.  Cool completely and add fresh chopped cilantro.

Putting it all together

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on a flat floured surface to approximately 1/8 of an inch, or as big of a piece of dough without it breaking.  Throw down some flour and flip and rest periodically as you roll out the dough.

2. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter cut as many circles as possible (I have gotten 30 from one sheet before).

3. Place a couple of tablespoons or less of filling inside each dough circle. *Picture note.

4.  Fold in half and pinch sides together trying to keep all the filling inside.  *Picture note.

5. Using your thumb fold and pinch the dough to make a "pretty seal." *Picture note.

6.  Arrange the first batch on a parchment lined sheet pan, and using your hands gently coat each piece with olive oil.

7.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

8.  Roll out un-used dough and repeat process until you're out of ingredients.  You can end up with 36 or more pieces depending on the amount of tasting and the thickness of the dough:-)

9.  Bake second batch and serve.

*Picture note - My husband demanded a picture credit for this post:-)  So, wherever you see both of my hands appearing in this post you know he took the picture!


  1. Thanks for the photo-torial! Anybody can wing your empanaditas recipe with this very informative post. They sure look yummy. If I'll be asked to make some of these and bring them to the party, I might consume half of it! Btw, I love the Marukan rice vinegar. It's a kitchen staple for me.

  2. Karen,

    Thanks for the comment! I think my husband and I did eat the majority of these. Be careful, they are addictive:-)


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