Grandma’s Empanadas

By Christo Hunter

My grandma always cooks empanadas for my sister and I. She’ll cook them when I  come over to her house or she will bring them over to me while I work. We never have an exact recipe for them, but that’s exactly what makes it fun to make! Recipes are simply a guideline so take some creative freedom and make the empanadas your own!


  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. achiote seeds
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic finely diced
  • 1 small onion finely diced 
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • Manzanilla chopped olives (to your taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 package of Goya Tapas for empanadas (dough for turnover pastries)


  1. 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; cook for about one  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 three minutes. Add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper and cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened for about four minutes. Add the tomato, tomato, olives, and chicken stock and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid has nearly evaporated about three minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
  2. Working with one empanada round (room temperature) at a time and keeping the rest covered with plastic wrap, form the empanadas: Spoon one tablespoon 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 seal. Cover with plastic wrap while you form the remaining empanadas.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a deep skillet, heat 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees. Fry four empanadas at a time, turning once, until browned and crisp, two minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer them to a baking sheet when all the empanadas have been fried. Reheat them in the oven and serve.