Mexican Beef Empanadas

5 from 2 votes

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These beef empanadas have homemade empanada dough that bakes up flaky and golden brown. Filled with slow cooker tri tip and salsa verde, Mexican empanadas are a delicious dinner or party appetizer!

beef empanada cut in half, juicy beef verde sauce

When you want a quick appetizer or lighter meal to make for dinner, empanadas are the perfect solution. Of course they’re delicious, but what makes them really special is that all of the components can be made ahead. This means you can have them filled and ready to bake whenever you’re ready.

Go one step further and freeze them uncooked! Then all you have to do is preheat your oven and place a few of the frozen empanadas onto a sheet pan. 25 minutes later, you’ll have a warm appetizer or family friendly dinner ready to serve.

This recipe is for beef empanadas, but if you’d prefer a different filling, check out my recipe for empanadas mendocinas. When you’re ready for dessert, make a batch of cinnamon apple empanadas or baked rhubarb empanadas.

empanada on white plate with dish of blended cilantro chimichurri

Video: Making Beef Empanadas

To watch the process of making the recipe from start to finish, watch the video, which you’ll find in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Tri tip roast

Beef tri tip is also known as bottom sirloin. It’s a triangle-shaped roast with an average weight of 2 pounds.

It’s a subprimal cut from the bottom of the cow, so it has a fair amount of fat marbling. The marbling adds amazing flavor, but it also means the meat is rather tough. This is why it’s a great choice for slow cooking or braising.

  • Salsa verde

You can find salsa verde in the ethnic food aisle of just about any grocery store, but for the best flavor, I recommend making it yourself. My recipe for roasted salsa verde is really simple to make, and it’s nice to be able to customize the spice level to suit your personal preferences.

Instant Pot Tri Tip or Slow Cooker Tri Tip Instructions

The photos below show the tri tip roast in an Instant Pot, but the recipe can be made using a traditional slow cooker as well. Instructions for both methods can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Whether you make a slow cooker tri tip or cook an Instant Pot, the instructions are identical. Also, you don’t have to sear the meat first, so there’s no need to mess with that extra step.

The only real difference between making the beef empanada meat in a slow cooker versus an Instant Pot is that you’ll want to use a trivet if you’re making it in an IP and it cuts time down considerably!


If you’d like to make the meat for the beef empanadas ahead of time, it keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Empanada Sizes and Filling Amounts

Keep in mind that one batch of my recipe for empanada dough makes enough pastry for approximately 24 appetizer size beef empanadas, 18 medium size, or 12 large.

  • For small empanadas, cut 4-inch diameter circles and add 1 tablespoon of filling to each.
  • If you’d like 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

  1. Reroll the dough as needed.
    As you’re rolling and cutting out the discs, you can gather up any scraps of pastry and reroll them.
  2. Don’t use too much beef filling.
    Keep in mind that you’ll be folding each pastry circle in half, and you’ll also need to seal them closed. If you add too much of the filling, it may tear your beef empanadas or worse; the filling could fall out during baking.
  3. Line the baking sheet to prevent sticking.
    I use a silicone pastry mat but parchment paper will work as well.
  4. Don’t forget the egg wash.
    Brushing the tops of the dough with some whisked egg wash gives the empanadas a beautiful golden brown color.
unbaked mexican hand pies on baking sheet

Storing and Freezing Beef Empanadas

If you plan to assemble the Mexican 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’ll freeze well for about 3 months.

Baking uncooked frozen empanadas isn’t difficult. Just place them frozen onto a baking pan and brush them with egg wash. When you’re baking them, add 5-7 minutes to the cook time called for in the recipe below.

Reheating baked empanadas can be done in a 375°F. oven for 10 minutes or for 2 minutes on high power in the microwave.

This post, first published on Kevin is Cooking Feb. 6, 2015, was last updated with new content on Aug. 24, 2021.

beef empanada cut in half, juicy beef verde sauce

Beef Empanada Recipe

5 from 2 votes
These beef empanadas have homemade empanada dough and slow cooker tri tip with salsa verde. Make this recipe for amazing Mexican inspired empanadas!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 8 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 28 minutes



Pressure Cook Setting

  • Place trivet in Instant Pot. Slice onion and lay on top. Place tri-tip over onions and cover with salsa verde. Press Meat Setting, High Pressure for 25 minutes per pound of tri-tip and use Natural Release.

Slow Cooker Setting

  • Slice onion and lay on bottom of slow cooker. Place tri-tip over onions and cover with salsa verde. Cook on Slow Cooker Setting, Low for 6 hours. Allow meat to cool, then use two forks to shred or rough chop with onions. Place in a colander to drain excess liquid.


  • Make one batch of empanada dough. After chilling, roll out and cut circles (See Note 2 for sizes). Beat egg and use pastry brush to wet the rim of each pastry circle.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Depending on the size of your circles, add 1-3 tablespoons of beef mixture in center of each empanada dough circle. If desired, add shredded cheese, then fold dough over and press edges together. Use tines of a fork to crimp and seal the edges, then brush tops with egg wash. If desired, sprinkle with cheddar cheese prior to baking.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with my blended chimichurri sauce or fire roasted salsa for dipping.
  • Refrigerate or freeze any remaining meat mixture for another use.



  1. Beef tri-tip roast is also known as a bottom sirloin.
  2. Empanada dough can be cut into any size circles you’d like (1/8-inch thickness). See chart below for sizes and amount of filling needed.
Empanada Dough Sizes and Filling Amounts
One batch of my empanada dough is enough for approximately 24 appetizer size empanadas, 18 medium size, or 12 large.
  • For small (appetizer size) empanadas, cut 4-inch diameter circles and add 1 tablespoon of filling to each.
  • For medium sized empanadas, cut 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.


Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 893mg | Potassium: 600mg | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1075IU | Vitamin C: 7.6mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1.4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Appetizers, Dinners
Cuisine: Mexican
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image shows 4 baked empanadas


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    Made this empanda dough twice now, and it’s flawless! Easy to roll and assemble and very flaky and tasty when baked. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow-Wow-Weeee, So favorable, delish, used my own home-made salsa Verde. All the guys loved them, all gone, clean plate, they requested to make bigger batch for Holiday weekend. The dough was tender, flaky, nice spice in every bite. Thank you for sharing, this is a KEEPER !

  3. Can the empanadas be frozen raw or should they be baked and then frozen? Also, how about using pulled pork (with or with BBQ Sauce)? These look really delicious.

    1. They can be frozen, I would recommend prior to baking though. You could easily experiment with other shredded meat fillings, too Jill.