These Puerto Rican Empanadillas are made with fried buttery pie dough stuffed with seasoned ground beef, peppers and olives.
Many Puerto Rican recipes use the classic Picadillo filling we're making today, like these Alcapurrias I'm sure you'll love if you enjoy these Empanadillas. Also be sure to try these beef & cheese empanadas.
This post may contain affiliate links; this means if you purchase an item linked, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here to learn more about my disclosure policy.
Even with all of its beauty and splendor, my fondest memories about Puerto Rico all revolve around food.
Whether it was stopping at a roadside shop to see a coconut freshly plucked from a tree, chopped open with a machete, and handed over with a straw or visiting a local panaderia (bakery), it was always an unforgettable experience.
The bakeries were usually full of amazingly decadent sweets, but I was always pulled to the savory section.
And that’s where I discovered empanadillas.
Empanadillas are a lovely blend of buttery, flaky pie dough stuffed with the most delicious ground beef seasoned with traditional Puerto Rican spices, tomato, sofrito and olives. These savory hand pies are then lightly fried until golden brown and crisp around the edges.
Here’s what you’ll need to make these:
For the dough (skip if using store bought):
- Egg yolks
OR your favorite premade pie dough!
For the filling (picadillo):
- olive oil
- yellow onion, diced
- red bell pepper, diced
- ground beef (lean)
- sazon seasoning
- adobo seasoning
- bay leafs
- tomato sauce
- pimento stuffed olives, sliced in half
- salt to taste
- cilantro to garnish
How to Make Empanadillas
Empanadas vs. empanadillas vs. pastelillos
If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out the difference between these three… you’re not alone.
I’ve heard this popular treat being called by the name empanadas, empanadillas and pastelillos.
Originally I thought the difference was a simple change in cooking method (I thought empanadas were baked and empanadillas were fried).
Now I’m pretty certain that they are all names for the same treat.
Depending on what area you grew up or which neighborhood your family is from you may have one you grew up with.
Store bought vs. homemade dough
Let me start by saying I 100% support using store bought dough for this recipe.
Obviously freshly made pie dough is a special experience in itself and will certainly add some love to this recipe, but in a pinch I will absolutely buy a premade pie dough and cut out discs, or use this premade empanada dough if I can find it at the store.
So whether you’ve can’t find the time to make your dough from scratch or you really couldn’t care less about how it happens, know that store bought will result in equally delicious empanadillas.
More Empanada Recipes:
If you enjoy this recipe, you should also try these apple pie empanadas!