Empanadillas (fried Puerto Rican turnovers)

  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 10-12 empanadillas
  • Category: Dinner, Lunch
  • Method: Fried
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin


For the empanadilla dough (if making from scratch):

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour

  • ¾ cup cold salted butter

  • ½ cup ice water

For the Picadillo filling: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • ⅓ cup sofrito 

  • 1 lb ground beef (lean)

  • 1 tsp sazon seasoning 

  • 1 tsp adobo seasoning 

  • 3 bay leafs

  • 1 (15oz) can of tomato sauce

  • ⅓ cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced in half

  • ¼ cup water

  • Salt to taste 

  • ½ cup vegetable oil for frying


  1. Make the pie dough (skip to step 3 if using store-bought dough.) Start by pulsing flour and butter in a food processor until pea sized pieces begin to form. Pulse in the water a few tablespoons at a time until a ball of dough forms. Chill for at least 2 hours. 

  2. Make the Picadillo filling. Start with oil, onions, and peppers in a pan over medium heat. Once onions become translucent, add sofrito and sauté another minute before adding ground beef. Break the ground beef into smaller pieces as it cooks. Add sazon, adobo, bay leaves, tomato sauce, olives, and water. Bring it to a boil before simmering with a lid partially on, for 10 minutes or until the beef is fully cooked. 

  3. Prep the dough. Dust a clean surface with flour and roll dough out to about ¼ inch thickness and cut out circular discs using a large cookie cutter or small bowl. Spoon picadillo over half of each disc, fold the empty dough over top and pinch together with a fork.

  4. Fry. Heat oil to around 350 degrees before frying empanadas on each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the edges. Enjoy!

Keywords: Empanadillas