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Taco Empanadas (Mexican Hand Pies)

Deliciously flaky, flavorful, and spicy, Taco Empanadas are so delicious, and perfect for summer picnics and gatherings. Made with homemade empanada dough, ground beef, Mexican spices, and cheese, these Mexican hand pies are the best!

stack of taco empanadas on a black plate

Taco Empanadas

Empanadas are hand held, crescent-shaped, buttery pastries that can be filled with all sorts of things, making them perfect for any occasion. They are also known as Hand Pies, and can be cooked by being baked or fried.

I find empanadas are such a handy food to prep as they’re a great recipe to freeze and enjoy later. They’re great for snacking, as part of a party spread, or for making into a fuller meal by adding your favorite Mexican tapas sides like a Mexican Cheese Ball, Queso Blanco, Rice, or Elotes.

This recipe for Mexican empanadas is going to become one of your regular favorites. Get all your favorite flavors of spiced Mexican tacos with cheese in a neat package of buttery pastry! 

Why These are Amazing

  • they’re great for budget-friendly meal planning (just like my Chicken Nacho Feast!)
  • this recipe means they’re so easy to make!
  • you can add your favorite vegetables for extra nutrients
  • small and handy, they’re fun to eat
  • both kids and adults love them
  • you can make a batch and freeze them for later
labeled picture of empanada ingredients

Ingredients Needed

Hand Pie Dough – Homemade empanada dough is always the best, and it’s probably easier to make than you think, but you can always use store bought empanada dough (or pastry dough in a pinch).

Ground Beef – I tend to use 93/7 lean beef when I’m cooking, but you can use any ground beef. 

Spices – Traditional blends of Mexican spices that give this recipe an authentic Mexican taste.

Tomato Sauce – Switch it up with a fire roasted or garlic tomato sauce.

Black Beans – Use cooked black beans that you have drained and rinsed, they make a great texture and add extra nutrients to these hand pies!

Mexican Blend Cheese – The flavors of these taco empanadas are enhanced with the extra spices in this cheese, but if you prefer a slightly milder empanada then go for a milder cheese like cheddar or mozzarella.

How to make Taco Empanadas

First: Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Make the meat filling by cooking the beef and spices in a skillet until no longer pink. Gather the shredded cheese and assemble the hand pies.

Second: Roll out the dough to roughly 1/8th inch thickness. Next, use a small bowl to cut the dough into discs by turning the bowl upside down and pressing down to cut out a large circle (you could also use a large cookie cutter).

Cut circles as close together as possible to maximize dough, and place a tablespoon of beef in the middle of each of the dough circles.

Third: Add a teaspoon of cheese on top of the beef filling. Dip your finger in water and run it along the edge of the circle to dampen the dough. Fold the circle over and press together to seal. Be sure to press out any air before sealing the edges.

Fourth: Use a pastry brush and brush the pies with the beaten egg wash. Use a fork and seal the empanada edges. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pies.

Fifth: Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and serve with your favorite toppings.

For the full recipe and detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

close up pile of empanadas

What are taco empanadas made of?

Empanadas are small, crescent-shaped, buttery pastries that can have all sorts of tasty fillings in them, making them versatile in flavor and perfect for any occasion.

You may know them as “hand pies,” but empanadas can be made as a savory snack, appetizer, or even dessert, filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, chocolate or fruit!

Are empanadas better baked or fried?

Fried empanadas are great If you want a moist and flaky crust. If you want a dryer finish then baking is best. I have used both cooking methods for making empanadas. and I like both textures.

If you want to fry these taco empanadas then I you can skip the egg wash stage before cooking. Check out how to air fry them here!

What can you substitute for empanada dough?

Empanada dough can be made from scratch or you can buy genuine empanada pastry too. You can also use puff pastry or refrigerator pie crust but the texture will be slightly different.

How do you seal empanada dough?

Empanada dough can be sealed around the edges of the filling by pressing down on it with your fingers and then with a fork.

How do I store taco empanadas?

  • Store in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat in the air fryer or oven to crisp up the flaky crust.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
silver tray of taco empanadas

Tapas Tips & Tricks

  • Add corn or tomatoes or other finely chopped vegetables to this for more flavor.
  • Serve these with sour cream, pico de gallo, salsa, or guacamole.
  • Be sure to chill the dough before rolling to keep it from sticking. This dough holds together well and rolls out smooth. It is good to chill, but won’t roll out until it has warmed up a bit from being in the fridge. It will also warm up slightly as you begin to roll it out.
  • Keep the dough covered with a slightly damp towel to keep them from drying out while you are working, especially if you haven’t pre-made the filling.
empanada broken in halg on black plate with salsa

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

Stack of empanadas with text "homemade taco empanadas" in a text box on top.

Taco Empanadas are the perfect finger food for snacking, as an appetizer, and are also great to have with your favorite Mexican side dishes for a fuller meal!

More Easy Recipes

metal tray of empanadas

Taco Empanadas

Yield: 15 empanadas
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Want a fun, easy twist on tacos? Try these seasoned meat and bean hand pies.  Make this easy dough or use refrigerated pie crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 Hand Pie Dough Recipe or Refrigerated Pie Crust
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup Mexican blend cheese (shredded)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)

Instructions

  1. Cook the beef in a large skillet until it is no longer pink. 
  2. Add chili powder paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, pepper, salt, and tomato sauce.  Stir till combined.
  3. Cook for another minute, then stir in the beans and heat.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  5. Roll out the dough to 1/8th inch thickness.  Use a small bowl or large cookie cutter.  Turn the bowl upside down and press down to cut a large circle. Cut out circles as close together as possible.  Gather any remaining dough and gently press back together, then reroll and cut out more circles, until all the dough has been used. 
  6. Place a tablespoon of beef in the middle of the circle.  Add a teaspoon of cheese to the meat.  
  7. Dip your finger in water and dampen the edge of the dough.  Fold the circle over and press together to seal.
  8. Use a pastry brush and brush the pies with the beaten egg.
  9. Use a fork and seal the edges of the pies. Place on the pan.
  10. Repeat with remaining pies.
  11. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the pies are golden brown.
  12. Remove and serve with your favorite toppings.

Notes

  • You can add corn or tomatoes or other finely chopped vegetables to this for more flavor.
  • Serve these with sour cream, pico de gallo, salsa, or guacamole.
  • Be sure to chill the dough before rolling to keep it from sticking. This dough holds together well and rolls out smooth. It is good to chill, but won’t roll out until it has warmed up a bit from being in the fridge. It will also warm up slightly as you begin to roll it out.
  • Keep the dough covered with a slightly damp towel to keep them from drying out while you are working, especially if you haven’t pre-made the filling.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1 empanada
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 247Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 293mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 12g

    This nutrition information was generated via a third party. I can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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    Shelly

    Wednesday 1st of June 2022

    I love these. So versatile! :)

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