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This authentic Argentinian empanadas recipe is for an iconic Argentina food of pure deliciousness wrapped up in a pocket of dough. Filled with a mixture of ground beef, green olives, hard boiled eggs and spices, simply bake until golden brown. This recipe is for the best Argentina empanadas you’ve ever tasted and ones the entire family will love.
What is an Empanada?
The name empanada is derived from Latin, in panis or in bread. In Spanish, empanar means to “put in bread.” Therefore, empanadas are little pockets, easy to hold in the hands, stuffed with an array of fillings.
Argentinian empanadas have an international reputation and Argentines have made it one of the crown jewels of their cuisine.
This recipe for empanadas from Mendoza or empanadas Mendocinas is for some of the best traditional Argentine empanadas.
History and Origins of Empanadas
The precise origins of empanadas are not entirely clear. Some trace the origin of hand-held pies to Persia.
Much later, when the Moors moved to the Iberian Peninsula, they are said to have brought the empanada with them. The Spanish took a special fondness to it and adapted the recipe making it their own.
In the 16th Century, when the Spanish conquistadors conquered South America, they brought empanadas with them.
Empanadas are loved all over the world, and are eaten in Latin America, the Caribbean, Philippines and Portugal.
Even though they go by different names, they are mostly the same – a stuffed delicious little pastry.
Argentinian empanadas is one of the country’s culinary specialties.
You can’t talk about the authentic food in Argentina without talking about these tasty and delectable wrapped pastry pies.
Traditionally, Argentina empanadas were known as a “working man’s meal” because they were filling and easy to carry.
Argentine empanadas are a national symbol and they are eaten all across the country.
However, recipes vary and each region and province take the preparation of empanadas very seriously.
Empanadas Argentina have a special fold or seal which usually indicates the type of flavor.
This technique is called repulgue and comes in handy for distinguishing the various types
The most common is “carne” or beef empanadas mixed with onions, vegetables, and in some cases eggs or potatoes.
The types of empanadas you’d find in Buenos Aires are not exactly the same as the ones in the rest of the country.
Discovering Argentinian Empanadas
When we arrived in Argentina, we quickly fell under the “empanada spell”. These delightful little savory pies tantalized our taste buds and satiated our stomachs.
Everywhere we went, from local eateries to restaurants, we always started our meals with empanadas.
We loved empanadas stuffed with spicy chopped tenderloin or lomo picante, ham and cheese or jamon y queso.
And, our absolute favorite ones were Argentina empanadas stuffed with Roquefort cheese.
To help us understand Argentinian empanadas, we spoke to porteños or locals from Buenos Aires. Our local friends recommended empanadas from the provinces of Salta and Tucuman.
Top chef, Francis Mallman, whom we had the opportunity to meet, spoke highly of empanadas from Mendoza or empanadas mendocinas.
Given the recommendations, we traveled to four different regions in Argentina to explore the local food specialties.
After Buenos Aires, we traveled to Mendoza, the Andean Northwest, and Patagonia & the Lake Region.
In each region we sampled different Argentinian empanadas, discovering the nuances and tastes of the recipes and fillings.
Different Types of Argentinian Empanadas
There are many different styles of Argentine empanadas. For example, when visiting Salta, we ate at a restaurant that had 14 different types of empanadas on their menu.
Following is a brief description of popular Argentinian empanadas and their preparation styles.
Baked versus fried Argentina empanadas – Argentine empanadas are either baked or fried. We preferred the baked empanadas which are absolutely delicious. And, this Argentininian empanadas recipe is for baked empanadas.
Empanadas Mendocinas or Mendoza-style Empanadas – Empanadas Mendocinas are baked rather than fried. And, the typical filling is seasoned ground beef with a slice of green olive and a slice of hard-boiled egg.
These empanadas have a unique triangular shape. The ground beef filling is cooked with lemon, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, olives with salt and pepper. These are absolutely delightful with Middleastern flavors.
Empanadas from Salta or Empanadas Salteñas – These empanadas are small in size and incredibly flavorful. The empanada filling consists of beef with green onions, potatoes, boiled eggs and red pepper. A spicy picante red sauce accompanies these empanadas.
Empanadas from Tucuman – The famed empanadas from Tucuman do not have potatoes. The beef is diced by hand and cooked in a broth with green onions, cumin, paprika, garlic and red and white pepper. Raisins are often added to the empanadas.
Sweet Empanadas – While the vast majority of Argentinian empanadas are savory, there are some sweet or sugary ones. While in Salta, we had the opportunity to try a local sweet empanada filled with dulce de cayote or sweet squash. The empanadas had a glazed sugar coating and the coyote filling was very sweet. We much preferred the savory ones.
How To Eat Empanadas – Advice from Top Chef, Francis Mallmann
In our quest to understand authentic food from Argentina, we had the opportunity to meet Francis Mallmann, Argentina’s top chef.
In our discussion we discovered that there is in fact a technique to eating empanadas. So, if you would like to eat empanadas like an Argentine, apply these 3 tips shared by Francis Mallmann.
- First you don’t use a knife and fork. It is a “sacrilege”. An empanada is to be eaten with your hands to appreciate it to its best.
- Second, when you bite your empanada, you don’t want to let anything fall on your plate. You want to show that you really enjoy the empanada which means nothing is to be omitted. However, that presents a dilemma. The baked empanadas from the clay oven are served hot and you are likely to burn yourself. It takes skill, delicacy and patience to apply this particular tip.
- Third, you want to get your empanada cooked in the horno de barro or clay oven. These are said to be the best. To be sure the empanadas were cooked in a horno de barro, you’ll notice that the dough on the empanada “bubbles” up at the surface. This is the signature of a “real” empanada.
While visiting Mendoza, we had the chance to learn how to make mendocinas empanadas.
Together with chef Matias from Siete Fuegos, Francis Mallmann’s restaurant in Mendoza, we made empanadas from scratch.
This recipe for Argentine empanadas is adapted slightly from the mendocinas empanadas we made.
Argentinian Empanadas Recipe Tips
Dipping Sauces For Empanadas
You don’t really need a sauce with Argentine empanadas as they are moist and flavorful on their own.
However, some people, including Argentines, do like a dipping sauce with their empanadas. In this case we recommend the most quintessential Argentine sauce.
Chimichurri sauce is often served alongside grilled meats and is easy to make at home. This simple recipe for authentic Argentina chimichurri sauce takes only 10 minutes to assemble.
Get the Chimichurri recipe below and make some to go with your Argentine empanadas.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Authentic Argentine Chimichurri Recipe
Wines For Empanadas Argentina
These empanadas mendocinas pair very well with the signature Malbec wines from the Mendoza wine region in Argentina.
Have this elegant Malbec wine from a single vineyard in Mendoza, delivered to your home to enjoy with your empanadas.
How to Seal Empanadas – Repulge Empanada
In Argentina empanadas have a special fold or seal which usually indicates the type of flavor.
This technique is called repulgue and comes in handy for distinguishing the various types.
The presentation of empanadas is key and is part of the experience. You want to seal the empanadas using a little egg white. And, then roll the edges to give a spiral pattern.
How To Reheat Empanadas
Any leftover empanadas can be refrigerated overnight. If you would like to keep them for a longer time, empanadas can be frozen for 2 weeks.
Once you’re ready to eat your empanadas, bake the frozen empanadas in the oven at 350°F or 175°C for about 20-25 minutes.
Argentinian Empanadas Recipe
For the dough
- 2 ⅜ cups flour
- ¼ cup lard or butter
- 1 cup water
- Pinch salt
For the Filling
- ½ pound beef lean ground beef or finely chopped sirloin
- ½ pound onions about 1 to 1-1/2 medium white onion sliced
- ¼ cup lard or butter
- 1 tbsp paprika
- ½ tbsp cumin
- ½ tbsp chili peppers
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano
- 1 Hard boiled egg
- 6 green olives chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg separate the white from the yolk; use the white for sealing and the yolk for glazing
Instructions For Empanadas Dough
- To make the dough Argentine style, add the salt to the water and bring it to a boil in a small saucepan
- When the water boils, add the lard or butter and stir until it melts
- Pour into a large bowl
- Cool to room temperature
- Once cooled, add the flour gradually while mixing with your hands continuously until the dough forms a ball
- Knead the dough by hand onto a clean surface with flour until the dough is non sticky and smooth. Add more flour as needed
- Set aside to rest while preparing the filling for at least 30 mins to 24 hours
Instructions For Making the Filling
- Combine the beef, paprika, chili pepper, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Set aside until ready to use
- Melt the lard in a large frying pan or sauté pan, add the onions and salt, cook until the onions are soft
- Add the meat mixture to the onions and cook on medium heat until the meat is done, stir frequently
- Let the meat mixture cool down, and then mix in chopped oregano
- Instructions For Assembling the Empanadas
- Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper
- Cut the dough in half
- Roll the dough using a rolling pin or a pasta machine onto a floured surface to get a rectangle shape of about 7 inch by 14 inches, ⅛ inch thick; 18cmx 36cm and 3mm thick
- Cut empanada discs about 3 inches or 7.5cm using a cookie cutter or a small pyrex bowl
- Make about 6 circles, save the scraps and use them for the remaining dough
- Repeat with the second half of the dough
- Assemble the empanadas by adding a tablespoon of the meat mixture on the center of the empanada disc, add a slice of egg and olive.
- Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg white to seal it
- Make the empanada fold, called repulgue. Seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers until you make a full spiral pattern on the edge.
- Brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk
- Bake for about 20 minutes until brown on top. Turn the empanadas around and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Serve hot
Looking for More Argentinian Local Food Experiences
Our book, Authentic Food Quest Argentina takes you on a journey through food in four main regions of Argentina. Buenos Aires, Mendoza & the Wine Regions, the Andean Northwest, and Patagonia & the Lake Region.
In it, you’ll find descriptions of the typical dishes, desserts, beverages, street food and unique produce not to miss. Also included is an overview of the farmers markets and local stores, restaurants, wineries and local producers worth visiting.
Throughout the guide, are stories and insights shared by local experts including Argentina’s most renowned Chef, Francis Mallmann.
By combining storytelling with local information, this unique guidebook that inspires intrepid and armchair travelers to savor their adventures in Argentina.
Available on Amazon
More Local Food Experiences and Recipes
Claire is a culinary explorer who travels the world in search of the best local foods. She is always looking for her next culinary adventure to bring you the best bites while exploring new places.