“This is a fun recipe,” Jeff said, pulling his recipe riddled with handwritten notes and modifications to the forefront of his desk. It was his first time working with this recipe and he reaffirmed at least three times that he really liked how easy the dough was to make. This recipe is sometimes called “Puerto Rican Beef Turnovers.” These empanadillas are a popular holiday food, though they can be enjoyed year-round as an appetizer or a snack.

The difference between these and empanadas is the thinner, flakier crust. To ensure your crust is flaky enough, you want to make sure the butter used is as cold as possible. Measure out the amount of butter that you need for the recipe and put it in the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes. When you combine the butter and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor, you want to be sure that they layer on each other instead of truly combining. This will ensure the crust flakes because the butter “layers” will cook in a way that air pockets are left behind, and the crust will be flakier.

We used the suggested beef filling in the recipe, though if you have a different filling you want to use, you certainly can. Roll out your dough, but not too terribly thin because the filling will poke out if the dough is not thick enough.

Jeff replaced the called for Sofrito with Ranchero Sauce, after discovering they are very similar through a bit of research. This was a very delicious option. Our tasters really love Jeff’s Ranchero Sauce. It has become somewhat of a Spices, Inc. celebrity in the last few weeks of taste testing.

You can make circles out of your dough with a cup or a cookie dough cutter. Put a spoonful of your filling in the center of the dough before you roll it over. The amount of filling that will work for you is really guesswork, but a real spoonful should be a good starting point. Experiment with how much filling you want- this is really a matter of personal preference. Once you’ve settled on an appropriate amount of filling, you can fold the dough over the filling and seal it shut with a fork. Fry these up in vegetable oil and lay them out to dry once they have browned. “It’s a lot of effort, but it is worth it.”

 Print Recipe

Prep Time: 30 min.
Cooking Time: 25 min.
Cuisine: Caribbean
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of butter, ice cold
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • Adobo Seasoning to taste
  • 3 Tbsp Sazon Seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, small dice
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 small potato, small dice
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup Sofrito (we substituted our Ranchero Sauce)
  1. Mix flour, salt, butter (cut into cubes) and egg with a food processor or mixer.
  2. Add water slowly, until you get a nice stretchy consistency.
  3. If dough gets sticky, add more flour.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  5. Season ground beef with Adobo Seasoning like you would salt and pepper to taste, combine with garlic and brown meat in a skillet.
  6. Add sofrito, Sazon Seasoning, tomato sauce, onions, peppers, and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender.
  7. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch. Do not roll too thin, as the filling will poke through the dough.
  8. Cut dough with a cookie cutter, or a cup, into circles.
  9. Place 1Tbsp meat in the middle of dough circles, fold over dough and crimp edges with a fork to seal shut.
  10. Heat oil to 350 F, and fry pockets in batches until golden brown.
  11. Serve warm.