Empanadas - Alex Guarnaschelli
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This is one of the first recipes I ever devised at Butter. I imagined that the meaty taste of the beef would come through more powerfully if boosted by tart cream cheese and heat from Poblano chilies.


February 5, 2021

Empanadas - Alex Guarnaschelli The subtle addition of these two ingredients takes the filling to the next level. Make the salsa and empanadas the day before for best results. The longer these flavors get a chance to meld together, the tastier the result. Take care when cleaning the Poblanos, they are deceptively spicy so wear gloves (or small plastic bags over your hands) when cleaning the ribs and seeds.

Empanadas - Alex Guarnaschelli


Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Serving Size: 24 -26 empanadas about 2 inches each
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  • 2 cups tomato salsa


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1⅓ cup room temperature water


  • 1 tbsp Canola oil plus 1 quart for frying
  • lbs ground beef not too lean
  • kosher salt
  • 2 medium red onions diced small
  • 3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 medium Poblano peppers
  • 4 oz full fat cream cheese
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne


Make the dough: 

  • In the bowl of the mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine flour and butter with 1 tablespoon salt and slowly add in water. Knead until soft and flexible, 3-5 minutes. Flatten, wrap tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 

Make the filling:

  • In a large skillet, heat the oil until it smokes lightly. Remove the pan from the heat and add ground beef in a single layer. Season with salt. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the meat is cooked through, 5-8 minutes. In a separate skillet, heat the butter and add the onions and garlic. Season with salt and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes. Drain the beef to remove all excess grease/fat and combine (in a large bowl) with the onions. Refrigerate.

Finish filling:

  • Meanwhile, on an open flame or grill, roast the Poblanos on all sides, 3-5 minutes. Cool. Remove the seeds and ribs and cut the peppers open on a flat surface and place flat, charred skin side up. Use a kitchen towel to wipe off charred skin. Cut the peppers into small strips. Set aside. After mixture is cooled, mix the beef in with the cream cheese, cumin and cayenne.


  • Lightly dust a flat work surface with flour, roll out dough into 1/8 in and punch out with 3’’ cookie cutter. Make sure you flour only one side of the dough (if you flour both sides this will prevent the dough from sticking together when crimping the empanada.) Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Place a strip of Poblano in the center and top with 1 tablespoons of the beef mixture. Fold in half to make a half moon and crimp the edges together by gently pressing them with the tines of a fork to seal. Take the cookie cutter and go over the empanada and cut out the excess dough. Place the empanadas in a single layer on a baking sheet fitted with parchment. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 250F.

Fry and serve:

  • In a medium pot with a heavy bottom, heat the quart of Canola oil until it reaches 350F on an instant read thermometer. Drop a few Empanadas into the hot oil (don’t crowd the pot) and fry until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. A note about frying: Use a slotted spoon to move the empanadas around in the oil so all sides fry evenly. Remove and let them rest on a rack (to allow any excess grease to drain) over a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Place the sheet pan in the center of the oven and heat 5-8 minutes to ensure the centers of the empanadas are warm and finish cooking. Serve with tomato salsa on the side.

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