Monday, 21 March 2011

A Cooking Lesson: Cat and Euan’s Argentinian Empanadas

After a few days in Buenos Aires with mixed results at restaurants and spending more money than we could sustain we decided to cook dinner for a couple of nights.  We wanted to try something typical so decided to attempt empanadas – the Argentinian snack available at every street corner and café you visit!

We had enjoyed a fun taxi journey with a really friendly local who loved chatting to us about all the foods we had tried across South America.  This conversation led us to empanadas which in turn led him to an in-depth description of how to prepare and cook your own!  So we were fully prepared to give it a go!

We headed to ‘Disco’ supermarket and easily bought all the ingredients.  We had taken his advice on the amounts needed for 4 people….now let’s just say I’m not sure how large these 4 people were he described but we cooked enough to feed at least 40 people!!  However, empanadas are the perfect snack to cook for a party or even to freeze a few so I wouldn’t worry too much about the amounts.  If you don’t want so many on your hands then half the ‘carne’ (meat) ingredient amounts listed here.  We made 4 different fillings and added some ingredients not traditionally used into some of them, so be creative and try your own mix too.  When locals sampled our empanadas we got excellent feedback, except some were a little spicy for them (in Argentina food is fairly bland)!

I hope you have as much fun as we did cooking empanadas.


  • Ready prepared empanada pastry circles (if you cannot find these then a roll of puff pastry will be fine cut into small circles by using a side plate)
  • 3 Eggs (one for glazing)
  • 1 tub of fresh green olives 250g
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • A small bag of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 kilo minced beef (you could just get 500g and this would be plenty!)
  • 250g cheese
  • 1 packet ham
  • Basil
  • 2 tins tuna
  • Mix of spices - dependent on your personal preference but we used a mix of paprika, chilli flakes, oregano and cumin (some use cinnamon)

1.  Hard boil all eggs except one which you will need for glazing, whisk this one.  Once they are ready and peeled chop them into small pieces and leave on a plate.

2.  Finely chop the garlic, onions, pepper, olives, tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes.

3.  Grease some trays ready for the empanadas to be baked in the oven on.

4.  Set the oven to 180/200.

Tuna mix
1.  Drain the tuna and empty into a large bowl.  Mix in some of the olives, garlic, onion, pepper, tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes leaving enough for the meat mixes.

2.  Tear some basil leaves into the mix and stir together.

Ham and Cheese (Jamon y Queso – VERY POPULAR COMBINATION IN ARGENTINA) mix 
1.  Tear up the ham and cheese into squares.

Cat and Euan’s ‘Carne uno y dos’ mix
1.  Fry off some onions and garlic and then add the minced beef.

2.  Sprinkle in the spices – to your preference.

3.  Add the pepper and olives to the mix.

4.  Split the mix in half at this point and put half into another pan on the heat.

5.  With the second mix add tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes.

6.  Cook both until the flavours have set in and the tomatoes in the second have broken down slightly but not totally.

Assembly of the empanadas

You will need a large surface or table to sit down at to prepare the empanadas.

For the Tuna and 'carne' mixes 

1.  Take an empanada pastry circle in your hand and put one spoon of carne or tuna mix in the middle.

2.  Add a piece of the egg in the middle.

3.  Fold the empanada in half ensuring no filling seeps out of the sides.  You will need to fold over the edges to produce the plait effect around the edges.  This will ensure your mix will not come out whilst it is cooking (this happened to a few of our earlier ones as shown in the picture below!).  To do this simply pull a small amount of pastry over and pinch into the empanada.

4.  Place your empanada onto the tray.  When the tray is full glaze with egg and cook for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.


For the ham and cheese

1. Take the empanada pastry circle and place on some squares of cheese, ham, some pieces of sundried tomato and some basil leaves.

2.  Fold in the same way as explained above.

3.  Place your empanada onto the tray.  When the tray is full glaze with egg and cook for about 5 - 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations and tips

  • In some of the carne and tuna empanadas we also added a square or 2 of cheese which was also tasty.
  • When cooking the empanadas have all the same type on one tray as the cheese and ham for example do not take as long as the carne to cook!
  • Try eating when they are still warm and they are delicious.  


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