Pastelitos/Empanada Recipe

This is an easy recipe to make for meat lovers as well as vegetarians.

You can make them ahead and fry them right before your party and keep them warm in the oven. I’ve included a vegetarian version and a beef version. You could also substitute any protein you’d like even beans. I’ve included a recipe for the dough if you are the type of person who likes everything homemade, but you can substitute pie crust or puff pastry dough for a shortcut. Just cut it into circles with a cookie or biscuit cutter.


Pastelitos/Empanada Recipe

Course Appetizer/Starter, Snack, Street Food, World Recipes
Cuisine Caribbean, Central America, Latino, Spice It Your Way!


Vegan filling

  • tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Small red onion , diced diced
  • 1 Bell pepper diced
  • 1 clove Garlic ,crushed
  • 1 Large tomato seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup Sweet corn, cooked 1 small can
  • 1/2 cup Green peas, cooked 1 small can
  • 1 Small carrot, cooked peeled and diced
  • 1 Small potato, cooked peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper

Beef Pastalitos

  • 1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb Ground beef
  • 1 Medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 6 Spanish Olives thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Sofrito Goya brand is good
  • 1 packet Sazon Goya with Coriander and Annatto
  • 1 clove Minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Dried oregano
  • Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Grated Cheddar or Gouda Cheese


  • 2 cups All-purpose flour plus extra for working the dough
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp Cold water
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil (canola, corn or soy)
  • 1 tsp salt

For forming and cooking pastries

  • 1 Egg beaten with 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups Vegetable oil (canola, corn or soy) for frying


Make the Vege Filling

  • Heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook and stir until the onions become translucent. Stir in bell pepper, tomato, peas, carrot, potato and corn. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pepper is cooked (3-5 mins). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the hot sauce.Cool to room temperature and reserve.

Beef Filling

  • Saute the onion and garlic in oil for a few minutes until softened. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add in rest of ingredients except cheese. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook about 5 minutes to meld the flavors. Stir often as it will be thick and you don't want it to burn. Add a little water if it's too dry, but you don't want it soupy, you need it fairly dry or the pastelitos will fall apart. Let cool before you fill the pastalitos.

Make the dough

  • Mix baking baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour, add water and oil, and mix well. Mix everything with your hands on a lightly-floured surface until everything is well mixed, don't knead the dough very much, you want a firm, but not sticky dough (add some flour to the dough is it is too sticky, a bit of water if it is too dry). Let dough rest for ten minutes on work surface covered in plastic wrap. On a lightly-floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. The thicker the dough is the easier it is to work with, yet it will take longer to cook.

Make make empanadas

  • Cut out circles 4" [10 cm] in diameter. Paint the inside with egg wash, place a tablespoon of the chicken filling in the center of each circle, double over in a semi-circle and seal the border pressing it with a fork.

Make make pastelitos

  • Cut out circles of about 2.5" [6.5 cm] in diameter. Paint the inside with egg wash, place a tablespoon of the chicken filling in the center of each circle, cover with another circle and seal the border pressing it with a fork.

Fry the pastelitos/ empanadas

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a 1 qt [1lt] pot. Deep fry the pasties heat until they are golden brown on each side. Rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.

Bake the pastelitos/empanadas

  • Heat oven to 375F. Put filled pastries on a cookie sheet, cover with parchment to aid in clean up. Brush with a little egg wash, (egg mixed with 2 tbsp water). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and pastry is cooked and flaky. If using puff pastry, preheat oven to 400F as the dough will rise better at a hotter temperature.
  • Serve hot.


If you want to keep it simple, you can use about 1/2 lb of shredded cheddar or gouda cheese for the filling. Another quick fix would be to use an equal portion, about 2 cups of frozen mixed vege's in place of the corn, peas and carrots, and/or potato to save chopping time.
Keyword pastelito dough

Share and Enjoy !


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