• Jeff & Jo's

Pastelillos (Empanadillas) de Carne

Updated: Jul 16

We bring you a recipe for this super traditional Puerto Rican dish and the best part is how easy it is to make. Pastelillos/Empanadillas are super popular and the filling options are endless. You can now have this fresh out of the fryer at home. Can't beat that one.


We will show you a meat and cheese filling but feel free to swap it for your personal favorite.


Ingredients:


2 packs of Goya Discos - 20 oz (each) - Large

12 oz of cheddar cheese (in a block)

½ cup water

Meat filling

Oil for frying


Meat Filling

2 tbs oil

1 lb of ground beef

¼ cup sofrito

1 packet sazon

Salt to taste

¼ cup olives and pimentos

¼ cup tomato sauce

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves


The first thing we are going to do is prepare the beef filling. Add your oil, your onions, and your garlic, and saute on medium high for 1-2 minutes. Once your onions start to get a little translucent, add your sofrito and saute for another 3-4 minutes until all the water has evaporated.



Once the sofrito is cooked, add the beef to the sofrito, and start sauteeing it, using your spatula to break the beef into pieces and mixing it thoroughly with the onion, garlic and sofrito mix.


Keep sauteing the beef until it has browned about 4-5 minutes, continuously mixing it.


Then, go ahead and add your tomato sauce, your olives, and your sazon. Stir until combined and then let it sautee until all of the liquid from the bottom of the pan has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Mix it from time to time, allowing the flavors to meld together. Once all the liquid has evaporated, add salt to taste.


Set the beef aside and let it cool.


First, we are going to prepare the cheese pastelillos. Cut the cheese block in ¼ inch slices and set it aside. We got about 22 slices from an 8 oz block.



Now, we are ready to put together the pastelillos. For the cheese ones, you will need one pack of 10 discs, 20 slices of cheese, water, and a fork. Take the first disc, remove the wax paper and place it in a flat working area.


Add 2 slices of cheese starting in the middle towards the bottom and add the second one below it. Then fold the disc in half from top to bottom, trying to make the edges fit as closely as possible. Softly press down on the edges.


Then, take a fork and dip it in the water and start crimping the edges of the disc until midway.



Take the fork and dip it again in the water and crimp the second half of the edges. Flip the dough and repeat the same crimping process. Be really careful when you are crimping the edges, you want to apply enough pressure to really close the gap but without breaking the dough, this could cause the cheese to come out of the pastelillo while you are frying it. Set the pastelillo aside on a plate and put a piece of wax paper on top of it. Repeat this process for the other 9 discs.. Place the disc on a flat surface, add 2 slices of cheese, fold the disc in half from top to bottom, press down on the edges and then crimp the edges. Flip the disc and repeat the crimping process.


For the beef ones, you will need one pack of 10 discs, beef filling, 10 slices of cheese, water, and a fork. The process will be the same as described for the cheese ones but you will be adding 2 tablespoons of beef filling to each pastelillo and 1 slice of cheese. Take the first disc, remove the wax paper and place the dough in a flat working area. Add 2 tbs of beef filling in the middle bottom half and 1 slice of cheese on top.



Then fold the disc in half from top to bottom, trying to make the edges fit as closely as possible. Softly press down on the edges. Then, take a fork and dip it in the water and start crimping the edges of the disc until midway. Take the fork and dip it again in the water and crimp the second half of the edges. Flip the dough and repeat the same crimping process. Set the pastelillo aside on a plate and put a piece of wax paper on top of it. Repeat this process for the other 9 discs. Place the disc on a flat surface, add 2 tbs of beef and 1 slice of cheese, fold the disc in half from top to bottom, press down on the edges and then crimp the edges. Flip the disc and repeat the crimping process.


Now that your pastelillos are ready, you can choose at this point to fry them, put them in the fridge if you will eat them within 24 hours or put them in the freezer if you will eat them after 24 hours. Pastelillos will keep in the freezer for up to 4 months.


Put oil in a large frying pan, fill it halfway, and heat it up to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oil has reached the desired temperature, place pastelillos in the oil, you can put multiple ones, but make sure to leave a little room to flip them.



Once they are golden on one side, flip it to the other side until golden. I find that using a fork and a spoon makes it the easiest to flip the pastelillos and minimize any splashes of oil.


Once golden on both sides, take it out and put it on some paper towel to absorb the extra oil.



Let it cool for a few minutes and enjoy!


Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.


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