Puerto Rican Empanadas (Pastelillos) - Catholic Courier

Puerto Rican Empanadas (Pastelillos)

Puerto Rican Empanadas (Pastelillos)

Servings: 40

Ingredients for the ground beef filling

1.5 lbs. Ground Beef (80-percent lean is recommended)

1 1/2 cups medium onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

¬Ω tsp. red pepper

7 oz. Goya Fancy Pimientos, partially drained

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup sofrito (optional)

8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded

¬Ω tsp. olive oil

¬Ω cup stuffed Manzanilla Spanish olives, diced (optional)

Additional ingredients:

Canola Oil (if frying Empanadas)

14 oz. Goya Package of Discos (Goya or equivalent) – mini size, white or with Annatto/Achiote

¬Ω cup water in small bowl

Cooking Instructions:

Set a stove burner to medium, heat ¬Ω tsp. olive oil in a frying pan.

Add garlic, pepper and onion. Sauté until onion is browned.

Add ground beef and brown. Use a spoon, or potato masher, to crumble your beef as it cooks.

Stir in sofrito.

Add partially-drained can of pimientos. Cook a few minutes, and then add your olives (if using). Putting in the olives too soon can make them too salty.

Cook the filling until the liquid is absorbed. Drain grease into a pan to discard in the garbage.

Hint: Cooking the meat a day ahead allows the flavor to mature. Skim off any excess grease.

Disco (Disc) Preparation:

Defrost the discos completely before starting.

On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll out discos until ¬Ω” larger in diameter. (Discos can be used as is out of the package, but your empanadas will be doughier. Also, the white discos will have a flakier crust. The Annatto/Achiote flavor of discs will have a nice texture but they will not be as flaky.


Separate one disco at a time. Roll out as instructed.

Dip fingers in a cup of water and wet the outer ring of the dough circle.

Fill with heaping tablespoon of meat, top with cheese. Do not overfill.

Fold your disco in half to form a half moon and press firmly with fingers to seal. You can fold and twist the edge over for a good seal and/or press with a fork around the edge to help seal.

Place the empanada on the wax-covered cookie sheet. Lay a clean dish towel over the tray of empanadas to keep everything at room temperature. The empanadas fry better when kept at room temperature.


Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2.5 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (350°F on deep-fry thermometer). Cook empanadas two at a time until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 to 6 minutes. Keep a careful watch while frying so as not to overcook. Transfer to cookie tray lined with paper towels to drain some of the oil.

Hint: To test if your oil is hot enough, dip the handle end of a wooden spoon into the oil. Oil that’s ready for frying will bubble around the handle. Or, drop a grain of rice into the hot oil. If the rice comes back to the top and starts cooking, the oil is perfect for frying.


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Raise the temperature to 425º when about half way through assembling empanadas.

Prepare a baking tray with a silicone mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil, or coat/spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Set your empanadas on the cookie tray being careful not to overcrowd them.

Lightly brush the tops of the empanadas with melted butter, and bake empanadas until firm, crisp and golden brown, about 15 to30 minutes. Flip half-way through to brown both sides.

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