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Empanadas / Pastelle

My husband was born in Paraguay and it almost seems that every street corner sells Empanadas. Even though the ones made in Canada are tasty, I will be the first to admit that the ones from Paraguay are outta this world! Maybe they taste better there because we are immersed in the culture and flavors of the land. The native Paraguayan people are such friendly people, and we were welcomed with such gracious hospitality. No matter how poor some of them are, what they have is yours and we were made to feel very welcomed. We haven't been there since 1986 but would love to take our family there someday. In the meantime my family gets to enjoy these. They don't get these very often but when I do make them they are devoured in no time at all. I make enough for the family to enjoy one day and a few extra to pack for lunches the next day. Depending on how big you want them will determine how many a recipe makes. I made a double batch yielding in 32 the size of my hand. The following recipe is one recipe. 

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 3/4 cup melted lard or shortening.
  1. In a bowl combine the flour, salt with the hot milk and lard.
  2. Mix until well combined. Knead the dough just until all the flour is absorbed about 8- 10 times and holds together well. You do NOT want to overwork the dough.
  3. Divide the dough into 16 balls. 
  4. On a lightly floured surface roll into circles. 
  5. Fill with the filling and seal.
*If you want to make more than one recipe I have found it is best to make the recipe one batch at time. 

Filling: I make the filling the day before so it has a chance to cool completely.

  • 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 green or red pepper (optional) I didn't have any this time
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin 
  • salt, pepper, pepper flakes to taste. 
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic in a bit of oil, then add the seasonings to taste. 
  2. Cool the mixture before adding the cooked eggs and parsley. 
  3. Fill and seal the empanadas. 
  4. Heat the 3 inches of oil in a pot or deep skillet on medium high heat. 
  5. Add empanadas a few at a time. You do not want to crowd the pan, turning only once until you reach a golden brown color. 
  6. Drain on paper towels. 
  7. Cool for several minutes before serving as they are very hot. Serve with hot sauce on the side. 
*Tip, If you find you have extra dough, fill the remaining empanadas with grated mozzarella to make cheese empanadas. Very good! 


  1. Fabulous!!!! I have a wonderful recipe for a French (Canadian) meat pie that, I think, the filling would work perfectly for this recipe! Everything is better fried anyhow!!!!!

  2. These sound wonderful! Could you freeze these and then reheat them in the oven when you want them?

    1. You can easily freeze them before you fry them. I lay the out in a single layer on a cookie sheet to freeze and then put them in a ziplock bag and only fry as many as I need. Just let them thaw first. Otherwise they are still frozen/cold in the middle after frying.

  3. My Great grandmother used to make these. Some of them about 1/2 were made with goose berries( Like little pies) once cooked and cooled she put a light glaze on the fruit ones. Sure miss those days.

  4. You're right - the ones from Paraguay taste better. I've tried making them here, but it's not the same. Maybe the atmosphere and the culture. Empanada's are yummy. When I lived in the DR for 6 months - they made a type of empanadas as well. Can't duplicate those either. Have to go back to get the taste and flavor again.