Thank you Libby’s for sponsoring this post.
One of the things I love the most about my Puerto Rican heritage is all the delicious food! I have so many memories in the kitchen with my abuela, parents, sisters and brothers, and extended family over the years cooking up our family recipes. As an adult, it has been such a joy making the family recipes my own and cooking them for my family. Today I’m excited to share my latest adaptation of one of my family’s Puerto Rican recipes: shortcut Puerto Rican beef empanadas (or empanadillas, as they are called in Puerto Rico)! I’m partnering with Libby’s Vegetables for today’s recipe. Libby’s Vegetables not only make the prep a lot quicker (more on that below), but they are also so versatile – adding way more to a meal than just side dishes. Libby’s Vegetables are great to use in many different internationally inspired recipes, too, like today’s recipe, which uses Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes. Recreate the recipe year-round and learn more about Libby’s Vegetables.
The Puerto Rican-style empanadas (which are actually called empanadillas in Puerto Rico) I’m sharing today have a picadillo style filling, which is essentially a ground beef and potato hash cooked with Puerto Rican seasonings. Because I’m always looking for recipe hacks to make cooking quicker and easier, the recipe uses a few time-saving shortcuts. One of the key shortcuts is using Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes to make the prep and cook time much faster and easier. This is perfect for those that want the flavors and taste of Puerto Rican picadillo empanadas or empanadillas but without all the extra prepping and cooking. Libby’s Vegetables are the ideal pantry staples for recipes like this. With a few extra ingredients and seasonings, pantry staples can be transformed into delicious recipes just like Abuela would make. Looking for more vegetarian Puerto Rican dishes or a vegan empanada recipe? Check out my Easy Vegetarian Empanadas recipe, adapted from this recipe but using plant-based ingredients!
I’ve got the full Puerto Rican beef empanadas recipe at the bottom of this post, but first I’m sharing some step-by-step instructions with pictures to help you make the Puerto Rican-style empanadas (empanadillas) to perfection.
More Puerto Rican recipes from Fab Everyday:
- How to Make Homemade Puerto Rican Sofrito
- Puerto Rican Christmas dinner menu (traditional Nochebuena food)
- Air Fryer Tostones (Fried Green Plantain Chips)
- Pinchos de Pollo (Grilled Puerto Rican Chicken Skewers)
- Puerto Rican Bacalaitos (Salt Cod Fritters)
- Shortcut Puerto Rican-Style Picadillo Empanadas (Empanadillas) recipe
- Easy Puerto Rican-Style Vegetarian Empanada Recipe
- Pernil (Puerto Rican Pork Roast)
- Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- Instant Pot Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo
- Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican-Style Beans)
- Instant Pot Estofado de Pollo (or Pollo Guisado, Puerto Rican-Style Chicken Stew) Recipe
- Instant Pot Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican-Style Chicken and Rice Stew
- Instant Pot Arroz con Dulce (Puerto Rican-Style Rice Pudding)
- Tembleque (Puerto Rican Coconut Pudding)
- Papa Cruz’s Flan de Coco (Puerto Rican Coconut Flan Recipe)
- Instant Pot Coconut Flan Recipe (Flan de Coco)
- Flan de Chocolate (Chocolate Flan Recipe)
- Coquito Balls (Caribbean-Style Coconut Rum Balls)
- The Best Coquito (Puerto Rican Eggnog) Recipe
How to make Puerto Rican empanadas (also called empanadillas)
As I mentioned earlier, I used Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes in this recipe to save time on both cooking and prep. Libby’s Vegetables are an easy, affordable ingredient, and bonus – they’re nutritious, too! Who doesn’t love finding affordable healthier ingredients? For this recipe, I use about ¾ of a 15-ounce can of Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes. After draining, I chop the potatoes into cubes until I have 1 cup of chopped potatoes. This is done in a fraction of the time compared with chopping raw potatoes.
I use my own homemade Puerto Rican sofrito recipe, but you can use store-bought sofrito or recaito (found in the international section of your grocery store) for your empanada filling instead. For the olives in the recipe, I use ½ cup sliced green olives stuffed with pimentos (this is about 10-12 large Spanish-style olives). Puerto Rican recipes commonly call for green olives, so if you’re a big fan, feel free to throw in a few extra.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine ground beef with the sofrito, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook until the beef is completely browned (about 12 minutes).
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the chopped Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes, tomato sauce, and sliced green olives. Simmer until the mixture is warmed through (3-4 minutes). Using Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes saves so much time, as raw potatoes would have to simmer for a lot longer to soften enough before you could stuff the empanadas.
Remove the beef and potato mixture from heat. For another shortcut, the recipe calls for ready-made empanada wrappers (also called discos or dough for turnovers or pastries, which can usually be found in the freezer section).
Take your pre-made empanada dough and roll each piece with a rolling pin until they are about ½” larger in diameter. One tip I have for this is to roll them while still on the plastic dividers from the pack. When they reach the edge of the wrapper, they’ve increased to the right diameter.
Add ¼ cup of the ground beef and potato mixture to the center of one half of an empanada wrapper in a half moon shape (so it follows the curve of the wrapper, like the picture above).
Dip your fingers into a bowl of water and run water around the entire edge of the wrapper with your fingers. Fold the wrapper in half to cover the meat filling and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal.
Use a fork to crimp the edges to secure the wrapper further, then repeat the process to fill the remaining empanadas.
While assembling the empanadas, heat about 2” of corn or vegetable oil in a deep skillet or frying pan. Fry the empanadas in the oil in batches so that the empanadas can cook in a single layer without overlapping. Fry until they are golden brown and crispy (about 5 minutes), flipping once or twice so that they brown evenly while frying. Transfer your Puerto Rican beef empanadas to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and cool.
Empanadas… Puerto Rican style!
Here’s the recipe! I hope you make a lot of memories of your own around these Puerto Rican picadillo empanadas.