Empanada Recipe from Leith’s Meat Bible

These simply spiced beef empanadas, made from a recipe in the Leith’s Meat Bible, are easy to make and delicious enjoyed hot or cold. Best of all, you can use the recipe as a starting point, and experiment by adjusting the spice mix to suit your personal taste.

Being so easily portable, they are great for a packed lunch, a picnic or to take along to a pot luck meal with friends.

Leith's Meat Bible - Empanadas

Servings 8 empanadas


  • 500 g shortcrust pastry
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 450 g minced beef
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • pinch ground cnnamon
  • pinch ground cayenne
  • 200 g chopped tomatoes
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Note: As we grow our own, we used fresh rather than tinned tomatoes.


  • Divide the pastry into 8 equal pieces, roll each into a 15 cm round, wrap with cling film and chill. 
  • To make the filling, place half the oil in a sauté pan and stir in the onion. Cook over a low heat until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Turn up the heat slightly to brown the onions. Stir in the garlic and cook for further 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside. 
  • Place the remaining oil into the sauté pan and brown the beef over a medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a sieve set over a bowl and allow any excess fat to drain away. Remove any excess fat from the pan. 
  • Add some of the water to the hot pan and scrape up any sediment. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and the remaining water, then stir in the onions and garlic. 
  • Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook at a low simmer for an hour, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is no longer watery. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool. 
  • Lay the pastry circles on the work surface in a single layer.
  • Divide the filling between the pastry rounds, then fold to make half-moon shapes.
  • Crimp the edges. 
  • Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  • Chill until the pastry is firm. 
  • Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C. 
  • Place the pastries on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  • Serve warm. 


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The Leith’s Meat Bible by Max Clark and Susan Spaull is published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

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6 Comments to "Empanada Recipe from Leith’s Meat Bible"

  1. Dave

    Empanadas are truly a gift from the gods. In any country a form of this is made. For me the best are from Argentina. But the good thing about them is that you can put any filling into them, and they are always delish.

  2. Kavey

    @Lost – I always thought they'd be much more fiddly, though I would like to learn how to crimp them properly! Will definitely make them again!

    @Debs – am definitely keen to make more recipes from this book; there are so many that appeal!

    @Su-Lin – have asked Carla to give me some tips and information on her traditional empanada recipes, so will hopefully find out!

    @Dave – we had great empanadas in Buenos Aires, and yes, lots of very varied fillings!

    @figandlimecordial – thank you!


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