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Air Fryer Empanadas

Air Fryer Beef Empanadas take a flaky pastry crust and fill it with deliciously seasoned ground beef. These little Mexican-style meat pies are a great alternative to tacos or burritos. 

overhead shot of a plate of air fryer empanadas.

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Traditional empanadas are made with a pastry crust that is less delicate and flaky than pie crust. You can buy empanada dough in rounds, ready to fill with your filling.  Or, of course, you can make your own empanada dough. 

For this recipe, I’ve opted to substitute refrigerated pie crust from the supermarket or homemade pie crusts. 

Whether you use store-bought or homemade, proper empanada dough or pie crust, these delicious Mexican-style hand pies are a delicious meal.

This is a great recipe to pull out when you get tired of tacos on Taco Tuesday (wait, what? Who gets tired of tacos?!)

Close up of a beef-filled empanada in a person's hand. The empanada is split open so that you can see the beef filling inside.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE AIR FRYER BEEF EMPANADAS


  • DELICIOUS FLAKY CRUST – They use a flaky pastry crust that turns golden brown in the air fryer.
  • SEASONED MEAT INSIDE – These air fryer empanadas are filled with deliciously seasoned ground beef, similar to taco meat. So they’re like a fancier version of a taco!
  • QUICK & EASY – Because these empanadas use store-bought or premade pie dough and a quick taco meat-style filling, they can be on the table fast. Plus they’re cooked in the air fryer, which is so much easier than deep frying.
  • VERSATILE – You can switch up the meat in these, using ground chicken or turkey, shredded chicken, or even substitute Soyrizo or other plant-based meat. Or use my delicious Mexican Shredded Beef or Salpicon as a filling.
Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make the air fryer empanadas recipe.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED


For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

Thanks to using taco seasoning (premade or store-bought) and premade pie crust (homemade or store-bought), you only need a few ingredients to make this delicious air fryer empanadas recipe. Here’s what you need:

  • Onion—You can use yellow, white, or red onion here.
  • Red bell pepper—I like using red bell peppers for the color, but you can substitute yellow, orange, or green bell pepper here if that’s what you have.
  • Ground beef—I always choose leaner ground beef, like 90% or higher lean, but it doesn’t really matter since you’ll be browning it first and can drain off excess fat if necessary.
  • Taco seasoning—I always make my own
  • Beef broth—You can substitute chicken broth or water here.
  • Pie crust—I love refrigerated pie crust from the supermarket. The quality is great and it’s so easy. But of course, if you prefer to make your own, that’s easy, too. Here’s my tried-and-true pie crust recipe.
  • Egg—An egg wash brushed on the outside of the pastry ensures that you get a nice golden brown, glossy outer shell.

HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER EMPANADAS


For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

Making air fryer empanadas is easy! It’s truly almost as easy as making your usual crunchy tacos for taco Tuesday. Here’s how:

  1. Preheat the air fryer if you want (I almost never preheat my Cosori Air Fryer as it seems unnecessary, but you can if you want or if you find your air fryer is slow to heat up. I do usually preheat my Ninja 13-in-1 Flip Up Air Fryer Oven).
  2. Saute the veggies in a skillet to soften them.
  3. Add the beef, seasonings, and broth and cook until the beef is cooked through. Drain off any excess fat if needed.
  4. Roll out the pie crust a little and then cut out rounds using a plate or bowl as a guide.
  5. Spoon some of the ground beef mixture onto each pastry round and fold the round over to enclose it. Crimp with the tines of a fork to make it look pretty and make sure it is sealed (you can also brush a little water along the edge where the two pieces of pastry will meet.)
  6. Brush with egg wash and cook in the air fryer until the empanadas are golden brown.
Low angle shot of the empanadas on a plate.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH THEM


Empanadas are great with scoops of spicy salsa. I love to serve these with Mango Habanero Salsa or Salsa Verde.

Great side dishes include Mexican Corn Salad, Elote, Instant Pot Mexican Black Beans, or Instant Pot Refried Beans.

If you’re looking for other great Mexican dishes, try my Camarones a la Diabla, Arepas con Queso, Chilaquiles, Salpicon de Res, Shrimp and Chorizo Tacos, Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Chicken Enchiladas with Easy Enchilada Sauce.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 empanadas

Air Fryer Empanadas with Beef

Close up shot of a pile of empanadas on a plate.

Air Fryer Empanadas filled with seasoned ground beef are a great alternative to tacos or burritos. Instead of tortillas, they’re encased in flaky pastry crusts. You can use store bought pie crust, store bought empanada dough, or make your own. Whichever you choose, these delicious Mexican-style hand pies are a delicious meal.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning (or use 1 ounce homemade seasoning mix)
  • 3 tablespoons beef broth
  • 1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 9-inch crusts) or homemade pastry dough, at room temperature
  • 1 large beaten egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F for 5 minutes, if necessary (see note below).
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the bell pepper softens and the onion is translucent.
  3. Add beef, taco seasoning, and broth to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  4. On a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin, roll out one of the pie crusts, rolling it just a couple of times to make it a little thinner.
  5. Using a round cutter or a bowl or cup that is about 8 inches in diameter, cut out 4 rounds of dough. Set the rounds aside, gather up the excess dough that was cut off and set it aside as well. Repeat rolling and cutting rounds out of the the second pie crust. Set those rounds aside along with the first 4. Gather up the excess dough and add it to the first pile of excess dough. Knead the excess dough into a ball and roll it out on the lightly floured work surface. You should be able to cut 2 more rounds out of the remaining dough.
  6. Set out a small dish of water that you can use to seal the dough around the filling.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture to one side of each of the dough rounds. Wet your fingertip in the bowl of water and use your wet finger to moisten the edge of the dough round. Fold the dough round over the filling to form a half moon, pressing the edges together to seal them. Use the tines of a fork to help seal the edges together and form a decorative border.
  8. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the tops of the unbaked empanadas.
  9. Transfer the empanadas to the air fryer, arranging them in a single layer (you’ll need to cook them in batches).
  10. Cook at 350°F for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat steps with the remaining empanadas.
  11. Serve warm.

Notes

1. I rarely preheat my Cosori Air Fryer as it seems unnecessary, but you can if you want or if you find your air fryer is slow to heat up. I do usually preheat my Ninja 13-in-1 Flip Up Air Fryer Oven.

2. You can use homemade or store bought empanada dough. The storebought empanada dough comes in rounds so you don’t even need to cut the rounds out.

3. You can use a parchment paper liner or a reusable silicone liner in your air fryer if you like, but it’s not really necessary.

4. You can make these empanadas in the oven by preheating the oven to 350 and arranging the filled empanadas on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with the egg wash and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 389Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 79mgSodium 318mgCarbohydrates 26gFiber 1gSugar 5gProtein 18g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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By on March 9th, 2022

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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