Air Fryer Empanadas are the perfect handheld appetizer or snack. They’re just as tasty as the deep-fried version with much less grease.
If you want to impress people at your next potluck, look no further than these air fryer empanadas. They’re loaded with flavor from the freshly made beef picadillo filling and cooking them in an air fryer gets the pastry super crispy. The pastry will blister and puff just like deep fried empanadas without the extra grease or hassle of frying in hot oil.
Scroll down to read more about how it all comes together or click here to jump straight down to the recipe.
What Are Empanadas?
Empanadas are savory turnovers with roots that trace back to Spain. These days, most people associate them with Latin American cuisine, and they’re a popular street food in areas with large Hispanic populations.
Latin American empanadas are made with a soft dough that’s wrapped around a flavorful filling before being deep fried (or, in this case, air fried) to crispy, crunchy perfection. Empanada dough is similar to pie crust dough, but is a little less flaky and more tender.
Empanadas can be filled with anything from chicken to cheese to vegetables, but my favorite version is beef empanadas filled with spicy beef picadillo.
The Secret To The Best Empanadas At Home
To make empanadas, you’ll need Goya empanada discs. These are truly a game changer when it comes to making empanadas at home. These frozen “discos” mean you can have delicious homemade empanadas without the hassle of making your own dough from scratch. It’s a great shortcut, similar to using premade wrappers for these Air Fryer Egg Rolls.
The dough comes in two sizes (regular and mini) and in yellow or white. For these empanadas, I used regular-sized yellow disks. You can use either color, but I love the subtle earthy flavor that the addition of annatto gives the yellow dough.
How To Air Fry Empanadas
First, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the ground beef and cumin to the skillet. Cook while breaking up with a spatula or wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olives and raisins.
Working with one empanada disc at a time, scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of the beef mixture onto the center of each disc. Fold the dough over the filling, then use the tines of a fork to crimp and press the edges of the dough together. You want it to have a tight seal so the filling doesn’t leak out! Repeat with the remaining empanada dough.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the egg wash onto the empanadas, this gives them the nice golden brown crust and shine.
Spray your air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray. Add as many empanadas as will fit in a single layer – likely 2-6 depending on the size of your air fryer.
Air fry at 325°F for 8 minutes, repeating with the remaining empanadas until they are all cooked.
Remember, you can follow this basic process for whatever empanada filling you’d like! Try with ground turkey instead of beef. Make chicken empanadas with onions and bell peppers for a fajita flavor. Go vegetarian with black beans and corn with salsa. There’s so many possibilities. Make sure to tell me your favorite fillings in the comments below!
Can You Freeze Homemade Empanadas?
Yes! These empanadas freeze really well, so I love making a double batch to have on hand for easy snacks or appetizers. Let the empanadas cool to room temperature, then put them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Pop them back in the air fryer for a few minutes to heat them when you’re ready to eat.
Short Podcast Episode On Air Fryer Empanadas
Listen to our editor, Christine Pittman, explain briefly how to make these empanadas, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:Print
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 cup green olives
- 2 Tbsp. raisins
- 10 empanada disks (Goya brand), thawed
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. water
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the beef and cumin to the skillet. Cook, breaking up with a spatula, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the olives and raisins.
- Working with one empanada disk at a time, scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of the beef mixture onto the center of each disk. Fold the dough over the filling, then use the tines of a fork to press the edges of the dough together, sealing it tightly. Repeat with the remaining empanada dough.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush onto the empanadas.
- Spray your air fryer basket with nonstick spray. Add as many empanadas as will fit in a single layer – likely 2-6 depending on the size of your air fryer.
- Air fry at 325°F for 8 minutes.
- Repeat with the remaining empanadas.
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This post originally appeared in June 2020 and was revised and republished in June 2023.