Tender smoked beef brisket, mixed with some savory vegetables, herbs, and just a hint of spice, sandwiched in puff pastry, and baked into the most flavorful Beef Empanadas!
Beef Brisket Empanadas are truly the best way to use any Leftover Brisket!
There are some amazing uses for leftover brisket, from chili, to pizza, to tacos, and more. But one of my favorite, and most indulgent, is using the leftover meat as a filling for these incredible beef empanadas.
The Best Beef Empanada Filling
The best beef empanadas start with flavorful meat. For us that means smoked beef brisket. You can use whatever brisket you have, but we can’t get enough smoked brisket around these parts.
Feel free to also use ground beef, but the magic of these empanadas starts with quality smoked brisket.
After selecting the beef for your empanadas, it now comes down to the seasonings, and the perfect dough.
We’ve made our own dough for empanadas, but I find it’s best to find a quality store bought dough. After-all, this is supposed to be an easy recipe using leftover brisket. Nobody has time to make their own dough when we’re looking to keep things simple. Let the baking pros do the work.
Best Dough for Beef Empanadas
We’ve tried variations on this recipe with homemade pizza dough, homemade pastry dough, store-bought frozen puff pastry, and Grand Central Bakery’s puff pastry. The later is our current favorite. Their dough rocks. It’s about twice the price of the generic grocery store frozen dough, but if you’re going to be rocking out a delicious appetizer like this for your friends, then you want the best you can find (or make yourself). The Grand Central Bakery pastry dough is a great option if you don’t want to make your own. And it’s Portland local (woot woot)!
Chef’s Tip: As caterers Grand Central Bakery has become our go-to bakery for rolls and breads. Their products are high quality. And we really like the flaky and flavorful buttery pastry dough to balance with the savory and smoky flavors of the filling.
But feel free to use whatever dough you wish for this. Like I said we spent the time coming up with this awesome filling, and left the dough up to the baking pros.
How to make Beef Empanadas with Brisket Meat
- For the ultimate beef empanadas, first and foremost start with your leftover smoked brisket. Need a good brisket recipe? Use this complete how-to guide for Smoked Beef Brisket. Then save the leftovers for the rest of this empanada recipe.
- Next, in a large skillet, add your empanada filling ingredients and cook until soft.
- Then place in the food processor and pulse just a few times. You still want to see chunks of the meat and vegetables, not a paste.
- Then work with your dough. We cut it into 3” long pieces, and then divide into 3” x 3” squares. I see a lot of recipes that call for circles, but circles will create extra dough that you will have to either re-roll out or discard. With squares you get perfect portions, none leftover to have to re-roll.
- Roll the dough a little bit thinner than the way the way it comes in the package. I find that it’s just a little too thick direct from the package, making the final empanada more dough than filling. I want to taste that delicious filling, so I roll the dough just a little thinner to balance out the flavors.
- After rolling out your dough, brush the sides with a little egg wash (you can use your finger for this), and then place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center.
- Take one corner to the opposite corner and seal the edges together using the tips of a fork.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Optional, you can brush the tops with more egg wash. We’ve done it with the wash and without and find that the wash just gives it a nice sheen when it comes out of the oven.
- Bake the beef empanadas for around 20 minutes, or the dough is golden in color.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. We like this creamy crème fraîche BBQ dip below (recipe provided). It provides just enough flavor without taking away from the meaty filling.
Beef Empanada Recipe with Brisket
Beef Empanadas with Smoked Brisket
For the Empanadas:
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- 1/3 cup sweet bell peppers, a mix of red and yellow, diced
- 1 cup leftover brisket, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1 tablespoon jalapeño, diced
- 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce, plus more if you need it after tasting the filling
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 1 package store bought puff pastry dough, we like Grand Central Bakery, or 12, 3″x3″ squares of homemade pastry dough
For the Crème Fraîche BBQ Dipping Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (we like Valentina)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
For the Empanadas:
- In a medium sized skillet add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and add onions and peppers and cook about 5 minutes, until starting to soften.
- Add the brisket, garlic, and jalapeño, and 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce, and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Place the mixture in the food processor, add the cayenne powder and parsley, and pulse a few times (just enough to mix everything together, but not so much that your filling looks like a paste). Taste and adjust seasonings. If it’s too dry, add an additional tablespoon of BBQ sauce and pulse again.
- Roll out dough into 12 squares approximately 3” by 3”. If you are using store bought puff pastry I like to roll it out a little thinner than the way it comes from the box.
- Brush the edges of small squares with egg wash, and place 1-1 ½ tablespoons of the filling in the center. Fold one edge to meet the opposite edge and seal edges together using the tines of a fork.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
For the Creamy Crème Fraîche BBQ Dipping Sauce:
- Mix crème fraîche, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, and salt, together in a small bowl. Transfer to serving bowl for dipping.
More leftover brisket recipes
Start with the ultimate recipe for Smoked Brisket.
- Smoked Brisket Nachos (my personal favorite)
- Smoked Brisket Chili (readers favorite)
- Smoked Brisket Bruschetta (our very first recipe for leftover brisket)
- Smoked Brisket Pizza
- Smoked Brisket Enchiladas
- Smoked Brisket Tacos
- Smoked Brisket Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
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