Opa’s Empanadas

This recipe was in my original slow cooker freezer recipes cookbook. It’s my father-in-law’s recipe, hence the name, Opa’s Empanadas. My in-laws are immigrants of German/Latvian descent but their families immigrated to Argentina a few generations ago. They came to the US in the late seventies with two suitcases of all they owned. That makes my husband is a first generation American. I hate to get political when talking yummy recipes, but what’s been going on with immigration lately makes me compelled to remind everyone that my husband is Hispanic. My daughter is half Hispanic. They would not be here if my in-laws were not able to come to this country and make a better life for themselves. As Pope Francis said, A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone.”

But back to tasty recipes. My father-in-law can cook. He is the master of cooking meat in a tender, juicy and flavorful way. I have learned just as much from him as I have my mother-in-law, and one day I will have to post about another family favorite, Opa Chicken. 🙂 You can also cook the meat in a slow cooker, but I included the recipe because it is just so freaking delicious.

Opa’s Empanadas


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large red bell peppers, chopped
  • 5 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green olives (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins (he puts in less, I put in more)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Pie pastry


  1. Boil eggs and set aside. Peel and chop when cool.
  2. Cook onions and bell peppers and set aside.
  3. Add salt and pepper to beef and cook, set aside when cool.
  4. Mix all ingredients in a huge bowl.
  5. If you want to make a pie, like my spinach pie, spoon the mixture into a pie pan lined with pie pastry and cover. This is what I do to save time – the taste is the same but they are not as portable.
  6. If you want to make traditional empanadas, roll out pie pastry and cut out into circles about 4 inches in diameter. Then scoop some mixture into center of pastry circle.
  7. Then comes the hard part, close up the circle so that it looks like a taco and then pinch the pastry together to close.
  8. Optional: brush the empanadas with a beaten egg before baking.
  9. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.
  10. Let cool and then place in freezer bags, lay flat like bricks in your freezer to save space.
  11. Or freeze the meat mixture and eat it without any pastry.
  12. Hope you enjoy!

Other freezer cooking resources:

-My cookbook bundle! 150 recipes for $29

-Get one month free with Once a Month Meals when you buy the Pro Yearly plan and get the option to swap out and save menus.

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  • Mary
    July 29, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Hi Stephanie – Do you have recommendations for reheating?

    • Stephanie
      July 29, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      In the oven or toaster over at 350 until warm. You can microwave them for a minute if you are in a pinch too, but oven is tastiest and healthiest.

      • jen
        July 29, 2014 at 8:33 PM

        Cook them in the oven frozen or defrost first?

        • Stephanie
          July 29, 2014 at 8:44 PM

          Either is fine. Cook them longer if you don’t defrost first. You can also cook them and then freez them so you are just reheating.

  • Anita
    July 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    This recipe and your blog look great! Love the recipes you post. I’m curious though, you say your husband is Hispanic, but his parents are of German/Latvian descent? Growing up in Argentina does not make someone Hispanic, just knowledgeable about the Hispanic culture. His ancestry would be German/Latvian, not Hispanic.

    • Stephanie
      July 29, 2014 at 8:20 PM

      Hi Anita. I just went back and edited the post to make it more clear. His family is of German/Lativian descient but they immigrated to Argentina a few generations ago. So they are both. 🙂
      Also, almost everyone in Argentina is like that. A lot Argentinians have bloodlines from Spain, Italy and Germany. I am as white as they get, so I will double check because you made me unsure of myself, but I am pretty damn sure Argentians are considered hispanic. But whatever you want to call his bloodline, his parents are immigrants to the USA. That is my point. My husband is a first generation American, and he would not be here, and my daughter would not be here, if they were not allowed in this country. So I am not saying I have the answer to immigration reform, but I would like people to know that my husband is a first generation American and to think about what makes it ok for his parents to immigrants but not children from Mexico?

      • Stephanie
        July 29, 2014 at 8:46 PM

        Just looked it up and found this: The U.S. Census Bureau defines the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino to refer to “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American (except for Brazil), or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.”, and states that Hispanics or Latinos can be of any race, any ancestry, any ethnicity. So yeah, they are Hispanic.

  • y
    August 3, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    If buying pre-prepared pie pastry circles, how many does this recipe use? Put another way, can you give an idea od the yield for this recipe? Thanks for sharing, it looks really tasty, and I’ve been looking for hearty, portable food that works for both an adult & toddler 🙂

    • Stephanie
      August 5, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      The circles are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. And it depends on how much you stuff them. I like to stuff them as big as I can, but then it does make it harder to pinch them closed. 🙂

  • Nevena
    April 24, 2016 at 9:29 PM

    These look amazing! I too am Argentinean and miss making empanadas since I went gluten-free. I had a question about the pie pastry dough. Is there another recipe on your site for this or is it available in stores?
    And kudos for standing up to the poster who questioned your hispanic heritage! I get that all the time! No one questions the American heritage of someone whose ancestors immigrated to the U.S. from Europe many generations ago. Why should Argentineans be any different! 🙂

    • Stephanie
      May 2, 2016 at 1:36 PM

      Thanks Nevena! I have to make the pie crust from scratch but I honestly have been reverting to using Wholesome’s gluten free Pie crust and making like an empanada pie instead of a hand held version. 🙂