Fried Meat Pies (Pastelillos/Empanadillas)

  • Author: Aida's Kitchen®
  • Prep Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 20 Fried Meat Pies 1x


A crispy dough filled with chunks of beef stew meat that is coated in a thick sauce for a juicy and beef flavored fried meat pie.



Meat Filling:

  • 2 pounds beef stew, trimmed of excess fat, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (low sodium)
  • 2 seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto or create your own special blend of seasoning.
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sofrito
  • 3 to 5 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (presifted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (low sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅓ cup margarine made with olive oil or vegetable shortening
  • 1½ cups chilled water

Oil for frying.


  1. Place beef stew meat in a saucepan.  Pour water and cook for 10 minutes over low-medium heat.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients.  Stir ingredients until well blended.  Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Cover saucepan with lid and cook over low-medium heat for 30 minutes or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally.  If meat mixture has too much liquid, remove lid and cook over medium heat to rapidly thicken the sauce.
  4. Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in mixing bowl.
  5. Add margarine or shortening.  With a dough blender, cut the margarine thoroughly into flour.
  6. Make a well and gradually pour chilled water into flour mixture.  Stir until dough is formed.
  7. Place dough onto floured surface and shape dough into a ball.  Knead dough for 2 to 4 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
  8. Divide dough into 20 equal parts and shape them into 1½-inch balls with the palm of your hands.
  9. Lightly flour rolling pin and surface.  Roll ball of dough into a 6-inch circle with a ⅛-inch thickness.
  10. Place 2 tablespoons of meat mixture in the center of circle.  Fold circle in half-moon shape.
  11. Run a saucer through the folded edges of dough and cut the edges to round them evenly.  Place aside cut dough.
  12. Press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in water to seal.  Place each meat pie on wax paper lightly sprinkled with flour.  Repeat this process for each ball of dough.
  13. Heat oil in a skillet to 365°F.  Fry meat pies and remove from skillet when both sides are golden brown.  Serve warm.


In the food blogging post for pastelillos, click on link to obtain the list of ingredients to create your own special blend of seasoning.

  • Category: Appetizers
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican

Keywords: Pastelillos