Lamb Empanadas with Chimichurri Sauce

By • June 7, 2011 6 Comments

Author Notes: This recipe satisfies all of your street food cravings: savory, slightly sweet, crispy fried crust, tangy sauce. Pocket foods like this are the original street food. I have made versions of empanadas for years but I love how the strong flavors of the lamb are balanced by the tanginess of the chimichurri sauce. The base is the traditional Argentinian combo of meat, olives, onions, and tomatoes. I traded out the standard beef for more flavorful lamb and added more sweet spices and acid balance with balsamic.

This recipe makes big empanadas - a meals worth easily.

The crust - courtesy of my husband - is a really good balance between a flaky puff pastry and a calzone dough.


Serves 10 - 12


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/3 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped, seeds and juice retained
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 hard boiled eggs - thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent - 8 minutes.
  2. Add lamb and cook through, breaking up with the back of a fork - 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. saute 1 minute.
  4. Add raisins, olives, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Saute 1 minute.
  5. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Lower to medium low and cook for 15 - 20 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked down but there is still plenty of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Set the filling aside to cool.
  6. For the dough - mix together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar). In a separate bowl, mix together egg, vinegar, and water.
  7. Place the butter cubes into the dry ingredients, blending in the butter with your fingers until it forms a coarse meal. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix together and add the final 2 tablespoons if the dough is still dry.
  8. On a floured surface, lightly knead the dough for 1 minute to incorporate all the ingredients. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour at least.
  9. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces into a ball and use a rolling pin to roll the pieces out into a circle 4-5 inches wide.
  10. Place one circle of dough on a floured surface, fill with approximately 1/4 cup filling on one half of the circle, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Fold over the other half of the circle and tightly crimp the edges. Repeat with the remaining circles of dough.
  11. In a skillet, heat 1/2 inch of peanut oil. Lightly fry each formed empanada - about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve with chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, serve.

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