Chile Pepper

Spicy Steak Empanadas

January 27, 2022
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 3 hours
  • Serves 18 empanadas
Author Notes

I grew up in Austin, Texas and every weekend, my dad would fire up the Weber Kettle and grill T-bone steaks over a charcoal and pecan wood fire for extra flavor. Steak in Texas is practically a religion, and my dad was old school: Steak was for the grill and the grill alone. So when I told him that I was going to grill a ribeye and put it in an empanada, he was a little suspicious.

Texas has some of the best beef in the country and ribeye is my favorite cut—it has incredible flavor and texture, and though I love eating it as a steak, I think it works great for the filling of this empanada. The charred salsa and chimichurri-inspired dipping sauce cuts through the richness of the beef, while the flaky crust gives you a slight crunch before you sink your teeth into that delicious ribeye. —Rick Martinez

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is shared in partnership with Beef Loving Texans. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Spicy Steak Empanadas
  • For the steak and salsa:
  • 1 (16-ounce) ribeye steak (about 1 ¼ inches thick)
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes, cored
  • 1/2 large white onion, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 large chiles guajillos (36 grams), stemmed and seeded
  • 2 chiles de árbol (4.8 grams), stemmed (and seeded for a milder flavor)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • For the empanada crust:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup lard, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled and divided
  • 2 eggs beaten to blend (for glaze)

  • For the chimichurri-inspired dipping sauce:
  • 2 serrano peppers, charred and finely chopped (seeded for a milder flavor)
  • 1 large scallion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. For the steak and salsa: Prepare a grill for high heat. Use tongs and an old, clean kitchen towel to brush the grates with a neutral cooking oil, like vegetable or canola. Place drained wood chips in an aluminum foil pan, then place the pan directly on top of coals on the grill. When the chips begin to smoke, grill the steak, turning once, until charred on both sides but rare in the center, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice steak and cut into small pieces. Transfer the steak pieces to a large bow and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Grill the tomatoes, onion, and garlic, turning occasionally until charred on all sides—about 5 minutes for the garlic, 9 minutes for the onion, and 16 minutes for the tomatoes. Peel the garlic, then transfer to the jar of a blender, along with the tomatoes and onion.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and the chiles guajillos, chiles de árbol, bay leaf, salt, oregano, and pepper to a boil. Cover the pot, remove from the heat, and let sit for 30 minutes until the chiles are soft. Transfer mixture to the jar of the blender with the charred vegetables and puree on medium-low speed until almost smooth. Don’t be tempted to increase the speed or you will get an airy, smoothie-like consistency; it’s better to have a chunky salsa than a smoothie. Transfer to the bowl with the steak and toss to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. For the empanada crust: Blend flour, paprika, and salt in a food processor. Add lard and pulse to combine until a coarse meal forms. Add ¼ cup very cold water and the tequila; process until moist clumps form, adding more water 1 teaspoon at a time if the dough is dry. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide dough in half, then flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up to 24.
  5. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment. Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface to ⅛-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch rounds. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the steak filling in the center of each dough round. Top the filling on each with scant 1 teaspoon queso fresco.
  6. Lightly brush dough edges with the egg glaze. Fold dough over the filling, enclosing the filling completely. Using a fork, seal the crust edges. Transfer empanadas to prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the second dough disk, remaining filling, and cheese. Gather and reroll any dough scraps and cut out additional rounds until all dough is used. (These can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the empanadas and remaining egg glaze separately and chill.)
  7. Preheat the grill or oven to 375°F. Brush the tops of the empanadas with remaining egg glaze and, using a small knife, poke a few steam holes in each empanada. Bake the empanadas until the crust is golden, about 28 minutes. Serve warm.
  8. For chimichurri-inspired dipping sauce: Stir the serranos, scallion, cilantro or parsley, lime juice, olive oil, and salt together in a small bowl until well-combined. Set aside until ready to serve with the warm empanadas.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • MeMeCherry
Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

4 Reviews

MeMeCherry March 17, 2022
This is a great recipe but I had to break down the order a bit different than how it's laid out in the written instructions, there also are some differences in the video versus written so it's worth watching the video! Aside from those notes this is a GREAT recipe!!! Definitely a keeper for my repertoire!

Recommended edits:
-Start with the empanada crust & give yourself time to let it chill in the fridge
-Make the salsa then cook the steak to set aside
-With my oven 25 min was more than enough time
-If you have time to spare given all the different steps it's worth spreading out over a day to not feel overwhelmed

10 out of 10 recommend = Relatively easy to make & SUPER YUMMY!!!!
MeMeCherry March 13, 2022
Hi! Can somebody pls update the written recipe, I'm watching the video and Rick calls for *cold* lard and the 1/4 cup of water that goes with the tequila is missing from the written instructions... thank you!!
MeMeCherry March 13, 2022
Also for the prep time, the empanada dough needs to rest overnight so can that pls be added to the prep time? currently only says 3 hours...
Smaug January 30, 2022
For those still working on your first billion, top sirloin will work nicely.