Cook: Lateenz “Secret Ingredient” Empanadas!


A classic American condiment makes these beef empanadas next-level delicious!

This was an awesome recipe even before we accidentally “discovered” the secret ingredient. But now, they are just off the hook! In fact, the only thing wrong with this recipe is that the empanadas are so mouth-wateringly good, we sometimes can’t make them fast enough. Now THAT’s the kind of recipe problem you want to have!

So, what is the secret ingredient???? Whoa, not so fast!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 small jar (4.5 oz.) chopped or minced garlic in water
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (6 oz.) can of tomato paste
  • Secret Ingredient (Yup, that’s right, you need to keep reading . . . wa ha ha (evil laugh)!)
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup (4-5 oz.) pitted alcaparrado or Spanish/Manzanilla olives, chopped
  • 7 -8 packages of 5-inch frozen empanada dough (like these or these) for baking/oven (don’t get the ones that say for frying)
  • A large pan or shallow pot
  • Baking sheets (as many as you have)
  • Parchment paper or silicone mats for lining the baking sheets
  • Cooling racks (optional)

This recipe makes about 84 empanadas. While that may seem like a lot, you’ll see that these get eaten very, very quickly. So, as long as you’re making them, you might as well make a bunch. The empanadas also freeze and reheat really well, so you can freeze as many as you want right away. (OK – If you really don’t want to make this many, the recipe also works if you cut the ingredients in half.)

Let’s Get This Party Started:

Put the discos in the refrigerator overnight to defrost (leave them in their packages).  Or, if you forgot to do that, put them out on the kitchen counter to warm up while you cook the filling. (Leave them in their packages until you are ready to use them so they don’t dry out.)

Place a large pan or shallow pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the onions, green peppers, and garlic.

Cook until the onions get a little see-through (you don’t want them to brown), for about 7-10 minutes.

Add the ground beef, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook (breaking up the ground beef with a spatula or wooden spoon) until the beef is completely cooked (no pink parts).

When the beef is completely cooked, put the heat on low and stir in the tomato paste. Then, add the secret ingredient which is . . .

ta da . . .

here it comes . . .

you’re almost there . . .

Heinz Chili Sauce in the 12 oz. bottle!

Pour the whole thing into the pan and stir. If you’ve never tried “American” Chili Sauce before, it sounds like it would be spicy, but it isn’t. It’s more like ketchup’s (slightly!) more sophisticated cousin — think less sweet and more “tang” — and it really does something special for the empanada filling.

Add the raisins and chopped alcaparrado or olives and stir until they are distributed evenly into the meat.

Turn off the heat and let the filling cool.  If you want, you can refrigerate the filling at this point and either take a short break or wait until the next day to finish the empanadas.

Whenever you decide to keep going, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Take out as many baking sheets as you have and line them with parchment paper (or silicone baking mats, if you have them).

Take one of the discos and place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center.  Then fold the disco in half over the top of the filling, and seal the edges by pressing down on them with a fork.

Place the uncooked empanadas on a lined baking sheet, and cook for 15-20 minutes until they start to turn a light golden brown in spots. (Keep an eye on the first couple of batches until you figure out how quickly they cook in your oven.) The empanadas should go in the oven looking like this . . .

and come out looking like THIS!

Put them on a rack to cool for a bit (if you don’t have a cooling rack, you can use paper towels), and then get ready, because you are going to see . . .