Shredded Beef Empanada Recipe – Costa Rica

This Costa Rican empanada recipe has shredded beef as the star.  With a simple corn dough filled with beef and golden fried until hot and crispy, these gluten-free empanadas are a perfect Latin American snack or appetizer.

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About Costa Rican Beef Empanadas

These crispy deep-fried half-moon shaped empanadas are filled with shredded beef and then fried to golden perfection. This beef empanada recipe uses a traditional Costa Rican shredded beef filling. While many empanada recipes from Latin America use ground beef to fill their empanadas, you will rarely find a ground beef empanada in Costa Rica.

Instead, we use the same shredded beef recipe that we use for nachos, tacos, soups and more. The beef is pressure-cooked until tender and finely shredded before frying it in a traditional Costa Rican sofrito and adding a touch of Salsa Lizano. The end result is basically heaven in a half-moon.

See all of our Traditional Costa Rican recipes here – Costa Rican Recipes by Pura Vida Moms

Shredded Beef Empanada Recipe

Ingredients:

Optional for serving 

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, measure out your Maseca and add your salt. Whisk together. 

Pour in water, and mix until the dough (or masa) forms. I use my hands for this. 

Divide the dough into 8 equal-size dough balls.

Place the plastic bag inserts (I just cut up a piece of Ziploc bag in a square shape a bit larger than the tortilla press) into your tortilla press.

Using your tortilla press, press the balls out into a flat shape. (You’ve just made a tortilla!)

In one half of the circle, place your beef filling. I generally make Costa Rican-Style Shredded Beef Recipe and use a bit of it for this filling.

Fold dough over the non-filled side of the empanada and seal with your finger.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. I use a small cast-iron skillet for this. Gently place your empanadas in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. 

Drain off excess oil and serve.

Notes: 

I generally fry these empanadas at a lower temperature for about 5-7 minutes. this is because the empanadas dough is fairly thick, and if you don’t let it cook for a long time, the inside dough is raw and the outside is burned. Patience is the key to this!

Substitutions

You can substitute Maseca blanca for the Maseca amarilla. Some people use a packet of chicken bouillon in place of the salt. 

Variations

You can make all kinds of empanadas with different fillings: cheese, potato, with black beans, bean and cheese, fish. Yum!  

Serving Suggestions

You can just serve an empanada with hot coffee, tea, or agua dulce and great company. You can also make what we call an empanada arreglada– which is adding shredded cabbage on top and slathering ketchup and mayonnaise on top. 

We definitely always serve empanadas with Salsa Lizano- most people just pour extra salsa into the empanadas after taking one bite. 

FAQ

Can I make the dough ahead? – You can but you need to store it in the refrigerator and bring it back to room temperature before forming the empanadas. I think it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Do empanadas reheat well? – Sort of. Some people pan fry them or microwave them. I think there’s nothing better than a freshly fried empanada so we just eat them right away.

Where can I buy Maseca? – I find it in the Hispanic aisle of almost any grocery store. You can also sometimes find it in the baking aisle. You can order it on Amazon to0- or buy it in 3lb packages at Sam’s Club. Costco definitely does not carry it. Bob’s Red Mill has a version on Amazon that I want to try too.

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Printable Recipe

Yield: 8 empanadas

Costa Rican Shredded Beef Empanadas

Costa Rican Shredded Beef Empanadas

This Costa Rican empanada recipe has shredded beef as the star.  With a simple corn dough filled with beef and golden fried until hot and crispy, these gluten-free empanadas are a perfect Latin American snack or appetizer.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Maseca amarilla
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 cups Costa Rican shredded beef, warm
  • 3-4 cups oil for frying (I use vegetable oil)
  • tortilla press with plastic inserts
  • cast iron skillet
  • Optional for serving 
  • shredded cabbage
  • Salsa Lizano
  • ketchup
  • mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, measure out your Maseca and add your salt. Whisk together. 
  2. Pour in water, and mix until the dough (or masa) forms. I use my hands for this. 
  3. Divide the dough into 8 equal-size dough balls.
  4. Place the plastic bag inserts (I just cut up a piece of Ziploc bag in a square shape a bit larger than the tortilla press) into your tortilla press.
  5. Using your tortilla press, press the balls out into a flat shape. (You've just made a tortilla!)
  6. In one half of the circle, place your beef filling. I generally make Costa Rican-Style Shredded Beef Recipe and use a bit of it for this filling.
  7. Fold dough over the non-filled side of the empanada and seal with your finger.
  8. Heat the oil on medium-high heat to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. I use a small cast-iron skillet for this. Gently place your empanadas in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. 
  9. Drain off excess oil and serve.

Notes

I generally fry these empanadas at a lower temperature for about 5-7 minutes. this is because the empanadas dough is fairly thick, and if you don't let it cook for a long time, the inside dough is raw and the outside is burned. Patience is the key to this!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 3180Total Fat: 342gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 303gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 371mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 11g
Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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