Gluten-Free Beef Empanadas with Onions and Peppers

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by | Updated: December 4th, 2016

Variations of hand pies exist in virtually all cuisines throughout the world. It’s no wonder a food with such common ingredients crosses cultural boundaries. This version of hand pies is inspired by today’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Lime zest, cumin and garlic bring a zesty flavor to these empanadas with slow-cooked beef, peppers and onions. The preparation takes a bit of time, but these enticing gluten-free meat pies are worth the effort. You’ll find them suited for celebrations all year long!

Gluten Free Recipe: Beef Empanadas

Gluten-Free Beef Empanadas with Onions and Peppers



16 oz. boneless beef chuck, cubed
10 oz mixed bell peppers, diced
1 egg
1-½ cups yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
½ tsp. lime zest
1/8 tsp. cumin
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. water, divided
1-2 tsp. fresh lime juice


½ cup gluten-free masa harina
1 package of gluten-free pie crust mix
12 Tbsp. butter or lard, cold and cubed
8 – 10 Tbsp. ice water
8 Tbsp. shortening, cold and cubed


  1. Prepare the crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina and pie crust mix. With a pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening. Mix the dough and slowly add cold water until it sticks. Place dough on a flat surface and press down, flattening it. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. To prepare the filling, simmer 1 cup of water, ¾ teaspoon of salt and beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and slowly cook beef for 1-½ hours, or until tender. One-fourth of the beef should always be covered by water, so add water during cooking if necessary.
  3. Increase heat to high and add peppers to the skillet and stir. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes until peppers are very tender.
  4. Scoop beef and peppers and place in a bowl. Pour out most of the fat from the skillet, leaving behind about 1 teaspoon. Add onions and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes until onions are golden, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  5. Add beef and peppers back to the pot. Season the mixture with garlic and cumin. Stir frequently and break beef chunks into small pieces. Remove skillet from heat and mix in lime juice and lime zest.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. To assemble empanada, let dough sit at room temperature to soften. Divide dough into 1/3 cup or 3 oz. portions. With a rolling pin or tortilla press covered in plastic wrap or parchment paper, roll or press each portion into a flat 7-inch disk.
  8. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each empanada, leaving ½ inch around the edges. Gently wet the edges and fold the top over of the empanada and press down on the edges with a fork. Place empanadas on lined baking sheet.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and the last tablespoon of water. Brush mixture over the top of each empanada. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.