Puerto Rican Empanadas – Air Fryer Style

Savor a flavor-packed fiesta with our Puerto Rican Empanadas! Delight in crispy exteriors surrounding a tempting blend of olives, sofrito, onions, and garlic. These Air Fryer treats provide a convenient, mess-free, and healthier indulgence.

Puerto Rican Empanadas on a white plate with salsa.

The first time I had Puerto Rican Beef Empanadas was on my initial trip to Puerto Rico. On a beach in San Juan, there was a small pop-up stand making and selling them fresh. With the first bite, my mouth exploded with flavor. I had no idea that such a small stand could create empanadas bursting with taste.

These Puerto Rican Empanadas distinguish themselves from others by a key ingredient: sofrito. Sofrito is a flavorful sauce or base used in many Puerto Rican recipes, such as Puerto Rican Picadillo. It consists of peppers, tomatoes, and onions, along with herbs and spices, all blended together for a great taste! Please note that there are two types of sofrito used in Latin cooking: one includes tomatoes and the other does not. For this Puerto Rican recipe, you want to use the one without tomatoes, often known as Recaito. You can usually find Goya Recaito in your grocery store or on Amazon.

If you are looking for other Puerto Rican recipes, you will love Puerto Rican Pernil, Saucy Puerto Rican Beans and Potatoes, and Puerto Rican Chicken Stew.

Reason to Love These Empanadas

  • Puerto Rican Empanadas burst with rich, savory fillings, and spices for an irresistible taste sensation.
  • The golden, flaky crust offers a delightful crunch, perfectly complementing the soft, flavorful interior.
  • Empanadas are very versatile. You can experiment with endless possibilities for fillings, from traditional meats to vegetarian options.
  • These empanadillas are ideal for on-the-go eating. These handheld delights make perfect snacks or meals that are perfect for busy lifestyles.

Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients for Puerto Rican Empanadas neatly arranged on a table.
  • Ground Beef: Forms the hearty and savory base of the filling.
  • Sofrito: A key flavor component that adds depth and the essence of Puerto Rican cuisine.
  • Goya Empanada Wrappers: These specifically designed wrappers are essential for creating the perfect empanada shape and texture.
  • Pimento Olives: Pimiento-stuffed olives introduce a briny, tangy twist to the filling.
  • Tomato Paste: Adds richness and a slight sweetness to balance the flavors in the filling.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

  • Vegetarian Twist: Swap ground beef with cooked black beans or lentils for a hearty, plant-based filling.
  • Chicken Variation: Use ground chicken instead of beef for a lighter, yet equally flavorful option.
  • Cheese Addition: Add grated cheddar or mozzarella inside the empanadas for a gooey, cheesy experience.
  • Spicy Kick: Include chopped jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce in the filling for those who love a bit of heat.

How To Make Puerto Rican Empanadas

Step #1: Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then add the onions, garlic, and sofrito. Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Onions, sofrito, and garlic sizzling in a skillet for Puerto Rican empanadas.

Step #2: Add the beef to the pan and pour the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the beef. Then, sprinkle the ½ tsp dry adobo on top. Stir and break up the beef into crumbles until well combined.

Beef and onions simmering in a skillet for Puerto Rican empanadas.

Step #3: Add the potatoes, olives, bay leaves, raisins (if using), water, and 2 tbsp tomato paste to the pan. Stir until well combined.

Filling for a Puerto Rican empanada recipe cooking in a skillet.

Step #4: Increase the heat to high to bring the beef mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

Step #5: Uncover and let simmer for another 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove the bay leaves and transfer the beef mixture to a bowl. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.

Puerto Rican picadillo simmering in a skillet with bay leaves.

Step #6: Preheat the air fryer to 375°F (190°C). Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of beef filling in the middle of each empanada wrapper.

Filling for Puerto Rican empanadas.

Step #7: Brush water around half of the outer edge of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and pinch the edges to seal.

Brushing the wrapper with water.

Step #8: Using a fork, crimp the edges. Repeat this process with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Empanada being sealed with a fork.

Step #9: Beat 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons of water together in a bowl to form an egg wash. Brush each empanada with the egg wash and then spray with cooking spray.

Beef empanadas being brushed with egg wash while on a cookie sheet.

Step #10: Place the empanadas in a single layer in the air fryer basket and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the empanadas over and continue cooking until light golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining empanadas.

Empanadas cooking in an air fryer.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Air fryer empanadas on a white plate with salsa.

Expert Tips

  • Parchment Paper for Easy Handling: Use parchment paper on your baking sheet when making empanadas. It prevents sticking and ensures easy transfer to and from the oven or air fryer.
  • Filling Consistency: Ensure your filling is not too wet; it should be moist but not dripping. Excess moisture can make the wrappers soggy.
  • Wrapper Sealing: Securely seal the edges of the empanadas to prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking. A good seal also helps retain the shape.
  • Air Fryer Management: Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. Cooking in batches ensures each empanada cooks evenly and gets that perfect golden brown exterior.
Puerto Rican empanadas on a white plate with a bowl of salsa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an oven if I don’t have an air to cook Puerto Rican empanadas?

Absolutely! Preheat your oven to a similar temperature, around 375°F (190°C). Place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easy removal and to prevent sticking. Bake until they’re golden brown, which may take a bit longer than in an air fryer. Keep an eye on them for the perfect crispness!

Can I use an oven if I don’t have an air to cook Puerto Rican empanadas?

Absolutely! Preheat your oven to a similar temperature, around 375°F (190°C). Place the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easy removal and to prevent sticking. Bake until they’re golden brown, which may take a bit longer than in an air fryer. Keep an eye on them for the perfect crispness!

Can I use Goya Discos or other store-bought dough for making Puerto Rican empanadas?

Certainly! Goya Discos, as well as other brands of store-bought empanada dough, are great time-savers and provide consistent quality and texture. They are a convenient and reliable substitute for homemade dough.

What’s a good side dish to serve with empanadas?

Rice, beans, or salads like Carribean Plantain and Avocado Salad and Kale and Wild Rice Salad will complement well with Puerto Rican Empanadas.

Are Puerto Rican empanadas spicy?

No. Typically, they have a balanced flavor, but you can adjust the spices to make them more or less spicy.

Storage Info

You can store Puerto Rican empanadas in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container. For longer storage, they freeze well; simply place them in a freezer-safe bag or container, where they’ll stay good for up to three months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm in an oven preheated to 350°F (180°C) for about 10 minutes or until heated through. This method helps retain their crispness better than microwaving.

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Air fryer empanadas on a white plate with salsa.

Puerto Rican Empanadas Recipe

Savor a flavor-packed fiesta with our Puerto Rican Empanadas! Delight in crispy exteriors surrounding a tempting blend of olives, sofrito, onions, and garlic. These Air Fryer treats provide a convenient, mess-free, and healthier indulgence.
5 from 5 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: Latin
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 102kcal
Author: Linda
Print Recipe

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS

Ingredients

For The Filling

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil - divided
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion - small diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 1/4 cup sofrito
  • 1 pound ground 80/20 beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry adobo
  • 1 large potato - small diced
  • 10 pimiento-stuffed olives - cut in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Packages of 12 Goya Empanada wrappers for Baking or Frying
  • 1/2 cup raisins - optional

For the Egg Wash

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons water

For Cooking

  • Cooking Spray

Garnishes (Optional)

  • Cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  • Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then add the onions, garlic, and sofrito. Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef to the pan and pour the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the beef. Then, sprinkle the ½ tsp dry adobo on top. Stir and break up the beef into crumbles until well combined.
  • Add the potatoes, olives, bay leaves, raisins (if using), water, and 2 tbsp tomato paste to the pan. Stir until well combined.
  • Increase the heat to high to bring the beef mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.
  • Uncover and let simmer for another 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove the bay leaves and transfer the beef mixture to a bowl. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 375°F (190°C). Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of beef filling in the middle of each empanada wrapper.
  • Brush water around half of the outer edge of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and pinch the edges to seal.
  • Using a fork, crimp the edges. Repeat this process with the remaining wrappers and filling.
  • Beat 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons of water together in a bowl to form an egg wash. Brush each empanada with the egg wash and then spray with cooking spray.
  • Place the empanadas in a single layer in the air fryer basket and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the empanadas over and continue cooking until light golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining empanadas.

VIDEO

NOTES

Storage Info:
You can store Puerto Rican empanadas in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container. For longer storage, they freeze well; simply place them in a freezer-safe bag or container, where they’ll stay good for up to three months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm in an oven preheated to 350°F (180°C) for about 10 minutes or until heated through. This method helps retain their crispness better than microwaving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 102kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 83mg | Potassium: 162mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 82IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

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About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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Comments:

    1. Hi, I don’t have a recipe for the sofrito, I just buy it in a jar at the grocery store. Please note that there are two types of sofrito used in Latin cooking. One includes tomatoes and the other does not. For this Puerto Rican recipe, you want to use the one without tomatoes, which is often also known as Recaito.