Puerto Rican Pastelillos de Carne (Empanadas)


Pastelillos de Carne are meat filled pastries that are a popular in Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America. They are also called Empanadas although Pastilillos in Puerto Rico usually have a thinner and crisper  shell than an Empanda. The filling varies depending on the country. This is my mother’s recipe with a few adjustments I have made over the years.


Picadillo Filling for Pastilillos:

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ cup green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

½ cup onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried cilantro

½  teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper  

½  tablespoon cumin

1 pound lean ground beef

16 manzanilla olives, stuffed with pimento, sliced in half

8 ounces tomato sauce

¼ cup raisins

2 packages Goya Discos Grandes (large pastry shells)


Recipe:  Heat oil in sauté pan over medium low heat. Add oil, green peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add add olives, tomato sauce and raisins to the pan then cover and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Place ground beef into a second pan and cook over medium heat and stir occasionally to break up the chunks of beef until meat is slightly browned and all of the pink is gone. Place the meat in a colander to remove excess liquid. After draining add the beef to the onion and pepper mixture and simmer for an additional 20 minutes over low heat. When done put the picadillo mixture on one end of a sheet pan then place pan on kitchen counter. Use a kitchen towel, to elevate one end of the pan. This will allow excess oil to drain from the picadillo. Then refrigerate the mixture to cool for at least 20 minutes.

Place shell on flat surface and wet outer edge with water. Place 2 large tablespoons of filling in center of a disc and fold disc in half over the filling, making sure the edges meet. To get a flaky crust avoid over filling your empanadas.

Then using a fork seal the edges tightly.  Pan fry Pastilillos in 2 inches of oil until golden then drain on paper towels.

Another option is they can be egg washed and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden.


About Renee Lalane
I was born and raised in New York. Later in life I moved to Central Florida. I am of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Puerto Rican and Cuban decent. I have been working in the restaurant business for most of my life and have owned five along the way. Recently I became aware of the fact that as my elders passed away their recipes passed with them. I call these recipes "Heirloom Recipes" I am dedicating this site to saving recipes from extinction. Not only recipes from my family but from yours. Do you have a unique recipe that needs saving? Send it to me along with a name and picture of your relative and I will review it and possibly post it as an Heirloom Recipe.

6 Responses to Puerto Rican Pastelillos de Carne (Empanadas)

  1. no dices nada de como preparer la harina ,


  2. Millie says:

    I tried making these pastelillos from scratch but after frying them the dough turned out too flaky and would break easily and wouldn’t get crispy. What am I doin wrong? Also, how do I know what’s the right thickness of the dough when using the rolling pin, and is it really necessary to use the baking powder and shortening or oil in the dough?


  3. Sonia says:

    I don’t like the goya pastry things, do you have a recipe for the original dough everyone used to make before those goya things?


  4. Hey thanks for stopping by. I am now following your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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