Flavorful keto empanadas are made with Fathead dough and a tasty ground beef filling. They taste amazing!
I started making this recipe after we visited Buenos Aires. Needless to say, while in Argentina, we enjoyed lots of great steaks and lots of deep-fried empanadas! Upon returning home, I just had to make them! But I wanted to bake them rather than frying, and I wanted them to be keto.
These keto empanadas are so good! I make them for my family once a month. The only reason I don't make them more often is that despite being relatively easy for its type, this an involved, multi-step recipe, and I am a very lazy cook.
What filling to use?
Settling on the filling was easy. Onion, garlic, ground beef, and spices - it's a delicious, very flavorful filling that's great all on its own if you happen to have leftovers.
What dough to use?
The question of what dough to use was more challenging until I found several recipes online that use Fathead dough for pizza, and realized that it could work in this recipe too.
Fathead dough is a dough made from shredded mozzarella, cream cheese, and almond flour. Every time I work with this dough I'm amazed at how it comes together as a real dough (albeit more sticky and harder to work with).
I am especially impressed with how well it bakes, puffed and golden and tender and so TASTY! It's a miracle keto dough.
The ingredients you'll need
Here's the list of the ingredients you'll need to make keto empanadas. This is just an overview. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below:
Avocado oil: This oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil.
Ground beef: I use lean ground beef - 85% lean and 15% fat.
Onion and garlic: I'm a lazy cook, so I chop the onion in the food processor and use minced garlic from a jar.
Salt and pepper: I use sea salt in this recipe. If you use a coarse salt such as Kosher salt, you can probably use more of it.
Spices: Cumin and paprika. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Shredded mozzarella: This is the cheese used to make Fathead dough.
Cream cheese: I use full-fat cream cheese in this recipe.
Almond flour: I use blanched finely ground almond flour to make the dough. I don't recommend using a coarse almond meal.
Egg: I use large eggs in most of my recipes, this one included.
How to make keto empanadas
The detailed instructions are included in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Make the filling. Start by making the filling. This is easy: you simply cook ground beef, onion, garlic, and spices until cooked through, then drain and set aside.
Make the dough. Make the Fathead dough, then roll the dough thin and cut into circles.
Shape the empanadas. Place a bit of filling on each circle, then fold over to make a half-circle and pinch the edges closed.
Bake them. Bake the pastries until they are puffy and beautifully golden-brown, about 10 minutes per side in a 350°F oven.
How to shape keto empanadas?
When it comes to shaping them you have two options. One option is to place a heaping tablespoon of the beef mixture in the center of one circle. Then top it with another circle and pinch the edges closed.
The second option is to place a heaping tablespoon of the beef mixture on one half of each circle, leaving a ½-inch border. Then fold the dough over to make a half-circle and pinch the edges closed.
The second option is tastier, in my opinion, because the ratio of filling to dough is better. It also produces more of the pastries (albeit smaller ones).
The drawback to this option is that since Fathead dough is more fragile than wheat dough, the circles tend to form small tears when you stretch them over the filling to make a half-circle.
However, this is not really an issue, because (a) you'll likely have additional scraps of dough and can patch the tears, and (b) as they bake, the dough puffs and everything comes together beautifully - no spills.
In the video below, I demonstrate both options.
Traditionally, the edges are crimped with a fork to make a pretty pattern. But I find that the keto dough is a bit too sticky for that. So I skip this step.
What to do with the leftovers?
These keto empanadas are best eaten freshly baked. But you can keep leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.
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- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- ½ lb. lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (4 oz)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½ cups shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (6 oz)
- 1 oz cream cheese, cubed
- ¾ cup blanched finely ground almond flour (3 oz)
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and onion and cook, stirring to break down the beef into small pieces, until beef is no longer red, about 4 minutes. Drain.
- Return the drained beef mixture to the skillet. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika. Cook, stirring, 1 more minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To make the Fathead dough, place the mozzarella in a medium microwave safe bowl. Place the cubed cream cheese on top. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir with a rubber spatula, then microwave for 30 more seconds. Stir again, then mix in the almond flour as best as you can - dough won't come together yet. Add the egg and mix well with the spatula, then use you hands to work the batter into smooth, elastic, slightly sticky dough.
- Place the Fathead dough between two parchment sheets, as shown in the video, and roll to ⅛-inch thickness. Cut as many 3.5-inch circles as you can, using a cookie cutter or a wine glass. Re-roll the scraps and cut more circles. You should be able to get about 12 circles.
- Place the dough circles on the prepared baking sheet. Place a heaping tablespoon of the beef mixture on one half of each circle, leaving a ½-inch border, then fold the dough over to make a half-circle and pinch the edges closed.
- Bake the empanadas for 10 minutes. Carefully turn them over, and bake 8-10 minutes longer, until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.