Basic Meat Empanada Recipe

This basic meat recipe when it contains both raisins, capers, olives and some derivation of sofrito is called a Picadillo although the Panamanian version often has hard-cooked eggs added to the filling. You can use pork, ground beef, minced chicken or turkey for this construct although only the beef may be available in the less urban areas all of the other ingredients shouldn’t be a problem.


  • 450 gm ground protein or shredded corned beef
  • 110 gm each minced onion and sweet pepper fresh or jarred
  • 60 gm raisins, sultanas or currants
  • 1 small jar store-bought alcaparrado, chopped (if not available use regular kosher olives and add some olive oil)
  • ½ teaspoon each oregano and thyme
  • 60 gm sliced green onions
  • to taste minced hot chili, cayenne or salsa piquante
  • 1 can Italian tomatoes with juice or 2 fresh diced with 2 tablespoons paste
  • black pepper and granulated beef or chicken base
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs sliced or 8 hard-cooked quail eggs from the market


  • Sauté protein in olive oil till browned
  • Add the other ingredients except black pepper and base, simmer 15 minutes
  • Remove from heat adjust seasonings with pepper and base
  • Gently fold in eggs and chill until needed, quail eggs are welcomed by locals

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