Eric Kim says these empanadas — each with a stuffed olive nested inside — are 'like grown-up hot pockets'

He shared other ways he likes to fill them too, along with the recipe from his cookbook, Korean American.

He shared other ways he likes to fill them too, along with the recipe from his cookbook, Korean American

two sets of hands making empanadas. bowls of cheese, ground beef, boiled eggs and olives sit in the background.
(Photography by Jenny Huang)

In the intro to his cookbook, Eric Kim encourages readers to adapt his recipes once they’ve tried their hand at the original — which makes us wonder: how does he play around with these tasty empanadas?

“Ooh, great question,” he said when asked. He considers the recipe here, from his cookbook, Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home, to be the basic version. “We’ve added various vegetables — the frozen mixed vegetables work best here — swapped [out] the mozz for other kinds of cheese. The ground beef could be replaced with loose Italian sausage; the fennel flavors would taste wonderful here. But you can’t skip the hard-boiled eggs and olives. Those are what make these empanadas.” Noted!

Judy’s Empanadas

By Eric Kim

My mother got this recipe from her friend Judy, a Korean woman who immigrated to Argentina before making her way to the States. Judy’s empanadas are like grown-up hot pockets, neatly packaged meals of tomato-y beef, melty cheese, hard-boiled egg, and a single olive tucked into each like in a dirty martini (which makes all the difference). Stored in the freezer, they feed the family happily throughout the holiday season.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 10 store-bought empanada wrappers (see Note)
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 10 pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 16 oz shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring often, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the filling cool completely before assembling the empanadas.

2. To assemble the empanadas, spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of a wrapper, making sure not to overstuff it or else the empanada will be difficult to seal. Top with some hard-boiled egg, a single olive, and a generous sprinkle of mozzarella. Using your finger, moisten the outer edge of the wrapper with water. Fold the wrapper in half so you have a half-moon shape. Pinch the edges of the wrapper together with your thumb and index finger to seal in the filling.

3. To finish, crimp with a fork, or try my mother’s more elegant design: With your thumb, pinch a small section of the edge over into the dough and repeat all around so you’re left with a sequence of rounded rainbows (see photo).

4. To fry the empanadas, pour about 2 inches vegetable oil into a medium pot. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F on an instant-read thermometer.

5. Line a plate with paper towels. Working in batches of one or two, add the empanadas to the hot oil and deep-fry, turning them often with a frying spider or slotted spoon, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. Although the fried empanadas will last up to 2 days in the refrigerator, they’re best eaten hot and fresh.

Note You can find empanada wrappers in the frozen section of most groceries, especially Latin supermarkets. Our favorite is the orange annatto-dyed discos (they’re chewier than their white counterparts).

Tip For any you don’t fry and eat right away, individually wrap them in plastic and place in the freezer; thaw in the refrigerator before frying.

Makes 10 empanadas. 

Reprinted from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Photographs copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

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