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These gluten-free and Paleo beef empanadas have been a FAVORITE recipe of ours for years – and now you too can enjoy the delightful crunchy shells filled with tangy, flavorful taco meat.

A hand holding half an open empanada in the foreground, with four empanadas on a sheet pan in the background.

If you were to ask me if I could only have one dish, what would I eat? THIS would be it.

Every Friday night we have what we call a “micnic” in our house.

It's a “movie picnic”, where the kids sit on the floor in front of the tv, my husband and I sit on the couch, and we watch a movie while eating foods that lean more towards the junk/comfort side of things.

It's my FAVORITE night of the week and just a lot of fun.

We tend to rotate through a few different dishes, and at least once a month we have these beef empanadas. It means so much more to me than food though…

When I first started eating a new diet for my autoimmune symptoms, I figured things like this would be out. Yet, no, they are still 100% there, just in a different form. So to me, these also represent the ability to remain flare-free while savoring one of life's pleasures.

Ingredients in these gluten-free main dish (and substitutions)

For the Filling

  • Ground beef: this is a staple to get that wonderful Tex-Mex mouthfeel. This powerhouse protein is loaded with high-quality vitamins and minerals. Feel free to substitute with any ground meat, really. You can't go wrong!
  • Taco seasoning: the flavor bomb of this dish, you won't want to skip it. I use Primal Palate's taco seasoning. This makes a great AIP phase 4 reintroduction. Substitute with a nightshade-free blend though if you need to.
  • Tomato paste: this is packed with loads of flavor and 3-6 times your recommended daily intake of iron, potassium, and B vitamins. Feel free to skip it if you're avoiding nightshades.
  • Water

For the Dough

  • Water
  • Gelatin: the key binder to holding the dough together. I love Perfect Supplement's gelatin.
  • Tapioca flour: a great Paleo/AIP friendly flour that acts very similar to cornstarch.
  • Potato flour: substitute with sweet potato flour if you're avoiding nightshades.
  • Sea salt: filled with lots of vitamins and minerals, sea salt packs flavor and nutrition in one shake. Substitute with Kosher salt.
  • Olive oil: a nutritious oil that imparts a wonderful fruity flavor. Substitute with more avocado oil.
  • Avocado oil: a nutritious oil with a neutral flavor. Feel free to substitute with more olive oil.
  • Eggs: another key binding element. Don't skip this one! (That's why it's an AIP reintroduction though….)

How to make these crunchy empanadas

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and crumble the ground beef into the skillet with your hands. Stir frequently, breaking up the beef, until browned.
  • Once browned, add the taco seasoning, tomato paste, and water, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down and let simmer.
  • Meanwhile, add the water for the dough to a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top, spreading over the surface of the water.
  • Add the flours and salt to another large bowl and mix well.
  • To the bowl with the gelatin, add the oil(s) and eggs, and whisk completely.
  • Pour the liquid into the dry mixture and stir well until a dough is formed. Knead for a few seconds with your hands to incorporate all of the flours into the mixture.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal balls. Split each ball in half and flatten each into a disc on the baking sheet. Spoon 2 large spoonfuls of the ground beef mixture on top of one disc, and carefully place the other disc on top of the filling. Roll the sides of the dough up around the filling and press together with your fingers to create a seal.
  • Continue with the remaining dough and filling.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.

Can you make these ahead of time?

Yes! While they are best straight out of the oven, they can be reheated in a toaster oven or oven the next day. After that they get a bit soggy and not as good.

However, you can also make and freeze them – and they taste great once reheated in the toaster oven or oven. I like to slice them in half if doing this so they aren't as hard to thaw and reheat. Freeze for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the fridge.

Want other Paleo and AIP Latin-inspired recipes? Try one of these!

Adobo Fish Tacos (Paleo, Whole30, AIP): Brightly colored and full of various delicious flavors and textures, these fish tacos are just the thing for a warm spring or summer night.

Sheet Pan Lime Shrimp Fajitas (Paleo, Whole30, AIP): This simple AIP-friendly lime shrimp fajita dish is amazing. All of the fun and flavor without the pain. Paleo, Whole30 friendly, too!

Steak Bowl (Paleo, Whole30, AIP): Look forward to your meal with this nutrient-dense, filling, and delicious steak bowl recipe.

More Helpful Resources in the Freebie Library

If you find this recipe helpful, you may really enjoy the resources in my Autoimmune Freebie Library! There's a β€œdump” freezer meal plan, breakfast meal prep plan, Paleo and AIP starter guides, and so much more. Plus, you'll get even more ideas sent to your inbox! Get the password here.

Beef Empanadas Recipe

If you make these beef empanadas, I'd love to hear how it turned out! Either comment below or share a pic on Instagram and tag me @thrivingautoimmune!

A hand holding half an open empanada in the foreground, with four empanadas on a sheet pan in the background.

Gluten Free Paleo Beef Empanadas (Paleo, Whole30, AIP Stage 2 Reintros)

Servings: 6 empanadas
These gluten-free and Paleo beef empanadas have been a FAVORITE recipe of ours for years – and now you too can enjoy the delightful crunchy shells filled with tangy, flavorful taco meat.
This recipe has been adapted from the Primal Cravings Cookbook
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients
  

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1-2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning (I like Primal Palate)
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 cup Water

FOR THE DOUGH:

  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 2 teaspoons powdered Gelatin
  • 2 cups Tapioca Flour
  • 1/2 cup Potato Flour (Sweet Potato Flour works too)
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Avocado Oil (Or 1/2 cup of either Olive or Avocado Oil)
  • 2 Eggs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and crumble the ground beef into the skillet with your hands. Stir frequently, breaking up the beef, until browned.
  • Once browned, add the taco seasoning, tomato paste, and water, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down and let simmer.
  • Meanwhile, add the water for the dough to a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top, spreading over the surface of the water.
  • Add the flours and salt to another large bowl and mix well.
  • To the bowl with the gelatin, add the oil(s) and eggs, and whisk completely.
  • Pour the liquid into the dry mixture and stir well until a dough is formed. Knead for a few seconds with your hands to incorporate all of the flours into the mixture.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal balls. Split each ball in half and flatten each into a disc on the baking sheet. Spoon 2 large spoonfuls of the gound beef mixture on top of one disc, and carefully place the other disc on top of the filling. Roll the sides of the dough up around the filling and press together with your fingers to create a seal.
  • Continue with the remaining dough and filling.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1empanadaCalories: 559kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 16gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 931mgPotassium: 420mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 200IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 3mg
Course: Breakfast, Lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Latin American
Keyword: AIP Friendly, coconut free, gluten free, latin american, Paleo, Whole30
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below or share a photo on Instagram and tag me @thrivingautoimmune !

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