How To Make Savory Picadillo Empanadas Using Sargento® Cheese

For Latinxs, food embodies the flavors, vibrancy, and richness of our culture


For Latinxs, food embodies the flavors, vibrancy, and richness of our culture. The same goes for Ariana Ruiz in her kitchen. This Latina mom and all-star chef to her family, honors her heritage by cooking her abuelita’s recipes with a special twist! One of her dearest memories is waking up early in the morning to find her grandmother preparing the dough for sweet empanadas. It wasn’t until Ariana began experimenting on her own that she discovered empanadas can easily become a savory (and cheesy!) meal using the same elements she learned as a young chef. Cooking with quality ingredients for Abuelita’s recipes is important to Ariana; that’s why she trusts 3rd generation family-owned company Sargento, whose dedication to 100% real, natural cheese brings authentic flavors to your table! 

Just as Ariana holds lots of pride in her culture and family recipes, Sargento carries the same amount of pride in being a family-owned company who offers real, authentic cheese. And for Latinxs, authenticity is everything! 

We see these authentic flavors all across Latin America, where almost every country has its own version of an empanada. Whether you prefer a sweet filling, like apples or pineapples, or a savory surprise, like chorizo or chicharron, this cheesy picadillo empanada recipe is making it easier than ever to integrate Latinx culture into everyday foods. 

The real, natural cheese from Sargento® Cheese is perfect for this authentic dish and now you can learn how to make it yourself. Down below is Ariana’s personal recipe on how you can make Cheesy Picadillo Empanadas at home using Sargento® Sliced Medium Natural Cheddar Cheese


Sargento® Sliced Medium Natural Cheddar Cheese 

½ cup cilantro, chopped (garnish) 

4 cups canola oil for frying (at 365° temperature)

Empanada Dough:

4 cups all-purpose flour 

2 tsp. baking powder 

1 tsp. salt 

½ cup lard 

½ cup unsalted butter 

1 cup cold water


1 tbsp. avocado oil 

½ cup onion chopped 

2 tsp. fresh minced garlic 

1 jalapeño, finely chopped 

2 tsp. Mexican oregano 

¼ tsp. cumin 

½ tsp. smoked paprika 

1 tbsp. tomato paste 

1 tsp. garlic powder 

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper 

1 tbsp. Mexican chile powder 

2 lbs lean ground beef


  1. To a nonstick pan, add avocado oil, chopped onion and jalapeño and cook for about 3 minutes. Then, add tomato paste and spices, and cook for 1 additional minute.
  2. Add ground beef and minced garlic into the same pan, browning the beef until meat is fully cooked through (about 5-6 minutes).
  3. Take meat off heat and allow to cool while starting on empanada dough.
  4. For the dough, combine all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
  5. Add cold butter and lard and mix until mixture has a sandy texture.
  6. Add ice cold water and knead dough for 5 minutes.
  7. Pinch a palm sized ball of dough with your hand and roll out on a floured surface.
  8. Once flat, add cooled picadillo to the center of the empanada dough.
  9. Using Sargento® Sliced Medium Natural Cheddar Cheese, cut diagonally into triangles and line the cheese on top of the picadillo.
  10. Fold the dough over and crimp the edges to create a sealed pocket.
  11. Heat canola oil to 365 degrees and fry the empanada for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
  12. Remove carefully and place on a paper towel. Once cooled, plate the empanadas and sprinkle chopped cilantro for garnish!

Check out Ariana’s video below for a step-by-step recipe breakdown of these delicious Cheesy Picadillo Empanadas!

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