If your cooked ground beef is not already taco-seasoned, simmer it with the taco seasoning and water for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it is already seasoned, skip this step.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the pie crust dough.
Roll the pie crust dough out to about 1/16" thick. It's best to cut one 8" circle and make a test empanada before cutting out all of the circles to be sure that your thickness works well for folding and sealing. It's easy to make the dough too thin, resulting in a frustrating experience when filling and sealing.
When you are satisfied with the thickness of the dough, cut 18 individual circles approximately 8" in diameter.
Fill each crust with ⅓ cup of the filling. Fold crust over and seal, cutting off any extra dough if necessary. Bake at 375°F for approximately 25 minutes, or until crust is light brown and crispy. Serve with queso dip or salsa.
To freeze, place unbaked empanadas in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. When frozen, place in freezer containers and label with the following information: “Thaw. Bake at 375°F approximately 25 minutes, or until crust is light brown and crispy. Serve with queso dip or salsa.”
Nutrition data is per empanada.
You can substitute pie crusts from the refrigerated section of the grocery store for the bulk pie crusts if you prefer.
Making empanadas, dumplings, and turnovers is much easier with a turnover press. This turnover press set from Amazon (affiliate link) comes with 5 presses of varying sizes ranging from 2-½” to 7″:
If you use the 7" press (which is the largest size press I can find), you'll need to use slightly less than ⅓ cup of filling in each empanada but will be able to get 2-3 more empanadas out of the recipe.
To use the press, use the side without the fluting to press into the dough to cut out your circles. Once your circles are cut out, place them on the fluted side of the press, add the filling, then close the press to seal the edges. Make sure that your dough is not too thin (thin dough will sink in the center when filled, pulling away from the edges and causing a poor seal).