Pastelillos Dominican empanadas

Dominican Empanadas Pastelillos

Pastelillos (Dominican empanadas) Sadhna Lindvall Interview. Pastelillos (Dominican empanadas) are made with a puff pastry-style wrapper and can have either savory or sweet fillings. Some are fried while others are baked. This is the second in a series of interview/cooking segments featuring Community Leaders in Milwaukee, WI. You can watch the Interview/Cooking segment on YouTube by clicking on the link below.

The first Interview/Cooking Segment with Milwaukee Community Leaders, with Wendy Baumann, President of WWBIC can be viewed at The recipe for her Tuna Bien Mesabe can be found here.

Testing the Tuna
Testing the Tuna with Wendy Baumann

I am joined by Sadhna Lindvall, who is the President of the Shorewood Foundation in Shorewood, WI. She is also a volunteer member of the Shorewood Human Relations Commission (HRC) and Education Sub-Committee.

The video is a short interview with Sadhna about her work at the Shorewood Foundation and HRC and then we will cook something.

The idea for this interview/cooking segment comes from the HBOMax TV Show Selena+Chef (, where Selena Gomez learns to cook, from world-renowned chefs, like Jose Andres, Marcus Samuelson, and Rachel Ray. Toward the end of each show, they talk about the Chef’s foundation, charity, or non-profit.

Selena +Chef
Selena +Chef

My idea is slightly different. I will be interviewing community leaders here in Milwaukee, discussing their roles in being a difference maker, and then we will cook something (their choice). Sadhna is our second guest. She will be the chef and I will be her sous chef. She will be making Pastelillos, which are Dominican Empanadas.

What is the difference between Pastelillos and Dominican Empanadas?

Pastelillos are generally smaller and use a thinner or lighter dough that you crimp around the edges before frying. Empanadas use a heavier or thicker dough, have rolled edges, and you bake or fry them.

Puerto Rican Empanadas, sometimes known as Empanadillas or Pastelillos are turnovers filled with beef, chicken, cheese, or even pizza toppings. These crispy empanadas are fried or oven baked.

What’s the difference between Dominican Pastelillos and Empanaditas?

The difference between empanaditas and Pastelillos is cosmetic, but –as with many other things– Dominicans do not seem to agree on one answer, but I do know:

Dominican Pastelillos are round, while Dominican Empanadas have a half-moon-shape.

Pastelillos Dominican empanadas

Dominican empanadas (Pastelillos)

Pastelillos (Dominican empanadas) are made with a puff pastry wrapper and can have either savory or sweet fillings.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cooling the Meat: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Dominican, Latin
Keyword: Empanada, Postelillos
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 263kcal


  • No Special Equipment


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 jalapenos or Serrano peppers diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Soy sauce to taste and sodium
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil not olive oil
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 package wonton wraps


  • Season ground beef with cumin, salt, and pepper and set aside to marinate.
    Meat marinade
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil, sauté the onions, Roma tomatoes, jalapenos & garlic (creating a sofrito).
    Sofrito in the pan
  • Add salt and pepper to these vegetables as they cook.
  • Cook until soft (about 5-6 min on medium heat)
  • Once soft, set aside.
  • Drain the liquid from the sofrito.
  • Next, cook the seasoned ground beef in 1 tbs of oil. Make sure to break the meet-up as it cooks.
    Browning the meat
  • Once the meat has browned, drain off some of the excess oil (but not all)
  • Add the sofrito to the meat then continue cooking.
    Add sofrito to browned meat
  • Once the meat is cooked add soy sauce (1/2 tsp at a time) to taste.
  • Once the meat has cooked let cool at room temp
  • If you try to fill the wontons with hot ground beef they will fall apart.
  • As you fill the wontons with the cooled meat, add a few raisins (optional).
  • Seal the wontons with water (dip your finger in water, rub all four sides of the wonton, fold over and press.
    Making the empanadas
  • Indent with a fork to seal them shut.
  • Then pan fry in 1 Cup canola Oil until the pastellilos until golden, about 30 seconds a side
    Pastelillos (Dominican empanadas) frying in oil



Serving: 1piece | Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.2g | Protein: 6.6g | Fat: 17.2g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7.9g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 193mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 0.9g | Sugar: 0.9g | Vitamin A: 490IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 0.81mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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If you like this recipe for Dominican Empanadas (Pastelillos), try our recipe for How to Make Empanadas

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