As an extension of our culture, and my son’s social studies lesson, we are focusing on the Puerto Rican side of our family by making Pastelillos de Carne (Puerto Rican Meat Turnovers) for today’s Mini Chef Mondays post.

Pastelillos de Carne

Today we’re going back to our roots. My mini chef has been learning all about immigration, cultures and ethnicities in his third grade social studies class so we’ve been having a lot of discussions about our backgrounds and family trees. We even worked on my son’s class project this weekend, a Culture Bear. Our cultures are Mexican, Puerto Rican, Spanish and French so we decorated our bear to reflect those cultures. Here’s our finished product (for the record, I despise crafts of any kind. Hate them.)


We take culture pretty seriously in our house and try to expose our children to as many different cultures as possible through traveling, music and more. One of the easiest ways to do expose children to various cultures is through food. I grew up eating these Pastelillos de Carne (Puerto Rican Meat Turnovers) and absolutely love them and thought they’d be a great dish for my mini chefs to try and recreate.

Pastelillos de Carne (Puerto Rican Meat Turnovers)

Growing up, my mother used to fill her pastelillos with a seasoned corned beef mixture. I prefer mine filled with beef, steak or even chicken. For my beef mixture, I like to add olives, onions, tomato sauce, cilantro and some seasonings. From there, the mixture is placed in premade pastry rounds and sealed before frying on both sides until golden brown.

The boys were able to help with prepping the olives and onions, filling the pastry rounds and pressing them closed. 

Pastelillos de Carne
Pastelillos de Carne
Pastelillos de Carne

I took care of the frying part while the GGG boys circled the kitchen, anxiously waiting for the pastelillos to be ready. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to dig in myself and may have nibbled on one while the rest were cooking.

Pastelillos de Carne

These are not only popular with my boys, but my friends love these too. I have several friends who can’t get enough of these. My Mexican friend thinks they taste just like her culture’s empanadas. Whatever you call them, I know one thing, they don’t last long. People eat them up too fast!

Pastelillos de Carne (Puerto Rican Meat Turnovers)

A traditional Puerto Rican meat turnover, similar to an empanada but it’s not an empanada. It’s a pastelillo.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Author: Linda Arceo


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic or 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • splash of olive juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pkg Goya Discos frozen turnover dough White
  • oil for frying


  • Heat a nonstick skillet. Stir in beef and cook until browned. Add remaining ingredients, except discos and frying oil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until mixture thickens. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of meat mixture into middle of one Goya discos, fold over; moisten edges and seal with a fork. Repeat with remaining discs until all meat mixture is used. Heat 2½ inches of oil in a deep saucepan on medium. Cook pastelillos in batches, turning to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.
Pastelillos de Carne

Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts as well!

  1. Frozen Yogurt Fruit Bark Recipe // Courtney’s Sweets
  2. Ham & Egg Cups // Momma Lew
  3. Yogurt Dipped Frozen Banana on a Stick // Baby Loving Mama
  4. Bacon Egg and Cheese Pretzel Bites // We’re Parents
  5. Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Covered Pretzels // Frugal Novice
  6. Tips for Planting a Kids’ Vegetable Garden // Eating Richly Even When You’re Broke
  7. Pastelillos de Carne (Puerto Rican Meat Turnovers) // Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps
  8. 18 Mother-Child Bonding Activities plus FREE Printable // Step Stool Chef
  9. Broccoli Mac and Cheese Bites // Vegging at the Shore
  10. Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteaks // O’Boy! Organic
  11. Chocolate Milk Mini Fudge Pops // Can’t Google Everything

I hope you enjoy exploring a different culture and if you try these, let me know what you think. Enjoy!

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