Category: Appetizer    |     Prep Time: 3.5 hrs   |    Cook Time: 35 mins

Makes: Approx. 20 Esfihas


A popular and well-loved Brazilian snack, esfihas are flavorful beef dumplings. Originating from the Middle East, esfihas were introduced in Brazil by large immigrant communities from Lebanon and Syria. Enjoyed by the 16 SOS Children’s Villages in Brazil, esfihas are sure to become one of your favorites, too!


Esfihas make an excellent addition to any get together and are great as finger foods for parties or as appetizers to family meals! Our esfihas are shaped into dumplings, but you can also make yours open, similar to a flatbread pizza. 


Did you know?  Esfihas are also commonly spelled “esfirras;” as the “rr” is pronounced like an “h” in Portuguese, both spellings are pronounced the same way: “es-FEE-has.”





  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 packets Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 8 oz butter
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 egg



  • 3 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 diced onion
  • 2 diced ripe tomatoes
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 limes (optional)



  • Saucepan
  • Stovetop
  • Strainer
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking sheet
  • Oven
  • Cutting board (optional)



1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and lightly fry onion, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Brown the ground beef with this mixture. Set aside the filling for later. Tip: Let the filling drain in a strainer before use. In order for the esfihas to hold shape during baking, the filling needs to be free of liquids.

2. In a large bowl, mix one cup of flour with yeast, sugar and salt.

3. Heat milk with butter until very brown (130 F) and pour in dry ingredients. Mix well in the bowl. 

4. Combine the eggs and remaining flour to make soft dough.

5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, for at least 20 minutes.

6. Roll the dough into a rope and cut into 2-inch-long pieces. Cover and let the pieces rest for 2 hours in a warm place until they double in size. Tip: Make the esfihas smaller if they are going to be served as snacks for parties.

7. Flatten each piece with a rolling pin on a floured surface and place the filling in the center.

8. Fold the dough over the filling on three sides to wrap it into a triangular shape. Tip: Add the juice of 2 limes to the filling to improve flavor. Be generous with the filling—esfihas should be well stuffed when you wrap them.

9. Place esfihas with seam down on a large floured, ungreased baking sheet, leaving room for the dough to rise. Let the rolls rest for half an hour while you heat the oven to 400 F.

10. Brush the top of each esfiha with egg yolk. 

11. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown.

12. Enjoy with family and friends!


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