Colombian Empanadas Recipe

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Colombian Empanadas Recipe



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Colombian empanadas are a popular street food and a cherished homemade dish in Colombia, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. These golden-brown pockets of goodness are typically made with a cornmeal-based dough and stuffed with a flavorful filling of meat and potatoes.

Let’s dive into a classic Colombian empanadas recipe, providing you with all the tips and tricks to create these delicious treats at home.


To make Colombian empanadas, you will need the following ingredients:

For the dough:
2 cups of precooked yellow cornmeal (such as P.A.N.)
2 cups of warm water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
For the filling:
1 pound of ground beef or shredded chicken
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of chicken or beef broth
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
For frying:
Vegetable oil (enough to deep-fry the empanadas)


Step 1: Prepare the Filling

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper, and sauté until they soften, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.

Add the ground beef or shredded chicken, breaking up the meat with a spatula. Cook until browned.

Add the diced potatoes, cumin, paprika, ground pepper, and salt. Stir to combine.

Pour the chicken or beef broth into the skillet and mix well. Cover and let the potatoes cook for 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Uncover and let the mixture cool.

Step 2: Prepare the Dough

In a large mixing bowl, combine the precooked yellow cornmeal, salt, and warm water. Mix until a dough forms. Add the vegetable oil and knead until smooth and pliable. If the dough feels too dry, add a little more warm water, one tablespoon at a time.

Step 3: Assemble the Empanadas

Divide the dough into small balls, about the size of a golf ball.

Place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a flat surface. Flatten each dough ball into a circle, about 4-5 inches in diameter.

Spoon a portion of the filling onto one half of the dough circle. Fold the other half over to form a half-moon shape, then press the edges together to seal the empanada. Use a fork to crimp the edges for a decorative touch.

Step 4: Fry the Empanadas

In a deep skillet or pot, heat the vegetable oil to 350°F (175°C). Make sure there’s enough oil to fully submerge the empanadas.

Carefully place the empanadas into the hot oil, a few at a time, without overcrowding the pot.

Fry for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the empanadas and place them on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy

Serve the Colombian empanadas hot, with your favorite dipping sauce, such as aji or guacamole. These empanadas are perfect for a quick snack, appetizer, or even a main course.

Enjoy the delightful combination of crispy outer layers and savory fillings.

Colombian empanadas are a delightful addition to any meal or social gathering. With their satisfying crunch and savory fillings, they are sure to please a crowd. Experiment with different fillings, such as cheese, spinach, or chorizo, to create your unique twist on this Colombian classic.

Tips and Variations

While the traditional Colombian empanadas recipe is classic and delicious, there are plenty of ways to experiment and tailor the dish to your taste preferences. Here are some tips and variations to consider:

Different Fillings: While ground beef and chicken are common fillings, you can try other proteins like pork, shredded beef, or even fish. Vegetarian options like beans, cheese, or a mix of sautéed vegetables also make excellent fillings.

Spice Levels: If you enjoy a bit of heat, consider adding jalapeños or another type of chili pepper to the filling. You can also increase the amount of cumin or paprika for added flavor.

Dough Variations: Some people add cheese to the dough for a cheesy crust. Others incorporate herbs or spices into the dough for an extra burst of flavor. Experiment with different textures by adjusting the cornmeal-to-water ratio.

Baking Instead of Frying: If you’d like a lighter version of Colombian empanadas, consider baking them instead of frying. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C), place the empanadas on a baking sheet, and brush them with a little oil for a golden finish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Dipping Sauces: Traditional Colombian aji sauce is a fantastic accompaniment to empanadas.

Made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice, it adds a zesty kick. Guacamole, salsa, or a spicy mayo are also great dipping options.

Serving Suggestions

Colombian empanadas are incredibly versatile and can be served in various ways:

Appetizer: Serve mini empanadas as an appetizer at parties or gatherings. Pair them with different sauces for variety.

Main Course: Serve larger empanadas with a side of rice, beans, or a simple salad for a complete meal.

Snack: Enjoy empanadas as a midday snack or pack them for a picnic or road trip. Their portability makes them ideal for on-the-go eating.
Final Thoughts

Colombian empanadas are a culinary delight, offering a blend of textures and flavors that are sure to satisfy. Whether you prefer them fried or baked, with traditional meat fillings or creative vegetarian options, they are a dish that can be adapted to suit your tastes and dietary preferences. With this recipe, you have a solid foundation to create your own batch of delicious Colombian empanadas. Enjoy exploring the possibilities and sharing this tasty treat with family and friends.


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