Every culture in the world has its own version of a turnover. We have the American hot pocket, the Indian samosa, the Chinese dumpling, the Italian calzone, and the Australian meat pie. What differentiates the empanada is that it is usually shaped as a semicircle and has a starchy dough.

Originally from Spain, its name comes from the word “empanar” which means, “to cover in bread”. While its original shape was different when it landed in Latin America, it soon evolved into a hand-sized dish, perfect for snacking or eating on the go.

An 'empanada' has three key components: the dough, the filling and the cooking method. There are many different combinations and it would probably take a lifetime to try them all (something we would be happy to try)! This article would be at least 10 pages long trying to describe all of them, so we have chosen the most popular one of each country and presented them here for you: 

Argentina - Mendocinas

Dough: Flour based dough contains milk, making it creamier.

Filling: Typically ground beef, onion, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, oregano, a slice of hard-boiled egg and a green olive slice.

Cooking Method: Baked.

Bolivia - Salteña

Dough: Flour based with Achiote (yellow food coloring).

Filling: Sweet, juicy and slightly spicy mix of beef, pork or chicken with potato, onion, bell pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, gelatin, broth, sugar and parsley. Optional ingredients are eggs, olives and raisins.

Cooking Method: Baked.

Chile - Empanada de horno

Dough: Flour based with lard.

Filling: “Pino”, which contains minced meat, broth, garlic, merken (Chilean smoked chilli), cumin, onion, black olives, raisins, and hard cooked egg.

Cooking Method: Baked.

Colombia - Empanada

Dough: Corn flour dough.

Filling: Shredded pork and beef with potatoes, onions, cumin, corianda, tomato and garlic.

Cooking Method: Fried.

Ecuador - Empanadas de viento

Dough: Flour dough with orange juice and sugar on top.

Filling: Cheese.

Cooking Method: Fried.

España - Empanada gallega

Dough: Wheat flour with ´pimentón´ oil.

Filling: It can be anything from pork, tuna, ´chorizo´, or sardines with a tomato, garlic and onion sauce.

Cooking Method: Baked in a ´paella´ pan or pizza pan.

Perú - Empanada de ají de gallina

Dough: Flour dough with sprinkled sugar on top

Filling: Leftover Aji de gallina, which is a chicken stew with yellow chilli, bread, pecans and Parmesan cheese.

Cooking Method: Baked.

Mexico - Chiapacorceña

Dough: Wheat dough with pork lard

Filling: Spiced pork or pumpkin with mushrooms, tomatoes and spices.

Cooking Method: Baked

Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador - Empanada de plátanos

Dough: Banana dough.

Filling: Cheese.

Cooking Method: Fried.

Puerto Rico - Pastelillo

Dough: Thick and crispy

Filling: Ground beef, cheese and tomato, crab, or guava and cream cheese

Cooking Method: Fried

Republica Dominicana - Cativías

Dough: Yuca dough

Filling: Onion, tomatoes and beef.

Cooking Method: Fried

Venezuela - Empanada

Dough: Corn flour dough 

Filling: Cheese, beef, chicken, pork or shark with onions, paprika, garlic, bell pepper, shallot, seasoning, oregano and cumin. 

Cooking Method: Fried.


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By Pame
February 12, 2020


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