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Two empanadas
Two empanadas (empanadillas)
Course Appetizer
Place of origin Spain/Portugal
Region or state Latin America, Southern Europe, Philippines
Creator Galician, Portuguese, Leonese
Serving temperature Hot or cold
Main ingredients Pastry, filling
Variations Pastel (food), Pasty
Other information Popular throughout:
Latin America
North America
The Philippines
Cookbook: Empanada 
A gourmet version of the traditional dish

An empanada (Spanish pronunciation: ; also called pastel in Portuguese and pate in Haitian Creole) is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Latin Europe, Latin America, the Southwestern United States, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.

Empanadas are made by folding dough or bread with stuffing consisting of a variety of meat, cheese, huitlacoche, vegetables, fruits, and others.


  • Origins 1
  • By country and region 2
    • Argentina 2.1
      • Tucumán Province 2.1.1
      • Salta Province 2.1.2
      • Other provinces 2.1.3
    • Bolivia 2.2
    • Brazil 2.3
    • Cape Verde 2.4
    • Chile 2.5
    • Colombia 2.6
    • Costa Rica 2.7
    • Cuba 2.8
    • Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao 2.9
    • Dominican Republic 2.10
    • Ecuador 2.11
    • El Salvador 2.12
    • Ghana 2.13
    • Haiti 2.14
    • India 2.15
    • Indonesia 2.16
    • Jamaica 2.17
    • Maldives 2.18
    • Malaysia and Singapore 2.19
    • Marianas Islands 2.20
    • Mexico 2.21
    • Nigeria 2.22
    • Panamá 2.23
    • Paraguay 2.24
    • Perú 2.25
    • Philippines 2.26
    • Puerto Rico 2.27
    • Sicily 2.28
    • Spain 2.29
    • Sri Lanka 2.30
    • Uruguay 2.31
    • Venezuela 2.32
    • Virgin Islands 2.33
  • Similar dishes 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Empanadas trace back their origins to Portugal, and the northwest region of Spain, called Galicia, (Spain).[1][2][3] They first appeared in Portugal around the time of the establishment of trade routes to India and the establishment of a Portuguese Colony at Goa, and believed to have been derived or influenced by the Indian Gujia or Samosa, known in Lisbon as the Chamuça da Goa.[4] They first appeared in medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood in the recipes for Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food.[5][6] In turn, empanadas and the similar calzones are both believed to be derived from the Indian meat-filled pies, samosas.[7] All these pastries have common origins: India and the Middle East.[8]

In Galicia and Portugal, empanada is prepared similarly to a large pie which is then cut into pieces to make it a portable and hearty meal for people at work. The fillings for the Galician and Portuguese empanadas are usually either tuna, sardines, or chorizo, but can also contain cod or pork loin. The meat or fish is mixed with sauce made of tomato, garlic, and onion. Due to the Portuguese colonization in Brazil and a large number of Galician immigrants in Latin America, the empadas and empanadas gallegas has also become popular in those areas.

In Sardinia, whose culture has Iberian influences from the long rule of the Crown of Aragon over the island, the salad cake type is named sa panada (meaning "meat ball cake"), or impadas.

Empanada was introduced to Brazil and Indonesia by the Portuguese colonizers and it still remains as a popular dish. It has also been introduced to Hispanic America and the Philippines by the Spanish colonizers. Empanadas in Latin America, the Philippines, and Indonesia have various fillings, as follows.

By country and region


Home made empanadas from Córdoba, Argentina
Argentine version of fatayer called “arabian” empanadas.

Argentine empanadas are often served during parties and festivals as a starter or main course. Shops specialize in freshly made empanadas, with many flavors and fillings.

The dough is made with wheat flour and beef drippings for the fillings which differs from province to province. Some places use chicken, and some places beef (cubed or ground depending on the region) spiced with cumin and paprika. Some other fillings are onion, boiled egg, olives, or raisins. Empanadas can be baked (Salta-style) or fried (Tucuman-style). It also can contain ham, fish, humita (sweetcorn with white sauce), or spinach; a fruit filling is used to create a dessert empanada. For the interior regions, they can be spiced with peppers.

In those places (usually take-out shops) where several types are served, a repulgue, or pattern, is added to the pastry fold to distinguish the varieties (although it is more common nowadays to burn a letter – an abbreviated indication of the filling – into the dough). In larger cities, empanadas are eaten more as take-away food, sourced from restaurants specializing in this dish. They usually carry dozens of different varieties, which is not the case in northern provinces, where empanadas are usually made at home, with more traditional recipes.

During Lent and Easter, empanadas de Cuaresma fillings with fish (usually dogfish or tuna) are popular.[9]

Also popular are the so-called "Arabian" empanadas (empanadas árabes or fatay), filled with beef, tomato, onion, and lemon juice, similar to the fatayer made in the Levant.

Tucumán Province

This province hosts the National Empanada Festival, in the town of Famaillá.

  • The only varieties are beef, and the most authentic types are mondongo, and chicken.
  • Preferably, they are cooked in a clay oven in a tray of fat or in a gas oven.
  • The Tucumanian empanada is hearty—the meat filling being minced into 3-mm pieces, then partially cooked and allowed to cool while it absorbs juices. Cooking is finished along with the final baking.
  • In addition to meat, spring onions, pimento and vinegar are added. Potatoes, peas, and olives are rarely used in the Tucuman preparation.
  • The dough is simply prepared from flour, water, and lard.

A traditional celebratory meal in Tucumán might include: empanadas, Tucumanian locro and meat tamales, and wine from Amaicha del Valle, or Colalao del Valle. Cheese from Tafí del Valle with honey and/or bitter orange syrup is a dessert.

Salta Province

Empanadas from Salta are called salteñas, and are distinct from Tucumán-style empanadas, as they are smaller and baked without the addition of fat or oil. Typical fillings include carne suave or picante—beef or spicy beef, cheese, ham, or chicken. The beef versions typically have potato, egg, red pepper, and green onion with the meat.

Other provinces

  • Buenos Aires and the city of Buenos Aires: The preferred empanada one is very similar to that of Tucumán, but with a greater variety of fillings.
  • Jujuy: Empanadas Jujeñas are very similar to those from Salta, though peas, red peppers and goat meat are more favoured.
  • Santiago del Estero empanadas tend to commonly use peas, white onion, and hard-boiled egg.
  • Córdoba: The empanadas from Cordoba are characterized by the use of raisins, potatoes, and sugar. Typically, Cordoba makes empanadas criollas containing ground meat, carrots, egg, onion, garlic, olives and raisins.
  • Catamarca, La Rioja: Empanadas Catamarqueñas and Riojanas tend to have garlic, potatoes, ground beef, onion and olives as the fillings.
  • Cuyo (Mendoza, La Rioja, San Luis, San Juan): Contains ground beef, onions (yellow and/or green), green olives, hard boiled eggs, and various spices (cumin, paprika, oregano, etc.)
  • Entre Rios: The empanadas here are often stuffed with milk-soaked rice.
  • Corrientes, Misiones, and Formosa: Empanada pastry is occasionally made with manioc flour, and although beef as a filling predominates, fish is not unusual.
  • La Pampa: Here, empanadas reflect the crossing of various regional influences from Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mendoza, and Patagonia. The most frequent empanada fillings can include red peppers, carrots, hard-boiled egg, and currants.
  • Patagonian provinces (Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego, and Islands of the South Atlantic): The most frequent filling is lamb although in the coastal zones, seafood is common. In Neuquén, the usual condiment is merken.


Bolivian empanadas are made with beef, pork, or chicken, and usually contain potatoes, peas and carrots, as well as a hard-boiled egg, an olive, or raisins. They are called salteñas and are moon-shaped pouches of dough customarily seamed along the top of the pastry. Salteñas are very juicy and generally sweeter than the Chilean variety, though levels of spiciness differ. In the afternoons, fried cheese empanadas are served, sometimes brushed with sugar icing.


The traditional Spanish empanada is relatively a recent addition for the Brazilian cuisine, probably through influence of neighbouring countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. Rather, the Brazilian pastel is a similar, though distinct, dish with a more flaky, pastry-type crust than the dough used in the empanada. Also, it is usually fried. When baked, using a slightly different kind of pastry, it is called pastel de forno or pastel português (Portuguese pastel), though its Portuguese origins can be disputed. When prepared at home or served in parties, they're small half-moons with a radius usually about 5 cm (2 inches). When bought as a snack, they are often rectangular and about twice that size. Pastel is traditionally accompanied by sugarcane juice, which is fresh squeezed.

The pastel is a very common food with a variety of stuffings like: pizza, mozzarella, chicken with catupiry, beef, heart of palm, small shrimps, pork; and also sweet "pastéis", filled with brigadeiro, goiabada (and goiabada with cheese), doce de leite.

Another dish that is similar to the empanada is the empada, a pastry pie the size of a muffin, that is baked in small steel or aluminium shells in the oven. The empada is commonly filled with chicken, chicken with cream cheese (catupiry), heart of palm, and sometimes beef. It resembles the English pork pie in appearance, except for its size which is much smaller. The empada dough will usually contain some kind of fat such as lard or hydrogenated fat to give it a crusty shell.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde cuisine features the pastel, as well. Cape Verdean pastéis are often filled with spicy tuna fish. One particular variety, the pastel com o diabo dentro (literally: Pastel with the devil within), is particularly spicy, and is made with a dough made from sweet potatoes and cornmeal.[10]


Chilean empanadas do not have a wide range of fillings, the three types are: One is baked and filled with pino, a traditional filling consisting of ground beef, onions, raisins, black olives, and boiled egg. The second is usually filled with seafood and fried. The third type contains cheese and may be baked or fried, although the latter form is more common.

Many variations on each of these basic types are found (e.g.: pino without raisins and olives, all kinds of seafood such as mussels, crab, prawns, or locos (similar to abalone), and mixed shrimp/cheese, etc.). They are considerably larger than the Argentine type, usually with one empanada being enough for a meal.

Sweet empanadas can also be found, though they are less popular. Of these, the best known is a small pastry filled with a pear paste (empanada de pera)


Colombian empanadas can be either baked or fried, but are usually fried, with a major difference being they are almost always made with a crunchy cornmeal exterior, rather than with white flour as found in Argentina or Cuba. The ingredients used in the filling can vary according to the region, but it will usually contain components such as salt, rice, beef or ground beef, shredded chicken, boiled potatoes, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and peas. In the department of Valle del Cauca, they are generally filled with ground meat, yellow potato, or Creole potato. They are also served with peas, tomato, cilantro, and many other spices. In the city of Medellín, chorizo-filled empanadas can be easily found, because of the city's love of pork and chorizo meats. In the Caribbean Region, empanadas are fried, the pastry is corn-based, and fillings include ground meat, shredded chicken, and ground costeño cheese, The Carimañola is also found in the Caribbean region of Colombia. In the Amazonic regions of Colombia, such as the area of the city of Leticia, many sweet empanadas can be found, because of the high demand and high supply of tropical fruits of the region. Many of these empanadas are filled with some sort of jam, consisting of these types of tropical fruits, such as lulo, zapote, and many more, which can all be found in the Amazon regions of Colombia. However, radical variations can also be found (cheese empanadas, chicken-only empanadas, and even trucha (trout) empanadas). The pastry is mostly corn-based, although potato flour is also used. In Santander and Norte de Santander, is known as Pasteles and are prepared with wheat flour pastry is the most popular, with a variety of fillings that may include pineapple and even mushrooms, but the empanadas of ground or puréed manioc (stuffed with rice, shredded chicken, or minced meat, and usually, chopped hard-boiled egg and cilantro) are a representative traditional food.

Empanada costeña

Colombian empanadas are usually served with aji (also called picante and ají pique by some people), a sauce made of cilantro, green onions, red or black pepper, vinegar, salt, and lemon juice, and often, bits of avocado. Bottled commercially made hot sauces are also used to add flavor to the empanadas. The sauce is normally prepared with a spicy kick, balancing very well with the nutty, neutral taste of the meat, potato and spices that make up the typical Colombian empanada. They are also known to contain carrots and chicken. Another variety includes stuffed potatoes (papas rellenas), a variant with potato in the pastry instead of maize dough; they have round shapes.

In the Cauca department, the pipian empanadas are made with peanuts and a special type of potato called papa amarilla due to its yellow color. In Colombia, empanadas can be easily found on street corners, as it is one of the most famous and popular foods in the general public, followed by arepa and pandebono. Many of the empanadas found in Colombia are homemade, and the recipes have been brought down through generations, eventually turning into a national obsession. One of the most famous bakeries in the Republic, based in Cali, Colombia and called El Molino, introduced the spinach empanada, which is filled with both green spinach and cottage or ricotta cheese. In the poorer areas of Colombia, the producers of these popular empanadas are made with the same spinach, but use queso campesino, queso paisa of Medellín, or parmasan cheese instead of cottage or ricotta cheese. Empanadas in Colombia are a favorite in most of the bigger cities, such as Cali, Bogotá, Barranquilla, or Medellín.

Costa Rica

Costa Rican empanadas are normally made with a corn dough filled with seasoned meats (pork, beef, or chicken), or cheese, beans, or cubed potato stew, and then folded and fried. A typically sweet version made with wheat dough is filled with guava, pineapple, chiverre, or any other jelly and dulce de leche, and baked. Another version is made with sweet plantain dough, filled with seasoned beans and cheese, and then fried. Empanadas filled with gallo pinto are becoming a popular alternative for active people who need a quick breakfast.

In the Limón province, the are variation of empanadas called patí filled with a spicy stuffin, and also platin-ta (derived from the English "plantain tart") which is sweet.


Cuban empanadas are typically filled with seasoned meats (usually ground beef or chicken), folded into dough, and deep-fried. Cubans also sometimes refer to empanadas as empanaditas. They can also be made with cheese, guava, or a mixture of both. It can also be made with fruit, such as apple, pears, pumpkins and pineapples.

These are not to be confused with pastelitos, which are very similar, but use a lighter pastry dough and may or may not be fried. Cubans eat empanadas at any meal, but they usually consume them during lunch or as a snack.

Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao

Pastechis are typically filled with Gouda cheese, meat, tuna, or other fish. The dough is made from flour, eggs, and lard or butter, slightly sweetened. Pastechis are deep-fried.

Dominican Republic

Referred to by Dominicans as pastelitos (little pies), Dominican empanadas are traditionally fried and stuffed with savory fillings, such as cheese or meats (seasoned ground beef, shredded chicken, or pork), and garnished with chopped olives, onions, raisins and/or eggs. A variety also exists in which the dough is made from cassava flour (or wheat flour), called catibías. They are often consumed as street food bought from vendors, but are also made at home as special additions to holiday meals.


Ecuadorian empanadas vary depending on the region of the country. In the highlands there are two main types of empanadas: empanada de morocho, which are made of a special kind of corn, filled with rice, peas and beef and are deep fried; and de viento, which are made out of regular flour, eggs and other components and filled with cheese. This second kind of empanada is usually served with sugar spread over the top. In the coastal regions, the principal type of empanada is the empanada de verde which is made out of plantain and filled with cheese, beef or shrimp.

El Salvador

Salvadoran empanadas are called pastelitos and are made of corn dough that is tinted red with achiote powder. The filling is cooked separately before being stuffed—typically including ground beef, minced carrots, potatoes, and green beans—and fried. Pastelitos are commonly sold by street vendors in the afternoon and accompanied with curtido, a pickled cabbage-based relish.

Salvadorans use the term empanada for an appetizer or dessert made of plantains stuffed with sweet cream or red fried beans. The plantains are then lightly fried and served warm with sprinkled sugar.


In Ghana, traditional-style empanadas called "meat pies" are made with a pastry shell and meat or tuna filling.


Haitian patties

In Haitian cuisine, a very popular meat-filled pastry similar to the savoriness of the empanada, but with a puffy pastry crust similar to the Cuban pastelito, called a pate. It demonstrates a very African culinary aesthetic paired with a very French sophistication. It is essentially a meat-filled turnover filled with ground beef, salted cod (bacalao), smoked herring (food), chicken, and ground turkey topped with spices. The dough is then sealed and baked. It is regularly eaten on festive occasions and often served at local street vendors, especially at the Haitian Carnival; Haiti's largest annual festivity held in its capital of Port-au-Prince.


In India, there are many varieties of empanadas—mostly with sweet fillings. In North India (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) they are called gujias. Gujias are sweet and are made typically at festival time—especially Holi. They are made with a filling of dry fruits, khoya, etc. In South India they are called Karjikayi or Kajjikaya (Telugu). In Maharashtra they are made during the Ganapati festival and also for Diwali—they are called Karanjis. In Gujarat they are called Ghugra.

In Goa, the Catholics make two variants: one for Christmas with a coconut, jaggery and dry fruit filling called Neories/ Nevries, and patties (pattisam) made all year round with beef and/or certain vegetables .


Panada snack in Indonesia with spicy skipjack tuna filling

In Indonesia, it is known as panada or pastel. The North Sulawesi version, called panada, has thick crust made of fried bread, giving it bread texture, and is filled with spicy tuna or cakalang fish (skipjack tuna) and chili peppers. The other less spicy version, called pastel, has thin crust to make it crispy, and fillings typically include finely diced potatoes, carrot, green onions, chicken, garlic, and white pepper; some people add glass noodles. A less common version can also be found, filled with curried chicken and/or potatoes with one quail egg.

Another version, the pastel tutup, has the same fillings as pastel, but in pie form like chicken pot pie, only with the soft thick crust made of mashed potatoes. Pastel tutup is baked instead of fried.


A Jamaican patty or "pattie" is a pastry containing various fillings and spices baked inside a flaky shell, often tinted golden yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. It is made like a turnover, but is more savory. As its name suggests, it is commonly found in Jamaica, and is also eaten in other areas of the Caribbean, such as Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. It is traditionally filled with seasoned ground beef, but fillings now include chicken, shrimp, lobster, fish, soy, ackee, mixed vegetables or seasoned ground beef with cheese. In Jamaica, the patty is often eaten as a full meal, especially when paired with bread. It can also be made as bite-sized portions and is then referred to as a cocktail patty.


The Maldivian empanada, locally known as patty, is a pastry that contains spicy tuna fillings accompanied by chopped onions, chopped garlic, potato and of course, the Maldives chili.

Malaysia and Singapore

In Malaysia, it is called karipap or curry puff, one of the traditional snacks for breakfast. Another version of this snack is known as epok-epok and teh-teh, which is smaller than the curry puff. The filling can vary, some use sweet potatoes or plain potatoes. Other varieties of the epok epok are filled with a half-boiled egg instead of chicken. Another alternative is canned sardines and serunding derived from fish.

Manufacturers have developed a version of the curry puff that can be frozen and later reheated by the consumer. These are suitable for the export market and can be produced in volume for shipment to various regions, such as the Middle East, where there is demand. In addition, new fillings such as tuna, have been tested.

At Indian food stalls, it is quite common to find vegetarian curry puffs with potatoes, carrots, and onion as fillings.

Marianas Islands

The Chamorro people of Guam and Saipan make an empanada filled with ground, toasted rice, red chili, black pepper, garlic, and annatto. The pastry is made from masa harina and is deep fried.[11]


A southern Mexican empanada filled with Queso Oaxaca, epazote and flor de calabaza
Clown promoting an empanada stand in the main plaza of Zapopan, Jalisco.

Mexican empanadas can be a dessert or breakfast item, and tend to contain a variety of sweetened fillings which change drastically from region to region; these include pumpkin, yams, sweet potato, and cream, as well as a wide variety of fruit fillings. Meat, cheese, and vegetable fillings are less common in some states, but still well-known and eaten fairly regularly. Depending on local preferences and particular recipes, the dough can be based on wheat or corn, sometimes with yuca flour. Also, syrup or fruit drizzle is often poured onto the Empanada for a distinct sweetened flavor.

In Chiapas, empanadas filled with chicken or cheese are popular dishes for breakfast, supper or even as snacks. In Tabasco, typical empanadas are made of corn dough and filled with a mince beef dish and served with a garnish of cabbage and salsa.

The state of Hidalgo is famous for its pastes, a dish similar to the empanada, but with a distinct origin and differing preparation method. These trace their origins to the Cornish pasties brought by British miners.


In Nigerian cuisine, these pastries are commonly referred to as "meat pies". They are usually stuffed with carrots and potato with the meat being either beef, lamb, or chicken.


Empanadas are usually filled with ground beef, but sometimes may also be filled with shredded chicken, white cheese or yellow cheese. They are made of flour or cornmeal and usually deep fried, but can also be baked. In the city of Colón, due to a heavy Caribbean influence, they also fill them with plantain puree, bake them, and call them "plantain tarts" (tartas de platano). They are smaller than their counterparts elsewhere in Latin America and are considered snack, appetizer, or luncheon food.

The Carimañola is another item similar to an empanada. They are made of yuca (cassava), usually filled with ground beef and deep fried.


Paraguayan empanadas are similar to the Argentinian ones. They are fried or baked, with a variety of fillings. The traditional ones contain ground beef or shredded chicken with green onion, parsley and hard-boiled eggs. Some other popular types are jamón y queso (ham and cheese), palmitos (heart of palm), choclo (corn), huevo (egg), and mandioca (cassava). The mandioca empanada is commonly referred as pastel mandi'o, and it is unique in this country, usually served in the San Juan festival. Paraguayans like to eat their empanadas with bread. Empanadas are most commonly eaten in the morning hours (after breakfast and before lunch).


Peruvian empanadas

Peruvian empanadas are similar to Argentine empanadas, but slightly smaller. They are usually baked. The most common variety contains ground beef, seasoned with cumin, hard-boiled egg, onions, olives, and raisins; the dough is usually sprinkled with icing sugar. They are commonly sprinkled with lime juice before eating. Also very popular are cheese-filled (or cheese-and-ham-filled) ones besides chicken-filled one.

Recently, "modern" empanadas, with a variety of filling have appeared, e.g.: chicken-and-mushrooms, shrimp or ají de gallina.

In southern Perú, similar to Bolivia, salteñas (Argentinian empanadas) or Bolivianas (very similar to salteñas) are served.


Philippine fried empanadas, with ground beef, potatoes, carrots, cheese, and raisins in a thin, crisp crust

Filipino empanadas usually contain ground beef, pork or chicken, potatoes, chopped onions, and raisins (somewhat similar to the Cuban picadillo) in a somewhat sweet, wheat flour bread. There are two kinds available: the baked sort and the flaky fried type. To lower costs, potatoes are often added as an extender, while another filling is kutsay, or garlic chives (kutsay in Cebuano and Tagalog; 韭菜 kú-chhài in Lan-nang).

Another traditional Filipino empanada which is currently experiencing a revival is the empanada de calisquis, which has a very flaky, crust somewhat similar to flaky pastry, but has a crunchier mouth-feel due to it being deep-fried. Calisquis (kaliskis) translates to (fish) scales, as the flakes of the crust resemble scales coming off.

Empanadas in the northern part of the Ilocos are different. These usually have savoury fillings of green papaya, mung beans, and sometimes chopped Ilocano sausage (chorizo) and egg yolk.[12] Rather than the soft, sweet dough favoured in the Tagalog region, the dough used to enclose the filling is thin and crisp, mostly because Ilocano empanadas use rice flour coloured orange with achuete (annatto), and is deep-fried rather than baked.[13]

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican cuisine has several dishes related to the empanada. The closest to those of neighboring countries is called empanadilla (little empanada). The empanadilla is made of wheat or cassava flour dough, lard and sometimes vinegar. It is filled with chicken, picadillo, chorizo, or turkey, spinach, cheese, marinara sauce, and mozzarella (known as an empanadilla de pizza or an empanadilla de lasagna) or cheese with fruit. Cassava empanadas are usually filled with seafood. They are very popular as beach food and in cuchifrito stands.

Puerto Rican cuisine include several types of wrapped boiled dumplings which they call pasteles and empanadas, although these empanadas are less closely related to the baked empanadas made in other countries and regions. Pasteles are typically made of mashed plantain, with fillings such as diced roast pork and peas, while empanadas are typically made of yuca, lard and annatto, filled with pork and chopped olives. Pasteles are usually wrapped in butcher paper tied with string, while empanadas are usually wrapped in banana leaves, thought the wrappings are interchangeable.[14][15]

A similar dish is the pastelillo, which uses a higher proportion of lard and adds annatto powder in the pastry mix, making it yellow in color, and fried. Common fillings are cheese, guava paste, beef, crab, fish or chicken. They may also be found in the varieties of pizza or lasagna. These should not be confused with another form of pastelillo, which uses puff pastry, is filled with either meat or fruit paste (mostly guava) and either left plain or topped with powdered sugar or sugar glaze/honey.

The Puerto Rican empanadilla pastry should not be confused with what is known as an empanada in Puerto Rico, which is steak, chicken breast, or fish fillet breaded in flour and fried, much like Wiener Schnitzel.



The 'Mpanatigghi are stuffed, consisting of halfmoon-shaped panzarotti filled with a mixture of almonds, walnuts, chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and minced beef.[16][17][18] These are typical of Modica, in the province of Ragusa, Sicily. They are also known as impanatiglie or dolce di carne ("pastry of meat").[19]

They were probably introduced by the Spaniards during their rule in Sicily which took place in the sixteenth century; this is suggested from the etymology of the name which comes from the Spanish "empanadas or empadillas" (empanada), as well as from the somewhat unusual combination of meat and chocolate, which occurs several times in the Spanish culinary.[16][17][20] In past centuries for the preparation of 'mpanatigghi game meat was used but today beef is used.[16]


Pieces of Galician empanada

In Spain, empanadas and empanadillas are two different types of cooking a similar thing. Empanadillas are often made from a rather thin, pliant, but resilient wheat pastry, cut into a round shape, stuffed and folded. The filling varies, but tuna, sardines, or meat are used most commonly in a tomato puree, garlic and onion sauce. Spanish empanadillas are often fried in olive oil but can also be found baked.

In Galicia, the empanada can also be prepared similar to a pie, with a variety of fillings like cod, pork loin, cockles, mussels, or octopus, the empanada galega (Spanish: empanada gallega). Empanadas can be eaten at any time of the day.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, empanadas are called "patties", and are made with a tuna and potato filling. Patties are either baked or deep fried in coconut oil.


Uruguayan empanadas are generally made from wheat flour and can be fried or baked. There were introduced by the Spanish and Italian settlers in the middle of the 20th century. The most common empanadas are those with beef, but also other kinds, such as ham and cheese, olives, fish and spicy stuffing are made.

The most famous sweet empanadas in Uruguay are those filled with dulce de leche, quince jam, or chocolate, covered by confectioners sugar.


Venezuelan empanadas use corn flour-based dough and are fried in oil or lard. The stuffing varies according to region; most common are white salty cheese, shredded chicken or beef and ground beef.

Other types use fish (shredded school shark or cazón), caraotas or black beans, llanero white cheese, guiso (meat or chicken stew made with capers, red bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives, panela, red wine, and Worcestershire sauce). Oysters, clams, shrimp, and other types of seafood are used as fillings in the coastal areas, especially on Margarita Island. Also, it can be made of fried ripe plantains (tajadas) and white cheese, which has a sweet flavour.

An empanada filled with meat, black beans (Venezuelan-style), and fried ripe plantains (tajadas) is called empanada de pabellón, after Venezuela's national dish, the pabellón criollo.

When the empanada is cut open after deep frying, and doctored with added fillings, it is called empanada operada, a term which refers to a surgical intervention (operación in Spanish).

The empanadas can be eaten at any time of the day, but are usually consumed as a breakfast, and are frequently served with guasacaca and/or hot sauce.

To distinguish the types of empanadas in Venezuela, it is common to call those made with a wheat flour-based dough (or pastry) and baked empanada Chilena; Venezuelan empanadas are made with a corn flour-based dough.

Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands version of empanadas are called pâtés. They are served as a snack or street food. Filled with beef, chicken, saltfish, conch, lobster, or vegetables, pâtés are made with flour and are usually fried.

Similar dishes

Many other world cuisines have dishes very similar to the empanada. These include:

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Penelope Casas (1982), The Food, Wines, and Cheeses of Spain, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1982 (p. 52)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Chamuça
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Clifford A. Wright (1999), A Mediterranean Feast, William Morrow, New York (p. 573)
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Hamilton, Cherie. 'Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters' Hippocrene Books. 2001.
  11. ^ Chamorro empanada recipe,
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links

  • How to Make Empanadas—Step-by-step guide with pictures on how to make empanadas.
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