If there is one Colombian food that everyone I know likes, it would be empanadas without a doubt.
Empanadas are typical Colombian street food, deep fried corn dough filled with meat and potatoes.
They are versatile. They can be finger food or full blown meals. It all depends on the size and filling you use.
In this post I will show how to make the typical meat and potato Colombian empanada using a cornmeal crust. The original recipe calls for homemade dough.
You can get creative with your filling. If you are vegetarian you can make them with just potatoes as a filling and they are still delicious.
You can substitute beef for pork, chicken or any blend that you like.
There are many corn flours/meals in the market, but the one that works best for me is the Albers Yellow Corn Meal because it is not super finely ground which gives the dough a bit of texture and crunch.
- Corn Meal: Albers is my favorite because it gives the dough texture, it almost feels like a made-from-scratch dough.
- Beef: You can use ground beef but I prefer to use a flank steak or any other cut of meat and grill/pan sear first and then grind it. I like this texture better than ground beef. You can also use shredded beef.
- Potatoes: Any kind of potatoes work. I usually work with red potatoes.
The Empanada Dough
Getting your dough right is the key to making delicious Colombian empanadas.
If the dough is too wet, it will be too sticky to work with and it will be hard to shape the empanada.
If the dough is too dry, your empanadas will crack open when frying them. It will make the filling super greasy and if the filling comes out your oil will start splattering.
Making empanadas can take a long time. I highly recommend making your filling in advance. That way it will be cooled down when you are ready to deep fry the empanadas and it will be easier.
You can make the filling up to a day in advance. All the ingredients are cooked once you form your empanadas so all the deep frying does is just heat it up and make the outside crunchy.
How to Shape them
Ideally you will use an empanada dough press that way you get clean edges but if you don't have one don't worry, you can use a plate to create the moon shape and seal them tightly by hand.
Colombian Aji Sauce
Empanadas are typically dressed with a vinegar based sauce with minced onions, cilantro and pepper. It is mild but you can up the heat using chillies.
If you are visiting Colombia, be sure to checkout my post on the top foods you must try when you go there!
- 2 cups yellow corn meal
- 2.5 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 lb Skirt Steak
- 3 medium potatoes
- ⅓ cup cilantro
- ¼ roasted bell pepper optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the water, add salt, oil and paprika
- Add the corn meal and stir until well incorporated. About 3-5 minutes
- Let the dough cool down and knead it untill the dough is uniform.
- Season meat with salt and pepper. I like to add paprika and onion salt too.
- Grill it or pan sear it until it reaches a medium well temperature.
- peel and cut the potatoes in cubes and boil them with salt until tender.
- In a food processor, add the meat cut in strips, cilantro and red pepper if using. Grind them until the meat resembles ground beef.
- Mash the potatoes and mix with the ground beef. Let the filling cool down.
Build the Empanadas
- Divide the dough in golf sized balls. Flatten them with a tortilla press or a round plate. Use a clean plastic bag or parchment paper to prevent the dough to sticking to your working surface
- If using an empanada mold, fill the dough with the meat and potatoes in the center and press to create a half moon shape.
- If you don't have an empanada mold, put the filling in one side of your dough and fold it in half. Press with a round bowl or cap to seal the filling in place.
- Heat up 3 cups of vegetable oil in a frying pan until they reach about 350 Fahrenheit or 165 celsius.
- Add the empanadas and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown
- Remove from the heat and place on a paper towel
Is there a way to make these without frying in oil?
I have tried the air fryer but the result is not the same. What I do is use a high quality oil and only use it once.
Have you tried baking them? If so how did they turn out? Thanks!
How many pounds of ground meat would you substitute the beef for this recipe?
These were great. Just like the ones we use to make at home. Thanks for sharing
Awesome Marilyn! Thanks so much for trying them.
We tried several different ways and could not get this dough to work- any tips?
What issue did you have? Did you use the brand of cornmeal I use?
You need about 1/4c more water for this recipe. I've been baking for 20yrs and never had dough come up like this. Every empanada broke and I measured it well. Great recipe!!! Just needs more water.
Did you use the same flour I used? Where are you located? It might have to do with humidity issues but I'm glad you were able to sort them out. Looking forward to hearing your feedback. Thanks for trying the recipe!
It has to be precooked cornmeal. A standard cornmeal will stay too sticky and will not produce the right texture
Do I had the salt, oil, and paprika before or after the water comes to a boil?
Yes! so the spices dissolve.
Is there a particular cornmeal that’s better to use or does it matter? Tried them tonight. Not bad for a first try. Couldn’t get the dough to work this time, so i pulled a trick from chopped and called them deconstructed empanadas. Still tasted good.
I recommend the Albers cornmeal.
Depending on where you are. Go to a Latin food market and get Harina PAN yellow precooked corn meal. Just add warm water and no need to cook it. Follow the instructions on the package