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Traditional Colombian Empanadas: the delicious and easy recipe

Total time: 60 Min
Difficulty: Medium
Serves: 3 people
By Cookist


precooked yellow or white cornmeal
1 ½ cup
2 cups
Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp
sazon Goya with azafran
½ tablespoon
½ teaspoon
peeled and diced white potatoes
2 cups
chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
Olive oil
1 tbsp
chopped white onions
¼ cup
chopped tomato
1 cup
½ teaspoon
chopped green onions
¼ cup
clove garlic
1, chopped
chopped cilantro
2 tbsps
chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsps
Black pepper
¼ tsp
Ground beef
½ lb
Vegetable oil for frying

Empanadas originate from Spain, and they can be filled with various ingredient combinations. They are best eaten hot, straight after frying, but they also make great picnic lunch fare, or are good to put in bag lunches for kids and adults alike. These potato and ground beef empanadas are adapted from a traditional Colombian recipe, so why not bring a taste of Colombia to your kitchen today?

These empanadas have a fairly long preparation time, so it’s best to cook them when you don’t have to rush – after all, they’re worth the wait!



Put the cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Add the sazon Goya and salt, stir to mix. If you can’t get hold of sazon Goya, dilute a few saffron threads in ½ cup boiling water, add the beef bouillon cube and stir until dissolved.

Add the 2 cups water and the vegetable oil, then mix to form a dough. You may need more or less water, depending on the brand of cornmeal you’re using. Add more cornmeal if you need to. Shape the dough into a ball and knead for 2 minutes until it is smooth. Cover with plastic film and leave for 20 minutes.


While the dough is resting, cook the potatoes in a pot with water and the chicken bouillon cube until just tender. Drain and lightly mash the potatoes.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a big, heavy skillet or frying pan. Add the chopped white onion and cook over medium to low heat for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes, green onions, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro, salt and black pepper. Cook gently for around 15 minutes.

Add the ground beef, and cook for 10-15 minutes, breaking any lumps up with a spoon. The mixture should be fairly dry.

Add the meat mixture to the bowl with the mashed potatoes, and mix well to combine.

Making the Empanadas

Break small portions of the dough off, around 1 ½ tablespoons for each one (unless you want bigger empanadas). Form each portion into a ball by rolling the pieces round between the palms of your hand.

Place a dough ball between two pieces of plastic film, and roll out the dough into a circle. Remove the top piece of film, and place 1 tablespoon (or more for larger empanadas) of the filling into the center.

Carefully take hold of the plastic underneath, and fold the dough over to cover the filling.

Tightly seal the edges by pressing down with your fingers or using the tines of a fork.

Fill a large, heavy pot with vegetable oil, and heat to around 360 F. When the oil is hot enough, place 3 or 4 small empanadas in the oil and fry for around 2 minutes, or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Serving suggestion: serve with aji (a spicy sauce that contains tomatoes, cilantro, aji pepper and onions) and lime on the side to enjoy a little taste of Colombian cooking.

Tips for perfect colombian empanadas

Don’t substitute the pre-cooked maize meal for ordinary maize meal – you won’t be able to form a proper dough.

Rolling and folding the empanadas is much easier if you do it between plastic film, as this stops the dough from sticking to your hands and the rolling pin.

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