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Tapa de empanadillitas.JPG
Empanadillas from Spain
CourseAppetizer, main course
Place of originSpain
Region or stateGalicia[citation needed]
Associated national cuisineSpanish, Portuguese, Sicilian, Mexican, Cape Verdean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Filipino
Serving temperatureHot or cold
Main ingredientsMeat, cheese, corn, or other ingredients
VariationsPastel, pasty

An empanada is a type of baked or fried turnover consisting of pastry and filling, common in Spanish, other Southern European, Latin American, and Iberian-influenced cultures around the world. The name comes from the Spanish empanar (to bread, i.e., to coat with bread),[1][2] and translates as 'breaded', that is, wrapped or coated in bread. They are made by folding dough over a filling, which may consist of meat, cheese, tomato, corn, or other ingredients, and then cooking the resulting turnover, either by baking or frying.


The origin of empanadas is unknown but they are thought to have originated in Galicia,[citation needed] a region in northwest Spain.[3][4][5] A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, Llibre del Coch by Robert de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood in the recipes for Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food.[6][7]

By country and region[edit]


Homemade empanadas from Córdoba, Argentina

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.

Every region of Argentina has its own characteristic variant.

Those of Salta are small, juicy and spicy, and contain potatoes, peppers and ground chili. The Jujuy variant adds peas and garlic. Its filling is called "recado" and the repulgue (the way of closing the empanada) "simbado". The La Rioja variant includes hard-boiled egg, red bell pepper, olives, and raisins. In Jujuy, there are two variants: "creoles" and "arabs". Those of Santiago are considered especially juicy. Those of Catamarca are similar but smaller. Tucumán is known for the empanada Creole; an annual "National Empanada" festival is held in Famaillá. Those of Famaillá are made with matambre and fried in good fat, competing with the "entreveradas" (mixed-grated), in which the matambre is mixed with chicken breast, garlic, ground chili, hard-boiled egg and cumin. Those of Mendoza are large and include olives and garlic. Those of San Juan have a higher proportion of onion, which made them juicier and slightly sweet, olives are also common and sometimes fat is also added to the "recado" or the dough. In San Luis they are big, seasoned with oregano and hot pepper, and kneaded with pork fat. In Córdoba, they were called "federal cake" or "empanadas de Misia Manuelita", famous because pears boiled in wine with cloves were added to their filling. Today they are not so sweet but it is tradition to sprinkle them with sugar. In Traslasierra they add carrots and potatoes. In the Litoral, where immigrants from various parts of the world predominated, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Corrientes fill them with river fish, being delicious the surubí, dorado or with white sauce and Goya cheese. In the Cordillera of Patagonia, they are made with lamb and on the coast with seafood. In Buenos Aires, the Creole empanada is so important that it has been declared a Cultural Heritage of Food and Gastronomy by the Argentine Ministry of Culture.[8][9]


Panades in Cayo District, Belize

In Belize, empanadas are known as panades. They are made with masa (corn dough) and typically stuffed with fish, chicken, or beans.[10] They are usually deep fried and served with a cabbage or salsa topping. Panades are frequently sold as street food.[11]


Chilean empanadas

Empanadas are a staple part of Chilean cuisine. Commonly consumed in large quantities during the country's national day celebrations, many Chileans consider this to be their most representative dish.[12]


Empanadas have been known in the country since colonial times, and the ingredients used by the original inhabitants were incorporated into their elaboration. The first to introduce empanadas were Spanish colonizers. They have a relatively homogeneous character that makes them synonymous with Colombian gastronomy. In each region the dough is made with ground corn or with wheat or corn flour. The fillings vary between mashed potatoes with ground meat, peanuts, cheese, pumpkin, squash candy, stews of meat or chicken with rice and vegetables. They are usually yellow, small in size, shaped like a crescent and deep-fried.

Dominican Republic[edit]

In the Dominican Republic they are called pastelitos and empanadas. Pastelitos are round, while empanadas are half-moon-shaped. The dough is made from flour, oil, eggs, salt, baking powder, and water; with fillings typically including ground meat, cheese, and chicken. There is an egg less and flour less empanada called cativías replacing flour with tapioca or freshly grated cassava, in the eastern Dominican Republic, cativías are sometimes referred to as empanadillas.


A sweet variety, empanadas de viento (wind, or air, empanadas), are made from thinly-rolled dough, filled with cheese, fried, then sprinkled with, or rolled in, sugar. The word "viento" refers to the air that fills the empanada as it fries, causing the final product to be hollow.[13]

El Salvador[edit]

Salvadoran empanadas de platano with coffee

El Salvador is one of few countries where the empanada is made with plantain rather than a flour-based dough wrapping.[14] A popular sweet variation, empanadas de platano are torpedo-shaped dumplings of dough made from very ripe plantains, filled with vanilla custard, fried, then rolled in sugar.[15] They may alternatively have a filling made from refried beans rather than milk-based custard, but the flavour profile remains sweet rather than savoury.[16][17]


Indonesian Minahasan panadas

In Indonesia, empanadas are known as panada. It is especially popular within Manado cuisine of North Sulawesi where their panada has thick crust made from fried bread, filled with spicy cakalang fish (skipjack tuna) and chili, curry, potatoes or quail eggs. The panada in North Sulawesi was derived from Portuguese influence in the region.[18] This dish almost similar to karipap and pastel, although those snacks have thinner crust compared to panada.


In Mexico, empanadas can be sweet or savory, and fried or baked depending on the state or region.

In the states of Sinaloa and Sonora, pumpkin empanadas are common: chunks of pumpkin are cooked along with piloncillo and sometimes tequesquite and then mushed; the empanadas are filled with the pumpkin mixture and then are baked.

In Colima State, in the municipality of Villa de Álvarez, empanadas are traditionally eaten from September 25 to October 4, which is the day the Catholic Church honours Francis of Assisi. As per tradition, a person will ask someone else for an empanada by saying "¡Padrino, mis empanadas!" if addressing a man or "¡Madrina, mis empanadas!" if addressing a woman. The three traditional fillings are leche ('milk', which is similar to Bavarian cream), piña ('pineapple'), and coco ('coconut'), but nowadays other fillings such as strawberry jam, ham, cream cheese, and Nutella are used.

In Veracruz State, fried fish empanadas are common, mainly during Lent.


In Peru, the traditional Empanadas are filled with fried ground beef, onions, olives, hard-boiled egg and raisins. After baking or frying, the Empanadas are sprinkled with icing sugar and, before biting into them, with a squeeze of lime juice.[19]


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 (garlic chives).

Ilocos Empanada

Empanadas in the northern part of the Ilocos usually have savoury fillings of green papaya, mung beans, and sometimes chopped Ilocano sausage (chorizo) or longaniza and egg yolk. This particular variant is fried and uses rice flour for a crunchier shell.[20] There have also been people who make empanada filled with mashed eggplant, scrambled eggs, and cabbage, which they call poqui poqui.[21]

In Bulacan, empanada de kaliskis (lit. "scale empanada"), uniquely has a flaky multilayered crust resembling scales, hence the name. In Cebu, empanada Danao is a characteristically sweet-savory variant. It is filled with chopped chorizo and chayote, deep-fried, and dusted in white sugar before serving. In Zamboanga, empanada Zamboangueño is filled with chopped sweet potato, garbanzo beans, and served with a sweet vinegar dipping sauce.[22]

Dessert versions of empanada also exist. Notable ones include empanaditas, which commonly has a filling of latik (coconut caramel), honey and nuts, or peanut butter. Kapampangan versions of empanaditas have a yema (custard) and cashew nut filling. In Cebu, sinudlan empanada is a small deep-fried empanada with bukayo (sweetened coconut meat) filling.[22]

Puerto Rico[edit]

They are called empanadilla and have countless fillings from sweet and savory. The dough consists of flour, baking powder, water or milk, salt, eggs, white vinegar or vodka, annatto, lard or butter. The lard or butter is gently heated with annatto seeds, garlic, bayleaves, and thyme. Annatto gives empanadilla its distinctive red/orange color with a nutty taste. Once the fat has extracted flavor and color it is the strained on to the dough discarding seeds, herbs, and garlic. Boiled and mashed cassava, breadfruit, green or yellow plantains can be incorporated in to the dough.

Sicily (Italy)[edit]

Sicilian 'Mpanatigghi

The Sicilian mpanatigghi are stuffed, consisting of halfmoon-shaped panzarotti filled with a mixture of almonds, walnuts, chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and minced beef.[23][24][25] These are typical of Modica, in the province of Ragusa, Sicily. They are also known with the italianized word impanatiglie or dolce di carne (pasty of meat).[26]

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 empanadillas" (empanada), as well as from the somewhat unusual combination of meat and chocolate, which occurs several times in the Spanish cuisine.[23][24][27] In past centuries for the preparation of 'mpanatigghi game meat was used but today beef is used.[23]

United States[edit]

Empanadas, mainly based on South American recipes, are widely available in New York City, New Jersey, and Miami from food carts, food trucks, and restaurants.[28] Empanadas are usually found in U.S. areas with a large Hispanic population, such as San Antonio,[29][30] Los Angeles,[31] and San Francisco.[32]


Homemade Venezuelan empanadas

Traditional Venezuelan empanadas are made with ground corn dough, though the modern versions are made with precooked corn. The dough may have a yellow color when toasted due to the addition of annatto. The fillings are very diverse, with the most conventional being cheese, shredded beef, chicken, cazón (school shark) in the Margaritan Island region especially,[33][34] ham, black beans and cheese (commonly called "dominó") and even combinations of mollusks. The Empanadas have a half moon shape and are fried in oil. Sometimes, they may have more than one filling as in the case of Empanadas de pabellón[35] which are made with the filling of shredded beef (or cazón in the Margarita Island region), black beans, slices of fried plantain, and shredded white cheese.

Similar foods[edit]

The empanada resembles savory pastries found in many other cultures, such as the molote, pirozhki,[36] calzone,[36] samosa,[36][37] knish,[36][37] kreatopitakia,[36] khuushuur, and pasty.[37]

In most Malay-speaking countries in Southeast Asia, the pastry is commonly called karipap (English: curry puff). In Chinese they have deep-fried jiaozi and Vietnamese they have bánh gối.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "empanar". SpanishDict. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  2. ^ ASALE, RAE-; RAE. "empanar | Diccionario de la lengua española". «Diccionario de la lengua española» - Edición del Tricentenario (in Spanish). Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  3. ^ "Historia de la empanada criolla" (PDF). Dra. Susana Barberis. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  4. ^ Penelope Casas (1982), The Food, Wines, and Cheeses of Spain, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1982 (p. 52)
  5. ^ "Breve historia de la alimentación en Argentina". Liliana Agrasar. Retrieved July 8, 2010. They first appeared in medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions.
  6. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in medieval times. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-32147-7.
  7. ^ Lady Brighid ni Chiarain. "An English translation of Ruperto de Nola's Libre del Coch". Stefan's Florilegium. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  8. ^ "Empanadas: su origen y una historia extensa". misionesalinstante.com. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  9. ^ "El mapa definitivo de las empanadas argentinas con sus 14 versiones". La Nación (in Spanish). October 5, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  10. ^ "Belizean Food". Belize.com. ITM Ltd. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  11. ^ Kraig, Bruce; Sen, Colleen Taylor, eds. (2013). Street Food Around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-59884-954-7.
  12. ^ Larrain, Jorge (2001). Identidad chilena. LOM Ediciones. ISBN 9789562823999.
  13. ^ "Fried cheese empanadas". Laylita's Recipes. Laylita. 2021. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  14. ^ Guillén, Alejandro (March 18, 2021). "Cultura y tradición: Empanadas salvadoreñas". Exclusiva Digital. Retrieved October 17, 2022.
  15. ^ "Salvadorean Plantain Empanadas with Milk Filling". CocinAmerica. CocinAmerica. January 11, 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  16. ^ "Empanada de plátano con frijoles". Recetas de El Salvador. Retrieved October 17, 2022.
  17. ^ Morataya, Celina (March 24, 2014). "Empanadas Salvadoreñas Fuente: Recetas Salvadoreñas". Recetas Salvadoreñas. Retrieved October 17, 2022.
  18. ^ "Panada, Kue Lezat Peninggalan Bangsa Portugis di Manado".
  19. ^ Sunflower (May 29, 2022). "Peruvian Empanadas". www.limaeasy.com. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  20. ^ Ian Ocampo Flora (April 23, 2010). "Vigan Empanada and the gastronomic treats of Ilocos". www.sunstar.com.ph. Archived from the original on May 5, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  21. ^ News, Ria Galiste, ABS-CBN (June 17, 2016). "Look: Restaurant adds twist to Ilocos empanada". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved May 31, 2019. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  22. ^ a b Polistico, Edgie (2017). Philippine Food, Cooking, & Dining Dictionary. Anvil Publishing, Inc. ISBN 9786214200870.
  23. ^ a b c Red. Spe. (July 31, 2013). "Quanto è "dolce" Ragusa". Corriere del Mezzogiorno.
  24. ^ a b Giovanni Assenza (2014). Miele, garofano, cannella. I profumi dei dolci di Sicilia. Assenza. ISBN 978-605-030-594-4.
  25. ^ Nicky Pellegrino (2013). The Food of Love Cookery School. Hachette UK. ISBN 978-1-4091-3381-0.
  26. ^ Monica Cesari Sartoni (2005). Mangia italiano. Guida alle specialità regionali italiane. Morellini Editore. ISBN 88-89550-05-8.
  27. ^ Touring Club of Italy (2005). Authentic Sicily. Touring Editore. ISBN 88-365-3403-1.
  28. ^ "10 Spots To Score Excellent Empanadas In NYC" Archived July 8, 2016, at the Wayback Machine by Angely Mercado, Gothamist, October 13, 2014;
    "NYC Food Truck Lunch: Empanadas From La Sonrisa Empanadas" by Perry R., CBS New York, October 9, 2015
  29. ^ "The 15 Best Places for Empanadas in San Antonio". FourSquare. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  30. ^ Rice, Janae. "Finding Empanadas in SA". San Antonio Current. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  31. ^ Chabala, Tracy (July 18, 2013). "5 Great Baked Empanadas in Los Angeles". LA Weekly. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  32. ^ bayareabites. "Bay Area Bites Guide to Empanadas in San Francisco". KQED. Retrieved October 31, 2022.
  33. ^ Suárez Rodríguez, Jesús M.; Almerich, Gonzalo; Gargallo López, Bernardo; Aliaga, Francisco M. (May 10, 2010). "Competencies in ICT of teachers and their relation to the use of the technological resources". Education Policy Analysis Archives. 18: 10. doi:10.14507/epaa.v18n10.2010. ISSN 1068-2341.
  34. ^ Parra, William (November 15, 2009). "El sistema penal acusatorio como comunicación universal y como parte del proceso de construcción de una cultura jurídica en Colombia, basada en el respeto de los derechos humanos". Criterios. 2 (2): 105–142. doi:10.21500/20115733.1907. ISSN 2011-5733.
  35. ^ "Hay masas de repostería que son húmedas o grasas y al estirarlas se quedan pegadas, aprende cómo evitarlo". CocinayVino.Net. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  36. ^ a b c d e Glenn Randall Mack & Asele Surina, Food Culture in Russia and Central Asia (Greenwood, 2005), p. 138.
  37. ^ a b c Patricia Yeo & Julia Moskin, Cooking from A to Z (St. Martin's Press, 2002), p. 53.