Colombian Empanadas

Bright yellow Colombian empanadas that are stuffed with a beef & potato mixture

This week’s recipe post is inspired by some of my recent travels. I recently returned from a trip to Colombia and had the opportunity of enjoying many different types of foods there. With my wife being Colombian, it is imperative for me to learn some of these dishes so that I can satisfy any cravings she might have (happy wife = happy life). I previously shared my Colombian Chicharron recipe, which has become of my most popular posts. Today, I’m going to share a recipe for another Colombian treat: empanadas.

Do as much as possible ahead of time

There are quite a few steps that need to be taken in order to make Colombian empanadas. My recommendation is to prep as much as possible ahead of time. Here’s a list of the steps and what I like to do ahead of time:

  • Aji sauce – ahead of time
  • Beef & potato filling mixture – ahead of time
  • Empanada dough
  • Fill the empanadas
  • Fry the empanadas

You can certainly make everything all at once but I feel as though it’s easier to split the steps up. If your aji sauce (this is for dipping) and beef & potato mixture are done before you’re going to form and cook the empanadas, you’ll be in great shape when it’s time to cook.

Aji salsa

This sauce is optional but highly recommended for empanadas. The flavors and freshness of this sauce really enhances the empanadas. To make this, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Tomatoes
  • Green part of scallions
  • White onion
  • Cilantro
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Lime
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Hot pepper of your choice (optional)

Making this sauce is as simple as chopping and mixing all of the ingredients together. Doing this ahead of time (ex: make the sauce in the morning and eat the empanadas at night) has an extra benefit – allowing the sauce to sit in the refrigerator will have the flavors to mix and enhance, leaving you will an extremely flavorful sauce.

Colorful aji sauce that is made with fresh vegetables is the perfect dipping sauce for Colombian empanadas
Aji sauce is the perfect sauce for Colombian empanadas

Beef and potato mixture

A key component to Colombian empanadas is the beef and potato mixture that is the filling. The filling includes the following:

  • Potatoes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • White onion
  • White part of scallions
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Beef
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cumin

You’ll need to boil the potatoes until softened, all while browning the beef (full step by step recipe is below). Once the beef is browned, set it aside and sauté the veggies (minus the cilantro). Then, add the browned beef, cilantro, the seasonings, and softened potatoes. Sauté for a couple of minutes and then the filling is ready.

Empanada dough

The empanada dough is up next on our cooking journey. You’ll need the following ingredients:

Mix the ingredients together and form a big ball. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. Now we’re ready to fill and form our empanadas.

Filling and forming the empanadas

Split and form 10 balls from our empanada dough. Flatten each ball (one at a time) by putting it in a ziplock bag and pressing it flat with a tortilla press or a pan. Add the beef and potato mixture to one side of the flattened empanada dough, fold the second half over, and close the empanada by pressing a bowl along the curved part of the halfmoon. Press and seal with your hands any parts that are not enclosed (if necessary). Repeat with the remaining empanadas until they are all filled and formed.

Empanadas that are filled and formed, ready to be fried.
Empanadas that are ready to be fried

Frying

Meanwhile, heat oil up to 350ºF. Add as many empanadas to the heated oil as possible without overcrowding. Fry them for a total of 8 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so. Remove them from the hot oil and allow to cool on a rack with paper towels under it to catch and oil drippings. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Empanadas frying away
Empanadas frying away

Colombian street food at home

I love these Colombian empanadas and truly believe that you will too. I owe my wife for originally introducing me to these and I always enjoy them when we travel to Colombia. These can be served as an appetizer, a snack, or as a meal. It’s delicious South American street food that you can make and enjoy at home. Do you have a favorite street food or meal that you’ve enjoyed when traveling abroad? If so, drop it in the comments and I’d love to make it and share the recipe with you.

Crunchy and delicious Colombian empanadas
Colombian empanadas that are ready to be devoured
Bright yellow Colombian empanadas that are stuffed with a beef & potato mixture

Colombian Empanadas

Let's make South American street food at home! Colombian empanadas are one of my favorite things to eat whenever I travel there. These empanadas are made with a corn meal based dough and filled with a delicious beef and potato mixture. Fried in under 10 minutes, these empanadas will have a crunchy outside but a soft and hearty inside. Served with a fresh and flavorful aji salsa for dipping, these can be enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or meal and are always a hit.
5 from 1 vote
Servings 10 Empanadas

Ingredients
  

Aji Salsa

  • 2 Tomatoes chopped
  • Green part of a scallion bunch chopped
  • 1/2 White onion chopped
  • Handful of cilantro chopped
  • Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  • 1 Hot pepper of your choice chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Lime juiced
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup White vinegar

Beef & Potato Mixture

  • 2 Potatoes cubed
  • 1/2 lb Ground beef
  • 1 Red bell pepper minced
  • 1 Tomato minced
  • 1/2 White onion minced
  • White part of a scallion bunch minced
  • 4 Garlic cloves minced
  • Handful of cilantro minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Onion powder

Empanada Dough

  • 2 cups Pre-cooked corn meal
  • 2 1/2 cups Hot water
  • 1 Chicken bullion
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Avocado oil or any neutral oil; for frying

Instructions
 

Aji Salsa

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Refrigerate until ready to use (this can be made ahead of time)

Beef & potato mixture

  • Cube the potatoes and boil in water for 15-20 minutes (until softened). Remove from the boiling water and set aside once softened.
  • In a different pan, brown the ground beef. Set the browned beef aside.
  • In the same pan that was used to brown the beef, sauté the red pepper. Add the tomato and continue to sauté for a minute. Continue to sauté and add the white onion, white part of the scallion bunch, and garlic.
  • Once the vegetables have softened, add the browned beef, cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix together and then add the softened potatoes. Sauté everything for another 2 minutes. Taste the mixture and adjust any seasonings (if necessary). Set aside to cool or put it in the refrigerator if you are making this ahead of time.

Empanada Dough

  • In a large bowl, combine the pre-cooked corn meal, hot water, chicken bullion, and salt. Form the dough into a big ball, cover with a paper towel, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Filling, forming, and frying the empanadas

  • Divide the empanada dough into 10 balls. Flatten the balls (one at a time) by putting them in a ziplock bag and flattening them with a tortilla press or pot/pan.
  • Fill half of each empanada with the beef & potato mixture. Fold the second half over and cut/seal the empanada by pressing a small bowl along the curved part of the halfmoon. If any parts are not enclosed, seal the dough with your hands. Repeat with the remaining pieces of empanada dough.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil to 350ºF. Add as many filled empanadas to the heated oil as possible without overcrowding. Fry for a total of 8 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so. Once cooked, remove from the oil and put on a rack with paper towels under it.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!
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