Empanada : The noun empanada , derives from the verb empanar , which is the action of enclosing something in a dough or bread to bake it in the oven, or coating breadcrumbs with a food to fry it.

Empanadas can be large as part of a meal, small enough to be served as an appetizer with a sauce, folded in half in the shape of a crescent, or round the size of a plate. And you can find them filled with all kinds of ingredients, including sweets and jams.


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  • 1 Origin
  • 2 Types of empanadas
  • 3 A legend
  • 4 The recipe
    • 1 Ingredients
    • 2 Preparation
  • 5 Sources


To find the origin of the empanada we must go back to the history of fermented bread, unlike unleavened bread that lacks yeast, whose habit of filling it with different ingredients surely gave rise to the empanada.

Empanadas became popular when they first appeared in the area of ​​Spain during the time of the Arab invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, the Libre del Coch , by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas stuffed with seafood, while today the Empanada Festival is part of Galician culture.

In turn, it is believed that the Spaniards had been taken by the Arabs, who prepared with lamb, bulgur and spices, and called esfigha and Fatay . Further back, the empanada goes back to the Greeks, who prepared them with phillo dough , and to what was previously Persia, where there was a similar dish several centuries before Christ.

Other possible origins are the Dönner Kebab , of Turkish origin that the Arabs call Shwarma and the Greeks, Giro ; It is an ancient Turkish preparation imposed in Germany in the 70s as a consequence of the massive immigration that brought with it culinary customs and customs that spread rapidly throughout Europe. The Kebab consists of a piece of pita bread stuffed with lamb, chicken and vegetables, with the addition of a spicy sauce, and in some cases, Greek yogurt.

This modality is followed by the Italian Calzone , a variant of the classic pizza, whose variety of fillings are covered with the same dough as a giant pie. In this group of sourdoughs, we have the traditional Galician empanada, which consists of two layers of bread with a filling inside.

In an old treatise on Spanish cuisine we read:

Take a piece of dough already fermented, from which it is ordinarily used to make fine bread. Grame well. Prepare a stew of onions, garlic, bell peppers and tomato sauce, with oil in abundance and of very good quality. Season with saffron or paprika, a little pepper and the necessary salt.

To this stew is added the eel, lamprey, sardines, cod; chickens, pigeons, pieces of pork loin, sausages or any other food according to the taste of each one, and when it is half cooked it is removed from the fire and allowed to warm. The oil of the stew is drained little by little on the mass, working it well until air bubbles are formed and all the oil has been absorbed. The pie is formed, covered and a hole is made in the center of the lid, and it is decorated according to the artistic taste of the cook, lady or gentleman who has reached into such a mass.

In these conditions it goes to the oven and when it begins to take color, it is given a coat of paint that is prepared with egg yolk and water in equal parts, spreading it with a brush or, failing that, with a handful of hen feathers tightly tied to a thread. The great successes of empanadiles mainly depend on the grammage of the dough and the tempering of the oven that the cooking produces.

Types of empanadas

Most cultures have some form of traditional empanada or meatloaf food. There are variations of this type of food in various parts of the planet.

In Cuba, the empanada dough is normally filled with seasoned meats, such as ground beef (mincemeat) or chicken, folded and fried. Cubans also sometimes refer to empanadas as empanadillas.

Many stores in Argentina specialize in empanadas, offering a wide variety of flavors and fillings. The dough is generally made from wheat flour and butter / oil, with fillings that differ according to the region: in some it is mainly based on beef or chicken, while others include onion, hard-boiled egg, olives or raisins . Empanadas can be baked or fried. They can also contain ham, cheese, fish, humita (sweet corn with white sauce) or spinach.

In Indonesia empanadas are known as panadas or pastel. The panada has a thick crust made of fried bread, with a texture similar to that of bread, and is stuffed with tuna and hot chili peppers. A less spicy version called pie has a thin crust, which makes it crispier, and is filled with finely chopped potatoes, carrots, green onions, chicken, garlic, and rice noodles.

In Galicia and Portugal, an empanada is prepared in a similar way to a large cake that is cut into pieces, making it a portable and abundant meal for workers. The filling of the Galician and Portuguese empanada usually includes tuna, sardines or chorizo. The filling also includes a tomato, garlic and onion sauce.

The small empanada to which we are accustomed both in Argentina and in many Latin American countries, is closer to the Fatay or Sfija of Arab cuisine, or the Lajmayin of Jewish cuisine, both triangular in shape. Both Arabs and Jews dispute their authorship, but in any case, they have in common their fermented dough, similar to that of bread, filled with minced meat and spices, which is almost never hermetically sealed. There is also a Polish specialty called Piroggen , whose dough also contains yeast and is used for both sweet and savory preparations.

Within Turkish cuisine there are recipes that are quite similar to the puff pastry pie like the one used for frying. The Bureka , for example, is a typical flaky pie cooking bean that is stuffed with cheese, minced meat or spinach also being triangular but almost always closed, while the Börek , is a simile of the original Galician pie, only that instead of bread dough, it has phyllo dough, a very fine puff pastry, with a filling between both layers.

In Latin America, Ecuador has a very old tradition of empanadas dating back to the 17th century, with the curious name of Empanadas de morocho, because the dough is made from white corn (morocho) and animal fat. They are filled with rice, meat and onion, and the so-called empanadas de viento, contain onion and cheese.

Bolivia has its traditional cheese empanadas; Chile, stuffed with pine (meat and onion) whose origin also comes from Spanish cuisine and which the Mapuche identify with the word Pirru .

In Colombia, although it is eaten throughout the year, the empanada is considered a Christmas dish and its filling contains ground meat, coriander, tomato, garlic and onion, but its dough is prepared with precooked flour and water, as if It will be a Venezuelan or Colombian arepa.

Manuela Gorriti, author of the treatise La Cocina Ecléctica, a compendium of Latin American recipes from the end of the 19th century, transcribes one, sent by Jesús Bustamante from Arequipa, for the preparation of cold meat empanadas.

Take the necessary flour to the amount of empanadas to be made, and on a table form it in a heap. Make a hole in the center. A piece of bread yeast is dissolved in hot, slightly salty water, and with this water pouring it little by little into the central hollow of the flour pile, stirring it, a hard dough is formed, which as it is made, is rubbed until get it all together.

Then, as it is rubbed, it starts adding pork fat extracted from the fried bacon. And rub it until it becomes soft and mushy. Already like this, it is covered with a folded tablecloth, and it is left an hour.

Immediately, it is divided into equal portions and sprinkling flour, under and over, they are stretched with the rolling pin, on wheels of the desired dimension, conveniently thin. They are spread on a tablecloth to fill them.

With a very sharp knife, large but very thin slices of ham are cut through. Two of these, separated by a layer of pitted black olives, are placed in the middle of the dough wheel; which is folded over this filling, closing the edges

with a repulgo. These sandwiches are baked in cans; and since it must be cooked quickly, they are removed from the oven when they have turned golden.

Returning to the origins of Hispanic cuisine, says the Galician Spanish dictionary, which generally

… the empanada is made in a circular way taking care that the entire edge has a small protrusion to put inside the ingredients that have been half cooked; then it is covered with a thin layer of the same mass.

From the rest of them narrow strips are made with which the lid is decorated, featuring more or less artistic letters or drawings on it, and baked. In some towns or villages all the stew is sent to the bakery so that they can put it all in a little puff pastry, as this is the most tasty and fine empanada.

They can be stuffed with eel, cockles, meat, corn, sausages with cooked eggs without shell, lamprey, hake, chicken, pigeons, Raxo (pork loin), kidneys, sardines or brains.

A legend

Around the empanada there is even a curious and funny legend narrated by Cristóbal de Gangotena and Jijón in his book Al margin de la historia . The event occurred in 1707, in Quito, Ecuador, whose Hearing Officer, Don Cristóbal de Cevallos, had the ridiculous habit of seeing images of saints, apparitions and heavenly visions in any object or situation that presented itself.

On the occasion of the celebration of Saint Christopher , giant and martyr on June 15 , the Oidor held an impressive lunch that began at 10 in the morning surrounded by guests. Puchero, Valencian rice, meats marinated with all kinds of delicacies, were watered with abundant Spanish wine, until the empanadas de morocho, which being very large, were not served on a plate, but on a plate. round sheet of paper that rests on a bread cake of the same size.

When the oidor was about to take one of the empanadas to his mouth, he saw with surprise and amazement in a butter stain on the paper, the image of the Virgin. A true miracle had happened and all the diners who surrounded the magistrate to observe such an amazing appearance, confirmed the vision of that image. Miracle! they exclaimed in unison, a true miracle: she is the Queen of Heaven herself. The voices attracted people from the street, breaking into Don Cristóbal’s house, who climbed into a chair and raised his hand, holding the greasy paper with the image of the Virgen de la Empanada.

Bishop Diego Ladrón de Guevara, iconoclastic by nature, before this ridiculous mania for the Oidor took on greater proportions, burned the Virgen de la Empanada appearing on that greasy paper, ending the incident. The tortilleras, tamaleras and buñueleras had been left without a patron saint to venerate.

The recipe

Empanadas can have various fillings.

The empanadas can vary in shape and filling depending on the place or the taste of each diner. This is a simple recipe that can serve as a guide or base.


  • 500 grams of flour
  • 200 grams of oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Necessary water.


  1. Mix the flour with the oil in a well.
  2. With the help of a fork, press until mixed.
  3. Add the other ingredients and knead until it comes off your hands.
  4. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin and cut rounds of the desired size.
  6. Fill with fruit jam, grated cheese and / or meat or fish hash.
  7. Close by pressing the edges and making a hem or marking with a fork.
  8. Paint with an equal parts mixture of egg yolk and water, and take to the oven for 15 minutes


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