Colombian Empanadas

If you’ve never had Colombian Empanadas, you’re in for a real treat here, my friend! Colombian Empanadas are unlike anything you’ve ever eaten. A crispy cornmeal dough filled with a creamy and aromatic filling is certainly what dreams are made of.

Colombia is known for its delicious cuisine, and empanadas are one of the staples. These little fried pies can be found in almost every Colombian home, and each family has its own recipe. While the fillings may vary, the dough is always made with cornmeal flour and water.

What Is A Colombian Empanada Made Of?

Colombian Empanadas are like crispy turnovers with a rich beef and potato filling. You can use other fatty meats such as pork or mincemeat.

These Empanadas can be served as an appetizer, or as a main dish served with Mexican Rice, Salsa Verde, or Corn Salad. I prefer to serve them as appetizers since they can be pre-made, frozen, and cooked without defrosting.

Should I Bake or Fry Empanadas?

If you decide to bake your Empanadas, you can cook a lot of them simultaneously. Simply place as many as you want onto a baking sheet and bake them in the oven.

Baked Empanadas are healthier since they are not fried in oil, however, that does mean that they won’t have the same crunch.

Empanadas that are baked will have a paler outer shell than their fried counterparts. To help them develop a golden-brown color, you can brush them with an egg wash before baking them.

While nothing beats the crispy and crunchy texture of fried Empanadas, ultimately there is no right way to cook them so cook them however you see fit.

Can I air-fry my Colombian Empanadas?

Yes, of course! Just like with baking, air-frying is a healthier alternative to deep-frying. Simply add a few Empanadas into your air-fryer basket, making sure they don’t touch each other, and air-fry at a high temperature until golden brown for about 10 minutes.

What is the Best Way to reheat my Empanadas?

The best way to reheat your Empanadas is in the oven. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and cook for 3-5 minutes or until heated through. You can also reheat your Empanadas in the microwave, however, they will lose their crunch.

Why Do My Empanadas Explode?

Empanadas explode usually as a result of overfilling and you will know you have too much filling when it is difficult to close and seal the dough without any tearing happening.

As the filling starts to heat up inside the Empanada, steam is generated. Steam is the enemy of the tight seal you created, and if it is overstuffed, the steam will win the battle and as a result your Empanadas to explode.

What is the Best Oil to Fry Empanadas?

If you’re frying your Empanadas, vegetable oil is the best. It has a high smoking point and will not burn like oils with a low smoke point. For example, olive oil is not a good option as by the time your Empanadas cook, the oil will have burnt and ruined the flavor of the Empanadas.

How do You Keep Empanadas Crispy?

Once your Empanadas come out of the oil, place them on a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch any excess oil. You can also keep your Empanadas warm in the oven while you fry another batch.

Why Do My Empanadas Come Out Hard?

The primary ingredients in the Empanada dough are cornmeal flour and water. When you’re working with the dough, you need to move quickly. If you don’t, the dough will dry out and begin to crack.

Unfortunately, if there are cracks in your Empanada dough, it will cause the oil to ooze into the filling, not only drying them out but also sometimes causing an explosion.

Colombian Empanadas – Ingredients

It’s hard to believe that a few simple ingredients can come together to make something as delicious as a Colombian Empanada.

Potatoes– Potatoes are the glue that holds the empanada filling together and gives it its creamy texture.

Ground Beef- Ground beef gives the empanadas its delicious meaty texture.

Ground Pork– The mixture of Ground Pork and Ground Beef further adds to the delicious meaty texture.

Onion– Onions add a slightly sweet flavor to the Empanada filling which ultimately contrasts beautifully with the other savory ingredients.

Garlic– Garlic creates an added depth that enhances the flavor of the empanadas.

Tomatoes– Tomatoes add a sweet but mostly acidic flavor to the beef that cuts through the meaty richness.

Green Onion– Green onions have a milder flavor than traditional onions. They add depth of flavor to the filling and are a great option to add instead of white onion if you’re not an onion lover.

Coriander– Coriander leaves add a fresh, tangy flavor to the filling. You can also use Cilantro if you can’t find Coriander.

Green Bell Pepper: Green bell peppers give the filling some texture and a subtle sweet flavor.

Salt And Pepper:
Salt and pepper enhance the already existing flavors of the filling.

Cumin: Cumin gives the filling and the dough a nutty, slightly sweet, and warm flavor.

Achiote Powder: Achiote powder is a dark red powder produced by grinding Annotto seeds. It has a mild earthy flavor. However, if you cannot find achiote powder, you can use saffron seasoning.

Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil gives these empanadas their crispy and crunchy texture. Likewise, you can also fry your empanadas in canola or peanut oil.

Masaprepa: Masarepa is precooked corn flor which makes it different from cornmeal. Remember to buy Masarepa as normal cornmeal will not work for Empanadas.

More Delicious Snacks:

Beef and Cheese Empanadas

Eggplant Parmesan Slices

Kronk’s spinach puffs


Colombian Empanadas

Colombian Empanadas are irresistibly delicious. I guarantee these empanadas are unlike anything you've ever eaten before. Made with a special corn flour dough and ground meat and potato filling, these empanadas are crispy and crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. 
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Colombian
Servings 6
Calories 285 kcal


Empanada Dough

  • 2 cups Yellow Masarepa precooked cornmeal
  • 2 cups Hot water
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Cumin (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. Achiote Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Onion Powder

Beef Filling

  • 2 medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 lb. Ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. Ground pork
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, chopped or grated
  • 2 Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Green Onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of fresh Coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 Green Pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Achiote powder or Saffron seasoning
  • 2-3 cups Vegetable oil for frying


Preperation of Dough

  • Whisk together the Masarepa, salt, cumin, achiote powder, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • Add 1 3/4 cups of water to the mixture and stir to combine. Always check first before adding the remaining water, keep adding little by little.
  • Knead the Empanada dough until a smooth, slightly sticky dough forms,
  • Place the finished Empanada dough into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

Preparation of the Beef Filling

  • Take a medium-sized pot and fill it with water. Place the diced potatoes inside and set it over medium-high heat. Boil the potatoes for about 10-12 minutes or until they are tender.
  • Once the potatoes are done, drain them. In a large bowl mash the potatoes and set aside for later.
  • Place both the ground beef and ground pork into a skillet and cook it for 8-10 minutes, breaking the ground meat up into small pieces with a cooking spoon. Cook until browned.
  • Stir in the onion, garlic, tomatoes, coriander, green pepper, salt, cumin, black pepper, and achiote powder, and cook for 15 minutes until most of the fat evaporates.
  • Add the meat mixture to the mashed potatoes and mix to combine.

Making the Empanadas

  • To assemble the empanadas, divide the dough into portions that are about 1 1/2 tablespoons.
  • Roll each portion into a ball. Place each dough ball between two pieces of parchment paper square and roll it out into a circle that is 1/4 inch in thickness.
  • Remove the top parchment paper and add 1 tablespoon of the filling to the center of each round.
  • Fold the other half of the dough over the meat filling to form a half-circle. Dip a fork in flour and press it around the edges to seal the Empanada.
  • Add the vegetable oil to a large pot or deep skillet and heat it over medium-high heat until it has a temperature of 360°F.
  • Gently lower the Empanadas into the oil, 3-4 at a time, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the Empanadas over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden.
  • Remove the Empanadas from the oil using a slotted spoon and place them onto a papertowel lined plate or a wire rack.
  • Serve with Salsa Verde, Pico de Gallo, or your favorite sauce, and enjoy!


Calories: 285kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 9gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 43gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 220mgPotassium: 180mgFiber: 6gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 106IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 96mgIron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    So happy that you promote my country’s delicious foods like these empanadas. I noticed you made reference to Colombia as Columbia and wanted to make you aware of this common mistake.


  2. MYRIAM KLEIN says:

    Hi Keesha. Thank you for the recipe and all the wonderful information. One thing, you say that normal cornmeal does not work but I made some yesterday with regular cornmeal and they turned out fine. I’m from Colombia and I do know how they should be. Other recipes indicate using Polenta but I can’t find it in our supermarket (remote area of BC – in Vancouver Island). I did them in the Air Fryer instead of fried in oil … they were pretty good.

  3. MYRIAM KLEIN says:

    Keesha, I omitted to comment that I did pre-cook the cornmeal for my empanadas.