Colombian Empanadas: Fried Empanadas With Beef and Potato Filling

Colombian Empanadas
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  • Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 2 hrs
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: serves 40

These unique and tasty empanadas have an outer crust made with masarepa, the precooked cornmeal that is used to make arepas. The filling is stewed beef (or pork) and potatoes seasoned with hogao.

Frying these empanadas gives them a crispy exterior, but the cornmeal pastry is deliciously creamy and soft on the inside. It's traditional to serve these empanadas with spicy aji sauce, but I also like them with chile ranch sauce.

You can make the empanadas ahead of time and chill them until you are ready to fry them.


Click Play to See This Easy Colombian Empanadas Recipe Come Together


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tomato (finely chopped)
  • 6 green onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 package Sazón Goya con azafran (saffron; about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves (coarsely chopped)
  • Dash salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 pound top round or skirt steak (or similar cut of pork)
  • Water (enough to cover beef in pot)
  • 1/2 pound yellow or white potatoes
  • 3 cups yellow masarepa (precooked cornmeal or harina de maiz)
  • 2 1/4 cups water (hot)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Prepare hogao by heating olive oil in a large stockpot. Add garlic, tomato, onions, cumin, goya seasoning, and cilantro and sauté over medium heat, stirring, until onion is very soft (about 12 to 15 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Remove hogao from pot and set aside in a separate bowl. Add the beef bouillon cubes to the pot.

  4. Slice the beef into strips and add to the pot. Cover the meat with water, and bring to a boil.

  5. Simmer beef until very tender when pierced with a fork, about an hour.

  6. Peel and quarter potatoes and add to the beef, adding more water if necessary to cover the potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are very tender. Remove pot from heat and let the meat and potatoes cool in the broth.

  7. Remove meat and potatoes into a separate bowl and set aside. Strain the broth into a large measuring cup and reserve.

  8. Place the masarepa into a large bowl. Stir 1 cup of the reserved broth into the masarepa, along with 2 1/4 cups of hot water and the 2 teaspoons sugar.

  9. Season mixture with salt and pepper and set aside for 10 minutes.

  10. Finely chop the meat and potatoes. Stir the reserved hogao into the meat and potatoes and mix thoroughly, adding a little of the beef broth and slightly mashing the potatoes.

  11. Roll the masarepa dough into about 40 golfball-size balls.

  12. Working with one ball of dough at a time, flatten each ball into a 4-inch circle between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.

  13. Place a teaspoon or so of filling in the middle of the dough circle.

  14. Fold the circle in half to make a half moon shape that encloses the filling. Seal the edges with your fingers. Repeat with all of the balls of dough.

  15. Preheat vegetable oil to 350 F. Fry empanadas in batches until they are golden brown (about 5 minutes).

  16. Drain on paper towels. Serve empanadas warm with aji sauce.


  • You can shape the empanadas a day ahead, and chill them until you are ready to fry. Once empanadas are cooked, keep them warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.