An Overview Of Latin America Empanadas

The term empanada simply means breaded-as in breaded chicken or vegetables. However, in South America, the word has grown to refer to a stuffed, semi-circular pastry. Although the empanada has different incarnations in various countries, it always consists of a stuffing-be it a cheese, vegetable or meat-wrapped in dough, and then baked or fried. Fruit filling can be used to create dessert empanadas.

In Argentina, the country that is perhaps most associated with the empanada, empanadas are served frequently as appetizers, and consist primarily of ground beef, sometimes spiced with cumin.

In Bolivia, in addition to beef or chicken, empanadas often contain potatoes, peas, carrots, and either a quail's egg, olive or raisins. Bolivians also eat fried cheese empanadas, which are brushed with sugar icing.

In Chile, because beef is more expensive, some of the beef filling is replaced with minced onion. Chileans eat empanadas particularly on September 18, during their national celebration.

Ecuadorian and Colombian empanadas are frequently made with corn-seasoning or flour. In both countries, empanadas are often paired with an Aji sauce, which is made of cilantro, scallions, vinegar, salt and lemon juice. In Ecuador, red peppers and sometimes chopped tomato are integrated into the Aji sauce.

A variety of Colombian empanadas is the stuffed potato, which, as the name explains, is made my stuffing a potato (and then breading it), rather than wrapping the stuffing in dough. Stuffed potato empanadas are circular rather than semi-circular.

In Ecuador, some people make empanadas de arroz, rice empanadas, which are deep fried. In Panama and Peru, empanadas are smaller than in other Latin American countries, and in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, sweet fillings are more common, so that empanadas are as much as breakfast and dessert item as an appetizer.

Uruguayan empanadas are similar to the Argentine varieties, but Uruguay is also known for their particularly tasty sweet empanadas, which combine dulce de leche and chocolate, and are covered with sugar or apple jam.

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About The Author, Jennifer Doll White
Jennifer Doll White is an active writer contributer providing researched information on Argentine food and Latin American cuisine. Her collaboration includes writing for Cooking Classes in Buenos Aires's article section at and