March 14, 2023 ·

Argentine Empanadas – History, Recipes and Types

Argentina Empanadas Guide



Argentine Empanadas types:

Empanada TypeFilling IngredientsDough/CrustRegionUnique Characteristics
Empanada SalteñaDiced beef or chicken, potatoes, peas, hard-boiled egg, olives, raisins, cumin, paprikaTraditional empanada doughSaltaJuicy filling; often spicy; features a mix of sweet and savory flavors
Empanada TucumanaMinced beef, onions, green onions, green olives, hard-boiled egg, raisins, cumin, paprikaTraditional empanada doughTucumánSmaller in size; juicy filling; can be baked or fried
Empanada RiojanaGoat or lamb meat, potatoes, green onions, red pepper, hard-boiled egg, raisins, cumin, paprikaTraditional empanada doughLa RiojaFeatures goat or lamb meat; mild flavor
Empanada CordobesaGround beef or pork, onions, green olives, raisins, hard-boiled egg, sugar, cumin, paprikaTraditional empanada doughCórdobaSweetened with sugar; unique sweet and savory flavor combination
Empanada PatagónicaLamb or venison, onions, green olives, red pepper, hard-boiled egg, cumin, paprikaTraditional empanada doughPatagoniaMade with regional meats like lamb or venison; hearty filling
Empanada FugazzetaMozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, sautéed onions, oregano, black pepperTraditional empanada dough or puff pastry doughBuenos AiresCheese and onion filling, similar to popular “Fugazzeta” pizza style

Note that the “Empanada Tucumana” is mentioned twice in the original request, so I have added “Empanada Fugazzeta” as an alternative for variety.

After the meat and pizza, a trip to Buenos Aires is not complete without empanadas. Every region of Argentina has its own special recipe which, the locals will assure you, is better than any other empanada out there.

The modern empanada is believed to be a derivative of the Indian samosa. The first empanadas were made in the Iberian peninsula, specifically Portugal and Galicia (the north-westernmost region of Spain), during the Medieval period and at the time of the Moorish invasion. Recipes for empanadas have been found from as early as the start of the 16th century.

The name “empanada” comes from the Spanish “empanar“, which means “to bread” or, in the case of the empanada, “to wrap something in bread”.

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Making Argentine Empanadas

Since their arrival in Argentina some centuries ago, empanadas have become a fastfood staple in Buenos Aires. They can be easily found in little takeaway pizzerías all over the city as well as in many restaurants. A typical Argentine empanada is made with a flour-based dough (rather than maíz, or corn) and some of the most common kinds are:

Ground beef, cubed beef, chicken, ham and cheese, ham and onion, spinach, and humita (sweet corn with white sauce). The fillings often include other ingredients such as peppers, onions, hard-boiled eggs, and olives. Empanadas can be either baked (Salta-style) or fried (Tucuman-style).

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Since every region has its own style, you’re sure to find an empanada that suits your tastes:

Empanada Tucumana:

The Tucuman Province is home to the National Empanada Festival, held each September. They have three traditional varieties: beef, mondongo (tripe), and chicken, although mondongo and chicken are the most traditional. Spring onions, pimento, and vinegar are often added to the meat, while potatoes, peas, and olives are used only rarely. The dough is a simple mixture of flour, water, and lard.

Empanada Tucumana
Video of argentina empanada cooking

Empanada Salteña:

The Salta Province produces empanadas salteñas, tend to be smaller than the Tucuman variety and are prepared without the addition of fats or oils. In addition to the usual flavours, they also have spicy beef. Fillings often include potato, egg, red pepper, and green onion.

Empanada Salteña

Empanada Jujeña:

Jujuy offers beef, chicken, goat, and even llamas. They put chilli, onion, and peas in their empanadas.

Nestled in the rugged Andean highlands of northwest Argentina lies the culturally rich province of Jujuy. Renowned for its stunning landscapes, vibrant traditions, and mouthwatering cuisine, Jujuy is home to a unique and delectable variation of the classic empanada: the Empanada Jujeña. In this article, we delve into the scrumptious world of Jujuy’s empanadas, highlighting their distinct flavors and the regional ingredients that set them apart.

The Empanada Jujeña: Empanadas Jujeñas, like other Argentine empanadas, are savory pastries made from wheat flour dough that is filled with a variety of ingredients. What sets Empanadas Jujeñas apart is the blend of flavors in the filling. The key ingredients include minced or diced beef, potatoes, onions, and peas. The meat is seasoned with a mix of spices, such as paprika, cumin, and ground chili pepper, giving the empanadas a mildly spicy and aromatic flavor.

A unique characteristic of Empanadas Jujeñas is the use of “ají amarillo” or “ají de Jujuy,” a local yellow chili pepper that adds a distinct heat and a subtle fruity undertone to the dish. The combination of flavors in the filling creates a perfect balance of savory and spicy, making the Empanada Jujeña a memorable culinary experience.

Cooking Methods: Empanadas Jujeñas are usually baked in clay or brick ovens, giving them a crispy texture and a slightly smoky flavor. However, they can also be fried in oil, resulting in a golden and crunchy exterior. The empanadas are sealed with a crimped edge known as “repulgue,” which not only keeps the filling secure but also adds a decorative touch to the dish.

Serving Empanadas Jujeñas: These delightful pastries are often served as an appetizer, snack, or main course, accompanied by a side of spicy salsa, such as “salsa picante” or “salsa criolla.” They can be enjoyed at any time of day, making them a versatile and beloved food item in Jujuy.

Empanada Jujeña

Empanada Cordobesa:

The empanadas from Córdoba are sweet and made with white sugar, beef, raisins, potatoes, and olives. Las Empanadas Cordobesas are a delightful treat that combines a mix of flavors and textures to create a mouthwatering experience. One of the key elements that sets them apart from other empanadas is the filling. In Córdoba, the filling typically consists of diced beef, boiled potatoes, onions, and hard-boiled eggs. The meat is seasoned with a blend of spices, such as cumin, paprika, and a touch of nutmeg, providing a warm and fragrant aroma.

Another unique aspect of Empanadas Cordobesas is the addition of raisins, which bring a subtle sweetness that contrasts beautifully with the savory and slightly spicy flavors of the other ingredients. The result is a harmonious and delicious balance that makes these empanadas truly unforgettable.

Preparing Empanadas Cordobesas: When making Empanadas Cordobesas, the wheat flour dough is rolled out and cut into circles before being filled with the seasoned beef mixture. Once filled, the dough is folded over, and the edges are crimped to create a decorative seal known as “repulgue.” This signature detail not only adds visual appeal but also ensures that the filling stays securely inside the pastry.

Empanadas Cordobesas can be either baked or fried, depending on personal preference. Baking results in a crispy, flaky texture, while frying creates a golden, crunchy exterior that many find irresistible.

Enjoying Empanadas Cordobesas: Empanadas Cordobesas can be enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or main course, and they’re perfect for sharing with friends and family. They’re often served with a side of chimichurri sauce or salsa criolla, which adds an extra layer of flavor and complements the dish beautifully.

Empanada Cordobesa

Empanada Riojana y Catamarca:

Catamarca and La Rioja, provinces in western Argentina, are often made with garlic, potatoes, ground beef, onions, and olives. Embark on a flavorful journey through the culinary traditions of northwestern Argentina, where the provinces of Catamarca and La Rioja showcase their unique and delicious takes on the beloved empanada. These pastry turnovers, adored throughout Latin America, differ in each region based on local ingredients, cooking techniques, and cultural influences. In this blog post, we will explore the rich flavors and distinctive characteristics of Empanadas Catamarqueñas and Empanadas Riojanas, revealing the true essence of Argentina’s diverse gastronomy. Get ready to be inspired by the enticing aromas and mouthwatering tastes of these regional empanada variations from Catamarca and La Rioja.

  1. Empanadas Catamarqueñas: In Catamarca, empanadas often feature a filling made from goat meat, called “chivito” in Spanish. The goat meat is slow-cooked and seasoned with spices such as cumin, paprika, and chili powder. In addition to the meat, the filling typically includes potatoes, onions, olives, and sometimes raisins for a touch of sweetness. The empanadas are then baked or fried, and their edges are crimped in the distinctive “repulgue” style. Empanadas Catamarqueñas are often served with a side of spicy sauce, such as a “salsa picante” or “salsa criolla.”
  2. Empanadas Riojanas: In La Rioja, empanadas also have a unique twist. They are commonly made with a filling of beef or goat meat, which is mixed with potatoes, onions, and sometimes bell peppers. One of the distinguishing features of Empanadas Riojanas is the use of “ají riojano” or “ají norteño,” a local chili pepper that adds a distinct flavor to the dish. The spice level may vary depending on personal preferences. As with other empanadas, the dough is made from wheat flour and is typically baked, although some people may prefer them fried. Empanadas Riojanas are usually served with a side of “salsa criolla” or “chimichurri.”
Empanada Riojana

Empanada Entrerriana:

Entre Rios has a special empanada that is stuffed with milk-soaked rice. They are also typically made with a wheat flour dough, which is rolled out and cut into circles. The filling usually consists of ground or chopped beef, onions, bell peppers, olives, hard-boiled eggs, and a combination of spices, such as cumin, paprika, and salt. Some variations may include chicken or other meats. The dough circles are then filled, folded in half, and sealed by crimping the edges to create a decorative border called “repulgue.”

Empanadas from Entre Ríos can be either baked or fried, depending on personal preference. They are often served with a side of chimichurri sauce, a blend of parsley, garlic, vinegar, oil, and spices, which adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish.

Like other regional empanadas in Argentina, those from Entre Ríos have their own unique characteristics, but all share the essential foundation of a delicious pastry filled with a flavorful mixture of ingredients.

Empanada Entrerriana

Empanada de Corrientes, Misiones and Formosa:

Up north in Corrientes, Misiones, and Formosa, the empanadas are sometimes made with mandioc or cassava flour.

Argentina’s culinary landscape is as diverse as its geography, with each region offering its own unique spin on classic dishes. The provinces of Corrientes, Misiones, and Formosa, located in the northeastern part of the country, are no exception. They each have their distinct take on the beloved empanada, showcasing the rich gastronomy of this region. In this article, we will delve into the scrumptious world of Empanadas de Corrientes, Misiones, and Formosa, revealing the flavors that set them apart from other variations across Argentina.

Empanada de Corrientes: Empanadas from Corrientes are known for their generous filling, which typically consists of diced or minced beef, onions, bell peppers, and hard-boiled eggs. The meat is seasoned with a blend of spices, such as cumin, paprika, and black pepper. One unique feature of Empanadas de Corrientes is that they often include a piece of pork fat, which adds extra flavor and moisture to the filling. These empanadas are usually baked, resulting in a crispy and flaky pastry.

Empanada de Misiones: In Misiones, empanadas are influenced by the flavors and ingredients of the region. The filling often includes cassava (also known as yuca or manioc), a starchy root vegetable that is a staple in the local cuisine. The cassava is typically combined with ground beef, onions, and bell peppers, seasoned with a mix of spices such as garlic, oregano, and chili powder. Empanadas de Misiones can be either baked or fried, depending on personal preference, and are characterized by a slightly thicker dough compared to other empanadas.

Empanada de Formosa: Empanadas from Formosa are known for their filling made with “mbopi,” a mixture of finely chopped vegetables such as onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. The filling also includes minced beef, which is seasoned with spices like cumin, paprika, and salt. The dough for Empanadas de Formosa is slightly thinner than that of other empanadas, allowing the flavors of the filling to shine through. These empanadas are usually fried, giving them a golden and crunchy exterior.

Empanadas Norteñas

Empanadas Pampeanas:

La Pampa has empanadas that reflect the tastes of its neighbours (Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza, Patagonia); fillings commonly include red peppers, carrots, hard-boiled egg, and currants.

Argentina’s vast Pampas region, known for its fertile plains and abundant agricultural production, has also given rise to a unique variation of the beloved empanada: the Empanada Pampeana. The Pampas, which include parts of the provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Santa Fe, Córdoba, and Entre Ríos, provide the ideal setting for a rich culinary tradition that combines the flavors of the heartland with influences from European immigrants. In this article, we’ll explore the distinct characteristics of Empanadas Pampeanas, which showcase the region’s gastronomic heritage and the bounty of its fertile plains.

The Empanada Pampeana: Empanadas Pampeanas are characterized by their simple yet flavorful filling, made primarily from minced or diced beef, onions, and green onions. The beef, which is often sourced from the region’s renowned cattle farms, is seasoned with a blend of spices, such as cumin, paprika, and black pepper, giving it a subtle yet savory taste. Sometimes, the filling is enriched with the addition of hard-boiled eggs or olives, adding an extra layer of flavor and texture to the dish.

One of the defining features of Empanadas Pampeanas is their thin and flaky dough, which is made from wheat flour, water, and fat, such as lard or shortening. This delicate pastry envelops the savory filling, creating a harmonious balance of flavors and textures that is both satisfying and delicious.

Preparing Empanadas Pampeanas: To make Empanadas Pampeanas, the wheat flour dough is rolled out and cut into circles, which are then filled with the seasoned beef mixture. The dough is folded over the filling, and the edges are carefully crimped to create the traditional “repulgue” seal, which not only helps to secure the filling but also adds an attractive touch to the finished empanada.

Cooking Methods: Empanadas Pampeanas are typically baked in the oven, resulting in a golden and flaky pastry that is both crispy and tender. The delicate dough is well-suited for baking, as it allows the flavors of the filling to shine through without being overwhelmed by a heavy crust.

Serving Empanadas Pampeanas: These delectable pastries can be enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or main course, and they are perfect for sharing with friends and family. Empanadas Pampeanas are often served with a side of chimichurri sauce, a tangy and slightly spicy condiment made from parsley, garlic, vinegar, oil, and spices, which adds an extra depth of flavor to the dish.

Empanadas Pampeanas

Empanada Patagonica:

In Patagonia, the most common filling is lamb. On the coast, seafood empanadas are also quite common.

Patagonia, the breathtaking region spanning the southernmost parts of Argentina and Chile, is renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes, unique wildlife, and vibrant culture. In addition to its natural beauty, Patagonia also boasts a rich culinary tradition that reflects the region’s diverse history and influences. Among its gastronomic delights is the Empanada Patagónica, a delightful variation of the classic empanada that highlights the flavors and ingredients of this enchanting land. In this article, we will explore the distinct features of Empanadas Patagónicas, taking you on a culinary journey to the southern reaches of Argentina.

The Empanada Patagónica: In Patagonia, empanadas are often made with locally-sourced ingredients that showcase the region’s bountiful resources. One of the most popular variations of Empanadas Patagónicas features a filling made from succulent Patagonian lamb, a prized meat known for its tenderness and rich flavor. The lamb is slow-cooked and seasoned with a mix of spices, such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano, which complement the natural flavors of the meat.

Other variations of Empanadas Patagónicas include fillings made with seafood, such as king crab or salmon, reflecting the region’s proximity to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. These seafood-filled empanadas are often flavored with herbs like dill and parsley, as well as garlic and white wine, creating a harmonious blend of tastes that highlight the freshness of the ingredients.

Preparing Empanadas Patagónicas: The dough for Empanadas Patagónicas is made with wheat flour, water, and fat, such as lard or shortening. Once prepared, the dough is rolled out and cut into circles, which are filled with the desired meat or seafood mixture. The edges of the dough are then folded over the filling and crimped to create the traditional “repulgue” seal, ensuring that the flavorful filling remains securely inside the pastry.

Cooking Methods: Empanadas Patagónicas can be either baked or fried, depending on personal preference. Baking results in a crispy, flaky pastry, while frying creates a golden, crunchy exterior that many find irresistible. Regardless of the cooking method, Empanadas Patagónicas are a delicious showcase of Patagonian flavors and culinary traditions.

Serving Empanadas Patagónicas: These scrumptious pastries can be enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or main course, making them a versatile and beloved food item in Patagonia. Empanadas Patagónicas are often served with a side of salsa or a tangy sauce like chimichurri or salsa criolla, which adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish.

Empanada Patagonica

Empanadas Cooking Tips and Tricks

To create mouthwatering empanadas, follow these tips and tricks to ensure success:

  1. Dough consistency: The dough should be smooth and elastic, not too sticky or dry. Knead it well to develop the gluten and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. This will help prevent the dough from shrinking when baked or fried.
  2. Empanada folding: There are various folding techniques, such as the classic “repulgue” or rope edge, the fork crimp, and the half-moon shape. Practice different folding methods to find one that works best for you and creates a secure seal to keep the filling inside.
  3. Don’t overstuff: While it’s tempting to add a generous amount of filling, overstuffing can lead to broken empanadas during cooking. Use just enough filling to comfortably close the dough without stretching it too thin.
  4. Keep fillings dry: Excess moisture in the filling can make the dough soggy and difficult to handle. Cook your fillings thoroughly and allow them to cool before using, draining any excess liquid.
  5. Baking vs. frying: Baking empanadas gives them a lighter, flakier texture, while frying creates a crispy, golden crust. Choose the method that best suits your taste and dietary preferences.

Empanada Variations and Fusion Ideas

Experiment with innovative fillings inspired by different cuisines to put a unique twist on the traditional Argentine empanada:

  1. Asian fusion: Combine flavors from Chinese or Japanese cuisine by using fillings like teriyaki chicken, pork belly, or shrimp and vegetables.
  2. Mediterranean inspiration: Use ingredients like feta cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted eggplant for a Mediterranean twist.
  3. Indian flavors: Incorporate ingredients such as spiced potatoes, peas, and paneer, or try a chicken tikka masala filling for an Indian-inspired empanada.
  4. Tex-Mex fusion: Mix ground beef, beans, jalapeños, and cheddar cheese for a Tex-Mex style empanada, or create a vegetarian version with black beans, corn, and avocado.

Empanada Events and Festivals

Empanada lovers can celebrate their passion by attending events and festivals dedicated to these delicious treats. Some notable events include:

  1. National Empanada Day: Held on April 8th in Argentina, this day celebrates the rich history and cultural significance of empanadas. Various restaurants and bakeries offer special deals or promotions to mark the occasion.
  2. Empanada Festival: An annual event in different cities across Argentina, featuring empanada-making competitions, live music, and the chance to sample a variety of empanadas from local vendors.
  3. World Empanada Championship: A global competition where professional chefs and home cooks present their unique empanada recipes, showcasing the versatility and creativity of this beloved dish.

Attending these events allows you to discover new empanada recipes, learn from skilled cooks, and indulge in a shared love for these delightful pastry pockets.

So that’s an overview of the empanadas you’re likely to encounter during your travels in Argentina – be sure to try one in every province that you visit. Come and join us for a Tango Lesson in Buenos Aires and Yoga Classes

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