Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (2024)

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If there is one Colombian food that everyone I know likes, it would be empanadas without a doubt.

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (1)

Empanadas are typical Colombian street food, deep fried corn dough filled with meat and potatoes.

They are versatile. They can be finger food or full blown meals. It all depends on the size and filling you use.

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (2)

In this post I will show how to make the typical meat and potato Colombian empanada using a cornmeal crust. The original recipe calls for homemade dough.

You can get creative with your filling. If you are vegetarian you can make them with just potatoes as a filling and they are still delicious.

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (3)

You can substitute beef for pork, chicken or any blend that you like.


There are many corn flours/meals in the market, but the one that works best for me is the Albers Yellow Corn Meal because it is not super finely ground which gives the dough a bit of texture and crunch.

  • Corn Meal: Albers is my favorite because it gives the dough texture, it almost feels like a made-from-scratch dough.
  • Beef: You can use ground beef but I prefer to use a flank steak or any other cut of meat and grill/pan sear first and then grind it. I like this texture better than ground beef. You can also use shredded beef.
  • Potatoes: Any kind of potatoes work. I usually work with red potatoes.

The Empanada Dough

Getting your dough right is the key to making delicious Colombian empanadas.

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (4)

If the dough is too wet, it will be too sticky to work with and it will be hard to shape the empanada.

If the dough is too dry, your empanadas will crack open when frying them. It will make the filling super greasy and if the filling comes out your oil will start splattering.


Making empanadas can take a long time. I highly recommend making your filling in advance. That way it will be cooled down when you are ready to deep fry the empanadas and it will be easier.

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (5)

You can make the filling up to a day in advance. All the ingredients are cooked once you form your empanadas so all the deep frying does is just heat it up and make the outside crunchy.

How to Shape them

Ideally you will use an empanada dough press that way you get clean edges but if you don't have one don't worry, you can use a plate to create the moon shape and seal them tightly by hand.

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (6)

Colombian Aji Sauce

Empanadas are typically dressed with a vinegar based sauce with minced onions, cilantro and pepper. It is mild but you can up the heat using chillies.

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (7)
Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (8)

If you are visiting Colombia, be sure to checkout my post on the top foods you must try when you go there!

Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (9)

Colombian Empanadas


4.85 from 76 votes

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Course Appetizer

Cuisine Colombian

Servings 12 Empanadas



  • 2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • 1 lb Skirt Steak
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • cup cilantro
  • ¼ roasted bell pepper optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  • Boil the water, add salt, oil and paprika

  • Add the corn meal and stir until well incorporated. About 3-5 minutes

  • Let the dough cool down and knead it untill the dough is uniform.


  • Season meat with salt and pepper. I like to add paprika and onion salt too.

  • Grill it or pan sear it until it reaches a medium well temperature.

  • peel and cut the potatoes in cubes and boil them with salt until tender.

  • In a food processor, add the meat cut in strips, cilantro and red pepper if using. Grind them until the meat resembles ground beef.

    Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (10)

  • Mash the potatoes and mix with the ground beef. Let the filling cool down.

Build the Empanadas

  • Divide the dough in golf sized balls. Flatten them with a tortilla press or a round plate. Use a clean plastic bag or parchment paper to prevent the dough to sticking to your working surface

  • If using an empanada mold, fill the dough with the meat and potatoes in the center and press to create a half moon shape.

  • If you don't have an empanada mold, put the filling in one side of your dough and fold it in half. Press with a round bowl or cap to seal the filling in place.


  • Heat up 3 cups of vegetable oil in a frying pan until they reach about 350 Fahrenheit or 165 celsius.

  • Add the empanadas and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown

  • Remove from the heat and place on a paper towel

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Ebony

    Omg these were so good!!!!! And the recipe was so easy to follow. Do they freeze well? I wonder if I could make a bunch then fry them later because as you mentioned it is a little time consuming. Thank you!!!


  2. Jason Pelican

    Colombian Empanada Recipe made with cornmeal (11)
    One thing your recipe doesn't mention that is crucial is that the cornmeal needs to be precooked cornmeal. If someone can't find Albers cornmeal, they need to know that they can substitute as long as it's precooked. For example, I use PAN, but there is also Goya's Masarepa Yellow corn meal


    • Lynne Sani

      Aren’t you cooking the corn meal in the boiling water per the recipe?


      • Isabel

        No, you still need to fry them to get a crispy shell, otherwise they wouldn't hold up.


  3. Steph

    Hi, would these work OK if I brushed some oil on them and baked them in the oven you think?


    • Isabel

      I haven't tried it. You won't get the same crunch but it can definitely work.


  4. Timothy Hobbs

    Hi, what is the recipe for the sauce please?


    • Isabel

      Here is the recipe for aji sauce


  5. Dulce

    Ok made them. And some cracked so I expected those to be greasy. But so were the ones that didn’t crack. I don’t know if I’m sealing them correctly. Maybe the dough was a little too dry. Help


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Colombian Empanada Recipe  made with cornmeal (2024)
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