Read this FAQ for everything you need to know about Argentinian empanadas.

What are empanadas?

An empanada is a baked or deep-fried turnover stuffed with many different types of fillings, which can be savoury or sweet. Sweet empanadas are filled with dulce de leche or dulce de membrillo (quince paste) or dulce de batata (sweet potato paste.) I still can’t decide which sweet filling I like the most.

different repulgues for different fillings
A different repulgue for each filling

The most popular and traditional savoury filling is beef, either ground or finely chopped -by hand. The other ingredients of beef empanadas vary from one province to the other. In the province of Córdoba, for instance, they add raisins, which make for a sweeter taste. My paternal grandmother is originally from Córdoba and used to cook delicious food. Whenever she made empanadas, she would bake a batch with raisins and a batch without to cater for all the family members’ preferences. They always turned out very tasty except for the time she thought she’d picked up the cumin jar but actually sprinkled cinnamon on the beef.

How many types of filling are there?

The possibilities are endless. The most popular one is beef, of which there are many variations: salteñas, tucumanas, corodbesas, santiagueñas, ground beef, and cubed beef, mild or spicy.

Ham and cheese, cheese and onion, caprese (cheese, tomato and basil), chicken, Swiss chard with béchamel sauce, sweet corn, humita (a kind of creamed corn), blue cheese with walnuts and celery are some of the fillings available but there is no limit to the cook’s imagination!

Some types of empanada have a distinct repulgue, or seal, so people know what’s inside just by looking at them.

Beer and empandas, what more can one ask for?

Where can I get empanadas?

Did you mean other than at home or a restaurant? There are specific shops that sell them called casas de empanadas. Some are part of big chains, like Solo Empanadas or El Noble Repulgue, but most are mom-and-pop operations. Absolutely all of them do home delivery. You only need to decide which flavours you want and how many (they’re usually sold by the dozen), make a phone call and wait for the telltale sound of a moped.

How do I make empanadas?

You buy the shells at the supermarket (there are different ones for deep frying and baking), cook the filling and when it has cooled down, spoon some on each shell, fold it in half and do the repulgue (seal the edge.)

Empanada shells for sale at the supermarket

When do Argentineans eat empanadas?

All the time! As a handy snack, as appetizers, as main course, lunch and dinner, it’s always “empanada time!”

Read more:
Mate: a most democratic infusion
Buying empanadas in Colombia
Cafe culture in Buenos Aires

About the author

Ana Astri-O’Reilly is from Argentina, where she lived until five years ago. She currently lives in Dallas, USA with her British husband, but they move a lot. Previously a translator and English and Spanish teacher, Ana first started writing to share her experiences and adventures with friends and family. She speaks Spanish, English and a smattering of Portuguese.