Colombian Empanadas


Recipe by Peter Tiessen

Empanadas traditionally hail from medieval Portugal and Spain and are said to have influenced the creation of the Indian samosa and Italian calzone.


Dried Golden Berries
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Dried Pineapple
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  • 0.5 lbs ground pork
  • 2 T lard
  • 1/2 cup dried Golden Berries
  • 1 medium onion, rough diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 cups sweet potato, rough medium diced
  • 2 t Cane Sugar
  • 1 T cumin, ground
  • 1/2 cup Colombia Dark Coffee, leftover from breakfast
  • 2 t Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup Dried Pineapple, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, rough chop
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced


Colombia Dark Coffee
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  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup lard
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Caribe Picante (optional sauce)

  • 1 caribe chile
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 t Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 bunch cilantro, rough chop
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 T olive oil



For the dough, combine the flour, cornmeal and salt and stir. Cut in the lard until it resembles pea sized crumbs. Add the cold water and knead a few times until fully incorporated. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For the filling, melt the lard in a large pot and brown the pork. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place golden berries in a small bowl and cover with hot or boiling water to reconstitute and allow to sit for 5 minutes before draining; reserve. Once the meat has browned, remove from pot and reserve. Begin to add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, add the sweet potato and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the cumin and sugar and gently caramelize, then deglaze with the cold coffee. Continue to cook over medium heat until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Transfer to a food processor and add the reserved golden berries, then puree until smooth. Check the seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow to cool completely before folding in the pork, cilantro and green onion.

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To prepare the empanadas, divide the dough evenly into 24 pieces (I begin by halving, and then halving again until I reach my desired number). On a lightly floured surface begin to roll out the pieces of dough, then cupping the dough in your hand fill each with about 1 generous tablespoon of filling. Crimp the edges shut using your fingers or a fork. Place the finished empanadas onto a baking sheet. You may then cook immediately or freeze for a future use.

To cook, you may either bake or fry the empanadas. Traditionally, empanadas are fried in oil however, they can easily be baked at 400º F for 20 minutes. Be sure to brush with an egg wash of 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk or water in you choose to bake, as it will provide a wonderful golden crust.

OPTIONAL: For the Caribe Picante, place the chile, vinegar and water in food processor and puree until smooth. Combine the remaining ingredients and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes prior to service.


Fair Trade Colombian Empanadas Recipe