September in Chile: Una Rica Empanada Caldúa

Who doesn’t love a good empanada?
Well, me, for one… as much as I hate to admit it.

But before all you empanada lovers come to their defense–I know they’re delicious! And it’s not that I don’t like them really as much as it is that the particular combination of ingredients, especially onions, just do me in.

Talkin’ Empanadas

To speak true Chilean, you must refer to these savory delights as “empana’as” (because Chileans “eat” the d while waiting in line for fresh empana(d)as to come out of the oven). You get extra points if you dream about biting into a “rica empanáa caldúa” (a delicious and very juicy empanada).

There are many different kinds of empanadas, and I really do love a good fried cheese empanada with a squirt of hot sauce, but this is September, month of Chilenidad, and that means there’s only one empanada that counts. The only real empanada worth talking about this month is pino…. No, not pine (which would be a literal but silly translation), but rather a special beef mixture that goes into a number of other classic Chilean dishes (such as pastel de choclo).

Empanada de Pino

This classic empanada is filled with a mixture of beef (ground or chunked), onion, raisins, a black olive, a quarter slice of hard boiled egg, wrapped in dough, brushed with an egg glaze, and baked until the crust is golden, the contents piping hot, and the mouthwatering aroma fills the air.

Other Classic Empanadas

Non meat-eaters don’t despair! Chile’s second favorite empanada is the fried cheese version… a flaky golden-fried crust with plenty of melty cheese on the inside. I prefer mine with a squirt of ají (hot sauce).

Many people like shellfish empanadas (too many almejas—clams—for my taste), and the variations beyond that are endless: all types of seafood, vegetables, and assorted cheeses in every possible combination.

How to spot a good empanada:

The best Chilean-style empanadas de pino (beef empanadas) have xxx essential components: the pino (meat mixture), a black olive, a slice of egg, and raisins wrapped in dough and backed until golden.

The Filling (pino): should be made with good quality chopped beef (although ground beef is acceptable) cooked with onions, but should not be overwhelmed by them (a sure-fire sign of cheap, poor quality empanadas are those that have more onion than meat). The mixture is seasoned with cumin, black pepper, “ají de color” (non-spicy paprika-like powder that gives it a reddish color), and a bit of chili pepper or merkén give it some kick. Raisins are often included in the blend.

The Dough: should be smooth and consistent, made with lard, and should break easily but not crumble or fall apart.

Putting it Together: the meat is spooned into the center of the dough, along with a black (never green) olive (pits are preferred, so don’t chomp down too hard) and a wedge of hard-boiled egg. The dough is folded over and sealed neatly so that the juice does not escape. Shapes vary and may be triangular, rectangular, or even half-rounded.

The Bake: Empanadas are usually brushed with egg and should be baked until uniformly golden with no burnt or raw spots.

The Finished Product: Good empanadas should be aromatic and served piping hot. Many people report that empanadas should be “caldúa”—juicy and dribbly—in fact, the dribblier the better. (Be sure to roll up your sleeves and have plenty of napkins on hand!). They should be very flavorful and slightly spicy and spark the appetite for the next course, which, more often than not, is going to be a lot more meat!

The Best Empanadas in Santiago

You can also head over to Tasting Chile to discover all the very best empanadas in town—chosen by those who really do love these emblematic Chilean delights enough to sit down and taste nearly 70 empanadas over 2 days…

Do you have your own favorite “picada de empanadas”? How about places outside of Santiago?

If you’d rather try your hand at making your OWN empanadas, click here to check out Sonia Hofstadt’s foolproof empanada de horno recipe!


46 responses to “September in Chile: Una Rica Empanada Caldúa

  1. Pingback: September: Empanada Time « Tasting Chile

  2. I’m all about the baked veggie ones with cheese, and I like the Fabrica de las Empanadas on Manuel Montt and Santa Isabel, and nearby Alvaro Monti on Manuel Montt near the Laura R bakery, maybe a little north of Eliodoro Yañez. Downtown and very greasy there’s a place on Paseo Bulnes where the dough is too soft but the fillings are excellent and varied with goat cheese, even, and in Bellas Artes I choose Papy’s Amasandería on Monjitas before Miraflores. I also like Picá de los Cuñados on Brasil. Though I did have a very nice artichoke empanada in Pomaire, I wouldn’t go back just for that.

    And I’ve never done an official tasting with all the empanadas side-by-side, so I’d still need to do that before I proclaimed a favorite. Hmmmm, not a bad idea!

  3. Wow! You know your way around the empanada stands! My husband’s the empanada fan in our house, which is quite understandable given he’s also the Chilean in the house. And, (as you know Eileen), he’s also a vegetarian, so I just let him choose what he likes and where. His all-time favorites are pequenes, which are much like empanadas de pino, but filled with pure onion (not my favorite!).
    We’ll have to get that non-pino empanada tasting organized soon!

  4. De repente yo hago empanadas cuando celebramos el 18 con mi familia. Y a mi tampoco me gustan demasiado – no me gusta ni el huevo duro ni la cebolla – pero comer una o dos solo para esa ocasión…

    Y tienes razón, las empanadas sin jugo las toman MUY poco en cuenta. Mientras más jugosas, más comen.

  5. Sí, todos los años cuando los Cronistas Gastronómicos hacen su concurso (ve el post en Tasting Chile) me preguntan si voy a participar. Siempre respondo lo mismo, tengo tolerancia para una media al año y esto lo guardo para el 18 como corresponde!
    (OJO todos- ¡exagero! en realidad sí, las como, pero nunca más de una y jamás 70 en dos días, como es el caso de la cata de los Cronistas!)

  6. Se me hace agua la boca pensar en una rica empanadita…cómo las que hacía mi nana o las de pomaire o unas que hacen en el barrio Brasil, exqusitas!!! Al menos me como 3 por dia…el sacrificio viene desùés del 18 , y cómo de fiestas patrias se trata les dejo esta paya….
    En la empanada chilena,
    el sabor es un tesoro,
    y como no lo va a ser,
    si se cocina con oro .
    Saludos a todos y voy por mi empanada!!!!

  7. Technology will be REALLY something when I can have anyone in Chile email me an empanada, or two, LOL(jajajaja)

  8. Guess you’ll have to learn how to make them! On the other hand, there are enough Chileans in Canada that I bet it’s not really all that hard to find a good one somewhere close by!

  9. I am able to find them here in Toronto. I know this is going to sound silly but … because the ingredients obviuosly come from Canada, they simply do not taste the same, Capire?

  10. Not silly at all! Aside from the fact that there are environmental and emotional factors involved (memories of a true Chilean asado, for example), the ingredients may have the same names, but are not truly the same. The flour is different, the lard is different, the meat, the eggs, and even the raisins! Not to mention that I doubt there are too many adobe ovens in Toronto! 😉

  11. Love your answer “Aside from the fact that there are environmental and emotional factors involved (memories of a true Chilean asado, for example). It sounds so charmingly academic.

  12. Ohh I love empanadas, and when I eat them I have no more space left in my belly for asados, anticuchos or anything that comes after. The “18” is a hard force of will test for a groundhog…

  13. I was just thinking- you know we have “Groundhog Day” in the US (día de la marmota) in late winter (Feb 2) when people watch groundhog–especially Punxsutawney Phil. If he comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter, if not, spring will come early.
    What’s this got to do with anything here? I was just wondering, Dear Marmo, if you have a bit of Punxsutawney Phil in you and if maybe you hibernate for a while in order to have room for all those empanadas dieciocheras?? 😉

  14. I agree with you Margaret, not such a fan of the pino empanada. My favorite is actually napolitano or queso frito. I love the empanadas from Fuente Suiza in Ñuñoa and the ones from the places on Manuel Montt that Eileen mentioned are also really good. However, the best empanada I’ve ever had (don’t kill me Chileans) was in Bolivia. The best Chilean empanada I’ve ever had was a cheese-basil empanada in San Pedro de Atacama from a little corner store.

  15. Hmmm and here I thought only the vegetarians and I weren’t big on pino!
    Fuente Suiza is famous for their delicious cheese empanadas. Maybe they have “del horno” too, but I’ll stick with cheese!
    I tried a blue cheese w/ walnut empanada the other day (it was great), but don’t know where it came from. Cheese & basil sounds great too!

  16. Hmmm tasty!
    Here was a list I made a while back mainly for fried empanadas V Region.

  17. Thanks Lydia! Great list for people on the coast-can’t wait to try some in Horcón!

  18. Off course dear Margaret! Cousin Phil and I are really alike, but since I´m Chilean, and live far from the snow, I wake up at the end of winter, and if I smell empanadas, winter is officially over! 🙂
    I also recommend shrimp and cheese empanadas, I remember Lydia´s list, and the Valparaíso area has great empanadas everywhere… Oh my mouth-watering again…

  19. I love this blog, so many interesting people have so many interesting things to say. Being a cookery teacher, I have the best (who doesn’t?), foolproof (who does?) recipe for Empanadas de Pino in English. Please feel free to contact me I’ll be happy to share it.

  20. Gah! Now I am hungry. I was so hoping to be there for the bicentenio this year, but alas … soon anyway…
    I might travel for an artichoke empanada… and I have had some great camaron/queso and machas/queso ones at the coast-some of my favorites.

  21. @Sonia Hofstadt – I second your motion. This is a great, interesting, fun blog. In my humble opinion most of the credit goes to the “Orchestra Conductor”, don’t you agree?

    BTW, how does one contact you about that fabulous recipe? There is no link on your name.

  22. @Marmo- love you r cousin Phil (does that make you his Primo Felipe de Puncsatahue?)…and your empanada in spring analogy is perfect! Springtime in Chile smells like empanadas and asados!
    @Sonia- Thanks so much! And if you are willing to share, I’d love to put your recipe on the sister site, Tasting Chile!! We know we already have a strong request from John!
    @Annje- we too were hoping to hoist one (or two or three) with you this Dieciocho, but we can always arrange a Dieciocho Chico when you arrive! Artichoke Empanadas and all!
    @John–thanks, yet once again!

  23. I don’t know where Pomaire is, but I’d definitely go a long ways for an artichoke empanada!! My knowledge of Chilean empanadas mostly comes from Puerto Natales in the south where two sisters ran a tiny place and made every empanada to order – they were fried, gooey, and delicious.

    The filling for the empanada de pino reminds me of the Bolivian empanadas (saltenas). I’m not a huge fan of raisins, so these weren’t my favorite but I do like the idea of salty and sweet together.

  24. Hi Audrey- Oh there is so much left for you to do in Chile! So next time you two manage to do another Latin American stint, make sure you spend more time in our long, thin corner of it!
    FYI- remember all the heavy dark brownish-reddish clay crockery (especially plates and bowls) that you see here? 99% of them come from Pomaire, about an hour from Santiago. A whole town devoted to clay!
    I haven’t tried Bolivian salteñas (yet) but know they are different in that they are sweeter and have peas in them.
    Does anyone know if you can get authentic salteñas in Santiago anywhere?

  25. I want that recipe for Empanadas de Pino in English! I finally made empanadas here in the states. They were my favorite local food there-at least “fast” food. Mine were yummy although not the same. In the US we tend to steal everyone’s food and Americanize to taste lol. In Chile, we made “Mexican” food and people were a bit appalled. I tried to explain all types of food are welcome in the US and after a while we forget it was invented elsewhere.

  26. I guess I’m going to have to contact Sonia directly for that fool-proof empanada recipe!
    I’m surprised that your Chilean friends did not appreciate Mexican food–did you maybe make it spicier than they were used to?
    And yes, we DO incorporate other food traditions into our own–which is why there is such a rich variety of foods in the US! (don’t even get me started down that “it’s all hamburger path” grrr… I can save that rant for another time! 😉

  27. Where is that recipe for empanadas. I am hungry!

  28. Pingback: Foolproof Chilean Beef Empanada del Horno « Tasting Chile

  29. Thanks Margaret – Got the recipe and I’m going to tackle it all by myself. I will not invite any of my friends over for empanadas until I know they are safe to eat. :0)

  30. @John- We made the empanadas today, it was a cold, rainy day, just perfect to get the oven in the kitchen going. We made the meat mixture last night to let the flavors mellow. After breakfst today we cooked the eggs and soaked the raisins. It was a pleasure to make the dough and knead it gently. When the empanadas were done we pricked each one once with a toothpick and put them into the oven. It was a great lunch. I wish I knew how to add pictures to the blog but I couldn’t even add my own picture next to my name. I have to confess this is the first blog I have ever contacted.
    I’ve been reading the above posts and I would like to advice you not to use ground meat because you get a drier, clumpier filling. I have eaten Salteñas from Bolivia when I knew the Consul here, she had flown them in for a party. They are about 4 in long and are shaped like a triangular roll, the pastry is sweet and spicy and the filling is very juicy and spicy with a predominant taste of onion. Very nice and easy to hold. Saludos from Chile!

  31. @Sonia – Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I will be glad to show you how to upload pictures to your blog or to anything else. Feel free to contact me and we can set up a time over the phone.
    I am a self-taught semi geek person and I like helping others manage this often frustrating and fascinating technology.
    Gracias de Canada.

  32. @Sonia-and today was the perfect rainy spring day for some delicious-smelling hot empanadas to come out of the oven! I’m afraid you can’t upload pictures to this blog however, only I have administrative privileges, but if you’d like to send me a picture by email, I could add it to the blog post itself!
    @John- soo… now that you have the recipe… have you tried making your first batch of empanadas yet?

  33. No Margaret, I haven’t. We have a Friday ritual at our house and we make the meanest pizza in Toronto, from scratch. We buy organic whole wheat, and as many organic ingredients as we can find, and we put it all together on Friday nights. So this coming Friday, John C Carr “et al” will be going out on a limb and will be attempting to make empanadas based on Sonias famous recipe.

  34. Well given that Saturday is el Dieciocho, is seems quite fitting that you make them next weekend! Be sure to report back!

  35. I will, I will, I promise, :0)

  36. @Joh- Thanks for your kind offer to help me with uploading pictures, too bad we can’t though.

    I went to the oftalmologist today and when he learnt I taught cooking he told me he had made a baguette at home on Sunday. He was definitely going to look up the recipe for the empanadas in Cachando Chile, he was tickled with the name of the blog.

    I think John and family should seriously consider spending Dieciocho 2011 in Chile nothing like a hands-on experience, I volunteer to organise an empanada workshop .

  37. Hi Sonia- Remember that the recipe is on Tasting Chile! (Cachando Chile’s sister blog). Hopefully the two will be living under the same roof before long, but that’s another story. The empanada recipe (for anyone who missed that) is at
    And yes, it seems that John et al are overdue for a trip to Chile at for Patrias Fiestas!! Start planning for next year John!

  38. Hi Sonia – I didn’t quite get what you meant about not being able to upload pictures. Believe me, it’s very simple and my offer stands.
    As far as going to Chile in September, it’s really not that easy for us. We are self-employed and as such we have to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. September is the beginning of the second most active part of the year. This is why we normally go in December or January.
    Of course and as far as I know, there is no U.N. prohibition about making empanadas at any other time of the year.

    Margaret – We are a bit overdue for another visit and as you probably read, September just doesn’t work too well for us.

  39. Hi John- I was without Internet for a while there, but finally got reconnected. What Sonia means is that no one else can upload photos to someone else’s blog. She doesn’t have one…
    About coming to Chile in September–I was teasing! But I hope you get to try your hand at making empanadas this weekend!

  40. We (notice the change from previous posts?) are going to make empanadas this weekend. Como dicen en Chile, ‘te lo prometo por el cura que me bautizo”.
    I don’t know if this is an expression or not. Sometimes I just make it up as I go along, :0)
    P.S. How do I insert an emoticon here? I used to be able to do it.

  41. Hi, I am an Italian currently living in Valparaiso!
    I stumbled across this post and I am going to link it from a post that I am going to publish sometime soon – thanks for such a detailed description of the fantastic Chilean empanadas! A friend of mine used to work for an organic bakery in Cerro Alegre, Valparaiso, called “Le Patò”. They make the best empanadas I’ve tasted in Chile & Argentina, and among other adventures we even celebrated New Year’s Eve there! In case you’re curious, check my blog when you’ll get the traceback! 🙂

  42. Pingback: An Ovenly New Year's Eve! | Famsterdam Life

  43. Hi Fabio- thanks for stopping by! Haven’t tried Le Pato, but thanks for the tip. We get to Valpo quite often, so will have to check them out! Glad to see you’re enjoying Chile! How long will you be here?

  44. Hi! I’ve been here two months, now writing from Santiago. Yesterday I was in Papudo and then La Ligua, have you been there? I am Italian and, as I wrote in one of my posts, the ice cream I ate there is the most faithful to the Italian one I’ve ever eaten in my world travels. Texture, consistency, flavour, even the cone! I would recommend a day trip there, from Viña it only costs some 2000 pesos! 🙂 cheers!
    PS: I’m glad to see the pingback arrived!

  45. Hi-
    Ice cream in Papudo or in La Ligua? (I’ve been to the former, not to the latter). Don’t know how Italian it is, but my favorite ice cream is from the Emporio La Rosa on Merced/Monjitas in Santiago.

  46. Ya se acercan Las Fiestas Patrias en Chile Cómo estamos para comer unas empanaditas, acompañadas con un buen vino chileno, ¡Que exquisito!

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