Empanadas Vallunas (From El Valle del Cauca)

Just the same as with arepas, in Colombia you will find several types of empanadas. The empanadas made with potatoes and beef are the most popular, and by that I mean they are the ones people make or sell the most. But one of the most delicious are these empanadas vallunas, which come from the department of Valle del Cauca and are made with papa criolla (creole potatoes) and shredded beef. That’s why they are so good.


If you live outside of Colombia, try to find frozen papa criolla, and like I have said before, it’s not the best quality because it’s too small and it’s already pre-cooked, but at the end once you mash it, it has practically the same flavor as fresh papa criolla. If you can’t find it at all, then try to use any yellow potato you can get your hands on.

You can serve these empanadas with any kind of sauce and you will find a huge list here on the blog that you can use like the Colombian hot sauce, encurtido, green hot sauce, fast food sauces version 1 and version 2, pico de gallo, and they taste amazing if you serve them with a great guacamole.

¡Buen provecho!

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Empanadas Vallunas (From El Valle del Cauca)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 3.9 from 122 reviews
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 25-30 empanadas 1x
  • Category: Appetizers, Beef, Breakfast, Christmas, Empanadas
  • Cuisine: Colombian


  • 1 lb beef chuck
  • 3 green onions, stalks only
  • ¼ white onion
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 beef bouillon (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Water (enough to cook beef)
  • 1 lb papa criolla (creole potatoes)
  • 23 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped (stalks only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 seedless medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp food coloring (Triguisar, Sazón Goya, Bijol or homemade)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup ((240 ml) water
  • 4½ cups hot (1,06 liter) water
  • 1½ tsp food coloring (Triguisar, Sazón Goya, Bijol or homemade)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 cups (600 g) pre-cooked cornmeal (for making arepas)
  • Oil for frying (vegetable, corn, canola, peanut)


  1. In a pressure cooker, add the beef, green onion, white onion, garlic, beef bouillon, enough water to cover the beef and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil or pressure on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 1½ hour if using a pressure cooker, or 3 hours if using a regular pot.
  2. Once the meat is ready, release the pressure and uncover carefully. Take out the beef, let it cool completely and then shred it with your hands or a couple of forks. Reserve the stock and set the beef aside.
  3. Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with the reserved stock. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil on high heat. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cook until tender. If using frozen papa criolla it will take no more than 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher or a fork and set them aside.
  4. To make the masa (dough), pour hot water into a large bowl. Add the food coloring, vegetable oil and salt. Stir well and then slowly add the pre-cooked cornmeal. Knead with your hands until it’s soft and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the green onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 7-8 minutes or until they’re softened. Season with cumin and food coloring. Add 1 cup of water and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Now add the shredded beef and the mashed potatoes and stir well to cover them with the tomato sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
  6. Pre-heat oil at 350ºF (180ºC).
  7. To assemble the empanadas, cover a tortilla press with plastic, place a small ball in the center and press. You can also flatten the dough ball with a plate or the bottom of a small pot. Place about 1 tbsp of filling in the center of the dough, then with the help of the plastic fold the dough in half to form a half moon. Press the edge of the dough with your fingers and then make a clean cut around the border with a small bowl or large cup. Continue this process until you are done assembling the empanadas.
  8. Deep fry the empanadas at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 5-7 minutes or until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with Colombian hot sauce or Colombian green hot sauce and lime wedges.


To avoid getting cracks in your empanadas, deep fry them as soon as you assemble them so the dough doesn’t dry out. Also, to make them really crunchy the dough needs to be flattened really thin and they will have to be deep fried for much longer, while trying not to get them burnt.

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  1. The recipe seems difficult, but certainly all efforts are worth the result. Thanks for the detailed instructions.

  2. This looks really yummy. I will love to have that ans try it for sure. Thanks for the recipe. Keep posting

  3. Thank you so much for this recipe. I used chicken instead and thought the assembly takes some time is totally worth it. My British family in law loved it.
    The trick to avoid cracked dough is adding some drops of warm water on top of the fully assembled empanada.
    Ps. I didn’t even know that in Valle del Cauca the empanadas where different. The are the best !!!!

  4. I am sorry , growing up in Valle del Cauca and knowing it well tells me that this is not 100 % empandas vallunas, the tradicional one, the stuffing, or guiso has the meat diced not shreded also there is a ration of potatoes and meat, its not meant to be a mash potato with shredded beef, also the guiso or stew has not tomatoes,,,

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