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Traditional Bolivian Street Food: Salteñas (Meat Empanadas)

Traditional Bolivian Street Food: Salteñas (Meat Empanadas)

If you’ve never heard of salteñas before, they’re a special variety of meat empanada widely available as a traditional street food in Bolivia. They have a spicy and slightly sweet flavor, a distinctive yellow colored dough and are filled with meat, potatoes, slices of hard boiled egg, olives and raisins. They’re incredibly flavorful and delicious. Bring the taste of Bolivia into your own kitchen with this recipe - they’re a hit every time. This makes about 20 salteñas, easily enough to enjoy and share.

Also Read: New Mexican Chili Con Carne With Ground Bison

Traditional Bolivian Street Food Salteñas (Meat Empanadas) - Beck & Bulow

Delicious With Any Of Our Premium Ground Meats

Traditionally, salteñas are made with beef, pork or chicken. These delightful meat pastries are the perfect opportunity to use any of our selections of quality ground meats. Wild boar is so much more flavorful and delicious than conventional pork, and would be so good in salteñas. Our ground lamb, grass fed beef, bison or elk would all be great choices as well. If you’d prefer to make these chicken, it’s easy to make your own fresh ground with a food processor. Simply use chicken breasts or debone some chicken thighs, then cut into chunks and add into the food processor. Pulse until a ground meat consistency is reached.

Bring The Flavors Of Bolivia Into Your Home


To make the meat filling:

  • 1 pound ground beef, wild boar, lamb, bison or elk
  • 1 packet of unflavored gelatin
  • 4 cups bison bone broth
  • 7 tablespoons bison tallow or butter
  • 2 tablespoons achiote (paste or powder)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup peas (frozen is fine)
  • ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • Olives & raisins as desired

Also Read: Traditional English Shepherd’s Pie Recipe With Ground Lamb

Traditional Bolivian Street Food Salteñas (Meat Empanadas) - Beck & Bulow

To make the dough:

  • 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1-2 teaspoons turmeric if desired (for coloring - you could also use a natural store bought yellow food coloring)


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of bison tallow over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet. Add in the ground beef, bison or elk. Cook just until browned. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Boil water in a large Dutch oven. Add in the diced potatoes and cook until tender but still firm. Drain the water and set the potatoes aside.
  3. In the same Dutch oven, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of bison tallow together with the achiote.
  4. Add the onions, cooked potatoes, cumin, salt, pepper and dried oregano to the skillet.
  5. Add in the peas and chopped parsley and combine thoroughly.
  6. Add the coconut sugar. Cook, stirring frequently for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the cooked ground meat to the pan. Stir and combine thoroughly.
  8. Pour in the bison bone broth and bring to a boil.
  9. Add the packet of gelatin. Combine thoroughly, then remove the meat filling from the stove.
  10. When cooled, transfer the filling to a large bowl and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight if time permits.

Also Read: Polish Comfort Food: Pierogi Made With Ground Bison

Mouthwatering & Delicious Homemade Ground Meat Recipes - Beck & Bulow

To make the dough:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Add in the turmeric or natural yellow food coloring if desired (this will give your salteñas the traditional yellow appearance like they have in Bolivia)
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Combine thoroughly.
  4. Let the 1 ½ cups of boiling water cool to just a little less hot than boiling. Pour the water into the mixture. Knead the dough (take care not to do this while it’s still too hot to touch, but begin kneading as soon as possible). Continue to knead until a large ball of dough is formed. If it’s quite sticky add in a little more flour.
  5. Let the ball of dough sit and rest for approximately 15 minutes. Then separate into four pieces.
  6. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece out to about ⅛ of an inch. Cut them into large circles, about 6 inches across.

To assemble and bake the salteñas:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the hard boiled eggs and set aside. Get out the olives and raisins, and fill a small dish with water.
  3. Working with one salteña at a time, take the circle of dough and add about ¼ cup of the meat filling. Add in a slice of hard boiled egg, an olive and a few raisins.
  4. Wet your fingers with water and use them to wet the edges of the dough circle. Close the salteña and pinch and twist the edges so that it’s completely and very firmly sealed.
  5. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Bake the salteñas for 15 minutes or until thoroughly browned, flipping once.
  6. Rest the salteñas for 10 minutes. Enjoy immediately.

Also Read: Homemade Chinese Dumplings Made With Ground Wild Boar