Jun 202014

Costa Rican Snack: Empanadas - Alldonemonkey.com

This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture.  Today I am sharing about one of our favorite snacks!

Many countries throughout Latin America have some version of the empanada – the hand-held savory pastry that has echoes of the Indian samosa and Cornish pasty.  The Costa Rican version is made with corn meal and is typically filled with a black bean mixture or just cheese, as in the recipe below.

If you visit with families in Costa Rica, chances are you will be treated to these tasty snacks, which kids there love (including mine!)  They are usually served mid-afternoon, along with a good cup of coffee (for adults) and agua dulce for kids.

Here is own you can make your own!  Keep in mind this is something that is usually made more by feel than by following a strict recipe:

Costa Rican Empanadas


Couple cups of masa harina (corn masa flour) (We use Maseca)

Pinch of salt

Spices (Often crumbled cubito – bouillon cube – and a dash of Salsa Lizano.  We also like adding a bit of garlic powder)


Grated white cheese (We use Monterey Jack)

Vegetable oil


1. Mix together the Maseca, salt, and spices then slowly add water until you get a dough-like consistency.  (This for me is always the difficult part, determining when the masa has just enough water without getting too soggy).

2. Pinch off a small portion and form into a ball.  Flatten into a disk.  (There are tortilla presses you can use, though many people just use a plate.  It also helps to form your disk on a piece of plastic or wax paper, which makes the folding in Step 4 easier).

Costa Rican Snack: Empanadas - Alldonemonkey.com

3.  Layer grated cheese onto one side of the disk, leaving a margin of roughly 1/4 inch.

4. Fold over to form a semi-circle.  Pinch together the edges.

Costa Rican Snack: Empanadas - Alldonemonkey.com

5. Fry in an inch or so of oil, turning halfway through until golden on both sides.  Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

Costa Rican Snack: Empanadas - Alldonemonkey.com

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  10 Responses to “Costa Rican Snack: Empanadas”

  1. These look tasty – is maseca similar to masa harina?

    • Great question! From what I understand, Maseca is just a brand of masa harina, but one that seems to be used almost exclusively in many places. I always wondered then what made it different from corn meal, but from what I’ve read it’s made from different kinds of corn and processed differently, so they can’t be substituted for each other. I’ve tried! The results weren’t terrible, but it wasn’t what I was going for.

  2. Sounds great! Looks like little monkey is ready to dive in!

  3. I will have to look for masa harina around my grocery store. I don’t want to experiment with American corn meal. 🙂 Last time I tried to make Romanian polenta with American cornmeal, it was a mess. So I understand your comment about needing a certain kind of flour for good results.

    • Yes, I didn’t always appreciate the difference, but it is very important! And polenta is yet another kind of corn flour, very different I’m sure.

  4. YUM! We love empanadas! Thanks for sharing your recipe Leanna!

  5. […]  Leanna from All Done Monkey shared this easy to make Costa Rican Empanada recipe. Perhaps Empanadas are more famous than tacos, don’t you […]

  6. […] Monkey would enjoy seeing how they are similar to the empanadas he is already familiar with from Costa Rica.  (Main difference: wheat vs corn […]

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