Costa Rican Empanada Arreglada

Fried empanada topped with cheese, salsa, and cilantro on a large leaf.

Empanada arreglada- a traditional Costa Rican empanada topped with cabbage and chimichurri and slathered in condiments. Yum!

Costa Rican Empanada With Cabbage Recipe

Ingredients for Savory Empanada Dough: 

  • cooking oil for frying
  • 2 cups Maseca yellow corn flour (harina de maíz)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Kitchen Equipment

  • tortilla press
  • pan for frying

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together Maseca cornflour with the salt. Add water and combine to make your empanada corn dough. Keep mixing until there is no visible flour.

Make 8 equal-sized dough balls. Press each one into a flattened circle in your tortilla press. You can cover your tortilla press in saran wrap or a plastic bag to make sure that the empanada dough doesn’t stick.

Now, you will fill the empanadas. Place about two tablespoon’s worth of your desired filling in the middle of the dough circle and fold it over into a crescent-moon shape. For a savory empanada like this, black beans, cheese, shredded beef, and boiled potatoes are all wonderful filling options!

Seal each empanada shut by crimping its seam with a fork, making sure that there isn’t a hole where the oil can seep in during the frying process. 

Heat the cooking oil in a pan until it registers at 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Place as many empanadas as will comfortably fit in the pan (meaning they can fry without touching) and fry for 5-7 minutes. Your empanada should be golden brown on the outside but the dough should be thoroughly cooked on the inside.

While your savory empanadas are frying, shred 1 and 1/2 cups worth of cabbage and set aside. Next, fill two thin-tipped squeeze bottles with ketchup and mayonnaise. If you don’t have squeeze bottles on hand, then pour the condiments into two plastic baggies and cut off the tips to make piping bags. 

When the empanadas have finished cooking, remove them with tongs and drain off any excess oil. Top your empanadas with shredded cabbage and drizzle with the ketchup and mayonnaise– ready to serve!

About This Costa Rican Empanada Arreglada Recipe

Empanadas are a hallmark of Latin American cooking, and here in Costa Rica, we have a special way of serving them! At a Costa Rican restaurant, you can order any type of savory empanada “arreglada,” which is kind of like ordering a burger with “all the fixings.”

Every empanada arreglada automatically comes topped with shredded cabbage, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Something about the condiments being drizzled from thin-tipped squeeze bottles just seems to make the whole thing better!

For this recipe, I’ve provided you with the instructions for traditional Costa Rican savory empanada dough. The filling is all up to you, and there are so many fantastic possibilities! (If you need some inspiration, cheese, black beans, shredded beef, and Costa Rican-style boiled potatoes are all good places to start on the filling front!)

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The empanadas don’t stop here– Check out these other Pura Vida Moms empanada recipes!

Substitutions

You’re welcome to swap in the same amount of shredded lettuce for the cabbage. I find that iceberg lettuce has a similar crunch. 

Variations

It’s all in the filling! For these savory empanadas, it’s kind of a Choose Your Own Adventure. Check out these fillings:

Serving Suggestions

Once your empanadas have finished frying, top them with a bit of shredded cabbage and drizzle them with the ketchup and mayonnaise. Salsa Lizano, a favorite Costa Rican condiment, is also an awesome addition to any savory empanada–  so is a squeeze of lime juice! 

If you’d like to make a meal out of this recipe, you can serve your empanadas arregladas with a helping of gallo pinto, fried green plantains, or homemade guacamole

Empanadas are generally a breakfast food in Costa Rica. they also go with morning or afternoon coffee break. You will often find street vendors selling empanadas to workers in local businesses.

FAQ

  1. What does “arreglada” mean? – Translated from Spanish, “arreglada” means “fixed up.”
  2. How do you reheat empanadas? – You can perk your empanadas back up by frying them in a saucepan over medium-high heat with a bit of butter or baking them for about five minutes in a 300 degree oven.
  3. Where do empanadas come from? – Empanadas originated in Spain and Portugal, and are now a culinary staple throughout Latin America. Generally, empanadas are deep-fried, but they can be baked as well if you’d like a healthier alternative.

Printable Recipe

Yield: 8 savory empanadas

Costa Rican Empanada Arreglada

Fried empanada topped with cheese, salsa, and cilantro on a large leaf.

Simple, gluten-free, and delicious, these empanadas arregladas are a hallmark of Costa Rican cuisine! 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • cooking oil for frying
  • 2 cups Maseca yellow corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together Maseca corn flour with the salt. Add water and combine to make your empanada dough. Keep mixing until there is no visible flour.
  2. Make 8 equal-sized dough balls. Press each one into a flattened circle in your tortilla press.
  3. Now, you will fill the empanadas. Place about two tablespoon's worth of your desired filling in the middle of the dough circle and fold it over into a crescent-moon shape. For a savory empanada like this, black beans, cheese, shredded beef, and boiled potatoes are all wonderful filling options!
  4. Seal each empanada shut by crimping its seam with a fork, making sure that there isn't a hole where the oil can seep in during the frying process. 
  5. Heat the cooking oil in a pan until it registers at 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Place as many empanadas as will comfortably fit in the pan (meaning they can fry without touching) and fry for 5-7 minutes. Your empanada should be golden brown on the outside but the dough should be thoroughly cooked on the inside.
  6. While your savory empanadas are frying, shred 1 and 1/2 cups worth of cabbage and set aside. Next, fill two thin-tipped squeeze bottles with ketchup and mayonnaise. If you don't have squeeze bottles on hand, then pour the condiments into two plastic baggies and cut off the tips to make piping bags. 
  7. When the empanadas have finished cooking, remove them with tongs and drain off any excess oil. Top your empanadas with shredded cabbage and drizzle with the ketchup and mayonnaise-- ready to serve!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 492mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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