Do Empanadas Traditionally Have Cheese?

Empanadas are a beloved dish that originated in Spain but have since been adapted across many Latin American countries. This savory pastry filled with various ingredients has become a staple in many households, restaurants, and food trucks. One of the most debated topics among empanada enthusiasts is whether or not cheese belongs in the filling.

While some argue that cheese is a crucial part of the empanada experience, others believe it’s sacrilege to include it. In this article, we’ll explore the history and cultural significance of empanadas to see if cheese has traditionally been a part of the recipe or if it’s a newer addition. So, whether you’re a fan of cheese in your empanadas or prefer them without, keep reading to learn more about this mouth-watering dish.

Quick Summary
Empanadas do appear in a wide variety of fillings, including cheese. However, whether or not they traditionally include cheese depends on the origin of the empanada. In some areas of South America, it is common to include cheese in the filling, while in other areas, it is not. So, it can be said that empanadas do not always have cheese as a traditional ingredient, but it is a popular option.

Empanada Background: Origin and History of the Dish.

Empanadas are a popular dish that originated in Spain and were brought over to Latin America during the colonial period. The word “empanada” is derived from the Spanish verb “empanar,” meaning to wrap in bread. The dish consists of a pastry shell filled with a variety of ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, fruits, or cheese, and then baked or fried.

Some sources trace the origins of empanadas back to the Middle East, where a similar dish called samosas is popular. Over time, empanadas have become a staple in many Latin American countries and are widely enjoyed as a snack, meal, or even dessert. Empanadas are often associated with street food culture and are sold at food trucks, fairs, and markets. The basic concept of the dish has remained the same over the centuries, but various regions and countries have developed their own versions, each with their unique flavors, fillings, and cooking techniques.

Regional Variations: How Different Countries and Cultures Prepare Empanadas.

Regional variations play a crucial role in defining the taste and ingredients of Empanadas. Every country and culture has its unique twist and preference for the fillings, pastry, and cooking method. In Argentina, empanadas de carne (beef) are a popular choice that comes with a blend of olives, onions, and raisins. On the other hand, in Chile, empanadas have a sweet flavor and are more likely to contain various fruits, including peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and sweetened pumpkin.

In Mexico, empanadas are called “empanaditas,” and they are smaller in size. The fillings include meat, cheese, and beans, or a blend of sweet and savory ingredients. Similarly, in Puerto Rico, where empanadas are called “empanadillas,” they come with a variety of fillings from seafood to cheese and beef. The dough is typically made with yucca flour and is usually deep-fried. Overall, regional variations in empanadas reflect the diverse ingredients, cultural preferences, and unique taste that define them.

Common Empanada Ingredients: Meat, Vegetables, and Cheese.

Empanadas are a popular Latin American dish that are typically savory, handheld pies filled with a variety of ingredients. While they can come in many different forms, the most common empanada ingredients include meat, vegetables, and cheese. These ingredients not only add flavor to the dish, but also provide a source of protein and nutrients.

Many traditional empanada recipes include some form of meat, such as ground beef, chicken, or pork. Vegetables like onions, peppers, and tomatoes are also commonly used to add flavor and texture. And of course, cheese is a popular ingredient in empanadas, with options ranging from crumbly feta to melty mozzarella. Some empanadas even have multiple types of cheese in them. While cheese is not always present in all empanadas, it is definitely one of the most popular ingredients in this type of dish.

Cheese-Based Empanadas: Popular Varieties and How They’re Made.

Cheese-based empanadas are a popular variation of the traditional empanadas. These empanadas are made with a cheese filling and are a favorite in many Latin American countries. The cheese used in these empanadas can vary, depending on the region and personal preference.

Some popular varieties of cheese-based empanadas include the Argentinean empanada de queso, which is made with a blend of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. The Chilean empanada de queso, on the other hand, features a filling made with fresh cheese, onion, and egg yolk. Other popular Latin American countries that have their own version of cheese-based empanadas include Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador.

To make cheese-based empanadas, the dough is filled with cheese and other ingredients of your choice and then folded into a half-moon shape. The empanadas can be baked or fried, depending on your preference. Cheese-based empanadas can be enjoyed as an appetizer or a main course, and they are generally served with salsa, guacamole, or chimichurri sauce.

Non-Cheese Empanadas: Areas Where Cheese is Not Used in Recipes.

Non-Cheese Empanadas: Areas Where Cheese is Not Used in Recipes

Empanadas are a traditional Latin American pastry that has become a popular snack and appetizer all over the world. While cheese is a popular ingredient in empanadas, not all recipes call for it. In fact, some areas of Latin America completely omit cheese from their empanadas.

In Mexico, for example, empanadas typically feature a filling of shredded meat, potatoes, and vegetables. These are often seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and other spices. In contrast, empanadas from Colombia and Venezuela typically do use cheese, but also feature fillings such as beef, chicken, or fish, along with vegetables like onions, peppers, and tomatoes. In other areas, such as Argentina, empanadas may feature ingredients like sweetcorn or pumpkin, alongside meat and vegetables. The lack of cheese in some empanada recipes proves that this dish is versatile and can be adjusted to meet individual tastes.

Controversial Cheese Fillings: Debates on Cheese Inside Empanadas.

Controversial Cheese Fillings: Debates on Cheese Inside Empanadas

While cheese is a popular filling for empanadas in many Latin American countries, there is some debate about whether it belongs there at all. In some places, purists argue that empanadas should only contain meat or vegetable fillings, while others believe that a cheese filling is an essential part of the empanada experience.

Those who support cheese in empanadas often vary in their cheese preference – some argue that only a mild, soft white cheese should be used, while others advocate for sharper cheeses like cheddar or even blue cheese. Ultimately, the debate over whether cheese belongs inside an empanada is a matter of personal taste, and varies from region to region. However, it’s clear that for many people, cheese enhances and elevates the empanada in a way that other fillings simply can’t match.

Modern Takes on Empanadas: Fusion Recipes and Innovations With Cheese.

In recent years, the traditional empanada has undergone some interesting changes. Fusion recipes and innovations have come into play, expanding the possibilities of this beloved dish, including its use of cheese. Some modern takes on empanadas include incorporating different types of cheeses like goat, blue, or feta into the filling or even using cheese as a dipping sauce.

One popular fusion recipe is the Cheeseburger Empanada. This mouthwatering dish combines the traditional beef filling of an empanada with classic American cheeseburger flavors. The filling includes seasoned ground beef, melted cheddar cheese, and diced onions, creating a delicious and unique take on the original empanada. Overall, these modern takes on empanadas not only honor the traditional dish but also offer unique and exciting flavor combinations that cheese lovers are sure to enjoy.


Empanadas are a beloved food enjoyed in many parts of the world. While they vary in their fillings and preparation methods, cheese is not typically found in traditional empanadas. In fact, in some cultures, the addition of cheese to empanadas is seen as an unusual and non-traditional ingredient.

However, that doesn’t mean that cheese in empanadas is necessarily a bad thing. Many people enjoy the creamy and rich flavor that cheese adds to their empanadas, and there’s certainly no harm in experimenting with different ingredients to create your perfect empanada. In the end, it’s up to personal preference and cultural traditions, and there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to enjoy this delicious dish.

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