Bolivian Salteñas

Author Charbel Barker


For The Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef 95% lean meat (or 2 chicken breasts)
  • 1 Packet of unflavored gelatin
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric or Achiote - ground or in paste form - you can find this in the Hispanic aisle at most grocery stores -
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 Large potatoes Diced
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup granulated white Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • **Optional - 3 Hard Boiled Eggs Olives, Raisins

For the Dough

  • 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Stick of Butter melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of boiling hot water
  • 1-2 teaspoons of yellow food coloring.


For the Filling

  • Cook the diced potatoes in boiling water until cooked, but still firm.
  • Melt the Butter together with the Achiote or ground turmeric until well combined and incorporated.
  • Add the Onions and the Diced Potatoes and Season everything with the Cumin, Salt, Pepper, and Oregano.
  • Add the Peas and the chopped Parsley and mix well.
  • Add the Sugar and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the already cooked and seasoned ground beef and stir well.
  • Add the Beef Broth and Bring to a boil.
  • Add the packet of unflavored gelatin, stir well, and remove from heat.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is best, but not necessary).

For the Dough

  • Combine the Flour, Sugar, and Salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add the yellow food coloring (this is to get the traditional color of the Salteña, which is actually obtained by adding a natural colorant that is only found in Bolivia).
  • Add the Eggs Mixture to the Flour Mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Add the hot (almost boiling) water to the mix and knead until a large, yellowish ball of dough is formed (it should not be too sticky, so add more flour if necessary).
  • Let sit for about 10-20 minutes and then separate into smaller, more workable pieces.
  • Roll out each piece on a flour surface and cut into large circles (about 6 inches in diameter and about 1/8 of an inch thick)

How to Make the Salteñas

  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees
  • After you have rolled out a piece of dough to the indicated size, add a slice of hard boiled egg to the middle (an olive and raisins if desired) and about 1/4 cup of the filling (more if you are not adding the other filling ingredients).
  • Wet the edges of the dough, and fold over the top, pinching the edges together.
  • In order to ensure that the Salteñas do not open during the cooking process, pinch and twist the edges to form a "braided look." (This was the hardest part for me, so they don't look perfect, but just do it enough so that you create a strong seal).
  • You can also beat an egg and brush the Salteñas with it right before baking to get a shinier look.
  • Place on an aluminum foil lined baking pan, right side up, and bake for 15 minutes or until browned.
  • Let sit for at least 10 minutes and then enjoy.