Even if you’ve never tried empanadas, there’s a good chance you’ve had one of their distant (and delicious) cousins. Originally from Galicia, Spain, empanadas now exist in over 30 countries in some shape or form. The name comes from “empanar”, which means “to bread” in Spanish and Portuguese. But some historians argue that the true meaning is “Can I have another?” That might not be a historical fact, but we can keep the spirit alive when National Empanada Day comes rolling in on April 8!
When is National Empanada Day 2024?
Spanish pastries are in the spotlight on National Empanada Day on April 8.
History of National Empanada Day
An empanada is a type of fried or baked pastry with Spanish origins. The name is derived from the Spanish term ‘empanar,’ which literally translates to ‘enbreaded,’ meaning coated in bread. The dough or bread used for making empanadas is stuffed with tasty fillings of meat, vegetables, and in some cultures, fruit. The dish is also popular in Latin American and southern European countries.
The exact origins of empanadas are linked to Portugal and Galicia (Spain.) The pastry made its first appearance during the Moorish invasions in Medieval Iberia. In 1520, a cookbook featuring Catalan, Arabian, French, and Italian food had seafood-filled empanadas listed as one of its recipes. It is widely believed that empanadas and its similar cousin, the calzone, are both inspired by samosas — a triangular-shaped pie popular in Arab and South Asian cultures.
In Portugal and Spain, empanadas are prepared by cutting a large pie into pieces, so that it can be enjoyed on the go. Portuguese and Galician empanada fillings include sardines, tuna, other types of seafood, and sometimes pork, in a sauce prepared from tomatoes and garlic.
National Empanada Day timeline
The first evidence of an empanada dates back to Ancient Persia.
During the time of the Moorish invasions, empanadas start to appear in medieval Iberia.
The first recipe for empanadas is published in a Spanish cookbook in Catalan.
The Spanish present their recipe for the empanada to the Aztecs and Mayans.
National Empanada Day FAQs
What are empanadas traditionally filled with?
Empanadas are savory pastries with a dough shell filled with vegetables, tuna, cheese, chicken, beef, and tuna, either dry or mixed in a sauce. The final pastry is either fried or baked.
Are empanadas Mexican or Spanish?
Empanadas have Spanish origins.
What is the difference between an empanada and a samosa?
The main difference between empanadas and samosas is their shape. Empanadas are crescent-shaped while samosas are triangular-shaped.
National Empanada Day Activities
Go out to eat!
Sometimes it's best to leave things to the professionals. This is especially true if your area has a thriving Latin American or Caribbean community. But even if it doesn't, there's no reason to fear—just stumble into a place that offers fried pie (yes, it counts).
Make Your Own at Home
The biggest problem you'll run into here is finding a recipe—there are so many good ones! This isn't to say that you can't experiment and add your own fillings. However, you'll probably want the support of a buddy or two. Aside from helping with prep and clean up, the extra mouths will ensure that you leave the table on your own two feet. Getting rolled away like empanada dough probably isn't the look you're aiming for.
Share Your Pics on Social Media
Yes, sharing food pics on social media has been done to death. But it's a special day, so why not make an exception? Whether it's a work of art or just a “piece of work”, you'll put a smile on someone's face. Also, if you and your friends tried making empanadas from different countries, it could be interesting to compare the results. Just remember that it's all in good fun, and that there are no winners or losers...except for the people who forgot about this glorious day.
5 Tasty Facts About Empanadas In Different Cultures
It has many variants
Every region of Argentina has its own version of empanadas.
Empanadas are the center of attention
In Argentina, empanadas are served as a starter or main course at get-togethers and parties.
Synonym for empanadas
In Belize, empanadas are known as panades.
Empanadas are important in Chile
In Chile, empanadas are consumed in large quantities, especially during the country’s national days.
The pastry shell has different recipes too
Traditional Venezuelan empanadas are made with ground corn dough.
Why We Love National Empanada Day
Empanadas are the perfect finger food
They come wrapped in an edible, flaky container, which means you don't need pesky utensils. Doesn't matter if you're at a restaurant or food truck, every bit of goodness will safely reach its destination (psst, that's your mouth). Best of all, they're a breeze to share with your friends...but no one's saying you have to do that.
They make a mean dessert
Most people are aware of the meat and cheese variety, but you can stuff empanadas with pretty much anything. This could be sweet potatoes, peaches, or even guava paste. Of course, in these cases they tend to resemble more of a puff pastry. In Bolivia, they like to have the best of both worlds. There you can find salteñas that are filled with a sweet and spicy soup. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, we'll take them off your hands (strictly for research purposes).
There's endless variety
Remember, more than 30 countries have their own version of empanadas, so you're bound to find one that fits your taste. If you can't live without peanuts, you might want to check out Colombia—parts of the country add peanuts and top things off with an aji sauce. Or maybe you can't decide between noodles and bread? In that case, Indonesia has you covered, as their local variety comes chock full of potatoes, carrots, chicken, and glass noodles.
National Empanada Day dates