saltena recipe

(Cochabamba, Bolivia)

This is what home made salteñas look like, although normally the dough must be brushed with egg white prior to baking so that when taken out of the oven will be shiny.

This is what home made salteñas look like, although normally the dough must be brushed with egg white prior to baking so that when taken out of the oven will be shiny.

For the dough (masa):
1 pound of flour
1/2 pound of shortening
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup of water with 1/2 tsp. salt dissolved
2 tablespoon of chili powder (yellow aji, in Bolivia)
2 egg yolks
(save the 2 egg whites, you'll use them prior to baking, see below)

For the stew inside (jigote):
1 pounds of meat (beef, chicken or pork) in small cubes
1/2 pound of bone marrow (beef, usually)
5 cups of beef broth, adding one package of unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons of powered yellow chili pepper
6 boiled (but firm) potatoes - diced
2 white or red onions - finely chopped
3 tablespoons of parsely - finely chopped
1 can of black olives - pitted
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 cup of cooked peas
1 tablespoon of pepper
salt to taste

You will prepare the dough AFTER preparing the stew. The stew must remain overnight in the refrigerator. So prepare the dough the next day right before getting ready to add the stew and then bake the salteñas: for the dough mix the flour, sugar, shortening, and yellow chili pepper in a blender. When the dough starts to get thick add the water and egg yolks. The dough will be come very firm. Knead the dough until it is well blended. Then roll out the dough and cut into rounds (like tortillas) that are 1/2 an inch thick and about 10 centimeters across).

For the stew fry the onions and yellow chili pepper. When cooked, add 4 cups of the beef broth (having already added the unflavored gelatin to the broth) and allow to boil. Add the diced meat and cook 15 minutes.

Take it off the stove and add the bone marrow, parsley, peas, cooked potatoes, pepper, salt and the 1 remaining cup of beef broth.

Put it into a container in the refrigerator overnight. This will allow the gelatin to firm up the stew enough to be able to spoon the stew onto the rounds of dough you made. It will have become gelatinous which is necessary otherwise it would be impossible to fill the dough with the stew. Place one scoop of gelatinous stew onto each round of dough, add one olive to each, fold over in half and crimp to seal (like you would the edge of a pie).

It is VERY important it be completely fully sealed because while it is baking the stew will become juicy again.

Place the salteña upright with the sealed edge on TOP on a greased cookie sheet. Brush the entire exterior with the egg whites (this will cause your saltenas to come out shiny after baking) and bake at 400ºF until the crimped edge is very well toasted and the dough is a dark golden brown (also will look yellowish because of the chili pepper which is fine).

Serve piping hot!

Salteñas are generally served between 9 and 11 am with tea, coffee or soda as a mid-morning snack.

You can freeze salteñas (unbaked) as long as they are very well wrapped. When you want to bake them, place them immediately from the freezer to the oven - do not thaw.

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Oct 14, 2013
by: ALFI


Jun 23, 2013
Another choice
by: Jmacintokyo

Salteñas go well with a cool glass of beer too!

Feb 17, 2013
new soft drink idea
by: bobby g

Cholita Flaquita (con stevia)! a diet soft drink (soda) that goes great with salteñas. Many original flavors.

Feb 16, 2013
Thumbs up!!!
by: Jessica

Thank you so much for putting this up. I've lived in the 'states longer than Bolivia (I was born there) so I'm trying to learn Bolivian cuisine. It would be awesome if you could make YouTube vids for some of us who are visual learners. I've yet to find a goo quality vid on YouTube.

Message from the webmaster: YouTube tutorials is a really GREAT idea, Jessica. I'll look into the possibility of doing that. Cheers! Bella.

Dec 31, 2012
Saltenas in San Diego
by: Jeannette

Does anyone know were to purchase good saltenas in San Diego????

If so please email me

Nov 10, 2012
salteñas in Paraguay
by: Anonymous

cuando nos mudamos a Paraguay, mi mamá intento hacer salteñas, pero siempre había algo más que faltaba. eran ricas, pero no iguales a las que se compran en Santa Cruz. después de un año intentando, preguntó a varias personas cómo hacerlas. Pero no muchos saben hacer salteñas porque es algo que se vende en casi cada esquina. Pero nadie puso darle una receta, las que sabían hacer, nunca quisieron compartir su secreto. Ahora nosotros inventamos algunas cosas. Ponemos gelatina sin sabor y un poco de maicena al jigote. Y a la masa le ponemos urucú molido (creo que así se hace en SC) salen ricas, pero no iguales a las que se compran en las salteñerías en Santa Cruz. y se hornean en horno bien caliente por 20 minutos.

when we moved to Paraguay my mom tried to make salteñas, but there was always something missing. They were good, but not as good as those purchased in Santa Cruz. After a year of trying, my mom asked several people for the recipe. But not many know how to make salteñas because you can buy it in almost every corner. We came back to Py with no recipe. The people who knew how to make it, didn´t want to share their recipe. And this is how we make it: We use unflavored gelatin and a little cornstarch for the jigote. And we add ground urucú (achiote) (I think this it´s used in SC). and bake them in a very hot oven por 20 minutes (500°F)

Mar 06, 2012
should be 1 can of olives

@Linda. We've corrected the recipe. It should read 1 CAN of black olives. As you can see further down in the instructions, you are going to add one olive to each salteña prior to baking. You can also use calamata olives if you prefer (the big purple ones).

Mar 05, 2012
Black Olive substitute?
by: Linda

I see that the recipe call for a pound of black olives as much as the meat. Is there anything that can be substituted for some of the black olives? A pound seems like an awful lot.

Dec 22, 2011
Hai all!
by: Anonymous

I dont like an olives taste but in saltena it's not horrible. My friend's mother used to make saltena... once a year at friend's birthday :(
If you put into curry to flour the saltena'll be golden...
from Hungary

Oct 09, 2011
by: Anonymous

I cannot WAIT to buy the ingredients and attempt to make my FAVORITO childhood snack! I never did like the black olives so I will omit those, but I look forward to trying this!!!!!! I am so excited to find such an amazing site with almost all my favorites as a kid! GRACIAS BOLIVIABELLA.COM! :)


Oct 27, 2010
Thank You!!!!!
by: Blanca

I have been looking for a good Saltena receta. My BF is from Bolivia and loves these. He will drive to Bebas and get bags of them and freeze them. I would love to make these for him. They are very good. Although it took me a little getting use to the sweet taste. Being a Mexicana...our palets are a tad different lol. I will give it a try!!

Who has the receta for the llauchas?? Can you email them to me?

Thanks Again and wish me luck!!

Blanca from Calif.

Apr 08, 2010
salteña recipe
by: Anonymous

Hey Chris from Adelaide.
I made this recipe and got 15 salteñas.

Apr 01, 2010
how many
by: Chris from Adelaide

for how many Saltenas is this recipe?

Feb 22, 2010
Hey Bobby and Yayo! Congratulations!
by: Bella and Noly

Chef Noly of Noly's Salteñas in Chicago has taken notice of your efforts and grace so she's awarding you this blue ribbon for your efforts! But we've got another suprise for you! Shhhh... you're the very VERY first to find out! Click on the blue ribbon to find out what it is! (P.S. YOU started it!)

Join Bella and Chef Noly on Wacataya Wednesdays!

Jan 22, 2010
making bolivian saltenas takes practice
by: BoliviaBella

Hey Bobby! That is so great! I am really really happy for you! Give your wife a kiss and thank her big time for giving salteñas (and you) another shot! Hahaha. Send us a picture so we can all celebrate with you.

Jan 22, 2010
We Did It.
by: Bobby G . SSS

We Did it We really did it. We made Saltenas. And they came out pretty good . My wife who is Bolivian gave me the thumbs up. My wife and I made the stew last night and then the pastry this morning. She ate 3 And I had 2. we made 12 in all.I think I put too much cyanne pepper though. And more sugar is needed in the dough.But now that I have tried it I want to perfect it. And I will! I have now become an official member of the SSS......Bobby G..... Thanks for the inspiration Bella..

Jan 18, 2010
Still pursuing the juiciness factor
by: CanadianoBoliviano

Well, it seems like people enjoyed seeing the cheesy saltena, but I must get back to business. I still have not made a single saltena with a satisfactory "juiciness factor". A good number have liquid sitting in them, but the water line, so to speak, is still pretty low...say at the bottom 1/4 or 1/3 when holding the saltena vertically. With this in mind, there are several fundamental problems that need to be resolved once for all (order is important here):

1. Retaining all the liquid in the saltena from start to finish baking. This is key, and without it, there is not point in proceeding to problem 2. Gelatin makes filling the raw dough quite easy -all that is needed is practice and technique. From my experience, everything appears fine until around 7 or 8 minutes of bake time @ 550 degrees C. This is when some start popping, or somehow oozing out small amounts of liquid. A Bolivian friend of mine said that they are supposed to bake really fast - about 7 minutes - and really hot. This is impossible with a normal electric oven such as most Canadians have. My saltenas don't look brown/black enough until a bit over 15 minutes, and even then the dough is not quite crispy enough all the way through. I can't say for sure, but it seems that a more solid dough performs better, but they are also more difficult to seal at the seams. I have tried some variations of veg. oil/butter/chicken fat. Butter was the best one so far and I still need to try lard as per my Bolivian friend, but the main factor seems to be the amount of flour vs liquid.
I believe this problem can be solved, but only by perfecting the consistency and maybe temperature of the dough and/or the filling. Should the whole saltena be frozen? Just the filling? Is there some kind of secret super dough recipe that you could make a hot air balloon out of?

2. Getting the right amount of liquid in the filling. Do the potatoes absorb the liquid with time? Where is all the liquid going? Is it just leaking out as in problem 1? These are just some thoughts I have.

Anyway, I hope my ramblings result in some progress. I will never stop until I achieve Bolivian saltena ecstasy in Canada!

Jan 14, 2010
Love the Canadian twist !
by: Bobby G

Canadian Boliviano, Love your saltena style, now if you could only make your saltenas into the shape of hockey pucks, you might be able to sell them to Tim Hortens!!! Any way the cheese sounds interesting. Must concur with a real bolivian about this though (me aspousa). But I would say after seeing the photo that you indeed qualify as a SSS member. Good Job...

Jan 14, 2010
check out these great saltenas from canada
by: BoliviaBella

Hey Everybody, CanadianoBoliviano (see the discussion below) sent us a photo of the salteñas he's perfecting in Canada. They're near perfect with a surprising Canadian twist. Take a look!

Jan 14, 2010
great saltena tips from canada
by: BoliviaBella

Hey CanadianoBoliviano. These are some great tips and definitely qualify you for free membership into the Secret Saltena Society although we may soon require photo or video evidence for acceptance! LOL. I think lots of people will find your advice super helpful.

For everybody else reading this: you see? It takes practice and every person really does develop their own style. By the way the Bolivian restaurant CanadianoBoliviano is talking about (Beba's) is located in Santa Ana near LA. Beba's is great!!! I've been there MANY times.

Bebas serves all kinds of other truly authentic Bolivian foods too and full meals, and even imports Bolivian ingredients like chuños (although they are expensive: when I was last there they were $9 for a little tiny bag of about 15 chuños). But soooo worth it since you can't find them absolutely ANYWHERE else that I know of. Thanks for the tips and advice CB!

Jan 14, 2010
Saltenas in Canada!
by: CanadianoBoliviano

Hey, I've been trying to make saltenas at home in Canada. The craving hit me about 4 months after I visited Bolivia. Fortunately, I was in California at the time, and found a lovely restaurant that does Bolivian food. It's called Beba's, and I highly recommend them. Anyway, no such luck in my quest began. I believe I have nearly perfected the dough, and about half of the saltenas don't pop while baking. Will try chilling the dough next time. The trick for me was adding achiote to the dough. (actually a ricado my mom orders from Belize, which is largely composed of that bright red achiote). It is so delicious and makes the dough golden yellow...just like those I had in Santa Cruz! Also, freezing the filling helps, and generally a lot of practice rolling the dough to the right thickness, adding/reducing the amount of flour until firm/sticky ratio of the dough is just right, and practicing the twisting of the edges (see Youtube for some helpful demonstrations) Another problem I fixed was the "bunching" of too much dough at the ends of the saltena. After pinching it shut, I simply tear off the excess. This helps make the twist fold more uniform, which actually helps keep the saltena sealed better. Hope this will help someone! Does this contribution qualify me for the SSS?

Dec 31, 2009
by: Anonymous

Viva BOLIVIA and sus saltenias Bolivian have the best food in the world no lie !!!!!! Check out some of there other foods it's so good!!!!

Dec 05, 2009
by: Anonymous

can you please clarify something, in the part making the dough it says add eggs on two different occasions but the ingredients only list 2 yolks, please explain, thanks

Hi Confused: Someone contributed this recipe and I was also confused the first time I read through it - but what you need to do is use two eggs. I never bother separating the yolks from the whites when I'm making the dough. Some people use only yolks. Their crust comes out yellower.

You'll also notice that when you finish filling the dough and sealing it you'll need to brush the exterior of the salteña dough with egg white before popping them into the oven - this would be a completely new and separate egg white. It's just something bakers do with things like empanadas, salteñas, and pie crusts to make the crust come out shiny when it bakes.

Nov 22, 2009
order saltenas from nolys in the chicago area

Hey everybody. We've got your a direct link to Noly's Salteñas. If you're having trouble making them yourself, order them from Nolys in the Chicago area. Call or write them and ask for Lynda.

Thanks to "Anonymous" for telling us about them. Sorry you're anonymous and we can't thank you by name but we're grateful!

Order real Bolivian salteñas from Nolys in the Chicago area!

Nov 18, 2009
Does anybody make them ?
by: Vicky

My BF is from Bolivia and he wants me to make them but i know it's not going to be the same does anybody know who makes them. That way i can order them and see how they look like and taste. Please someone help meeeee. Email me at if anyone can help me.

In response: Someone posted this in one of the messages below:

There is a mail order company that sells saltenas if you decide to buy rather then make them,

Hope that helps?

Nov 14, 2009
oh no way me too!
by: Bella

No way Bobby that is hilarious! I already sell Irish Soda Bread here in Bolivia!

Want hear something funny? My first attempt was a TOTAL FLOP. You could taste the salty soda and it had this sort of after taste that was just disgusting. My friends all hated it and made horrible faces. (Bolivians are soooo direct, but you probably already know).

But I worked really hard on it and right now if you take a look at my Nutridiva bakery page (that's my real online bakery here in Santa Cruz) at the very bottom you'll see jalapeño bread - (it's really Irish soda bread with jalapeños and it sells like crazy!!! Shhhh... don't tell anybody!)


Nov 13, 2009
the (SSS) Secret Saltania Society
by: bobby g

Thanks so much for your comments back to me. It was good advice. I will make another attempt at it. I just made some homemade Irish soda bread for the first time. It came out pretty good I must say for a novice. This bread is soooo easy to make and its great with teasito .Iam sure it would be a big hit in Bolivia. But I belong to the "OTHER" SSS ,the Secret Sodabread Society,and cannot reveil how to make it ! Unless.... of course any one wants to make a deal, lets say a swap of recipes ? This could be aranged. Well probecho Bella and keep up the good work on the web site.....Bobby G SSS...LOL

Nov 03, 2009
Its possible
by: Anonymous

Don't get discouraged, saltenas are not easy to make. It takes time to get the dough and filling just right. Where you live affects the recipe. A recipe that works in Bolivia may not work at a lower altitude. Flour is dryer in Bolivia at high altitudes so recipes use more fat and water. Chill both the filling and dough well, at least 4 hours. They are labor intensive but worth the effort if you love saltenas. There is a mail order company that sells saltenas if you decide to buy rather then make them, and depending on where you live there are restaurants that sell them, mostly in the Virginia, New York and San Francisco areas. Good luck and Buen Provecho!

Aug 23, 2009
silly saltenas
by: yayo & bobby


Bella Answers:
Hi Bobby. Wow, sounds just like MY first time making the salteñas. You know there really does seem to be some sort of Secret Salteña Society going on. It's like every family has their own secret recipe for the dough and the jigot (the stew that goes inside). I've seen and tried different recipes myself and what I've found is that they're all delicious (sorry you didn't get to try them).

My first instinct is to ask, did your wife refrigerate the stew the night before? There is a reason we do this. The gelatin turns the stew into a sort of scoop-able semi-solid. It makes it lots easier to place spoonfuls of it onto the dough rounds the next day. Still, I found this to be quite messy the first time I made them on my own too.

It's also very important to preheat the oven. Traditionally, salteñas are baked in outdoor clay ovens. They are piping hot! In fact, it's typical for the sealed edges to burn.

It's also very important to make sure the dough is a FIRM dough. Not a soft dough.

These are just possibilities. I would encourage your wife to try again. It does take practice. If salteñas were really easy to make, I'm willing to bet we wouldn't have so many salteñerias in Bolivia. Don't give up! My first few attempts were disappointing too. Can you imagine how much I rejoiced when a friend of mine share her secret - the one that helped me FINALLY make a salteña that came out "right"?

OK I'll spill the beans. Here it is:

Take small cups or dessert dishes. Fill each cup with enough stew (equal to the amount you would probably put inside your salteña) - then FREEZE IT!

The next day, all you have to do is place the hard frozen chunks of stew into the dough and seal it.

OK, two things about this:

A. It makes it a little difficult to get a perfectly shaped salteña when you're wrapping it around a frozen cube. But who cares - it's the taste you're going for.

B. Once you've sealed the salteñas, wait about 1/2 an hour before you place them in the oven. You don't want the dough to burn before the stew on the inside has even thawed out.

Doing this is just to make FILLING the dough a little easier.

Don't give up! There is probably not ONE SINGLE person who got salteñas right on their first try - myself included!!

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