Pastelitos Recipe: Sweet and Savory Latin Delights

How to make Pastelitos? The miniature version of Spanish empanadas. Sounds exotic enough to think that the ingredients are expensive? Then you’re completely mistaken with this notion. Actually, the ingredients are the basics of your kitchen ingredients—flour, oil, salt and shortening.  Yet, instead of using the yeast dough which is more bread- like, you should make pastry dough which has a flaky texture.

Pastelitos Recipe

Golden and flaky, our pastelitos are the epitome of pastry perfection.
How To Make Pastelitos With Ground Beef Filling

Pastelitos with Ground Beef Filling

If you're wondering what is Pastelitos, you've come to the right place. These little Cuban pastries are baked puff pastry filled with sweet or savory fillings. The name suggests that they're filled with cream and ricotta. But what's in a Pastelito? Here's what you need to know. If you're not a Cuban, you're missing out!
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Course: Cake
Cuisine: INTERNATIONAL, Latin-America
Keyword: Pastelitos, Pastelitos with Ground Beef Filling
CookingStyle: Baking
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 263kcal
Author: Hung Dao
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For the dough:

  • 4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup ice water

For the filling:

Before frying:


  • Heavy bottomed pot
  • Slotted spoon or metal spatula
  • Paper towels


For the filling:

  • Sautethe ground beef and stir in the seasonings. Cook this for about 15 minutes and set aside.  Make the dough while you’re waiting for the beef filling to cool down.

For the dough:

  • Incorporate the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and add shortening intermittently until the mixture is crumbly.
  • Drizzle little water over the flour mixture. Mix quickly with whisk or fork until you form it into a ball.
  • Divide the ball into 12 parts or pieces. Form flat circles from the 12 pieces and put a tablespoon of meat filling into the center of the circle.  Fold, forming half circle and seal the corners using a fork and set aside.

Frying Method:

  • Dust the surface of a plate with little flour and place the pastelitos onto it.
  • Pour 3-4 inches of oil into the pot and heat the pan into a medium high heat. Wait until the oil is hot enough for deep frying.
  • Fry pastelitos for 2-3 minutes and you will know that they are cooked if they float in the surface. Let them stay on the surface for another minute.
  • Get them out using a slotted spoon or metal spatula. Put over paper towels so the excess oil will be absorbed by the towels. You can serve your already cooked pastelitos hot.



Unlike tacos, pastelitos are smaller, round and stuffed with ground beef. They are traditionally filled with ground beef, which is cooked with onions and peppers. You can also use boiled egg or shredded chicken. To ensure that the filling is cooked through, the meat mixture should be allowed to absorb all the moisture from the potatoes. In addition to meat, the filling should also be tender and savory.
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Serving: 1serving | Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 193mg
© Food And Meal

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the Spoonacular Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.

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Alternative Method: Baked Pastelitos in the Oven

Creating pastelitos is an art, and this is your masterpiece in the making.

For delectable and flaky pastelitos, begin by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C), ensuring it reaches the desired temperature before proceeding. As the oven heats up, prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or lightly greasing it with cooking spray to prevent the pastelitos from sticking. Arrange your prepared pastelitos on the baking sheet, leaving adequate space between each one to ensure even cooking. Once the setup is complete, slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake the pastelitos for approximately 20-25 minutes or until they achieve a beautiful golden brown hue. Keep a close eye on them as baking times may vary depending on your oven. Once done, carefully remove the pastelitos from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving. Their flaky perfection is ready to be enjoyed – a delightful treat fresh from the oven.

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Tips for making pastelitos

Pastelitos, the ultimate finger food for your next gathering. Guests will love them!

Cooking Tips

If I may share a piece of my heart along with some tips, the first is about the pastelito dough. Whether you’re making it from scratch or using store-bought puff pastry, it must be tender enough to yield to your loving touch yet sturdy enough to embrace its filling without complaint. Working with dough can be a playful affair—roll it gently, care for it as you would a cherished memory, and always respect its temperature preferences; too warm, and it may not puff, too cold, and it could crack.

The filling, oh! It is the soul of your pastelito, the essence that whispers tales of flavor in each bite. My personal favorites range from sweetened cream cheese, kissed by vanilla, to heartier meat seasoned with just enough spice to make the palate dance. Please remember, these small delights are like sonnets—they don’t require grandiosity, but rather sincerity. Overfilling can lead to messy leaks and a less-than-pleasant texture once baked, so be reserved, yet generous.

Sealing these little wonders is another step where patience is paramount. A fork’s tines pressed along the edges aren’t merely functional; they’re crafting the final decorative touches to your masterpiece. Take a moment here, breathe in the calmness, and infuse your creation with intention.

As for the baking, it is nothing short of alchemy. Adjust your oven settings to welcome the pastelitos into an environment that will see them rise and golden. Do keep a watchful eye on them, though. Much like the fleeting moments of happiness in our lives, the window between underdone and burnt pastelitos can be surprisingly narrow. But when you witness them emerging bronzed and beautiful, it is a small private celebration.

There’s a profound gratification in crafting pastelitos, spiced with adventure and sweetened with expectation. An imperfection here or there? A bubble, a crack? Embrace these details—they are not flaws but characteristics, proof of your labor and love.

Sharing these pastelitos can be almost as delightful as making them, watching as friends and family unfurl the layers to discover the flavors you’ve chosen for them. May every pastelito carry a bit of your spirit and spread the warmth that cooking with affection inevitably brings.

Serving Suggestions

Take a journey to latin america through the flavors of pastelitos

For a blend of Filipino and Japanese flavors, try Sweet Mochi Pastelitos filled with a sweet red bean paste similar to Daifuku. Accompany this with Soy Milk or a Matcha latte to enhance the sweet yet slightly earthy flavors.

Embrace the clean flavors of Sashimi by filling Seafood Pastelitos with a lightly seasoned seafood mixture. Serve with a side of citrusy Ponzu Sauce for dipping, enhancing the umami yet tangy taste that complements the seafood.

Take inspiration from the rich flavors of Pork Chasu to fill Pastelitos with a similar braised pork mixture. Accompanied by a side of Scallion Salad and Shoyu Ramen broth for dipping, this combination creates a hearty and satisfying experience.

For a vegetarian option, infuse Pastelitos with Spicy Octopus Flavors, featuring mixed vegetables and a spicy, gochujang-based sauce. Pair with a side of light Miso Soup to contrast and complement the warming spices.

Indulge in Dessert Pastelitos inspired by Apple Crumble, with a spiced apple mixture. Serve alongside a cold glass of Oat Milk or Cashew Milk for a comforting, autumnal dessert option.

Capture the essence of the popular Korean street-food item Cheese Dog with Cheese Dog Style Pastelitos, filled with a gooey cheese mixture and a hint of mild sausage. Add a side of Sweet Mochi for a delightful blend of savory and sweet.

Lastly, draw inspiration from the Korean street food dish Cheese Corn to create Cheese Corn Pastelitos, featuring a creamy, cheese-filled filling with sweet pops of corn. Pair with a simple green salad to balance the richness.

Frequently Asked Questions about pastelitos

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  • Can I Make Pastelitos in Advance? Absolutely. You can prepare and freeze pastelitos before baking. Just pop them in the oven when you’re ready to enjoy.
  • What’s the Best Way to Store Leftover Pastelitos? Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the oven to maintain their crispiness.
  • Are There Vegetarian or Vegan Pastelito Options? Yes, you can create delicious vegetarian pastelitos with various fillings. For vegan pastelitos, substitute butter with plant-based margarine.
  • What’s the Secret to Perfectly Flaky Dough? Cold ingredients, proper folding techniques, and patience. Keep the dough cool and handle it gently for the best results.
  • Can I Fry and Bake Pastelitos? While most people choose one method, you can experiment with both to find your preferred texture and flavor. Just ensure the fillings are suitable for both methods.
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As our gastronomic adventure with pastelitos draws to a close, let’s take a moment to bask in the delight of what can only be described as an exploration of pocket-sized perfection. This journey at Food And Meal—or for our digital visitors—has been one paved with passion, patience, and a pinch of playfulness. Crafting pastelitos is not just an exercise in filling and folding dough; it is an artistic expression of culture and flavor.

The best part about pastelitos is their incredible versatility. Whether your fancy leans toward the sweet, creamy centers or you prefer the rich, savory fillings, these flaky bundles of joy are an invitation to creativity in the kitchen. They encourage us to blend tradition with innovation, to explore textures and tastes, and to make something uniquely personal through the simple act of cooking.

We’ve shared heartfelt tips to perfect your pastelito game, from the tenderness of the pastry to the respect for the filling. We’ve stressed the delicate balance required both in constructing these treasures and in savoring them—you want just enough filling to satisfy, but not so much that it overwhelms the delicate pastry.

And now, as we reach the end of this culinary chapter, realize that the story of pastelitos does not end here. It is an ongoing saga of discovery and sharing. Each batch, with its own character and flair, is an offer of warmth from your heart to those around the table. May the fold of the dough remind you of a hug, wrapping every flavor note in a whisper of care.

Media Photography at Food And Meal
Hi! I’m Paula from the Philippines, the passionate blogger and skilled photographer behind Gobble the Cook. I also spearhead the media photography for Food And Meal in Vietnam.
I'm James F Anderson, a noted sous chef from London and a Le Cordon Bleu alumnus. My career began in a Michelin-starred Parisian eatery, where my blend of classic and contemporary cooking, using seasonal ingredients, earned accolades. Recognized in culinary publications and on cooking shows, I’m committed to mentoring aspiring chefs and delivering memorable dining experiences, marking me as a standout talent in the culinary world.
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