travelandhome logo

Bolivian Salteñas

Bolivia’s national dish is salteña (pronounced salt-enya). Because salteña is so juicy, you may imagine it as a stew that is served inside a pastry.

Salteñas are a mid-morning snack and are usually served with tea, coffee, or soda. That said they go equally well with a cool glass of beer too!

Suggested Read: Laguna Colorada and the Salt Flats – Most unusual places in the world.

15 – 16 medium-sized salteñas

2 hours 40 minutes in total (made over two days)

Bolivian Cuisine

Ingredients for the stew (jigote)

  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  • ¾ cup Crisco or lard
  • ½ teaspoon ground yellow chili pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 ½ cups minced white or yellow onion
  • 6 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ cup finely diced parsley
  • ½ cup diced boiled potatoes
  • ¼ cup boiled peas
  • 900 g (2 pounds) of beef, baked or cooked, pulled
saltena Bolivias national dish best must eat food meals in Bolivia

Ingredients For the dough (masa)

  • 4 cups of flour
  • ¾ cup Crisco or other lard
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon yellow chili powder
  • 1 cup and 3 tablespoons of water

Ingredients for the final touch

Add the following to each salteña, after the stew has been added:

  • 1 – 2 Calamatta olives
  • 3 – 4 Raisins
  • 1 Cooked quail egg

How to make the stew

  • Sauteé the yellow chili pepper and onions until cooked.
  • Add 4 cups of the beef broth (having already added the unflavored gelatin to the broth) and allow to boil.
  • Add the meat and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove it from the heat and add the bone marrow, parsley, peas, cooked potatoes, pepper, salt, and the 1 remaining cup of beef broth.
  • Refrigerator overnight in a sealed container so it can settle and be manageable to fill the dough with the stew.

How to make the dough

  • Use a blender to mix the flour, sugar, shortening, and yellow chili pepper. Add the water and egg yolks when the dough starts to get thick. The dough will become very firm.
  • Knead the dough until all the ingredients are well blended.
  • Roll out the dough and cut it into rounds (like tortillas) that are about 6 mm (¼ an inch) to 1 cm thick and about 10 to 14 centimeters (4-6 inches) in diameter.

How to fill the dough

  • Each round of dough must have one scoop of gelatinous stew on it. Add the “final touch” ingredients. Fold it in half and crimp the edges to seal (like you would the edge of a pie).
  • On a cookie sheet that has been oiled, position the salteñas upright with the sealed edge on TOP. The salteñas will come out shining after baking if you brush the entire exterior with egg whites. Bake at 200°C (400°F) until the dough is a deep golden brown and the crimped edge is well-toasted (also will look yellowish because of the chili pepper which is fine).

Chef's secrets

Because the stew will become juicy again while baking, it is VERY crucial that the container is completely shut. It could leak out and cause a mess if it heats up, expands, then contracts.

batch Baking and freezer storage

You can prepare the salteñas to the point where they are ready to be baked. Instead of baking them, you can freeze them. They must be WELL-wrapped. And when you’re ready to surprise guests with this delicious treat, you simply bake them directly from the freezer. Do not thaw.

saltenas Bolivias national dish best must eat food meals in Bolivia

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, drop us a line or two on Facebook. You’ll find as at and then also at