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The Empanada Effect: How Latin America's Favorite Street Food Won Over America

The Empanada Effect: How Latin America's Favorite Street Food Won Over America

The Rise of Empanadas in America

You know that feeling when you discover a new food that completely blows you away? Maybe it's a taco from that little truck down the street or a pastry from the bakery around the corner. For millions of Americans, empanadas have become that new discovery. These handheld Latin American pastries filled with savory or sweet ingredients have captured the hearts and taste buds across the US. From food trucks to fine dining, empanadas are popping up everywhere. How did this little Latin street snack achieve such widespread fame and adoration? The story of the empanada's rise is one of passion, entrepreneurship, and the unstoppable power of deliciousness. The empanada effect is real, and it's here to stay.

The Rise of Empanadas in America

Empanadas have exploded onto the American food scene in recent years. Those delicious Latin American hand pies filled with savory or sweet fillings are popping up everywhere from food trucks to restaurants to grocery store freezer sections.

Empanadas first gained popularity in major cities with large Latin American populations, like New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles. Travelers and immigrants introduced locals to the vibrant flavors of empanadas, and people couldn’t get enough. Now, the empanada effect is spreading across the country.

Why the empanada craze? A few reasons:

• They’re highly shareable. Empanadas are the perfect size for passing around with friends or grabbing on the go.

• Endless variety. There are so many fillings to choose from - beef, chicken, cheese, fruit, veggie, and more. Something for everyone.

• Comforting flavors. Empanadas offer bold, comforting flavors, from spicy beef to dulce de leche. They hit the spot.

• Nostalgia factor. For many, empanadas evoke memories of travel to Latin America or childhood. They’re a taste of home.

• Fusion potential. Chefs love putting their own creative spin on empanadas by fusing Latin flavors with other cuisines like Asian, Cajun, or Italian. The possibilities are endless.

Thanks to all these factors, empanadas aren’t going anywhere. They’ve found a permanent place in America’s appetite for delicious, shareable comfort food. Viva la empanada!

Empanada Hotspots: Half Moon Empanadas, Cafe Buenos Aires and Empanada City

Empanadas are exploding in popularity across the US, and it's easy to see why. Some of the hottest spots are serving up these handheld pies of pure deliciousness.

  • Half Moon Empanadas in Miami offers freshly baked empanadas for pick-up or delivery, with flavors like beef, chicken, and cheese. Their empanadas have a light, flaky crust and are filled with high-quality ingredients. Half Moon started as a food truck but now has a brick and mortar location, showing just how popular their empanadas have become.
  • Empanada City in Brooklyn serves 21 flavors of meat, veggie, and dessert empanadas, along with homemade sauces, fresh smoothies, and flans. Some standouts are the Chilean beef empanada, Thai chicken curry empanada, and Nutella banana empanada. Empanada City has been featured on TV shows like The Cooking Channel for their unique fusion flavors.
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina is considered a hotspot for empanadas, with the city offering the five best places to get this classic Argentinian specialty. Cafe Buenos Aires is renowned for their traditional beef empanadas. With a crispy exterior and juicy, flavorful filling, it's easy to see why locals and tourists alike flock to Cafe Buenos Aires for an authentic taste of Argentina.

Empanadas are the perfect handheld snack, with endless flavor possibilities. Whether you like beef, cheese, veggie or even dessert fillings, empanada hotspots across the Americas are serving up piping hot deliciousness in a crispy crust. Grab an empanada - or three! - at one of these must-try spots. Your taste buds will thank you.

Why Empanadas Are Perfect for Today: Easy to Eat, Perfect for Delivery and Reheating

Empanadas are the perfect food for today’s fast-paced world. Here are a few reasons why:

Easy to Eat

Empanadas are meant to be eaten on the go, whether walking down the street, driving in your car, or sitting at your desk. Their handheld, pastry pocket shape makes them easy to grab and eat without utensils. You can devour an empanada in just a couple of bites, no plate or fork required.

Perfect for Delivery and Reheating

Empanadas can be easily reheated in the oven, air fryer, or microwave, making them convenient for quick meals at home. They can also be delivered frozen with heating instructions, allowing for a hassle-free, delicious experience. When reheating cooked empanadas, heat them to 165°F to ensure safety.

  • Oven: Place empanadas on a baking sheet and heat at 350 F for 10-15 minutes until the filling is hot.
  • Air Fryer: Spray empanadas with oil and cook at 390 F for 3-5 minutes, shaking the basket once during cooking, until crispy.
  • Microwave: Place empanadas on a microwave-safe plate and heat in 30 second bursts, flipping once, until the filling is hot, about 1 to 2 minutes total.
Customizable and Diverse

Empanadas come in a variety of flavors, with fillings like beef, chicken, cheese, corn, and spinach. You can also customize the fillings to suit your tastes. Their diversity means there’s an empanada for every mood or craving.

Empanadas satisfy the need for fast, convenient food in today’s nonstop world while also delivering comfort, customization and bold, vibrant flavors. No wonder they’ve become such a hit in America. Viva la empanada!

A Brief History of Empanadas: From Latin America to Mainstream
From Spain to Latin America

Empanadas have a long, rich history spanning centuries and continents. They originated in Medieval Spain during the Moorish invasions, first appearing in Galicia and Portugal. Spanish colonists later introduced empanadas to Latin America, where they became popular street food and remain so today.

A Latin American Staple

In Latin America, the empanada evolved from a sweet pie into individual savory pastry pockets. Each country and region developed their own unique fillings, shapes and doughs suited to local tastes and ingredients. Beef, chicken, cheese, and vegetable fillings are common, wrapped in corn or wheat dough and then baked or fried.

Gaining Popularity in the US

Empanadas have steadily grown in popularity in the US, especially over the last decade. Foodies and travelers discovered empanadas abroad and craved them at home. Latin American immigrants also brought their culinary traditions with them, sharing empanadas with neighbors and friends.

As Americans have become more health-conscious and adventurous eaters, empanadas checked many boxes. They are:

  • Customizable with both sweet and savory fillings
  • Portable as handheld snacks or appetizers
  • budget-friendly
  • vegetarian, gluten-free and paleo options available

The rise of food trucks and street food festivals has given aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to introduce empanadas to new audiences. Many have gone on to open their own restaurants and bakeries dedicated to empanadas.

Whether at food trucks, bakeries or home kitchens, the empanada effect is here to stay in America. These handheld pockets of deliciousness have won over the hearts, and stomachs, of people across the US. Viva la empanada!

FAQ: All About Empanadas
What exactly is an empanada?

An empanada is a pastry turnover filled with delicious ingredients. The name “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb “empanar” meaning “to coat or wrap in bread.” Empanadas are made of dough that is wrapped around fillings like meats, cheeses, vegetables or fruits. They are usually fried or baked and served hot.

What types of empanadas are there?

Empanadas come in many varieties depending on the region. The fillings can include:

  • Beef, chicken, or pork
  • Cheese
  • Vegetables like spinach and corn
  • Seafood such as tuna, shrimp or crab
  • Fruits such as apples, berries or dulce de leche

Some popular empanada styles are:

  • Argentine empanadas with beef, cheese, or chicken
  • Chilean empanadas with beef, cheese, or seafood
  • Mexican empanadas with spicy beef, potato, or pumpkin
  • Colombian empanadas with beef, chicken, cheese or corn
How are empanadas made?

Empanadas are made in a few basic steps:

  1. Make the dough from flour, butter or lard, salt and water. The dough is usually kneaded and chilled before rolling out.
  2. Prepare the filling by cooking the ingredients - meats are usually browned, vegetables and fruits lightly cooked. The fillings are seasoned with spices like cumin, oregano, chili powder, etc.
  3. Roll out the dough and cut into circles. Place spoonfuls of the filling onto one half of each dough circle.
  4. Fold the dough over and seal the edges with a fork or by pinching together. Crimping the edges helps seal in the filling during cooking.
  5. Fry, bake or grill the empanadas until the dough is golden brown. Enjoy your empanadas warm!
Final Thoughts

So there you have it, empanadas have officially made it big in the US. What started as a tasty Latin American street snack has turned into a full-blown food phenomenon that’s showing no signs of slowing down. Whether you’re grabbing an empanada from a food truck, restaurant or even making your own at home, do yourself a favor and take a bite of the empanada effect. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you - these little pockets of deliciousness are addictive. Next time you’re craving something warm, flaky and filled with meat, cheese or whatever else they’ve dreamed up, give in to the empanada. Viva la empanada!

The Empanada Effect: How Latin America's Favorite Street Food Won Over America

The Empanada Effect: How Latin America's Favorite Street Food Won Over America
by
Doron Segal
by
Tomer Molovinsky
by
Olivia Terenzio
by
Jessica Buckley
by
Ashley Rodriguez
August 25, 2021
The Rise of Empanadas in America

You know that feeling when you discover a new food that completely blows you away? Maybe it's a taco from that little truck down the street or a pastry from the bakery around the corner. For millions of Americans, empanadas have become that new discovery. These handheld Latin American pastries filled with savory or sweet ingredients have captured the hearts and taste buds across the US. From food trucks to fine dining, empanadas are popping up everywhere. How did this little Latin street snack achieve such widespread fame and adoration? The story of the empanada's rise is one of passion, entrepreneurship, and the unstoppable power of deliciousness. The empanada effect is real, and it's here to stay.

The Rise of Empanadas in America

Empanadas have exploded onto the American food scene in recent years. Those delicious Latin American hand pies filled with savory or sweet fillings are popping up everywhere from food trucks to restaurants to grocery store freezer sections.

Empanadas first gained popularity in major cities with large Latin American populations, like New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles. Travelers and immigrants introduced locals to the vibrant flavors of empanadas, and people couldn’t get enough. Now, the empanada effect is spreading across the country.

Why the empanada craze? A few reasons:

• They’re highly shareable. Empanadas are the perfect size for passing around with friends or grabbing on the go.

• Endless variety. There are so many fillings to choose from - beef, chicken, cheese, fruit, veggie, and more. Something for everyone.

• Comforting flavors. Empanadas offer bold, comforting flavors, from spicy beef to dulce de leche. They hit the spot.

• Nostalgia factor. For many, empanadas evoke memories of travel to Latin America or childhood. They’re a taste of home.

• Fusion potential. Chefs love putting their own creative spin on empanadas by fusing Latin flavors with other cuisines like Asian, Cajun, or Italian. The possibilities are endless.

Thanks to all these factors, empanadas aren’t going anywhere. They’ve found a permanent place in America’s appetite for delicious, shareable comfort food. Viva la empanada!

Empanada Hotspots: Half Moon Empanadas, Cafe Buenos Aires and Empanada City

Empanadas are exploding in popularity across the US, and it's easy to see why. Some of the hottest spots are serving up these handheld pies of pure deliciousness.

  • Half Moon Empanadas in Miami offers freshly baked empanadas for pick-up or delivery, with flavors like beef, chicken, and cheese. Their empanadas have a light, flaky crust and are filled with high-quality ingredients. Half Moon started as a food truck but now has a brick and mortar location, showing just how popular their empanadas have become.
  • Empanada City in Brooklyn serves 21 flavors of meat, veggie, and dessert empanadas, along with homemade sauces, fresh smoothies, and flans. Some standouts are the Chilean beef empanada, Thai chicken curry empanada, and Nutella banana empanada. Empanada City has been featured on TV shows like The Cooking Channel for their unique fusion flavors.
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina is considered a hotspot for empanadas, with the city offering the five best places to get this classic Argentinian specialty. Cafe Buenos Aires is renowned for their traditional beef empanadas. With a crispy exterior and juicy, flavorful filling, it's easy to see why locals and tourists alike flock to Cafe Buenos Aires for an authentic taste of Argentina.

Empanadas are the perfect handheld snack, with endless flavor possibilities. Whether you like beef, cheese, veggie or even dessert fillings, empanada hotspots across the Americas are serving up piping hot deliciousness in a crispy crust. Grab an empanada - or three! - at one of these must-try spots. Your taste buds will thank you.

Why Empanadas Are Perfect for Today: Easy to Eat, Perfect for Delivery and Reheating

Empanadas are the perfect food for today’s fast-paced world. Here are a few reasons why:

Easy to Eat

Empanadas are meant to be eaten on the go, whether walking down the street, driving in your car, or sitting at your desk. Their handheld, pastry pocket shape makes them easy to grab and eat without utensils. You can devour an empanada in just a couple of bites, no plate or fork required.

Perfect for Delivery and Reheating

Empanadas can be easily reheated in the oven, air fryer, or microwave, making them convenient for quick meals at home. They can also be delivered frozen with heating instructions, allowing for a hassle-free, delicious experience. When reheating cooked empanadas, heat them to 165°F to ensure safety.

  • Oven: Place empanadas on a baking sheet and heat at 350 F for 10-15 minutes until the filling is hot.
  • Air Fryer: Spray empanadas with oil and cook at 390 F for 3-5 minutes, shaking the basket once during cooking, until crispy.
  • Microwave: Place empanadas on a microwave-safe plate and heat in 30 second bursts, flipping once, until the filling is hot, about 1 to 2 minutes total.
Customizable and Diverse

Empanadas come in a variety of flavors, with fillings like beef, chicken, cheese, corn, and spinach. You can also customize the fillings to suit your tastes. Their diversity means there’s an empanada for every mood or craving.

Empanadas satisfy the need for fast, convenient food in today’s nonstop world while also delivering comfort, customization and bold, vibrant flavors. No wonder they’ve become such a hit in America. Viva la empanada!

A Brief History of Empanadas: From Latin America to Mainstream
From Spain to Latin America

Empanadas have a long, rich history spanning centuries and continents. They originated in Medieval Spain during the Moorish invasions, first appearing in Galicia and Portugal. Spanish colonists later introduced empanadas to Latin America, where they became popular street food and remain so today.

A Latin American Staple

In Latin America, the empanada evolved from a sweet pie into individual savory pastry pockets. Each country and region developed their own unique fillings, shapes and doughs suited to local tastes and ingredients. Beef, chicken, cheese, and vegetable fillings are common, wrapped in corn or wheat dough and then baked or fried.

Gaining Popularity in the US

Empanadas have steadily grown in popularity in the US, especially over the last decade. Foodies and travelers discovered empanadas abroad and craved them at home. Latin American immigrants also brought their culinary traditions with them, sharing empanadas with neighbors and friends.

As Americans have become more health-conscious and adventurous eaters, empanadas checked many boxes. They are:

  • Customizable with both sweet and savory fillings
  • Portable as handheld snacks or appetizers
  • budget-friendly
  • vegetarian, gluten-free and paleo options available

The rise of food trucks and street food festivals has given aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to introduce empanadas to new audiences. Many have gone on to open their own restaurants and bakeries dedicated to empanadas.

Whether at food trucks, bakeries or home kitchens, the empanada effect is here to stay in America. These handheld pockets of deliciousness have won over the hearts, and stomachs, of people across the US. Viva la empanada!

FAQ: All About Empanadas
What exactly is an empanada?

An empanada is a pastry turnover filled with delicious ingredients. The name “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb “empanar” meaning “to coat or wrap in bread.” Empanadas are made of dough that is wrapped around fillings like meats, cheeses, vegetables or fruits. They are usually fried or baked and served hot.

What types of empanadas are there?

Empanadas come in many varieties depending on the region. The fillings can include:

  • Beef, chicken, or pork
  • Cheese
  • Vegetables like spinach and corn
  • Seafood such as tuna, shrimp or crab
  • Fruits such as apples, berries or dulce de leche

Some popular empanada styles are:

  • Argentine empanadas with beef, cheese, or chicken
  • Chilean empanadas with beef, cheese, or seafood
  • Mexican empanadas with spicy beef, potato, or pumpkin
  • Colombian empanadas with beef, chicken, cheese or corn
How are empanadas made?

Empanadas are made in a few basic steps:

  1. Make the dough from flour, butter or lard, salt and water. The dough is usually kneaded and chilled before rolling out.
  2. Prepare the filling by cooking the ingredients - meats are usually browned, vegetables and fruits lightly cooked. The fillings are seasoned with spices like cumin, oregano, chili powder, etc.
  3. Roll out the dough and cut into circles. Place spoonfuls of the filling onto one half of each dough circle.
  4. Fold the dough over and seal the edges with a fork or by pinching together. Crimping the edges helps seal in the filling during cooking.
  5. Fry, bake or grill the empanadas until the dough is golden brown. Enjoy your empanadas warm!
Final Thoughts

So there you have it, empanadas have officially made it big in the US. What started as a tasty Latin American street snack has turned into a full-blown food phenomenon that’s showing no signs of slowing down. Whether you’re grabbing an empanada from a food truck, restaurant or even making your own at home, do yourself a favor and take a bite of the empanada effect. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you - these little pockets of deliciousness are addictive. Next time you’re craving something warm, flaky and filled with meat, cheese or whatever else they’ve dreamed up, give in to the empanada. Viva la empanada!

Doron Segal

About the author

Hey I'm Doron, the co-founder & CTO of Per Diem — a mobile app platform for restaurants. I'm also a dad and a husband. I love to travel and meet new people.I love creating things, and see people using the stuff I built.Prior to Per Diem I worked at Saildrone, OpenTable, Apple, Beats Music, Siemens.

Tomer Molovinsky

About the author

A second time founder with a passion for building products at the intersection of hospitality and technology. I've had the pleasure of launching reservation systems, mobile payment solutions, and loyalty programs at OpenTable and Resy, and witnessed how operators were losing a direct connection with their customers online. We built Per Diem to strengthen the relationships that businesses have with those customers, and to ensure that local businesses can thrive in today's economy.

Olivia Terenzio

About the author

Jessica Buckley

About the author

Ashley Rodriguez

About the author

Ashley is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter with full transcripts of each episode and articles about coffee and restaurant work. You can check out her work here (ashleyrodriguez.work/).

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