Salteñas or Bolivian Turnovers

Salteñas, bolivianische Teigtaschen

I think it is about high time to get something savory in between all these sweets here. Today I brought something from Bolivia, chicken turnovers or salteñas how they are called locally. Normally turnovers are called empanadas in Spanish. However, for some reason, the Bolivians decided to call these salteñas. Of course I have presented empanadas on this blog. First I showed you the typical beef empanadas from my country Uruguay, followed by classic Colombian empanadas that remain to be a hit. Bolivian “empanadas” differ slightly in the sense that a) the dough is sweetened, and b) gelatine is used for the filling in order to ensure that it remains juicy and moist. When I tried them for the first time, I was a bit surprised that I liked them much better on day 2. I had prepared two batches, one which was baked immediately, and one which was baked after the fully prepared salteñas had chilled in the fridge overnight, tightly covered. Maybe it was the fact that the ingredients could get friendly with each other, I don’t know, but I loved them on day 2.

Salteñas, bolivianische TeigtaschenAs is always the case with empanadas, this is a lot of labor. Don’t be fooled, preparing the filling and the dough already require a lot of time, but you will also need quite a bit of time to roll out each circle of dough, fill it, and then seal it until you can finally bake these delicious turnovers. As the filling needs to chill for the gelatine to work its magic, I actually recommend starting two days prior to serving them. You can prepare the filling and the dough on one day and the fill and seal the salteñas on the next. You may even let them sit in the fridge overnight before actually baking them like we did for the second batch. Below you will also find the recipe for the dip llajua, which is typically served with these, but of course this is not a must.

Salteñas, bolivianische Teigtaschen

Credit: Chipa by the dozen (in Spanisch and Englisch)

Salteñas or Bolivian Savory Turnovers

Serves: 30
Prep Time: 4hr Cooking Time: 20min Total Time: 4hr 30min

Salteñas or Bolivian savory turnovers are prepared with a slightly sweetened dough and contain gelatine for the filling to be extra moist and juicy.


  • Salteña Filling
  • 330 grams of chicken breast (about one large one)
  • 250-300 grams of potatoes (here in Germany this was 3-4 small ones, in the U.S. probably fewer)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Habanero chilis (can be omitted, Bolivians like it spicy)
  • 60 grams of peas (can be frozen or canned)
  • 80 grams of raisins
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of regular sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sheets of gelatine or 1 1/2 tablespoons of powder
  • 20 olives

  • Dough
  • 750 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 150 grams of regular sugar (Germans may find this too sweet, you can reduce or omit, but it is a slightly sweet dough)
  • 1 tablespoon of achiote powder(either order online or you may find in an Asian store)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 160 grams of butter
  • 200 grams of water

  • Tomatoe Dip (llajua)
  • 1 large tomatoe
  • 1-5 Habanero chilis (for Germans one suffices)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsely (I used dried)
  • Salt to taste



For the filling cut the chicken breast into stripes of about three centimeters and bring to a boil with one and a half liters of water. Salt to taste and cook until done (will need more or less the same amount of time as the potatoes). Do NOT discard the water, we will need it later on. Peel and cube the potatoes and also bring to a boil in another pot until soft. Also hard-boil the eggs. Leave skin on for now. Set aside.


Once all of the above are done, peel and cube the onion and bell pepper. Sauté in a large frying pan for a few minutes. Cut the chilis and add. Then add peas, raisins, all spices and the chicken (you may need to shred it a bit more), potatoes and 750 grams of the chicken broth. If the chicken broth is not enough, fill with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about five minutes. Season more if desired. If you need to use sheets of gelatine, place these in some cold water, then drain a bit and stir into the warm mix. If you can use gelatine powder, dissolve for a few minutes in water and then add to the mix and let simmer for another minute. Remove the bay leaves, then put the mix into a bowl and chill for at least four hours or overnight. You want the gelatine to bind the liquid, the filling should be solid enough to place inside the dough circles.


For the dough combine all ingredients and knead with a machine or by hand for ten minutes. Then form into 30 balls of about 50 grams each. Store these for a few hours or overnight as well in an airtight container. You can try to roll out the dough from the start into circles, however, you should always keep a stripe of parchment paper in between. Wrap and chill.


For the dip take stem from the tomatoe and chilis and process briefly in the food processor. This can be done five days in advance if chilled and kept in an airtight container.


Shortly befor starting to form the salteñas, peel and cube the eggs and mix into the chicken mix.


The roll out each dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Make circles of about 14 cm in diameter. Place about 2-3 teaspoons of filling into the middle, then dip your finger in water before closing to a half moon. You will get the braided edge by always pressing down a small part of the edge and foling it to the middle. Continue all the way around. For a visual check out this video. If you want to prepare the salteñas, make sure to keep them on parchment paper so that they don't stick to anything and keep airtight if baking one or two days later.


Preheat the oven to 245 degrees Celsius and bake for about 20min or until golden. Properly done, you will keep them upright, but you can also bake them on the side. Let cool at least for a few minutes. The filling has a lot of liquid, so they stay hot for a long time, you don't want to burn your tongue. Enjoy with the dip.


Salteñas can easily be frozen and can be kept for a few days in the fridge fully prepared. Be sure to always separate with parchment paper and to keep airtight.

Salteñas, bolivianische Teigtaschen

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