Venezuelan Fried Pastries (Pastelitos)

Venezuelan Fried Pastries best called Pastelitos, are among the most beloved street food options along with Arepas, Empanadas, and Tequenos in Venezuela. These flaky wheat-based pastries are one of those foods you can’t just eat one.

Pastelitos are a type of empanada/pastry most similar to Brasilian Pasteis, this type of pastries are popular in several South American countries due to our Spanish and Portuguese influences but each Region has its own take on these fried beauties.

Back in Venezuela they are sold in the streets in informal kiosks and are one of the preferred options for the locals for breakfast, snack, or even light dinner often accompanied by dipping sauces and soft drinks, they are also find in parties and wedding as finger food.

They are super versatile and can be filled with almost anything, from fresh cheese, beef, chicken, fish, or seafood stews, to sweet jams, best eaten hot which ensures you enjoy the still crispy outer layer with the steamy hot fillings, and even better if they have cheese as it will be melty and delicious.

They are often made at home as well, although it can be a bit time consuming if making from scratch though even more delicious in my opinion.

Pastelitos had been so popularised that several local brands had come up with ready rolled pastry rounds in different sizes for families to fill in and fry at home, obviously each family have their own recipe and preference of fillings, however you can also find frozen prefilled Pastelitos ready to fry and enjoy.

There are some variations across the country with differences in the dough, fillings, for example in the Andean region of Venezuela they tend to add cooked rice to the fillings.

I must say Pastelitos are also a great vehicle for one of those odd Venezuelan costumes of repurposing leftovers which often make a great filling for these delicious pastries as the filling must be precooked and cooled before you can form your Pasteles.

However you want to fill your Venezuelan Fried Pastries I believe the key to this dish is in the pastry, I am going to share the one that works for me and that gives me the best results you can tweak as preferred.

Step by Step Photos for Venezuelan Fried Pastries (Pastelitos)

Tips to make Venezuelan Fried Pastries (Pastelitos)

  • Use room temperature ingredients.
  • The dough must be elastic work at least 5 min, give it a rest and work again to get a smooth elastic dough.
  • Traditionally these are rolled with a roller pin and a good shoulder work but it helps a lot using a pasta roller so you can roll them thin.
  • You can see there are several shapes in the pictures above you can cut them in different shapes and sizes this is up to personal taste, I suggest always leaving a good size edge which will crips up when frying and gives you an extra tasty experience when eating these.
  • If it is deep-fried you better use a lot of oil, this will ensure your pastries are not soaking oil and that are cooked through.
  • Don’t overcook them as the fillings are already cooked overcooking can lead to dry stews and fillings, just ensure your oil is hot enough so they can get golden brown in 3-4 min.
  • Oil too hot can deter your pastries from developing airy bubbles which are key to texture in this pastry.
  • Fillings used must be precooked and at room temperature, never hot this will break the dough and make holes.
  • If using stewed beef, chicken, or seafood, ensure your filling is not too moist, and it doesn’t contain bones, it is also a good idea to break down larger pieces for a better bite experience, many fillings for Pastelitos use mince, or shredded beef or chicken.
  • My favourite fillings are ham and cheese, fresh cheese on its own or with slices of spring onion, cheese and potato, mince stew, shredded chicken with corn and cheddar, and marinara sauce with mozzarella (like mini fried calzones), I also love sweet Pastelitos, especially guava jam and feta cheese, but you can try as mixing flavours and cuisine, try adding a curry for a samosa style Pastelito.

Venezuelan Fried Pastries (Pastelitos)

Recipe by KeymaCourse: Breakfast, SnacksCuisine: Venezuelan, LatinDifficulty: Medium
Servings

12

pastries
Prep time

1

hour 
Cooking time

20

minutes

Crispy, buttery, and flaky pastries that can be enjoyed savoury or sweet and will have you looking for more.

Ingredients

  • 2 c of all-purpose flour

  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1/2 tsp of salt

  • 2 tbsp yogurt – optional

  • 1/4 c warm water

  • Neutral oil for frying (use deep frying pan or deep fryer)

  • Mince filling
  • 500 g Mince beef

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 diced brown onion

  • 2 minced garlics

  • 1 finely diced red capsicum

  • 1 finely diced carrot (can add more veggies if desired and grate them)

  • 1 c water or beef stock

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • If using a stew or cooked filling, start with this first to allow for it to cool down.
  • Dough
  • In a bowl combine flour, salt, sugar, add soft butter, and run your fingers through the flour and butter to get a crumbly mixture that resembles sand.
  • Make a well and add the eggs and the yogurt, and start adding flour from the edges to the centre until combined.
  • Add water if needed bit by bit (don’t add everything at once), start forming a ball and to a working bench.
  • Knead for a least 5-10 min until dough becomes soft and elastic, dough shouldn’t be sticking to hands, if so, add flour to the surface and continue kneading until it doesn’t stick to the hand but it remains soft and maleable.
  • Rest for a about 10 min covered with a clean cloth, give another knead for 2-3 min and rest further 20 min.
  • Mince filling
  • In a frying pan at medium heat sauté oil, onion, and garlic until fragrant and translucid.
  • Add capsicum and carrots and sauté for a further 5 min, add mince, and spices (salt, pepper, and cumin), and cook until just brown.
  • Add water or stock and reduce heat, allow to reduce until mince is cooked through and liquid has reduced by 3/4s.
  • Form and Fry pastries
  • Cut dough in 4 pieces and roll out pieces until around 2-3mm thickness.
  • Cut out desired pastry shapes and add filling in the middle leaving about 1cm margin to press and close the Pastelitos.
  • Pinch dough or press with a fork to ensure the filling doesn’t leak during frying.
  • Heat oil and deep fry until the pastries develop a golden crusts with bubbles.
  • Drain in paper towels and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Cheese and Potato filling: Mash 2 potatoes, 1/2 c tasty cheese, 1Tbsp butter, salt, pepper
  • Make some sauces to top the fried pastries for the ultimate Venezuelan street food experience. Try garlic and parsley mayo, chili mayo, avocado cream, chimichurri, or ajicero (red onion, garlic, chili, coriander, vinegar, water, salt and pepper