are colombian empanadas gluten free

Colombian empanadas are a popular traditional dish that many people enjoy, but if you are following a gluten-free diet, you may be wondering if they are safe to eat. Let’s explore whether Colombian empanadas are gluten-free or not.

The Ingredients Used in Colombian Empanadas

To determine if Colombian empanadas are gluten-free, it’s important to take a closer look at the ingredients used in their preparation. The traditional recipe for Colombian empanadas typically includes the following ingredients:

  • Masa harina (corn flour)
  • Water
  • Ground meat (beef, chicken, or pork)
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil (for frying)

As you can see, the main ingredient used in the dough for Colombian empanadas is masa harina, which is a type of corn flour. Corn flour is naturally gluten-free, making the empanada dough safe for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Cooking Method and Cross-Contamination

While the ingredients used in Colombian empanadas are gluten-free, it’s important to consider the cooking method. Cross-contamination can occur during the preparation or cooking process, potentially introducing gluten into otherwise gluten-free food.

If the empanadas are prepared in a shared kitchen where gluten-containing products are also made, there is a risk of cross-contamination. For individuals with severe gluten allergies or celiac disease, it’s crucial to ensure that the empanadas are prepared in a gluten-free kitchen or using separate utensils and equipment.

Variations and Fillings

Colombian empanadas can be filled with various ingredients, and it’s essential to consider the fillings when determining if they are gluten-free. Here are some common fillings used in Colombian empanadas:

  1. Ground meat: Beef, chicken, or pork fillings are typically gluten-free as long as they do not contain any added gluten-containing ingredients such as breadcrumbs.
  2. Potato: Empanadas stuffed with potato are usually gluten-free, but it’s important to check the seasonings and spices used in the potato filling.
  3. Cheese: Cheese fillings are generally gluten-free, but it’s always important to verify that no gluten-containing additives or preservatives are used in the cheese.
  4. Veggie Fillings: Vegetables like spinach, corn, or beans are typically gluten-free, but it’s crucial to check for any potential added gluten sources in the seasonings or sauces used.
  5. Seafood: Empanadas filled with seafood can also be gluten-free, but it’s essential to ensure that the seafood is fresh and not coated or seasoned with any gluten-containing ingredients.

It’s always a good idea to ask the cook or establishment about the specific ingredients used in their empanadas and how they are prepared to ensure that they are truly gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Empanada Alternatives

If you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease and want to enjoy empanadas without any worries, there are gluten-free alternatives available. Here are a few options:

  • Using gluten-free flour: Substitute the traditional masa harina with a gluten-free corn flour or a blend of gluten-free flours to create a gluten-free dough.
  • Using alternative fillings: Instead of meat or wheat-based fillings, explore other gluten-free options such as quinoa, lentils, or roasted vegetables.
  • Trying baked empanadas: Instead of frying the empanadas, consider baking them. This can reduce the risk of cross-contamination and make them a healthier alternative.

By making these simple adjustments, you can enjoy delicious, gluten-free empanadas without compromising your dietary restrictions.


In conclusion, Colombian empanadas can be gluten-free depending on the ingredients used in the dough and fillings. The traditional empanada dough is made with masa harina, which is gluten-free. However, it’s essential to consider the cooking method, potential cross-contamination, and the specific fillings used. If you have gluten allergies or celiac disease, it’s always a good idea to communicate with the cook or establishment to ensure that the empanadas are prepared in a safe and gluten-free manner.