Bolivian, Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Snack


Here is our recipe for the beloved Salteña.  We make ours with chicken, potatoes and peas but you can switch the chicken for beef and pair it with beef broth for an equally delicious variation.  We worked hard on this one! we hope it helps…

A salteña is what you see above, it is the image in our header, it is our favorite food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Salteñas are immensely popular in Fabio’s home country – Bolivia, they are probably as close as you will get to a Bolivian national dish as they are one of the only foods that are enjoyed in all corners of the country.  Also, no one has ever tried a salteña and not loved it… probably…

The appeal of the salteña to me is that it is so many things at the same time… To start with it is a sweet pastry, and it is filled with a sweet and spicy broth made with aji amarillo (yellow pepper) and the filling has chicken, potatoes, veggies, a slice of hard boiled egg and either an olive or a few raisins.  Comfort food at its finest. 

After countless batches of trial and error, this is our version to share with you.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Provecho!

The recipe as typed below makes 18 large salteñas.  The recipe for the filling and the dough can easily be halved to make 9-10 saltenas – this is the quantity shown in our photos.

Ingredients (filling)

  • 3 Chicken breasts / pechugas de pollo
  • 1 Potato / papa
  • 1 Green onion / cebolla verde
  • 1/2 Yellow onion / cebolla
  • 1/4 cup peas / arbejas
  • 2 tablespoons yellow pepper paste (or more if desire to add more heat) /
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin / cucharilla de comino
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano / cucharilla de oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt / cucharilla de sal
  • Pepper to taste / pimienta a gusto
  • 1 tablespoon sugar / cuchara de azúcar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vinegar / cucharilla de vinagre
  • 1/4 cup butter / taza de mantequilla
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley / cuchara de perejil picado
  • 4 cups chicken stock / tazas de caldo de pollo
  • 1 packet of gelatin /paquete de gelatina sin sabor


Dice the potato and add it to a pot of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, you don’t want the potatoes to be soft or they will fall apart in the broth, they will still cook a bit longer once they are added to the rest of the ingredients.  After 5 minutes, drain the potatoes and set aside / Cortar la papa en cuadritos y agregarlos al agua hirviendo por 5 minutos, las papas no deben estar tan blandas esto es debido a que van a seguir ser cocinadas luego.

Boil the chicken breasts in a pot of water until they are completely cooked through, let cool and then shred the meat into small pieces.  Set aside / Poner las pechugas de pollo a cocinar hasta que estén listas, luego desmenuzar el pollo y poner de lado.

shredded chicken, diced potato, onion, green onion, peas and spices

Shredded chicken, diced potato, white onion, green onion, peas, parsley, and spices (cumin, oregano, salt and pepper)

Melt the butter with the yellow pepper in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter separates from the pepper, about 4 minutes / Derretir la mantequilla junto al ají amarillo hasta que veas que este se separa del ají amarillo , esto debe ser en 4 minutos de estar cocinando en medio fuego.

Turn the temperature to low and add the spices (cumin, oregano, salt and pepper) and let everything cook together for 10 minutes / Agregar el comino, orégano y sal y pimienta y cocinar todo a fuego lento por 10 minutos

Add the diced onion and cook it until it softens, then add the green onion as well / Agregar la cebolla y cocinarla hasta que este blanda, luego agregar la cebolla verde


Add the vinegar, sugar, parsley, potatoes and green peas and mix everything together well, add the chicken and the chicken broth as well and let it cook all together over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture is heated throughout.  Add the packet of gelatin to the mixture and then transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator / Agregar el vinagre, azúcar, perejil, papas, arvejas y mezclar bien, luego agregar el pollo desmenuzado con el caldo de pollo, dejar en fuego medio por 5 minutos hasta que este bien caliente para agregar la gelatina sin sabor. Dejar enfriar y luego transferir al congelador

The gelatin will partially set the broth mixture as it sits and cools in the fridge.  Technically this is all you need to do before filling and sealing the salteñas, however, as working with the dough and the wet broth mixture can be difficult I  have devised an alternate method.  I construct tinfoil molds in the shape of salteñas and line them with plastic wrap then fill them with the broth and freeze them.  Once they are completely frozen I can remove them from the plastic wrap and place them directly on to the rolled out dough and seal up with the signature braided twist – the picos.  / La gelatine hará efecto cuando la mezcla este fría. Técnicamente esto es todo lo que se necesita para terminar las salteñas pero es muy dificil hacer esto cuando la mezcla está húmeda, por lo tanto hay un método el cual puede ayudarte. Puedes hacer moldes de papel aluminio y colocar la mezcla en ellos, poner en el congelador y así cuando quires ponerlos a la masa la mezcla estara moldeada y dura, será mucho más fácil, te lo recomiendo.

Whether you use this method (tinfoil molds) or the original (freestyle) make sure to include a slice of hard boiled egg, as well as a pitted olive (or a few raisins) before sealing the dough.  The egg, olive, and raisins you can adjust based on your own taste.  Previously I have been a firm believer that salteñas just had to be made with an olive, however the last time we made them as we didnt have any on hand we threw in some raisins instead and I’ve come around to the other side I think.  Fabio still requires an olive in his…  / Si utilizas este método (moldes de papel de aluminio) o el original (estilo libre), asegúrese de incluir una rodaja de huevo duro, así como una aceituna  (o algunas pass) a su gusto antes de sellar la masa.

Ingredients (dough)

  • 4 cups flour / harina
  • 1/2 cup sugar / azúcar
  • 1/2 tsp salt / sal
  • 2 eggs / huevos
  • 1 stick (half cup) butter / mantequilla
  • about 1 cup of warm water / agua tibia


In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl Lightly beat the egg and in a small saucepan melt the butter. Add all this to the flour mix  with some warm water (approx 1 cup) and mix well until it forms a dough / En un contenedor mezclar la harina, azúcar y sal. En otro contenedor batir el huevo suavemente y en una olla derretir la mantequilla. Agregar todo esto a la mezcla de harina con un poco de agua tibia (aproximadamente 1 taza) mezclar bien hasta que tome la forma de una masa
In order to obtain the traditional color for our saltenas we use a natural colorant from Bolivia called Urucu.  As you cannot get these little pebbles outside of Santa Cruz, if you are after the signature saltenas shade - add some yellow food coloring when you melt the butter

In order to obtain the traditional color for our salteñas we use a natural colorant from Bolivia called Urucu. As you cannot get these little pebbles outside of Santa Cruz, if you are after the signature saltenas shade – add some yellow food coloring when you melt the butter

Let the dough rest on the counter (covered in a towel so that it does not dry out) for about 10 minutes.  Afterwards, divide the dough into smaller pieces and roll out, flouring as needed, into approximately 15cm diameter circles around a 1/4 cm thick. / Dejar reposer la masa (cubierta en una toalla para que no se seque) durante aproximadamente 10 minutos. Luego, dividir la masa en pedazos  pequeños,poner harina cuanto necesiten, y hacer los pedazos de masa en aproximadamente 15 cm de diámetro círculos con cm 1/4 de espesor.

Take a frozen mold of saltena filling from the freezer or a large scoop of the gelatine set filling and place it in the middle of the dough being sure to include some raisins/olives/sliced egg, wet the edges of the pastry and close together sealing the filling inside well, pinching and twisting the edges to ensure a strong seal.  This is a very important step as how well you close the saltenas will determine whether or not they open in the oven later when you are baking them.  / Tomar un molde congelado de salteña del congelador o una cucharada grande del relleno con gelatina y lo colocar en el medio de la masa y asegúrese de incluir algunas pasas / aceitunas / rodajas de huevo, mojar los bordes de las salteñas y cierre, pellizcar y retorcer los bordes para asegurar un sellado fuerte.

Closing a Saltena

Add the finished salteñas to a parchment lined cookie sheet and store in the freezer until you are ready to bake them / Poner las sateñas en el congelador en un contenedor hasta el momento que quieras ponerlas al horno

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, line a cookie sheet with tinfoil, and grease with non stick spray / Calentar el horno a 500 grados, poner las sateñas en un recipiente con papel aluminio y aceite en spray  para que así no se pegen

Once the oven is at its maximum temperature, add the saltenas to the pan, brush with a beaten egg (for shine) and place in the oven until the salteñas are browned (approx 15 minutes) if the tops are browning too quickly, place another sheet of tinfoil overtop and continue cooking.  You want to be sure that the filling is completely heated through.  / Pintar las salteñas con un huevo batido para poner brillo y colocarlas al horno bien caliente hasta que hayan cambia do de color (apróx. 15 minutos)

Halloween Saltenas ready for the oven! (we used a little too much regular food colouring this batch)

A batch of Halloween Salteñas ready for the oven! (confession – we used red food coloring this batch (pre-urucu) and learned that if you are using food coloring it is better to go with yellow – unless it’s halloween of course.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes and enjoy!





49 thoughts on “Salteñas

  1. These look delicious and hopefully when I try to make them, mine will look like yours. Happy New Year to you both! Mary

  2. After looking at so many recipes online trying to find one that could resemble the taste that I remember, this recipe here actually looks very promising! I can’t wait to try it out this weekend! Thanks for posting this!

  3. I have a question: my husband is Bolivian and craves Saltenas. I have been trying to perfect this recipe for a while so thanks for the blog these are the closest we have come so far. So my question; have you made the beef Saltenas? Do you have a good resource for the recipe?

    1. As the chicken salteñas are our favorites we haven’t yet tried making the beef ones actually. Since we don’t have a specific recipe, or resource for the beef ones I imagine that if you substitute finely diced steak or ground beef for the chicken and use beef broth instead of chicken broth it would work out quite well. I hope they work out for you!

  4. Tried this recipe for my husband and Bolivian born in-laws. The filling was great, and the recipe easy to follow (other than quantity of peas). The dough was way more difficult and took a lot of practice to get right. I had to guess the amount of salt, and I had to ask my husband to help roll it ou thin enough. We basically ended up making a new batch and were more pleased with each subsequent group we made, as we got the dough thinner and thinner. Everyone loved the final, very authentic tasting batch. Just need to add more broth and potatoes next time and work on the food coloring. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for letting us know how the recipe worked out for you! and also for pointing out our omission of the pea quantity and salt (I’ll be editing the post right away). We definitely get how tricky the dough can be but its great to hear that you were successful in the end.

  5. Hello there this is my first time making these and i am having trouble with the dough. I add the flour, salt and sugar together then i beat 2 eggs and melt the butter seperately and add warm water all together. For some reason my dough gets really sticky and stick to everything am i doing something wrong?

    1. Hey there, well the dough sounds like it just needs a bit more flour. The dough shouldn’t be dry but it shouldn’t stick to the counter either. I

      suggest you knead some more flour into it bit by bit until it no longer sticks to everything. Later, when you roll it out make sure to dust your work surface with some flour to keep it from sticking as well. Good luck with them 🙂

      1. Just one more question how do you get them to stand up so straight? When i do mine the juices come out? Yours look so perfect help please?

      2. Hi Stella,

        When we made these ones we used homemade tinfoil molds and froze the filling – this makes it very easy to keep them standing up when assembling them.

        Otherwise, make sure the gelatin has set in the filling prior to assembly – and if necessary, adjust the amount of broth that you add when spooning the filling onto the dough…. at least until you get more comfortable with it.

        Good luck! 🙂

  6. Would it be totally wrong of me to add cheese to these? If not, how would I go about doing it, and would Queso Fresco be the best cheese to use as far as American options go?

    1. Hi Kim, I don’t think cheese would work well with the salteña filling (and I think cheese works with pretty much everything!)

      Since the filling is a broth – I feel like the melted cheese would get lost in it and it would be tough to get a nice consistency.

      Thanks for the comment though. I hope you try them out 🙂

  7. Any advice on how to make them so they stay gravy like inside? It seems like I make them & that is the only part that seems to lack. The taste is perfect tho..just no’s like the gravy gets soaked in the dough & when you bite in no gravy comes out

    1. I suggest increasing the broth amount and decreasing (or be careful about) how many potatoes you add – as potatoes absorb the broth too.

      When you are adding the gelatinized mixture try to spoon as much of the gelatin portion as you can as this is what will liquefy when it is baking.

      Good luck. I hope that helps 🙂

  8. hello 🙂 Can you help me please? I dont live in Latin America and unfortunately we dont have here yellow pepper paste, can you recommend me please how can I substitute it or if I can skip it? Thanks a lot

    1. Hi Diana. The yellow pepper paste gives a unique flavor that would be missing if you skipped it.

      Perhaps you can find the dried yellow pepper from a specialty market? If you can – the dried peppers can be soaked in warm water overnight and then blended. When you blend the peppers only add as much water as needed to form a paste so that it does not become too diluted.

      I wish you luck in finding the aji amarillo and in making your salteñas 🙂

      1. I found some on Amazon! It was under $10 for a large jar. It’s probably pricey compared to if purchased in a local market, but since you only need 2 Tablespoons for each batch, it should last a while.

  9. Where have you been all my life? (At least the last 25 years). My husband is Bolivian and we love Saltenas. We buy them frozen in Washington DC so we can bring them home. I have been loo,omg for a good recipe for 25 years. I am going to try these. Love your freezing the filling idea. Will definitely try that!

  10. I can’t wait to try this recipe. If I were to use the tinfoil mold technique, do I put the egg and olive in there as well before freezing it?

    1. Hi Diann, it would work either way. Last time we actually forgot to put the egg and olive in before freezing the filling and so we added them before sealing the dough and it worked just fine. The broth melts and the ingredients will all mix together anyway 🙂

    2. If you go with the recipe that uses raisins I wouldn’t put those in until right before you bake them because they tend to rehydrate.

  11. I use annatto found at wal mart here in McAllen, TX. It comes ground up in a small box. I also use 2/3 cup sugar and 3 gelatin packets for broth. I use 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup shortening. I am from Sta Cruz Bolivia.

  12. Hello to James. Love your blog! Here in Australia Mexican/Latin food is so exotic and there’s not much good stuff around.
    I made Salteñas for my Bolivian post but your recipe looks so much better than the one I used! Wish I’d found you first! Mine weren’t too bad for a first attempt, I used beef as opposed to chicken – thought that would be more traditional?
    anyway guys, love your work and will try to track down the Aj Amarillo here in Sydney have found a couple of stockists. It’s in a jar, pickled? Is that OK?
    Provecho Mimsey

    1. Hey Mimsey! Thank you so much for the comment and the link. Beef salteñas probaly are more traditional but the chicken ones are so good that is all we ever make 🙂

      Pickled aji amarillo could work – as long as the spice still comes through and that the vinegar doesnt overpower. You might have luck finding the dried aji amarillo in which case you can re-hydrate in hot water then blend to a paste. Good luck! I hope you try again. You’ll get better every time

  13. If I do not use the foil method, do I roll the dough into balls, flattened, and refrigerate (how long)?) before using? Or is it ready to use once prepared and set for 10 min? Also if I did have left over salteñas (uncooked) can I fill them and freeze them or will the filling seep out of the dough before frozen in time? Should the filling be cooled before filling salteñas in general? Also if not using the foil method is the oven temperature and cooking time still the same? Sorry for all the questions!!! Just want to get it right!

  14. Question here – what kind of vinegar do you use? White or cider vinegar maybe? Thanks!! Love this post! There’s a Bolivian bakery near me that I frequent… it’s to die for… trying desperately to be able to make it at home so I can have these whenever I want 🙂

  15. This is a solid recipe! I agree that there must be something up with the water quantity because I had to add a lot of flour at the end to make it work. Delish! Also for an inauthentic substitution since I can’t get yellow pepper paste hereI used curry powder , omitted parsley and used tsp turmeric instead of the annato in the dough. Delicious but different!

  16. Pingback: BOLIVIA: Salteñas
  17. Yum thank you!! I’m so excited I just found this recipe! Cooking my chicken right now -salteñas are one of my favorite South American treats that my parents introduced to us when we were little ☺️ (Cheese rolls and cuñapes are my next favorites!)

  18. I lived in Potosi and preferred the saltenas there — vegetarian, smaller, with a softer crust. Do you have any suggestions for how to make the crust softer — maybe skip brushing it with egg? My favorite food of all time.

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