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Cuban Pasteles de "Carne," With a Healthy Twist {Latina Column}

Cuban pastel de pavo

This week’s column on Latina.com was my editor’s best request to date. La La Vasquez, the celebrity VJ from NY, recently talked to Latina about how she’s watching her figure and has let some things go. The one thing she omitted from  scratching off her list are Cuban pasteles de carne.

I’m with her on that! Unfortunately, I can’t say they are a problem for me because I can’t find them in Atlanta or DC. We are tragically short of Cuban pastelerias like this one I visited in NJ during Christmas last year.

The semi-challenge was to make a healthier version of the popular flaky, sweet & savory pastry for those of us trying to stay slim and fit this season.  That was simple enough. The real challenge was making time to squeeze this and 3 other recipes in one day (not to mention writing assignment deadlines)

AHA!  I altered my traditional picadillo recipe and completely cheated by using already-made puff pastry shells. I promise myself (and you) to personally make the dough next time and to do a re-post with an all-out, step-by-step recipe on making la masa, which we all know makes these little bites so incredibly irresistible and qualifies them as must-haves.

Maybe that post will be on guava and cheese pastelitos!

Read today’s column and snatch the recipe below!

Cuban pastel de pavo

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Cuban Pastelitos de Carne


2- 6 pack of pastry puff shells

Ingredients for turkey filling:

  • 1 lb ground turkey chuck
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 4 tbsp. Spanish olives, minced
  • 2 heaping tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt


In large non-stick sauce pan, add turkey meat and break up using fork. Add tomato sauce and cook for 5-10 until meat is browned. Add all other ingredients and stir. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until all flavors have infused well.

For egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz. water

Combine and whisk egg and water.

For simple syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Bring water and sugar to a boil and until sugar is fully dissolved into water.

Method for Pasteles

Preheat oven to 400f. Place pastry shells on non-stick baking sheet. Brush each shell top with egg wash using a pastry brush. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry shells have fully risen and have nice golden color. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minute. Using butter knife, remove top of shell and stuff with 2 tbsp. of turkey picadillo. Cover back up with shell top. Repeat this until all pastries are filled. Using a different pastry brush, cover all pastries with simple syrup. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool a bit before eating.

Yields 12 pasteles

53 thoughts on “Cuban Pasteles de "Carne," With a Healthy Twist {Latina Column}

  1. Oh…they came out really good! I didn’t see them when I was over…hmmm. 😉 Would have devoured them!

  2. hey girl, wow delicious. Pastelitos de carne are my favorite!!! I’ll be in Miami in September so I’ll make sure to have some for me and you.

  3. Rosa: I hope you try these, lady. I swear they’re one of the best things ever! 🙂

    Pieces of Arnania: it’s funny that when i think about it, we have several indigenous meals that are a great combo of sweet & savory! make them!

    Chef Fresco: Yes! Lighter is better sometimes. This was my 1st time making and having turkey pastelitos and I guarantee the taste is there!

    Chris: yes.they.did. i ONLY bought the shells because they were out of the sheets.

    Simone: Mija, pretty please, pretty please bring some back de carne and guayaba! And some capuccino’s if you remember… no wait, I’LL remind you! besitos.

  4. these are freakin amazing!!!! Gonna try to make them later! Yummy yummy and with turkey.. I LOVE IT!!! thanks B!

  5. First I need to comment on the pic itself: It really feels like you can actually smell them and taste them … unfortunately, you can’t, but I’m drooling here (tengo la boca hecha agua.) Pastelitos de carne are my all-time favorite Cuuban pastries – you outdid yourself!

  6. Hey Chica! How are you? The pastelitos de carne look so YUMMO! The guava con queso sounds like an ideal option. I’m glad to hear you are trying to make these YUMMO pastelitos much healthier because I LOVE them pero seban todos para mi HIPS!!! You know how it is girl!!! LOL
    Hey I coming to ATL next wednesday are u going to be in town? Maybe we can catch up!
    Your S. FLA connection AKA–Margie

  7. These look sooo yummy!! PLEASE DO NOT SHOW THEM TO IRIS.. She’ll want me to make them weekly.. It’s funny how you made these the same weekend that I was attempting my Pasteles de Guayaba..

  8. Web: oh indeed it is!!

    Margie: Mujer!! So good to see you here! Thanks for coming by! The pastelitos estan too delicioso! I LOOOOOOOOVE and miss them! Bring me some when you come up! Though, truthfully, home made is far better! And yes, don’t we all know about the hip situation–that’s why I did turkey ones!

    Jaques: Hahaha… well since you made them, she’s hip to them! Good for you for making them!! I Looooove them! Eat me1

  9. Yo! I’m gonna have to check you soon and put my order in. My mouth is watering!! Great picture!

  10. bueno ya hice esos pastelitos de carne y me quedaron riquisimos .gracias ahora cuando tenga fiesta lo hago de nuevo gracias

  11. Bren, even though you feel you cheated I think you did something awesome. These are perfect for those who are short on time! People like me! So thanks. I’d love to see the guava ones too.

  12. 571576 511593 You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the concern and discovered most individuals will go along with with your web site. 161851

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