Have you tried papas rellenas before? They're crispy fried potato with a spiced minced beef stuffing. So tempting if you like crispy food and a great way of using up leftover mashed potato. They're delicious served with salsa criolla, a quick pickled onion side.
When I was challenged to have a go at making papas rellenas I was really pleased. This was something I knew I would enjoy. I had heard of papas rellenas but as I started to research, I realized I hadn't actually known what they were at all!
So what are papas rellenas?
Papas rellenas is a Peruvian recipe. They are basically balls of mashed potato coated in crispy spicy breadcrumbs and stuffed with spiced minced meat. Spicy, crispy, stuffed mashed potato balls? What's not to love about that?
The cumin and paprika in the mince give a really nice flavour and the crispy texture of the breadcrumbs with the soft potato and mince inside is very moreish.
What ingredients do you need for papas rellenas?
To make these Peruvian papas rellenas you'll need:
- Potatoes - You can start with leftover mashed potato or by cooking the potatoes from scratch in order to make the papas.
- Egg - This helps to bind the mashed potato together and makes it easier to work with.
To make the filling you'll need:
- Minced beef - Beef is traditional but I'm sure you could replace it with minced pork, chicken or turkey. Or even a vegan mince substitute
- Onion - You can use a red or brown onion.
- Garlic - Use a fresh clove or a puree or paste.
- Chilli pepper - Use your favourite kind of chilli pepper. If you don't want it to be very hot then remove the seeds. If you want it to be hotter then add more. Or add some chilli powder as well.
- Spices - Cumin and paprika. Feel free to add few more spices if you like. I sometimes like to add a little allspice as well as chilli powder.
- Beef stock - I usually use a stock cube but you can use fresh stock if you have it.
For the breadcrumb coating you'll need:
- Breadcrumbs - Make your own by blitzing stale bread in the food processor or use bought ones.
- Plain flour
- Cayenne pepper - For seasoning the flour.
How do you make the papas rellenas?
There are a few steps to making papas rellenas. Basically you need to:
- Boil the potatoes and then mash them. Make sure they have no lumps in so use a potato ricer if you have one.
- Prepare the filling. Cook the onions, garlic and chilli peppers until soft. Add the minced beef and brown it, breaking it up with a spoon. Stir in the spices and stock and simmer until cooked. Leave the filling to cool before assembling the papas rellenas.
- Take a handful of potato and flatten it on the palm of your hand. Put a spoonful of minced beef in the middle and bring the sides up to seal the mince in the middle.
- Prepare 3 bowls. One with flour, cayenne and a little salt, one with beaten egg and one with breadcrumbs. Roll the papas in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.
- Heat a large saucepan with at leave 1cm of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, carefully lower the papas into the hot oil. They should sizzle. Don't overfill the pan or the oil will loose heat. You may need to cook the papas in batches, especially if you have made a larger batch. Fry them for about 2 minutes on each side.
Can you adapt the recipe?
As I mentioned earlier, these stuffed fried potato balls are traditionally made with beef but there's no reason why you can't replace the beef with a different minced meat. You could even use a meat substitute to make them vegetarian.
You can also adapt the spicing and make them a bit spicier if you like. Add more chilli or more spices!
What to serve with papas rellenas?
I served them with a salsa criolla. It's a red onion salsa which complements the papas really well. As the papas are deep fried, it's good to have something healthy and fresh tasting alongside the fried papas.
You could also serve them with a big green salad.
Do these take long to make?
If you make everything from scratch in order to make papas rellenas then yes, they can take a long time to make. However, if you plan meals with leftover potato and mince and then make these with the leftovers, it definitely cuts down on the preparation and cooking time.
How long do they keep?
If you have any leftover papas rellenas you can store them in the fridge for up to three days.
How do you reheat them?
You can reheat them by baking them in the oven or air fryer. Depending on the size of your papas they might take up to 20 minutes to reheat thoroughly.
I prefer not to reheat them in the microwave as they won't have that deliciously crispy coating. They will come out hot but soggy!
Can you freeze them?
Yes, you can freeze them for up to three months. Wrap them up well in an airtight freezer bag. Defrost before reheating in the oven or air fryer.
You can also freeze them before cooking.
More South American Recipes
If you like these papas then do check out my other South American recipes:
Papas Rellenas and Salsa Criolla
- Oil for deep frying
For the Dough
- 2 large potatoes
- ½ egg beaten
Ingredients for the Filling
- 150 g minced beef
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 1 chilli pepper finely diced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 50 ml beef stock
For the Coating
- 100 g breadcrumbs
- ½ egg beaten
- 2 tablespoon plain flour
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Ingredients for the Salsa Criolla
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 chilli pepper thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon vinegar
- 1 lime juiced
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper
Prepare the Potatoes
- Boil the potatoes and leave to cool. This can be done the day before or use leftover potatoes.
- Mash the potatoes then pass through a sieve to make sure there are no lumps. Alternatively use a potato ricer.
- Add the beaten egg, salt and pepper to the potato. Mix in well by kneading with your fingers.
Prepare the Filling
- Put a little oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and chilli. When it begins to brown add the minced beef.
- When the minced beef is browned, add the cumin and paprika. Cook for about a minute, stirring, then add the stock.
- Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent it from sticking and to deglaze. Let simmer till the stock has evaporated.
Preparing the Papas Rellenos
- Form the papas by taking a handful of potato. Flatten it. Put a spoonful of mince into the centre and roll the potato around it so the mince is enclosed in the middle.
- Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture. This amount should make about 4.
- Prepare 3 bowls. One with the flour seasoned with salt and cayenne. One with egg and the last one with breadcrumbs. Roll the papas in the flour, dip in the egg and finally roll in the breadcrumbs. Add extra breadcrumbs to the bowl if necessary.
Cooking the Papas Rellenos
- Fill a large saucepan about 1cm with oil. Heat up until a few breadcrumbs sizzle when dropped in.
- Add the papas. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn over and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Drain on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil then serve with the Salsa Criolla
How to Make the Salsa Criolla
- Combine all the ingredients.
- Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. Stir again before serving.
Keep in Touch
Do let me know if you make these papas rellenas or any of my other recipes. I love to get feedback from readers.