Empanada vs. Pastelillo: what’s the difference?

There are many opinions about the difference between empanadas and pastelillos. Some say empanadas are bigger than pastelillos; others say that pastelillos are made with more lard in the dough. But the two are more similar than they are different. Both are pastries, usually savory, made by folding dough around a filling of meat, cheese or other ingredients, then baking or frying. Plus, whether you call the finished product an empanada or a pastelillo, the size, shape, filling and cooking method can all vary depending on what part of the world the maker is from. And so, ultimately, does the name: according to data from Google, the word pastelillo is most used in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) whereas empanada is more common throughout the rest of the latin-influenced world. So whichever is on the menu, go ahead and order it–chances are you’ll be glad you did!

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