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Cuban Pastelitos recipe - How to Make Baked Turnover Pastries


Cuban pastelitos de guayaba

One of my favorite recipes! This comes from my friend and cookbook author Sonia Martinez, and the comments below are hers. Pastelitos are not that hard to make, but you can also buy them online from the Cuban Food Market.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes

  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

  • Total Time: 1 hour

The word "pastel" means pie in Spanish. Pastelitos is the diminutive and it usually means the small round or triangular pastries with fillings.


Usually pastelitos are made with delicate, flaky puff pastry, but other dough can be used. I prefer the puff pastry. Puff pastry is very time consuming, though not hard to do. I don't make my own much any more as it needs cooler temperatures and a drier climate than where I live [Hawaii]; so instead, I have come to rely on store-bought sheets of puff pastry.


Pepperidge Farm puff pastry comes two sheets to a package and I use this for small quantities. If we are doing a catering job or for large gatherings I buy the commercial sheets from my food wholesaler. Yields 18 pastelitos




1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets

Filling for pastelitos (your choice picadillo, fruit, cream cheese, etc)


To Shape The Pastelitos:

When using Pepperidge Farm:

1. Take the sheets of puff pastry and smooth out the folds a little bit (do not oversmooth it).

2. With a very sharp knife, make cuts across the sheets, as if you were drawing the lines for playing tic-tac-toe. You will have 9 squares per sheet.

3. Place filling (about a teaspoon full) in the middle of the square.

4. Fold down from top corner to lower corner to enclose the filling and form a triangle.

5. Press all around the two open edges with a fork to seal tightly.

6. Place pastries on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan, not too close so that they can puff up without touching the next one.

7. Brush the tops with a simple syrup (sugar water: same amount sugar as water) using a pastry brush.

8. Place in 350 degree F oven on the middle rack. Takes about 20-30 minutes to puff up and turn golden and flaky (depends on your oven and altitude, so keep a close eye on the first batch to test your oven).

NOTE: The less you handle the sheets of pastry the more it will puff up.


Pastelitos Fillings:

Almost anything can be used as a filling. The traditional filings are small dabs of guava marmalade and cream cheese, picadillo style meat fillings, or a sweetened cream cheese filling. Other fillings I have used successfully:

Sweet Fillings

  • Mango pieces cooked in sugar to form a marmalade.

  • Apple pie filling (I like the Comstock brand). Add a small dusting of cinnamon after you brush tops with the sugar water.

  • Cherry pie filling (same brand as above)

Savory Fillings

  • Picadillo style ground beef.

  • Cream cheese and fresh herbs such as basil or thyme. You need to taste your batch as you add the herbs to the cream cheese to make sure the taste comes through.

  • Cream cheese and ground up potted meats such as Devil's Ham or Chicken. Once, in a pinch, I even used Spam ground up in the cream cheese. It worked, they were good!

Notes on Making Pastelitos

I usually follow Sonia's above instructions exactly, but I also have a few things to add. The first is that there are slight differences between the pastries you would find at a Cuban bakery, and those made using this recipe. Bakery pastelitos are usually larger, to make room for more filling. They are also a bit heavier, and the pastry dough is made with butter.


Sometimes pastelitos are sold in square shapes (not triangles). Other times they are often baked as an entire sheet, then cut into triangles like Greek baklava. The above recipe is for a turnover-style pastry.


Because these pastelitos are made like most turnovers, some fruit filling will usually "leak" out of the pastries as they bake. This is common, especially the more fruit filling that you use. So don't worry if the filling pokes out, or drips onto the baking pan. It's normal unless you go easy on the filling (and I like a lot of filling).

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Instructions on how to make authentic Cuban pastelitos de guayaba turnover puff pastry.

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