Panamanian Carimañolas (Meat Filled Yucca Fritters)

Prep Time
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"Carimañola is a traditional dish from Panama but also popular in other countries in South America. It is a fritter made of yucca that is stuffed with a beef picadillo type of filling."

Original recipe yields 10-12 servings


  • Serving Size: 1 (217.6 g)
  • Calories 867.1
  • Total Fat - 46.8 g
  • Saturated Fat - 15 g
  • Cholesterol - 40.4 mg
  • Sodium - 1407.8 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 97 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 5.7 g
  • Sugars - 5.6 g
  • Protein - 14.1 g
  • Calcium - 87.5 mg
  • Iron - 2.7 mg
  • Vitamin C - 6.2 mg
  • Thiamin - 0.1 mg

Step 1

Place yucca in a large heavy pot with enough cold water to cover by two inches. 

Step 2

Add about 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook the yucca until it’s tender but not too soft, about 15-20 minutes. 

Step 3

While still hot, remove yucca with a slotted spoon or tongs and run through a food mill or place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher (refer to NOTE below). 

Step 4

*Tip: The yucca will become more difficult to process as it cools so reserve a small amount of the cooking water to add to the yucca by the spoonful as needed.* 

Step 5

Blend in one tablespoons of oil and one tablespoon of salt.  Form into a smooth but stiff mass and set aside.

Step 6

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 

Step 7

Add the onions and  pepper and sauté about 3 minutes until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.

Step 8

Add the beef and break it up so there are no lumps. 

Step 9

Add the tomato paste, wine, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, cumin, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer covered over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until mostly dry. 

Step 10

Blend in one teaspoon of hot sauce or more if desired.  Add capers (or Spanish olives) and parsley and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Step 11

Divide yucca dough into 20-25 individual pieces rolled into 1 1/2-2″ balls. 

Step 12

Create a well in the center of each ball and fill with one tablespoon of picadillo. 

Step 13

To form the carimañolas, gently push the filling into the center as you close dough around it forming a diamond shaped fritter. 

Step 14

Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

Step 15

In a deep fryer or heavy pot (3 1/2-4 quarts wide), heat oil to 375 degrees.

Step 16

Carefully add  to oil 2-3  carimañolas at a time and fry until golden, turning occasionally, about 3-4 minutes total.

Step 17

Drain directly on cooling rack placed over lined baking sheet or on paper towels.

Step 18

Makes filling for 24 carimanolas

NOTE: If you are using a potato masher, remove the stringy fibers from the core of the yuca before mashing.

Step 19

*Some Freezing Info: If you would like to save them for later, lightly sprinkle the freshly formed carimañolas with flour and place in a baking sheet in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Remove from the freezer and store in a ziploc bag until ready to fry.*

Tips & Variations

No special items needed.



10 stars!!! Other than the shape, these reminded me of an amazing appetizer served in Costa Rica called Enyucadas. Simply, a fried ball of mashed yucca enveloping a savory filling, usually fried chicharon (pork belly) and/or refried black beans. These were just as I remembered, and so easy to make! The filling was delicious, by the way. I used ground pork instead of beef out of personal preference. But what really amazed me is that the yucca wasn't coated or dipped when it went in the fryer, and yet they came out looking like they were panko-crusted. Golden, crisp crust and creamy yucca cash inside. Oh my gosh - these were good! Thanks so much for posting! Loved these! Made for CQ4, Team Happy Campers.

review by:
(28 Aug 2017)