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Serves 4-6 Prep 30 - 45 mins Cook 15 min Ready ~1hr

When I first had the idea of putting an Ecuadorian cook book together, I discussed what should be included with my Abuelita. I wanted to share our family recipes, but also other of her favorite Ecuadorian recipes that her family and friends used to make for her. Llapingachos (Ecuadorian stuffed potato cakes) was one of the first dishes my Abuelita named when I asked her what recipes she remembered most from her childhood in Zaruma; so here we go!

Side Note: This took me two attempts... I used too much butter when frying the potato cakes the first time and they didn’t stay together, still tasted good though! :)


5-6 medium size potatoes (Russet, Idaho and Yukon Gold are the best options)

1 medium white onion

3 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon of achiote

2 tablespoons of Abuelita’s Aliño

½ cup (or more!) of graded Monterray Jack cheese

Salt & Pepper

Potato Prep

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into small 2 inch thick pieces.

2. Boil in salted water until fork tender

3. Remove from water and strain.

4. With a fork, mash the potatoes into smaller chunks + add in Abuelita’s Aliño, and set aside to cool.

Refrito Prep

1. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 3-4 mins.

2. Once the onions are translucent, add in the tablespoon of achiote, a little bit of salt & pepper and mix in well.

3. Set aside to cool

4. Once cool – add into the potato mash mixture.

Forming the potato cakes:

1. Grab a handful of potato and form into a ball. With your thumb, carve a opening and add in a generous amount of cheese.

2. Mold to fit in all of the cheese and carefully flatted into a disk shape.

3. Let sit at room temp for 20-30 mins before frying.


In a non-stick pan, on medium heat fry the llapingachos on both sides until they are browned. You can add A LITTLE BIT of salted butter to the pan to make sure they don't stick, but it can't be more than 1/2 teaspoon.

WARNING: Do not add in oil or butter to the potato mixture, they will fall apart.

How to serve

My preference is to pair the llapingachos alongside a fried egg and steak for a special occasion breakfast.

You can also pair with a peanut base sauce that is very typical in Ecuador called “Salsa de Mani”.


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