Panamanian Stuffed Yuca Fritters (Carimanolas)

Carimanolas are fried yuca wrapped around a savory filling; a favorite carnival food in Panama. You might also be lucky enough to find them as appetizers or breakfast food at local restaurants.
Yuca is a starchy root crop, not unlike potatoes.
The base of this recipe is the pureed yuca which is made into a sticky dough and then filled with a beef, chicken or cheese filling, coated in flour and fried until golden.
A plate full of carimanolas. Photo from Cooking in Panama.
4 pounds yuca root
Oil (peanut or palm)
Flour - enough to coat the fritters
1/2 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh culantro, chopped (or substitute cilantro)

  1. Remove the peal and the stick-like middle from the yuca. Chop into large chunks and boil in a large pot of water with a tablespoon of salt. Boil the yuca until tender, but not sloppy.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the beef and other filling ingredients until the meat is cooked through and you have a thick sauce. If the filling is too liquidy you will have trouble filling the dough. Set aside the filling to cool.
  3. When the yuca is done drain it. Then pure the chunks with a grinder or use your hands to mash. The yuca will become very sticky and dough like. Taste the yuca dough to see if it needs salt. Kneed in salt if desired.
  4. Use your clean and floured hands to make flat circles about a half inch thick out of the yuca dough. Add a spoonful of filling and close the dough to make a Twinkie like shape. Roll the carimanola in flour.
  5. In a frying pan over medium heat, add about a half inch of oil (preferably palm or peanut as they can take the high temperatures with out cracking).
  6. Fry the yuca fritter in the oil, turning to ensure even browning. When it is golden brown remove and set on paper towels to absorb the oil.
  7. Serve hot and enjoy.

I am working on writing up how to cook some of the classic Panamanian dishes. Food is very much a part of culture. If you want your own little slice of Panama try some of the recipes here Recipes from Panama.


  1. I love these! My favorite side dish when I am in Panama. Thanks for posting.

  2. Arturo3/01/2011

    I´m from Panama and carimaƱolas are my favorite fritter!!