Vegan Empanadas

Vegan food, to me, is a scary thing.  Being a self-proclaimed foodie, it would be a hard thing for me to do – giving up entire food groups for the rest of your life.  Heck, I struggle to stick to a 1700 calorie-a-day diet.  But, we won’t talk about that too much.

So, when a friend of mine that recently went vegan was coming to visit, I silently panicked.  You see, whenever she comes over, I like having a nice snack available to her.  And, in my world, having a snack available for someone means that you made it yourself.  This was to be her first time visiting since going vegan, so I was at a loss.  Sure, I could run to Whole Foods and pick up a vegan cake to offer her when she arrives.  But, how personal would that be?  No, I was determined to make something.

Last month, I made Colombian empanadas on Super Bowl Sunday.  Rather, I started making the empanadas, and then recruited my house-guests to help with the assembly process.  One of them asked me if there should be egg in the dough, because it was kind of hard to work with.  And, that was when it clicked.  Colombian empanada dough doesn’t use eggs, butter, or any animal products.  Add a meatless filling, fry them in vegetable oil, and you’ve got a vegan-friendly snack!  Best of all, they can be made on a budget.  After all, this blog isn’t called The Broke Baker for nothing!

This recipe for vegan empanadas was purely experimental.  I took a bunch of things that I assumed would taste good together, and went to work.  The measurements may not be 100% accurate, as I wasn’t measuring as I went along.  Also, I must confess, I was out of yellow corn meal, and did not have time to go to the grocery store to buy more. As a quick fix, I took white corn meal and prepared it using half a packet of Goya seasoning to give it yellow coloring.  It also gave it a nice flavor, so I might even do it this way from now on!


Vegan Empanadas


For the filling:

1/2 an onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 can vegetable broth
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 can beans of your choice
1/2 packet Goya seasoning
salt, pepper, and cumin to taste

For the dough
2 cups precooked yellow corn meal (I use Pan brand)
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 packet Goya seasoning (optional, but highly recommended if you use the white corn meal)


Make the filling:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onions, and cook until soft and translucent.  Add the tomato and garlic.  Cook until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Add the potato, salt, pepper, cumin, and Goya seasoning.  Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft and liquid has thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  This can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days before using.
  4. When ready to use, take the beans and mash them until there are still small chunks of bean left.  Add potato mixture to the mashed beans, a little at a time, until mixture has a thick, paste-like consistency.
Make the dough:
  1. Heat the water until very hot, but not boiling
  2. Place corn meal, Goya seasoning (if using), and salt in a large, heat-proof bowl.  Add the water and stir with a metal or wooden spoon until mixture forms a firm dough.
  3. At this point, you can cover the dough with a towel and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Or, if you have asbestos-like hands and can tolerate heat well, you can start working the dough now.  Using both hands, press and knead the dough until it is uniform, and no clumps of corn meal remain.


  1. Preheat about 2 quarts of vegetable oil for frying.  Normally, I use a deep fryer.  However, use the method you feel most comfortable with.
  2. Shape prepared dough into balls approximately 1″ in diameter.
  3. Flatten ball into a disk.  Add a spoonful of the filling.  Fold one side of the disk over onto the other side and pinch shut to seal, so that they form a half-moon shape.  Repeat until you run out of filling, dough, both, or just get too tired of the repetition.  At this point, I suggest that you try to work quickly.  The dough dries out very quickly, and your dough will start to crack during the assembly process.  Alternately, you can make the dough in smaller batches at a time, so it doesn’t sit out as long before drying out.
  4. Add empanadas to the hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time.  Do not crowd the oil.  These babies like to stick together.  Fry until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Remove from oil and drain on a rack or on paper towels.  Allow to cool a few minutes before stuffing your face.  Serve with salsa, if desired.

Vegan empanadas are, as you can see, very time consuming.  They are well worth the effort, though.  I normally refrain from making these if I am not going to have an extra set of hands to help with preparation.   My friend was more than happy to help.  And she LOVED the end result.  So much so, that she requested that I post this recipe so that she can share it on vegan blogs.  So, here you are, friend!  Enjoy!


    1. Haha! You’re welcome! Next time, we can try a different filling.

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