A crispy, tender crust combines with vegan beef and potatoes to make this Vegan Empanadas recipe. Serve this as a delicious dinner or a tasty snack for game days! This empanada filling is a delicious combination of vegan meat crumbles with potatoes and vegan cheese.
Serve empanadas with this cheesy Vegan Queso Dip or your favorite salsa.
The first time I tried an empanada was on my trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I knew immediately it was a new favorite dish. Then I went vegetarian (and eventually vegan), and I thought my empanada days were over. However, one day I had an Aha moment and decided to make empanadas vegetarian.
Usually, I’d be gushing about how easy this recipe is, but I’m not saying that today. The truth is, empanadas are not easy. There’s a little work involved, and some of it’s messy. But the good news is there are ways to make the process go smoothly. And I like to add some fun along the way, too.
These vegan empanadas are worth the effort involved to make them. That crust is both crispy and tender and we dipped them in a marina sauce.
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Flour — We’ll use a combination of whole wheat pastry flour (different than whole wheat flour) and all-purpose flour. If you don’t have the whole wheat pastry flour, use only all-purpose flour. You can sub gluten-free flour to make gluten-free vegan empanadas.
- Baking Powder
- Vegan Butter — You can use storebought (like Earth Balance buttery sticks) or make non-dairy butter at home
- Whiskey — I use whisky in this recipe, similar to how I use vodka in my vegan pie crust. It adds moisture to the vegan empanadas dough to make it pliable and most of it evaporates during the baking process, resulting in a crispier crust.
- Plant-Based Milk — I prefer plain soy milk, but most plant-based milk products work. Just try to use plain, not vanilla.
- Olive Oil
- Potato — I use a washed, unpeeled red potato, but you could use Russet, Yukon Gold, or even a Sweet Potato.
- Veggie Crumbles — There are many crumbles to choose from, like Gardein Beyond Beef and even plant-based meats such as Impossible Burger and Pure Farmland.
- Vegan Chorizo — Make your own Vegan Chorizo or buy it at the store. Alternatively, you could use Sofritas in place of the chorizo.
- Garlic — You’ll need 4 cloves of raw garlic, or you can go use Garlic Confit instead
- Spices — We’ll use both dried thyme and paprika
- Vegetable Broth — I recommend Better than Bouillon Vegetarian Base combined with water. It delivers a quality broth every time.
- Vegan Cheddar Shreds — We use either Follow Your Heart or Daiya Cheddar Shreds.
How to Make Vegan Empanadas
Here’s how to make these empanadas:
- Make the Vegan Empanadas Dough by pulsing flours, baking powder, and salt in a food processor.
- Pulse in vegan butter pieces, followed by cold water and whiskey. Pulse in short bursts until the dough comes together.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Make the filling by cooking chopped onion and cubed potatoes in a skillet with olive oil until tender.
- Stir in the veggie crumbles and vegan chorizo, followed by the minced garlic, thyme, and paprika.
- Add the broth and bring it to a simmer (low boil), and cook for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Then, remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool.
- Make dough balls by removing half of the dough from the fridge. Divide it in half, and make 5 dough balls about the size of a golf ball. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a 5″ circle to make around 10 circles. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Divide the filling by running your spatula down the center of the skillet. This helps keep the filling proportions the same.
- Make empanadas by spooning about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of one of the rounds. Wet your finger then run it around the edges of the circle of dough.
- Wrap the dough around the filling and use the moisture to press the edges together. Fold the edge back to create a crust and use your fingers to pinch pleats. Repeat this with each dough circle.
- Brush the tops of each empanada with vegan egg wash to make a golden crust.
- Bake the empanadas for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
Empanada Making Tips
These tips will make the process a lot easier beginning with the vegan empanadas dough. These tips will make it go much better:
- Make-ahead Tip — Make the dough a day ahead so you’re not doing every step at once.
- Work in Batches — I cut the dough in half, covered the remaining half in plastic wrap, and worked from there. Working in batches keeps it simple.
- Assembly Line — Cut the dough into sections and then create dough balls. Then roll those dough balls out. I use the first one to create the right size and then used it as a reference for the rest of them by placing one on top of the other until all the dough is rolled out.
- Get out the Earbuds — Listen to a podcast, audiobook, or album, and the time will fly.
- Keep a Towel Nearby — Making empanadas is messy work. Keeping a towel around can help you dry off your hands.
Use these expert tips to make this vegan empanada recipe perfect every time:
- You can make a double batch because vegan empanadas freeze well.
- Add corn to make corn empanadas!
- Use more or less cheese, depending on your preference.
- Dip empanadas in marinara sauce or salsa. Better yet, try salsa mixed with some cashew cream.
- Don’t want to use veggie crumbles? Use marinated tofu for tofu empanadas.
- Try adding fresh basil or cilantro to the vegan empanadas filling.
- Make cilantro pesto for dipping these vegan empanadas (replace cilantro with basil in this walnut pesto recipe).
- Experiment with adding seeded and sliced jalapeños to the filling.
- Use an empanada maker to press the empanadas faster.
Vegan Beef Empanadas with Cheese
Vegan Empanadas Dough Recipe
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup vegan butter , cold & cut into slices
- ¾ cup water , cold
- ¼ cup whiskey* , cold
- 1 tablespoon plant-based milk (not vanilla flavored)
Vegan Empanandas Filling Recipe
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 large potato, , diced
- 1 ½ cups veggie crumbles , thawed
- 1 cup vegan chorizo
- 4 cloves garlic , peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cup vegan cheddar shreds
For the Empanada Dough
- Combine both flours, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add cold vegan butter pieces and pulse until well incorporated. Add cold water and whiskey and continue pulsing until the dough comes together. Remove from the food processor and transfer to a bowl. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate while proceeding with the following.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and cubed potatoes. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes until slightly tender.
- Add the veggie crumbles and vegan chorizo. Stir with a spatula, breaking any larger chorizo pieces apart. Add minced garlic, thyme, and paprika. Stir to combine. Then add broth, bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Heat oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Create a ball out of the dough. Cut the ball in half. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and place back in the fridge. With the other half of the dough, divide it into 3 dough balls about the size of a golf ball. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a 5" circle. You should be able to create around 10 circles with this half of the dough ball.
For the Vegan Filling
- Run your spatula down the center of the skillet to divide it in half. This helps keep filling proportions the same. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of one of the rounds. Add a tablespoon or two of vegan cheese on top.
- Wet your finger with water or pour a little bit of whiskey into a small bowl and use that to wet your finger. Then run your finger around the edges of the circle of dough. Wrap the dough around the filling and use that moisture on the edges to press edges together. Fold the edge back to create a crust and use your fingers to pinch pleats. Repeat with each dough circle.
- Brush tops of each empanada with plain plant-based milk (such as soy milk) or melted vegan butter. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
- Repeat these last few steps with the remaining half of dough that's been refrigerated.
- Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve with marinara sauce or salsa. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.
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- We used something like Jack Daniels, but you could sub with plain vodka. If you are against using alcohol, feel free to use water, just use it sparingly.
- Use an empanada maker to help speed up the empanada process!
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Whatever vegan dinner recipe you’re diving into, enjoy!
This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.