Vegetarian Empanadas With Black Beans and Corn

Vegetarian empanadas with black beans and corn
Marian Blazes
  • Total: 3 hrs 25 mins
  • Prep: 3 hrs
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 20 to 40 servings

These savory empanadas have a delicious filling made with black beans, corn, and cheese, seasoned with cilantro, cumin, and a little bit of chile pepper. Add golden raisins to give them the touch of sweetness particular to South American empanadas.

If possible, make the filling and dough the night before, and let them chill overnight in the refrigerator.


  • For the Empanada Dough
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (chilled)
  • 12 tablespoons lard (or vegetable shortening, chilled)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water
  • For the Filling
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons aji panca paste
  • 1 medium tomato (seeded and diced)
  • 5 to 6 scallions (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans (drained)
  • 2 cups corn kernels (frozen)
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)
  • 4 ounces farmers cheese (cut into 1/4-inch cubes)
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese (cut into cubes)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped) 
  • For Assembly
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this empanada dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Empanada Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and the sugar.

  3. Blend the butter and lard (or shortening) into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, or with two knives, until fairly well blended.

  4. Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cups water.

  5. Stir in the 1/2 cup of the water-egg mixture, a little bit at a time, until the dough starts to come together smoothly.

  6. Keep kneading the dough, adding more of the water-egg mixture as needed (you may need a few tablespoons extra of water), until the dough is smooth. The dough will seem a bit saggy until it has thoroughly chilled. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

  7. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour. The dough can also be kept in the fridge for up to two days. When ready to use, the dough should be soft and smooth, not elastic. If you poke a hole in the dough with your finger, the indentation should remain.

Make the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Pour boiling water over the golden raisins and let soak for 10 minutes, then drain. Set aside.

  3. Add the vegetable oil to a heavy skillet and place over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, cumin, garlic salt, and aji paste, and sauté until the onions are very soft and translucent - about 5 to 8 minutes.

  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, the scallions, and the sugar and sauté, stirring, for about 5 minutes more, or until excess liquid has cooked away and tomatoes are beginning to stick to the pan.

  5. Add the black beans and sauté, until excess liquid is cooked away, about 5 minutes.

  6. Add the corn, raisins, and lime juice, and cook for 5 minutes more.

  7. Remove mixture from heat and scrape into a heatproof bowl.

  8. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in the cheese cubes and the cilantro.

  9. Chill mixture for 2 hours, or overnight.

Assemble and Bake the Empanadas

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.

  3. Divide the dough into 20 pieces (for large empanadas), or about 40 pieces (for small, appetizer size empanadas). 

  4. Roll each piece of dough into a circle about 1/4-inch thick. (Circles will be about 6 inches in diameter for the larger empanadas and about 3 1/2 inches for the smaller ones).

  5. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle of dough (1 teaspoon for small empanadas).

  6. Fold the dough over the filling to make a semicircle. Press the edges together firmly to seal.

  7. Fold the edge over itself and crimp decoratively.

  8. Brush empanadas generously with beaten egg.

  9. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

  10. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar.

  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.