Vegetarian Empanadas With Black Beans and Corn

Vegetarian empanada recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Chill: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 20 to 40 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
157 Calories
7g Fat
19g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20 to 40
Amount per serving
Calories 157
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 27mg 9%
Sodium 169mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 50mg 4%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 107mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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. This will make assembly and cooking easier and quicker.


For the Empanada Dough

  • 4 cups (480 g) all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste, divided

  • 3/4 cup cold lard or vegetable shortening

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 large 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

  • 2 teaspoons aji panca paste, optional

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced

  • 5 to 6 medium scallions, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, drained

  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 4 ounces farmers cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

For Assembly

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 cup unsifted confectioners' sugar

Steps to Make It

Make the Empanada Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for empanada dough

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Lard or shortening and butter blended into the flour

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Egg yolk and water whisked in a small bowl

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Egg and water mixture being added to the flour mixture

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  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 shaggy until it has thoroughly chilled. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

    Dough being mixed in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  7. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour.

    Empanada dough in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Make the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for empanada filling

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Raisins covered with hot water

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Onions and spices sautéing in a pan

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  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.

    Tomatoes and scallion added to pan

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Black beans added to pan

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Corn added to pan

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 

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

    Empanada filling in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  8. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in the cheese cubes and the cilantro. Chill mixture for 2 hours, or overnight.

    Empanada filling cooling in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Assemble and Bake the Empanadas

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat oven to 375 F.

    Ingredients for egg wash

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Divide the dough into 20 pieces for large empanadas or about 40 pieces for small, appetizer-size empanadas. 

    Empanada dough divided up with a knife

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. 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).

    Empanada dough rolled into circles

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Filling placed on dough rounds

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Dough folded over to seal empanadas

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  6. Fold the edge over itself and crimp decoratively.

    Unbaked empanadas with crimped edges

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  7. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the empanadas generously with the beaten egg.

    Brushing empanadas with egg wash

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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

    Baked empanadas on a pan

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  9. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar.

    Baked empanadas dusted with powdered sugar

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Vegetarian empanada black beans and corn

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska


  • To make these empanadas fully vegetarian, use vegetable shortening instead of lard.
  • The raw empanada 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.

What Can I Substitute For Empanada Dough?

If you don't have time to make your own dough, you can sometimes find prepared dough at the grocery store. In a pinch, refrigerated rolled pie crust can be used to make empanadas.

Is It Better to Bake or Fry Empanadas?

Different regional recipes for empanadas call for frying or baking, and which one is better is a matter of personal preference. Fried empanadas tend to be crispier. Note that the dough for baked vs. fried empanadas is often different, so proceed with caution when frying a baked recipe or vice versa.