Authentic Argentinian vegetarian empanadas are flaky, baked hand pies with three vegetarian fillings - including a vegan empanada option.
Taught to me by an Argentinian pastry chef, it doesn't get better or more traditional than this baked empanadas recipe.
How I learned the recipe for these vegetarian empanadas from an Argentinian chef
Last night I got one one of those Facebook reminders. "Ksenia and Mara have been friends for 2 years!"
For a moment, my heart skipped a beat because I realized I have been keeping this authentic Argentinian veggie empanadas recipe from you for over a year - and this morning, I just had to right that wrong.
I met Mara at a work meeting. She was a newly arrived immigrant from Argentina, having just recently moved to Montreal to be with her husband. I was a newly arrived transplant from Winnipeg, having just recently been hired to plan a Jewish cooking school for the local community.
She was a classically trained pastry chef in need of work, I was a classically disillusioned former professional writer in need of rehabilitation. We both were doe-eyed and just a little bit lost, hopeful and scared.
Naturally, we became colleagues - and friends.
Are these vegetarian Empanadas a classic Jewish recipe?
Yes! You'd be surprised to learn that this vegetarian empanadas recipe is a classic Jewish recipe.
The Argentinian pastry chef who developed them, Mara, worked with me on two ambitious events for the Jewish Food Project. She learned the basics of these recipes from her Jewish Russian-Polish mom, who in turned learned them from her grandmother.
In many ways, these baked Argentinian empanadas are based on Russian pirozhki, and were brought to Argentina with the Jewish migrants of the late 1800s.
She taught me the recipe and fillings for these Argentinian vegetarian empanadas during one of those long cooking nights.
What makes Argentinian empanadas special?
Empanadas are common all oven Latin America. Argentinian empanadas are a classic of Argentinian cuisine. So what makes them different, you may ask?
Unlike Mexican empanadas, Argentinian empanadas are not spicy.
Unlike Colombian empanadas, Argentinian empanadas are baked empanadas, and not fried. Argentinian empanada dough is not made out of corn but baked with a flour dough.
Argentinian empanada dough is entirely vegan.
Unlike other hand pies like Russian pirozhki, Argentinian empanadas don't contain yeast.
Why you should make these veggie Argentinian empanadas
Mara has graciously shared her empanada dough recipe with me, and it's divine! We are also happy to offer 3 vegetarian empanadas filling recipes. You should make them RIGHT NOW because this vegetarian empanada recipe is:
- cheap and filling - the veggie empanada fillings here are all super affordable!
- vegan - the dough is vegan, and two of our fillings are vegan
- kid-friendly, portable and freezer-friendly hand pies - these will keep in the freezer for 6 months
- keep well - in the fridge, veggie empanadas will keep for 2 weeks.
- easy to make (though they take some time, nothing here is complicated)
- healthy - with a flour dough that is baked, and not fried, these baked empanadas are quite healthy!
- No weird ingredients - no cashew avocado dip here - nothing but simple, accessible ingredients
- No lengthy chilling required! our simple baked empanadas dough just needs 10 minutes in the fridge to rest
For homemade empanada dough:
You can make your own empanada dough, or you can buy pre-made empanada dough pockets in most Latin stores. If making your own, you will need:
- all-purpose flour - this empanada dough recipe uses all-purpose flour. You can use bleached or unbleached flour, though my preference is always for unbleached!
- salt - this helps flavor the dough very slightly.
- vegetable oil - use a neutral tasting oil like grapeseed oil or canola oil. You can also use olive oil if you want something more flavored.
- cold water - acts as a binder
1. Onion and cheese vegetarian empanadas:
- onions - you can use yellow onions, or sweet Vidalia onions here.
- cheese - Mara and I love Gouda cheese here, but any nice, melty cheese will work.
- oregano - this gives our veggie empanadas that authentic Argentinian flavor!
2. Mushroom and kale vegan empanadas:
- mushrooms - you can use regular white or mini portobello mushrooms
- garlic - fresh garlic is best here!
- kale - you can also use swiss chard or spinach
- lime juice - fresh or bottled is fine
3. Sweet potato & lentil (also vegan!):
- onions - you can use yellow onions, or sweet Vidalia onions here.
- sweet potato - shred your sweet potatoes on a grater or in the food processor
- lentils - canned lentils will do great, because you don't have to cook them. Or you can cook your lentils in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop.
- smoked paprika - optional. You can also use regular paprika in these vegan empanadas
See exact measurements in recipe card below.
We used our hands to pinch our veggie empanadas, but if you make a lot of dumplings you may want to invest in a set of empanadas molds.
You will also need:
How to make Argentinian vegetarian empanadas
Make empanada dough
Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine the flour with the salt in a large bowl. Add the oil and the water and knead until dough forms. If the dough requires, add more water. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Form the empanada dough mix into ping-pong-sized balls. Flatten each ball with a rolling pin.
Make vegetarian onion and cheese empanadas filling
Preheat a large pan to medium heat. Add 2 TBs grapeseed oil. Saute onion until it turns golden, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with oregano, salt & pepper. Set aside. When making empanadas, layer 1 TB of onion mixture per empanada and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
Make mushroom and kale vegan empanadas
Preheat a large pan to medium heat. Add 2 TBs grapeseed oil. Sautee mushrooms until they begin to brown, 10-15 minutes. Add kale and garlic, mix well to combine and sautee an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season with lime, salt & pepper. Set aside.
Make vegetarian empanadas with vegan sweet potato and lentil empanadas filling
Preheat a large pan to medium heat. Add 2 TBs grapeseed oil. Sautee onion until it turns golden, 10 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, lentils and seasonings. Cook until sweet potatoes cook fully, about 15 minutes. When making empanadas, layer 1 TB sweet potato and lentil mixture per empanada. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
When making empanadas, layer 1 TB of filling per empanada dough circle. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
Seal veggie empanada and set aside. To seal veggie empanadas, the easiest thing to do is crimp the sides with your fingers. You then have a few options for ornamental seals:
- gently press a fork against the edges, leaving the fork imprint along the border
- roll little bits of the empanada edge on itself, like in the fold above.
Bake veggie empanadas
When ready to bake, arrange Argentinian empanadas on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle sesame seeds (optional). Bake at 400F until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 30 to 40 minutes.
What to serve with vegetarian empanadas?
Serve these Argentinian empanadas with:
- Colombian Aji
- Pico de gallo, which is the Colombian empanada sauce (or store bought salsa)
- your favourite hot sauce.
Scaling the Recipe
This recipe makes approximately 24 vegetarian empanadas, each one about the size of your palm. You can double the dough quantities for more, or scale down for just a few empanadas of one filling type. It's totally your call!
But because these are so tasty, we recommend making more of your favourite savory baked vegetarian empanadas and saving them for later.
But how to save them for later, you ask?
These veggie empanadas will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
They are perfect if stored in the freezer in a sealed container, and will keep for 6 months. To freeze, arrange Argentinian empanadas on a baking sheet, and once they have frozen transfer them to a ziploc bag for longer storage.
You can freeze them baked, or simply shaped raw - and bake veggie empanadas straight from the freezer (add about 5 minutes to the baking time).
Making in Advance
Though fresh Argentinian Empanadas taste amazing out of the oven, especially the cheese empanadas, you really can make them ahead of time and just reheat before serving!
All the fillings can be made a day in advance. The dough can be made and kept in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap - or frozen.
Sweet potato vegetarian empanadas are also great in room temperature.
You can reheat these baked empanadas in the microwave, or in the oven at 200F for 10 minutes.
If frozen, bring vegetarian empanadas to room temperature or defrost them in the fridge overnight before heating in the oven. You can also pop them in the microwave from the freezer.
After Mara's Argentinian cooking workshop featured only meat Argentinian empanadas, I began fantasizing about the veggie empanadas she mentioned - and after sufficient nagging, Mara agreed to share her favourite vegetarian empanada recipe with me.
Two of these recipes are for vegan empanadas! The dough is fully vegan, and two of the fillings I provide below (mushrooms + kale empanadas and vegetarian empanadas sweet potato and lentils) are vegan. Plant-based eating is not a foreign concept to Argentinian food! Just avoid the egg wash before baking.
The empanada dough we initially used was store-bought, perfectly calibrated for veggie empanadas and cheap - but if you're looking to make your own dough, I've got Mara's recipe below for you.
Unfortunately, I haven't yet tried making these gluten-free - but that's coming!
Paleo, keto and Whole 30
I don't have a good adaptation for making these paleo, keto or Whole 30. My best suggestion would be to use something like cheese wraps or daikon slices for raw empanadas.
Savory vegetarian empanadas filling combinations and variations
You may ask, what to use as filling for vegetarian empanadas? There are many veggie empanadas filling combinations you can use to stuff our Argentinian empanada dough!
I have travelled through Argentina and sampled MANY empanadas. Our favourite savory vegetarian empanadas, three of which you will find below, are:
- onion and cheese empanadas - see recipe below!
- vegetarian empanadas sweet potato - we have a recipe for this below!
- vegetarian potato empanadas
- mushroom empanadas - see recipe below, or use the filling from my vegan mushroom bourekas
- corn empanadas
- butternut squash empanadas - you can use the filling from our Bosnian pita
Check out our Web Story for these Vegetarian empanadas
Get the low down on how to make these Argentinian empanadas with a mouthwatering, photo-laden web story.
Pro Tips for Baked Vegetarian Empanadas
- Cool your filling - make sure the filling you use is completely cool before serving with these vegetarian empanadas.
- Make ahead - you can easily make the fillings a day in advance of the dough. You can even make the fillings a day in advance, and the dough two days in advance, thus living just the rolling and baking for the last day.
- Buy ready made dough - if you don't feel like making the dough, buy premade empanada pockets. Goya makes a great baked empanada dough.
Immigrant Cuisine Spotlight: Argentinian Cuisine
Argentinian cuisine is a melange of those cultures and flavors.
Did you know about Argentinian flan and Argentinian bread pudding?
Have you ever tasted good chimichurri?
And how about alfajores?
Since visiting Argentina, and cooking with Mara, I have fallen deeply in love with Argentinian cuisine. I have many Argentinian recipes in my archives. I dream about going back, and visiting the Iguazu Waterfalls. Exploring other areas except Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata. Discovering more of the rich history of Argentinian Jews, and Argentinian Jewish cuisine.
But meanwhile, I'll just have to live through these vegetarian empanada recipes.
For more Argentinian recipes:
You can serve this vegetarian empanada recipe with:
FAQ about Vegetarian Empanadas
They already are! Our tried and true vegetarian empanadas dough is vegan and eggless, and two out of the three veggie empanada fillings are vegan as well (kale and mushrooms and sweet potato and lentils). No fancy adaptations required!
These babies bake in only 30 short minutes!
Yes. Freeze them arranged on a baking sheet, and once they have frozen transfer them to a ziploc bag for longer storage. They will keep for 6 months in the freezer. You can freeze them baked, or simply shaped raw - and bake veggie empanadas straight from the freezer (add about 5 minutes to the baking time).
Argentinian empanadas are usually baked - but you can fry these veggie empanadas. Just make sure you space them out and not crowd your fryer. They should need about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Yes. You can make the fillings and the dough on separate days, and the baking can be done on another day altogether. Wrap everything well in plastic wrap and store in airtight containers in between.
You may also like to try...
If you love veggie empanadas, give these other vegetarian hand pies a try!
Pin for Later!
Authentic Argentinian vegetarian empanadas, three ways (V/Vegan)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup cold water
For onion and cheese vegetarian empanadas:
- 2 onions sliced into crescents
- 1 cup Gouda cheese shredded
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- Salt & pepper to taste
For mushroom and kale vegetarian empanadas:
- 1 pound mushrooms sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 leaves kale
- 1 lime juice of
- salt and pepper to taste
For sweet potato & lentil vegetarian empanadas:
- 1 onion chopped finely,
- 1 sweet potato shredded
- ½ cup lentils cooked
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Egg
- Sesame seeds optional
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- To make dough: Combine the flour with the salt in a large bowl. Add the oil and the water and knead until dough forms. If the dough requires, add more water. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Form the empanada dough mix into ping-pong-sized balls. Flatten each ball with a rolling pun.
- For onion and cheese vegetarian empanadas: preheat a large pan to medium heat. Add 2 TBs grapeseed oil. Sautee onion until it turns golden, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with oregano, salt & pepper. Set aside. When making empanadas, layer 1 TB of onion mixture per empanada and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Seal empanada and set aside. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
- For mushroom and kale vegetarian empanadas: preheat a large pan to medium heat. Add 2 TBs grapeseed oil. Sautee mushrooms until they begin to brown, 10-15 minutes. Add kale and garlic, mix well to combine and sautee an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season with lime, salt & pepper. Set aside. When making empanadas, layer 1 TB of mushroom & kale mixture. Seal empanada and set aside. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
- For sweet potato and lentil vegetarian empanadas: preheat a large pan to medium heat. Add 2 TBs grapeseed oil. Sautee onion until it turns golden, 10 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, lentils and seasonings. Cook until sweet potatoes cook fully, about 15 minutes. When making empanadas, layer 1 TB sweet potato and lentil mixture per empanada. Seal empanada and set aside. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
- When ready to bake, arrange empanadas on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle sesame seeds (optional). Bake at 400F until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 30 to 40 minutes.