If you’ve ever traveled through South America, then I’m sure you’ll love empanadas as much as me. Empanadas can be filled with beef or chicken, but these vegetarian empanadas are tasty and filling, and perfect for meat-free Mondays!

There are as many variations to empanadas as there are to burgers, or pizza. And that’s what makes them such a great thing to learn how to make. Once you discover how easy they are, you’ll be making up your own fillings in no time.

Traditionally, empanada pastry, or dough, is made by hand. It’s a buttery, floury affair, not unlike making a scone mixture, but with the end product more like pasta dough.

Making empanada dough by hand, is quite similar to making pasta by hand. If you can persevere and get it right, you can whip it up in no time, and the end product will be far superior. But, get it just a little wrong, and you’re going to end up with a crumbly, flavourless mess!

The easiest way to make the empanadas is to source frozen empanada discs, or to use frozen sheets of short-crust pastry (the savoury one, not the sweet one!). Frozen empanada pastry can be found at some wholefoods and specialist supermarkets. Short-crust pastry is available at most supermarkets and, although not traditional, makes a really yummy empanada.

Frozen Shortcrust Pastry-Edmonds

These are just really delicious, and best eaten with the fingers. The quantities given here make about 12 empandas, using pastry circles approximately 16cm in diameter. You’ll want to serve 2 or 3 per person. Serve with either a fresh salad, or salsa and guacamole.

Vegetarian Empanadas



Vegetarian Empanadas

These are delicious and best eaten with the fingers – the quantities given here make 12, using pastry circles approximately 16cm in diameter
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


  • Short-crust pastry
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 red capsicum seeded and chopped
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs chopped
  • 1 small potato and 1 small kumara peeled and cut into roughly 1cm cubes, steamed until just tender
  • 1 400 g tin cannellini beans drained and thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 tsp nacho spice mix
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese
  • 1 Tbsp capers (optional)


  1. Sauté the onion and red pepper until tender, then add the nacho spice and stir for a few seconds to develop the flavour.
  2. Remove from the heat and add all the other ingredients, mixing well Leave to cool while you cut out the pastry circles on a floured surface.
  3. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

  4. Cut out 12 16cm circles from the short-crust pastry. A small dessert bowl can be used for cutting around. Place each circle on the baking paper to fill.

  5. Place a couple of tablespoons of filling across the pastry, just to one side of the centre of each circle. Moisten the edge of the circle with milk, then fold the pastry over and seal right round to produce a semi-circle shape.
  6. Place a couple of small slits in the top of each empanada, then brush liberally with oil.
  7. Bake at 200°C on fan bake for about 30 minutes, basting once more with oil in the middle of the cooking process, until the empanadas are golden brown.

Recipe Notes

Serve as is or with a salad of your choice. Any left over empanadas can be frozen, then microwaved on thaw to warm them and finished in a hot oven (about 210°C) for 5 to 10 minutes to get them heated through and crisp.

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Robert Glensor is the founder of the Paraoa Bakehouse- the home of Purebread organic breads and Gluten Free Goodies. With a love of good bread and a passion for all things organic and sustainable, Robert writes about all manner of issues to do with living green.

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