Easy Black Bean Vegan Empanadas

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These vegan empanadas are filled with zesty black beans and wrapped in flaky puff pastry. They’re packed with flavor and surprisingly easy to make!

Wooden surface set with a plate of Vegan Empanadas and dish of salsa.

I’ve wanted to share a recipe for vegan empanadas on this site forever! Seriously, for years and years now they’ve been on my to-make list.

So, what held me back? Like many delicious recipe ideas, I figured they’d be complicated and a huge pain to make.

If you’re unfamiliar with them, empanadas are little pastry pockets that are stuffed with savory fillings and deep fried. They originated in Spain, but now you’ll find different versions all over Latin American. And as for me, I needed a vegan version in my life.

But anything involving homemade pastry dough and frying is a bit of a pain as far as I’m concerned.

I was just getting ready to tell myself to suck it up and make those fancy empanadas already when an awesome shortcut occurred to me: use puff pastry. It’s ready to go and doesn’t require frying in order to get crispy!

Jump to:

Puff Pastry

I used store-bought puff pastry in place of the from-scratch pastry you’d find in most empanada recipes. Is this an authentic way of making empanadas? Hell no! Is it easy and delicious? You bet!

Puff pastry is French, for one thing, while empanadas are Latin American. The texture of puff pastry isn’t exactly the same as that of empanada dough, but for my purposes, it works!

Black Bean Filling

Although I don’t think there’s a specific filling that makes an authentic empanada, most recipes I’ve seen call for beef and cheese. Obviously we can’t have that here.

Black beans are my go-to substitute for meat filling in lots of Latin American-inspired recipes. They work great in burritos and tacos. They’re delicious, satisfying, and go great with the spices you’d normally find in this cuisine. So that’s what I used as the primary ingredient in my vegan empanada filling.

How They’re Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

The Filling

Collage Showing Steps for Making Vegan Empanada Filling
  • Heat up some oil in a large skillet and add some onion and red bell pepper.
  • Cook the veggies until they start to soften up, and then add some garlic and spices. Cook everything for a minute more, until the garlic becomes very fragrant.
  • Add the beans, some water, and tomato paste. Let everything simmer for a few minutes until the beans soften up and most of the water cooks off.
  • Finally, stir in some (thawed) frozen corn, scallions and cilantro. Season your filling with some salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Tip: Make ahead option! The filling for these can be made up to two days in advance. However, I recommend leaving the scallions and cilantro out and adding them just before stuffing the empanadas.

The Pastry

Note: We’re using frozen puff pastry here, so try to remember to let it thaw out before getting started. If you forget, try microwaving it in 20 second increments until it’s thawed. Not ideal, but it works!

Side By Side Images Showing Hands Rolling and Cutting Puff Pastry for Vegan Empanadas
  • Grab one of your puff pastry sheets and roll it out with a rolling pin. You’re going to want it large enough to cut six circles, about 4 ½ inches each in diameter.
  • Cut those circles. If you have a pastry or cookie cutter of the right size, great — use that! If not, take a look around your kitchen to find something you can trace with a knife. I found a little bowl that worked perfectly.

Assemble the Empanadas

Collage Showing Steps for Filling Vegan Empanadas
  • Grab one of your pastry circles and place a couple of spoonfuls of bean filling in the center.
  • Use a finger to smooth some water over the edges of the circle, then fold it over and pinch the dough to seal.
  • Use a fork to crimp the edges.
  • Arrange your uncooked empanadas on oiled baking sheets as you assemble them.

Tip: For cheesy vegan empanadas, place a little bit of vegan shredded cheese over the filling before folding and sealing your pastry.

I like to brush my vegan empanadas with a bit of almond milk before popping them into the oven, which functions as a vegan egg wash. Then I’ll brush them with a tablespoon or so of olive oil or vegan butter about 5 minutes before they’re done baking. This helps them to develop a beautiful golden brown color while baking!

Vegan Empanadas and salsa on a plate with bunch of cilantro in the background.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan empanadas will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months. The pastry will soften during storage, but it can be made crispy again to some degree by placing the empanadas under a broiler briefly during reheating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find vegan puff pastry?

It’s probably right there in your regular supermarket’s freezer. Lots of brands happen to be accidentally vegan. Just check the ingredients lists! I used Pepperidge Farm.

Can these empanadas be made gluten-free?

I haven’t found a brand of puff pastry that’s vegan and gluten-free, though I think vegan gluten-free pie crust (which is more widely available) will work. Keep an eye on them as the baking time may vary.

More Latin American Vegan Recipes

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Vegan Empanadas on a plate with salsa, one empanada cut in half to show fillings.

Easy Black Bean Vegan Empanadas

These vegan empanadas are filled with zesty black beans and wrapped in flaky puff pastry. They’re packed with flavor and surprisingly easy to make!


For the Filling

  • 2
    olive oil,
  • 1
    medium onion,
  • 1
    medium red bell pepper,
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
  • 2
    ground cumin
  • 1
  • Pinch
    ground cloves
  • 1
    (14 ounce or 400 gram) can
    black beans,
    drained and rinsed
  • ¼
  • 1
    tomato paste
  • ½
    frozen corn,
  • 2
    hot sauce*
    (such as Cholula)
  • ¼
    chopped scallions
  • ¼
    chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3
    (8.7 ounce or 245 gram) sheets
    puff pastry
    (you’ll need 1 ½ packages if you use Pepperidge Farm brand)
  • 1
    unflavored and unsweetened non-dairy milk


  1. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and place it over medium heat.

  2. Once the oil is hot, add the pepper and onion. Cook them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pepper is tender and the onion is soft and translucent.

  3. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and cloves. Stir everything and cook the mixture for about 1 minute, until the garlic becomes very fragrant.

  4. Add the beans, water, and tomato paste. Stir everything to blend the tomato paste with the water.

  5. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, until the beans have softened up a bit and most of the liquid has cooked off.

  6. Remove the skillet from heat.

  7. Stir in the corn, hot sauce, scallions, and cilantro. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, and adjust any other seasonings to your liking.

  8. Preheat the oven to 425°F and oil two large or three medium-sized baking sheets.

  9. Place one of your puff pastry sheets on the counter, and use a rolling pin to roll it into a 9×14 inch rectangle.

  10. Cut six circles in the dough, about 4 ½ inches each in diameter. To do this you can use a large cookie or biscuit cutter, or find an appropriately-sized bowl and use a knife to cut around it. You can also just eyeball it, if you’re comfortable doing that.

  11. Repeat the process until all of your dough has been rolled and cut. You should have eighteen circles.

  12. Fill a small bowl with water.

  13. Grab one of your dough circles and spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center.

  14. Wet a finger with the bowl of water, then spread a thin layer of water around the edges of the circle. Fold the dough in half to enclose the filling, and pinch the edges tightly to seal. Place it on a baking sheet and crimp the edges with a fork.

  15. Repeat until all of the filling and dough circles are used, arranging the empanadas evenly on the baking sheets with about an inch separating them.

  16. Use a fork to poke a few holes in each empanada, then brush the tops of the empanadas with the milk.

  17. Place the empanadas into the oven (you can bake them in batches if they don’t all fit), and bake them for 15 minutes.

  18. After 15 minutes, remove the baking sheets from the oven and brush the empanadas with the remaining tablespoon of oil.

  19. Bake the empanadas for about 5 minutes more, until golden brown.

  20. Let the empanadas cool for just a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

* I don’t recommend skipping the hot sauce, as it adds a lot of flavor. If you absolutely must omit it, try adding a dash of vinegar or lime juice to help balance the flavors.

Nutrition Facts

Easy Black Bean Vegan Empanadas

Amount Per Serving (1 empanada)

Calories 207
Calories from Fat 106

% Daily Value*

Fat 11.8g18%

Saturated Fat 5.3g27%

Sodium 192mg8%

Potassium 115mg3%

Carbohydrates 22.5g8%

Fiber 3g12%

Sugar 1.9g2%

Protein 4.9g10%

Calcium 1mg0%

Iron 10mg56%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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