Being Argentinean and living in Italy, we really miss the great "Empanadas Argentinas." This vegan empanadas recipe is delicious and very easy to make; you will feel that you have taken a quick trip to Argentina.
There are many different kinds of these puffy savory pastries. In a way, they are very close to the pizzas as the principle for making empanadas is the same: dough plus getting creative with the garnishing/filling.
We have empanadas year-round, but we especially love this lentil version during the fall season, as it is when we tend to eat more lentils and pulses.
Follow this vegetable empanada recipe to make your own homemade empanadas. It's fast and fun to make vegetable empanadas with the whole family. These healthy lentil empanadas are also vegan, which means that, unlike some vegetable empanadas, they don't use any animal products like cheese or eggs.
These healthy vegetarian empanadas have a lentil base. We make a thick lentil stew which becomes the filling. We use the same seasonings that a meat empanada would have; hence the flavor profile is very similar but without the meat!
- Lentils: the primary protein source in vegan empanadas, providing a rich, meaty texture and high nutritional value while being environmentally friendly and inexpensive.
- Green onion adds a mild, slightly sweet flavor to the filling, contributing to the overall depth of taste and providing a pop of color.
- White onions are used for their sharp and slightly sweet flavor, helping to create a balanced taste profile in the filling while also softening during cooking for a pleasant texture.
- Red onions bring a mild, sweet flavor and a hint of spiciness to the dish, enhancing the complexity of the flavor profile, while their vibrant color adds visual appeal.
- Garlic is a fundamental ingredient for enhancing the dish's overall taste, adding a savory depth and richness that complements the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Red bell peppers provide a sweet, slightly tangy flavor and soft texture, adding color and freshness to the empanada filling.
- Ground cumin adds warmth and earthiness to the dish, contributing to the Argentine-style flavor profile and helping to balance the other spices and ingredients.
- Smoked paprika imparts a smoky, slightly sweet flavor to the dish, enhancing the Argentine-style taste and contributing to the rich, complex flavor of the filling.
- Raisins can be added for a touch of natural sweetness and chewiness, creating a flavor contrast with the savory ingredients and adding an interesting textural element to the filling.
- Olives add a salty, briny flavor and firm texture, contrasting with the soft lentils and complementing the other ingredients for a well-rounded, satisfying taste experience.
See quantities and complete instructions in the recipe card.
Optional: salt and pepper to adjust the seasoning.
- Make your own dough as directed. You can also use pre-bought puff pastry.
- Make the filling.
- Assemble the empanadas.
When making empanadas, you need to think about three things that differentiate the different types you can find typically in Argentina: the kind of dough, the cooking method, and the filling.
If you mix these three variables, you can find an endless array of possibilities.
Let's start with the simplest of the variables.
Fried vs. Oven Baked. Although fried empanadas are quite common, they have become less common daily. In our point of view for two reasons:
It is widespread to ask for empanadas' deliveries, and just as any other fried delivered good will not reach its destiny as crispy as they should.
- Fried empanadas are not very healthy. They are usually fried in pork fat, and nowadays, people always look for healthier comfort food versions. Still, they are widely consumed when eating out, and they naturally will reach your mouth crispy.
- Baked. In a preheated oven, cook the empanadas until they are golden brown, about 15 minutes. If you are working with frozen vegetarian empanadas, you can bake them directly (frozen), reducing the heat to 400 ºF (200ºC) instead, and cook for extra 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
These veggie empanadas can be cooked either fried or baked.
Hint: using a lined baking sheet can facilitate the baking process and prevent the empanadas from sticking to the baking tray.
You can find mainly two kinds of empanada dough, puff pastry (flaky crust), and regular pastry.
This decision is harder to make, and we like both very much; it is just up to what you feel like having. We vary amongst these types, depending on our mood.
Simple and Tasty Empanadas Homemade Dough Recipe: All-purpose flour, Olive Oil, and Salt.
Also, in the north of Argentina, Tucuman's empanadas use pork fat to make the dough. Being plant-based, we limit our consumption of animal fats. We have tried them before, but in my opinion, there is nothing to miss from porcine fat; they are obviously less healthy.
Every Empanada Shop has at least five kinds of fillings. You will always find beef, ham and cheese, Caprese, humita (sweet corn), and Roquefort (blue cheese). But most empanadas shops have about ten types or more.
Unlike pizzas, cheese is not an essential component in the case of empanadas. Nevertheless, certain filings include cheese such as ham and cheese, onions and cheese kind, mushrooms, spinach ricotta, or Caprese (cheese, basil, and tomato).
You can use cheese if you are making a vegetarian empanada recipe, but for this recipe, I wouldn't add it, as our vegetarian filling (with a base of lentils) is rich enough, which we use in replacement of the classic meat filling.
💭 Practical aspects
Since eating more than one kind of empanadas is common as part of the same meal, the cue to differentiate them from the outside is the fold dough technique (repulgue). Also, different marks work. Try working on a lightly floured surface to prevent the veggie empanadas from sticking.
I will show how to make the repulgue, but the easiest way to get it right for a beginner is to use a fork to pressure the border and close them.
Quantity per person
If you’re like us, empanadas are good any time of the day. They are both a staple appetizer and an excellent option for any lunch or dinner with family or friends. And for a while now, we’ve been craving some as we miss them so much!
- For a full dinner or lunch: four empanadas.
- Not that hungry: three empanadas.
- On a diet? Two empanadas.
- As an appetizer: one empanada.
💡Top tips if using pre-made puff pastry
- You can get about seven medium dough circles out of one store-bought pie disc.
- Take it out of the fridge just right before cutting and using it.
We use Tucuman Style Empanada's seasonings, which typically include cumin, paprika, olives, and raisins.
These lentil empanadas are a veganized version, so we use olive oil (or vegetable oil) instead of porcine fat and lentils instead of pork. Also, we are not using eggs which the Tucuman version usually includes.
Also, we make vegan empanadas dough using olive oil instead of pork fat.
The big question: sauce or no sauce?
The short answer: it is not necessary, and it is not common. For example, if you go to a Restaurant, typically a Meat restaurant would probably have a chimichurri sauce or Provenzal sauce, which some people will put on top.
We also love using our carrot top chimichurri sauce for a change!
There is a large community of Argentineans living in Mexico, so these puffy pastries have become quite common there, luckily.
While we lived there, we noticed that we would also get some extra sauces with every Empanadas Delivery, but yes is Mexico! The land of salsas. Feel free to try it.
Some people also like adding lime juice to the inner side while munching on their veggie empanadas.
Hot or cold empanadas? Although we all love hot empanadas, everyone has eaten cold ones, preferably at room temperature. Think of them as pizza!
You can freeze leftover vegetarian empanadas as meal preparation to save time during the week. Just place them in a sealed, airtight container, separating them with parchment paper, or plastic wrap.
Ready for cooking?
Please let us know which is your favorite and what type of empanadas you find in your region.
🍷 Wine Pairing
- Argentina - Young Red - Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza)
- Argentina - Young Red - Pinot Noir (Patagonia)
- France - Dry White - Pouilly-Fumé (Sauvignon Blanc)
🇦🇷 More Argentinean recipes
- Pickled Eggplants
- Carrot Savory Tart (Pie)
- Vegan Eggplant pie
- Mushroom empanadas
- Spinach and Ricotta empanadas
⭐ If you try this recipe, let us know! 💬 Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag us @ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Vegan Empanadas (Lentil Filling)
- 24 ounces all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups water warm
- 9 ounces lentils dry
- 14 fluid ounces water
- 2 green onions
- ½ white onion
- ½ red onion
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ red bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 24 olives pitted and halved
To paint them (for color):
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoon water
- Unite all the ingredients to form a dough.
- Knead for 5 minutes so that it is well united and tender. Cover with a film or damp towel and let rest which will prevent the surface from drying.
- Wash and soak the lentils for a minimum of 15 minutes in a bowl with plenty of water. Then discard the water left. This will help to soften the lentils and reduce the cooking time.
- Chop the different kinds of onions, garlic, and red bell pepper.
- Sauté the chopped ingredients on medium heat, until tender.
- Add the lentils, plus the water.
- Add all the spices, salt, and pepper.In about 15 minutes, the lentils should be tender. You should slightly overcook the lentils to manageable and don't fall apart while assembling the empanadas. Optionally add the raisins and olives.
- Set. Prepare two little bowls, one with water and the other one with the 2 tablesppons ow water plus the paprika.
- Spread the dough with a rolling pin on a surface with just a little bit of flour to prevent it from sticking.
- Cut the discs with a 3-4 inches cutter or any circular plate with a circular shape.
- Pre-heat the oven at 450ºF (230ºC).
- Moist your fingertips in the water bowl and spread some water in the edges of the discs.
- Fill the discs with about one full tablespoon of the cold mixture in the center of the disc.
- Close the discs and with a fork, put pressure in the moist edges until perfectly closed.
- Paint the discs with a brush and the paprika and water mix. This replaces an egg wash.
- Arrange the empanadas on a oiled baking tray.
- Bake for 15 minutes, watching it after the minute ten, to them from burning.
- Argentina - Young Red - Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza)
- Argentina - Young Red - Pinot Noir (Patagonia)
- France - Dry White - Pouilly-Fumé (Sauvignon Blanc)
🌡️ Food safety
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with a high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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The dough and the filling for these empanadas is perfection!! So flavorful and actually very easy to make.
Way better than store bought, this really hit the mark!!
Nice to hear that! Thanks for your review!
tavo the flavours of this empanadas is just wonderful!! I need to make a double batch of this again! cuz it was GONE in just seconds
That's so encouraging, Nancy! I am glad you loved the empanadas!
Apparently I'm the only one who doesn't understand the recipe. You soak the lentils in a cup of water, but you cook them in 14 oz of water. Do you discard the first cup of water from the soaking. How long do you soak them?
Hi Rich, thanks for your question, and sorry if it is confusing. I'll edit it, so it is clearer. When you soak beans and lentils in water, you need to discard the water because that helps to decrease the gas and bloating that may result from eating them and also make them softer, reducing the cooking time. The lentils will absorb some of the water by osmosis, so if you use a little amount of water, you might notice it might be all gone after 30 to 60 minutes. The 14 oz water is additional. I hope it is clearer. Cheers!
Never had lentil empanadas but now I'm hooked! Love this vegan option with the lentils. And the dough was perfect!
Oh! you have been missing out! Lentil empanadas are the best! I am glad you liked them!
These empanadas are so delicious. And I love the wine pairing suggestions too. Thanks for this awesome recipe and informative post.
Ahhh such an incredible empanada recipe! Can’t wait to make it again!!
Thanks for your review, Katie! I am glad you loved the recipe as much as we do! It is such as classic at home.
these empanadas are the absolute best! so tasty and the texture is spot on!
Not only are these insanely delicious (and fun to make!) but I appreciate that they are really budget-friendly! Lentils are one of the least expensive foods and protein sources on the planet, yet these empanadas are one of the most tasty foods. A total win!
You are so right Michele! Lentils are super healthy and pocket-friendly! I am so glad you liked these lentil empanadas!
This is such a versatile recipe - love it! Also, what a great feature having wine pairings with your recipes!
Indeed, empanadas are super versatile! Nice to know you appreciate the wine pairings! 🙂
Carrie Robinson says
I just love a good homemade empanada! I am going to have to try this recipe soon. 🙂
So delicious! My husband's family is from Bolivia, so we enjoy Saltenas every now and then. These aren't quite the same, but still so yummy. I love that we can eat them during Lent...and that you made them healthier with baking. I can't wait to take these to my Bolivian in-laws!
Oh yeah! Saltenas are delicious! I remember having them as we had Bolivian neighbours when I grew up in Panama, and they used to have a Salteñas empanadas shop, they were really tasty.
I never tried vegan empanadas. That filling sounds amazing. Very delicious. I'll definitely save this recipe to try.
These remind me of the traditional Russian pastries my mum made when I was little! Loved the recipe, So much flavour and so tasty. 10 stars!
That's very nice to hear Tania! We appreciate it! Thanks for the 10 stars rating! 🙂
Thanks for the recipe! We can’t wait to make them. If freezing the empanadas, do you first bake them or just freeze them raw? Thanks!
you are very welcome, Seneca. We usually make a bunch. Then bake the ones we will eat, and then freeze the ones we are saving for freezing. You can freeze them raw.
Amo las empanadas! Siempre preparo en cantidad y con diferentes rellenos para tener en el freezer, teniéndolas a mano para cuando me antojo de comerlas y ahorrando algo de tiempo en la cocina...
Tendré presente esta receta para mi próxima producción! (Ya las he probado y me encantaron!)
A question about the lentils: the recipe says to overcook them so they don't fall apart while assembling the empanadas. Overcooking would make them mushy, so are those instructions correct? Thank you!
Hi Frances, Thank you for the question. Yes! They will become a little mushy, and that is needed in order to handle them well while assembling the empanadas. Just a little overcooking, will do it. No need to make a purée. 🙂
OMG the best empanadas everr!!!!! Most def gonna do them again! ????????????
I am so glad you liked them! They are our favorites!!