Vegan Colombian Empanadas

My boyfriend, Daniel, just came back from a trip to Colombia to visit his family. This inspired me to veganize the Colombian Empanada! These Vegan Colombian Empanadas will impress even the ones who didn’t think it could be done.

Vegan Colombian Empanadas have been on my list of recipes to make for a while now but I never got around to it. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to do it justice or that they would be too difficult. Thankfully, I was wrong! These are absolutely delicious especially when served with Ají which is a Colombian hot sauce that is made with finely minced mixed veggies and water. It’s so flavorful and fresh and pairs so well with the filling of beefless grounds, potato, and rice. You’re going to love these!

Notes: Colombian Empanadas are made with pre-cooked cornmeal. Which is what we used in the Vegan Colombian Arepas recipe. This is not made with your typical cornmeal found in a supermarket. Click HERE to see exactly what I mean, if you’re unfamiliar. You can use yellow or white pre-cooked cornmeal. I used a mix of both because that’s what I had on hand. All right, let’s get making some Vegan Colombian Empanadas!


Servings: 20-25

Empanada Dough:

  • 3 cups Hot Water
  • 1 Not Beef Vegan Bouillon Cube
  • 3 tbsps Softened Vegan Butter, I used Earth Balance
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 cups Pre-Cooked Cornmeal, yellow or white
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying


  • 1 Large Russet Potato, boiled
  • 1 cup Cooked White or Brown Rice
  • 2 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, minced
  • 3-5 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 2 Not Beef Vegan Bouillon Cubes
  • 12oz Vegan Beefless Grounds, I used Trader Joe’s brand
  • 1 cup Canned Crushed Tomatoes, or tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped finely

Ají or Colombian Hot Sauce:

Notes: This makes quite a lot of sauce so if you’re planning to freeze the majority of the empanadas, make half this recipe. Alternatively, make the full recipe and put this on everything else you eat the rest of the week. It’s great on tacos, burrito bowls, tofu scramble, etc.

  • 1/2 cup Green Onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup Tomato, minced
  • 1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro
  • 2 Jalapeños, deseeded + minced
  • 3-5 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 4 tbsps Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbsps White Vinegar, or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • Salt + Pepper, to taste


Step 1:

  • Dice the russet potato and boil until soft. Drain, place back in pan, mash, and then set aside.
  • Make the white or brown rice (or use leftover rice). Once cooked, set aside.

Step 2:

  • Make the Ají by mincing green onions, tomatoes, red bell peppers, jalapeños, garlic, and cilantro. It’s important to mince not dice. Once minced, combine together in a medium sized bowl.
  • Add in the lemon juice, white vinegar, and water. Mix well. This sauce is supposed to be watery. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve. This step is important. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it is.

Step 3:

  • Dice the onion and red bell pepper and mince the garlic for the filling.
  • Heat a large sauce pan on medium-high heat with 2 tbsps Olive Oil.
  • Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Add in the red bell pepper and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes.
  • Crumble the not beef bouillon cubes in to the pan and add the water. Continue to cook until onions start turning brown and the water is almost absorbed.
  • Add in the package of beefless crumbles and stir to combine with the onions. After a few minutes, add in the tomato sauce, cumin, paprika, salt, chili powder, mashed potato, and cooked rice. Combine.
  • Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Turn off heat and add chopped cilantro.
  • Set aside.

Step 4:

  • Make the dough by combining the hot water, vegan bouillon cube, softened vegan butter, salt, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, and black pepper.
  • Add in the Pre-Cooked Cornmeal and mix with a spatula. Once it’s coming together, use your hands to knead until a soft dough forms.
  • Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

Step 5:

  • Heat a large pan of oil on medium heat until it is 350F.
  • Note: You will want to fry as soon as you shape because the dough will dry out. Make 2-3 and then fry while making 2-3 more.
  • Cut a large gallon sized zip lock bag on 2 of sides. So, it has only 1 side still connecting it. In the middle of the zip lock, add 1/4 cup of the batter and roll in to a ball. Close the zip lock bag so that there is plastic under and above the dough. If you don’t use plastic, it will stick.
  • Smash the plastic covered dough with the bottom of a cooking pan until it’s slightly smaller than the size of a corn tortilla (for reference).
  • Fill the middle of the dough with 1 1/2 to 2 tbsps of the filling. Now, using the plastic, flip one half over the other and use you hands to seal the empanada. Like a half moon. Cut off the edge of the empanada with a bowl or cup.
  • When shaped, immediately place in oil and fry for 5-7 minutes or until they are golden. Drain excess oil off on a paper towel lined cooling rack or baking tray. Keep shaping and frying until all empanadas are fried.
  • Serve with Ají and enjoy! Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the oven.

SAVE FOR LATER? Pin it on Pinterest!

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