Vegan Empanadas with Tender Wheat Pastry

Chef by StepAuthorChef by Step
finished vegan empanada
Yields12 ServingsCategoryCuisine
Prep Time5 hrsTotal Time5 hrs 25 mins
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The star of this recipe is the flaky, easy-to-crimp dough from Viva Vegan! The flavor and texture of this dough is so good, you’ll wonder if you’re not at a professional bakery. Like most good pastry, the most important ingredient is time. This dough needs to be left to chill for at least four hours!

For a fast empanada without the wait time, you can try making it with the crusty corn dough from this recipe. I prefer the wheat version, but if you’re in a hurry the corn dough is excellent!

Wheat Empanada Dough
 3 cups white flour
 1 ½ tsp salt
 ¼ tsp baking powder
 6 tbsp chilled vegetable shortening
 2 tbsp chilled vegan butter
 ¾ cup cold water
  cup soy creamer, for brushing
Spicy Mushroom Filling
 1 lb your favorite brown mushroom
 7 oz diced green chillies, canned or fresh
 1 medium yellow onion
 3 tbsp vegetable oil
 1 cup vegetable broth
 8 tsp minced garlic
 3 tsp paprika
 3 tsp oregano
 1 tsp cumin
 ½ tsp cinnamon
 salt to taste
 pepper to taste

Gather your ingredients! This will be enough to make about 1 dozen empanadas half the side of your hand.

ingredients for vegan empanadas


Put 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder in a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until they’re evenly mixed.

pulse dry ingredients for vegan empanada dough


Chill your vegetable shortening and vegan butter until cold. Then, add six tablespoons of the shortening and two tablespoons of the vegan butter to the food processor in small chunks.

add cold fat to vegan dough


Pulse the dry ingredients and the fat together for about ten seconds until you get a grainy looking mixture like this. Move it into a large mixing bowl.

grainy vegan dough


Stream in about 3/4 cup of cold water while kneading the dough with your fingers. Add just enough water so that you can press the mixture together to form a soft, stretchy dough with no cakey spots on the inside.

Do not over-work the dough, or it will get tough from forming gluten strands. You’ll want the dough as malleable as possible so that you can crimp a nice empanada seal later. Knead the dough just enough to dissolve all of the flour.

knead vegan empanada dough


Split the dough in half, roll the halves into balls, and flatten them to the width of a bike tire. Wrap them tightly in cling wrap and place them in the fridge for at least four hours. Yes! Quite long. This is why I recommend making the dough the night before you plan to eat the empanadas.

Don’t skip this long resting step. If you follow through, you’ll end up with a malleable dough that bakes into a wonderfully flaky wrap.

plastic wrapped resting vegan dough


Four or more hours later, prepare a workspace to roll out the empanada wraps. Cut out 12 square pieces of wax paper, about 6″ by 6″, to separate the wraps from each other. Flour your counter, rolling pin, and hands. Clear a small space in your fridge for a small plate of stacked wraps.


Cut the two discs of dough in half, and then divide those halves into thirds to make twelve roughly equal portions of dough. If the dough has turned out well, it should have a greasy, almost sweaty appearance that wasn’t there before resting.

tiny bites of vegan empanada dough


Take one of the dough pieces in your floured hands and roll into a meatball-sized sphere. Place it on the floured surface and roll it into a rough circle, a bit larger than 6″ in diameter, with your floured rolling pin.

rolled out vegan empanada wrap


Press a 6″ bowl down on the rolled-out dough to make an even circle. Peel away the scraps from the edges and set the scraps aside to make an extra wrap or two.

trimming rough edges with a bowl


Place the finished empanada wrap on a wax paper square and quickly stow in the fridge.

vegan empanada wrap


Repeat this for the rest of the dough paces. Stack the finished wraps in the fridge with wax paper between them, so they don’t stick together. Leave them in the fridge until the filing is ready to use.

vegan empanada wraps in a stack


Start on the empanada filling by finely dicing the 16 oz of mushrooms and 1/2 lb of onion. For the mushrooms you choose, any type has its own appeal, but shiitake is king in my book! I’ve chosen 8 oz of flavorful shiitake and 8 oz of affordable portabella.

You don’t want your mushroom chunks to be too big, or you won’t be able to roll a neat empanada.

diced ingredients for vegan empanadas


Begin to sauté the 1/2 pound of diced onion and 8 teaspoons of minced garlic

sauté onions and garlic for vegan empanadas


While the onions are softening, mix together the 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth with 3 teaspoons of oregano, 3 teaspoons of paprika,1 teaspoon of ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

mix spices for vegan empanada filling


Stir in the spice mixture and fold in the 16 oz of mushrooms.

empanada filling


Cook the empanada filling on medium heat, uncovered, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and the moisture is mostly boiled off.

Once the filing is done cooking, remove it from the heat and set it aside until it is cool enough for you to handle with your bare hands.

reducing the vegan empanada filling


Once the filling is cool enough to handle, grab one of your chilled wheat wraps and spoon on 1/3 cup of the filling.

one third cup of filling


Fold the circle in half and pinch together the edges to make a seal.

pinched vegan empanada


Tightly pinch the corner of the empanada so that a flap sticks out a bit farther from the rest of the rim. Then, fold this flap towards the center of the empanada and towards the beginning of the edge.

first pinch of empanada


After making the first fold, pinch the dough next to the first fold so that it, too, sticks out further from the edge. Fold this flap down towards the center of the empanada and towards the corner so it slightly overlaps the first fold.

second pinch of vegan empanada


Continue this pinching, folding motion along the whole edge of the empanada. The overlapping folds will start to look like a twisted rope or the side of a braid.

middle pinch of vegan empanada


Fold the last flap when you reach the other second corner.

Repeat this for the other 11-13 dough rounds you have. Place the uncooked empanadas on a non-stick cooking surface like parchment paper or silicone.

finished empanada


Generously brush each of the uncooked empanadas with soy creamer. The fat and acid from the creamer gives the outside of this flaky pastry a wonderful initial feel on the tongue.

brush soy creamer onto vegan empanadas


Bake the empanadas at 400°F for about 25 minutes, until the edges start to brown.

baked vegan empanadas


The bottom of the finished empanada should be brounded, dry, and crisp.

bottom of vegan empanada


Allow the empanadas to cool for 8 minutes before serving. Biting into a boiling empanada will make your guests unable to taste the next one, even after it’s cooled ;)

Serve with your favorite salsa for dipping and garnishing. Enjoy!

finished vegan empanada

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