Vegan 'Beef' Empanadas + Sofrito

Empanadas have been a staple in my family ever since I can remember.  They are the perfect party food or on-the-go snack. Traditionally, Panamanian empanadas are made with beef BUT you can really add any kind of filling you prefer.

That's where this recipe comes in...

It has been a little while since I've had empanadas since I eliminated meat from my diet, so I figured I would try to make my own vegan variation. Instead of beef I used a vegan ground substitute.  The key for my filling is that I used my homemade sazon and sofrito.  Sure you can use the store bought stuff in a pinch but both of these recipes literally take minutes to put together.  The extra effort is worth it. 

Now for the dough...

Let me just say I have tried many MANY dough recipes and I just could never get it right. This dough came out so perfectly. You can bake or fry the empanadas AND the best part is that you only need three ingredients.  So on top of the fact that it’s only three ingredients, they also freeze great so you can make extra and pop a couple out at a time whenever you get the craving for a snack. It really gets no better than that.

Vegan Beef Empanadas

Yields about 12-13 medium sized empanadas



  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening, melted. Make sure it’s vegan.
  • 1 cup hot water


  • First, make the dough.  In a mixing bowl with the hook attachment add all ingredients and mix until it comes together into a smooth ball.

  • Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.



  • 1 pound vegan ground beef substitute
  • 3 tablespoons sofrito (see recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon sazon
  • ½ teaspoon adobo
  • 1 8oz. can of tomato sauce
  • Vegetable oil


  1. While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.  Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the vegan ground beef, sofrito, sazon and adobo and cook until heated through and fragrant.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for about 15 minutes or until liquid has reduced and the filling has thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool before assembling empanadas.


  1. n a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/8 inch with a rolling pin.
  2. Using a round cookie cutter or small bowl/saucer cut out as many discs as you can. Tip: Try rolling out as much as you can so that you don’t have to reuse the dough.  If you overwork the dough it could get too tough and hard to work with.
  3. Lightly brush the outside of the empanada disc with some water
  4. Place a spoonful of filling on one side of the disc.  Fold in half so that the sides meet and use a fork to crimp the edges.  You may have to dip the fork in a little bit of flour so that it doesn’t stick to the dough.
  5. If you are baking the empanadas, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Brush with empanadas with a little bit of oil and bake for 10-15 or until golden brown.
  6. If you are frying the empanadas, heat the oil to 325 degrees.  If you’re unsure, stick a wooden spoon in the oil.  If it starts to bubble then it’s ready.
  7. In small batches of 3-4 (depending on the size of your pan), fry until golden brown.
  8. Transfer to cooling rack or a plate lined with paper towel to soak up any excess oil.



  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro


  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Add a splash of water if needed to get things moving.

  2. Store in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator.  You can also divide portions in an ice cube tray and freeze.


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