The Ultimate Vegetarian Empanada: Beans Make it Better

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This post was sponsored by S&W Beans as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Is it me or are empanadas totally trending on the food scene right now? I keep seeing them pop up on menus and I get it… they’re delicious! Chef Jose Garces has the most awesome recipe for ‘Empanadas de Morocho con Picadillo‘ featured in his book ‘The Latin Road Home‘. I’m making them at home with a tweak, we’re ditching the ground beef and trading for a healthier, meatless option… kidney beans. The ultimate vegetarian empanada is born!

The Ultimate Vegetarian Empanada Kidney Beans Pin

Chef Jose Garces’ Empanada Recipe

Chef Jose Garces’ ‘Empanadas de Morocho con Picadillo‘ is a seriously flavorsome recipe, full of spices, onions, herbs, olives, currants and even egg. To me, it already has the basis of a fantastic vegetarian meal, no meat required! I love that everything is made from scratch, you’ll make an authentic pastry using arepa flour (made from corn), which when fried creates the perfect crispy parcel.

Why Beans Make it Better

I’m trading the ground beef in the original recipe for S&W Premium Kidney Beans. Beans work perfectly with Spanish influenced food and can be substituted easily to make a healthier, cost-effective vegetarian option for ground beef recipes. Beans soak up flavors and spices brilliantly and are packed with protein and fiber for a balanced, healthy diet.

Do I need to wash canned beans
RInse your canned beans before adding to your empanada mix!

You don’t have to use kidney beans, but I love the rich color and flavor, and with highly spiced recipes they are my bean of choice. S&W Beans have been producing premium quality ingredients for 120 years, they really are the go-to for a high-quality bean and experts in their field. They also offer three varieties in each bean including low-sodium and organic options.

Beans are already great value, but who doesn’t like a coupon deal? Download a coupon for $1 off two cans of S&W beans –> here. The coupon can be used on any variety you like!

Eating less meat and finding alternatives

Last year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to eat less meat. I’m not sure if I’m ready for full-blown vegetarianism but I am definitely feeling the pull towards a more sustainable, cruelty-free living. 

Beans make the perfect meat substitute and S&W Beans offer a number of varieties to fit your perfect recipe. Not only are they delicious and healthy, they look fantastic too… when you’re substituting, consider mixing bean varieties for a gorgeous mix of colors and flavors.

The Ultimate Vegetarian Empanada Parcels

We already cook a lot of vegetarian food but I do love finding a new resource for meatless meal ideas. The S&W Bean recipe page has loads of ideas from classic chili to unique delights, you can find their many bean recipes –> here.

The Ultimate Vegetarian Empanada Recipe

This recipe has three parts: Making the pastry, making the filling, and putting them together. You don’t have to do it back-to-back. The pastry will keep for a couple of days in the fridge no problem, just keep it in a ball, wrapped in plastic.

The Ultimate Vegetarian Empanada Bean Mix

This recipe can be family-friendly or just for grown-ups: I like to showcase recipes I eat with my kids, and these little parcels are perfect for lunchboxes while hiding lots of veggie goodness in an appealing pastry packaging. However, spiced as Chef Jose Garces makes them… they punch quite a fiery kick, and pair fantastically with a Mexican beer. So… whether you’re making grown-up party snacks or lunch for the kids, adjust your spice level accordingly!


The Ultimate Vegetarian Empanada
2018-03-05 18:15:35
Yields 12
A kidney bean vegetarian empanada, adapted from Chef Jose Garces' 'Empanadas de Morocho con Picadillo'. Meat substituted with S&W kidney beans for a healthier vegetarian alternative.
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Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
  1. 1 cup arepa flour
  2. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 Tbsp salt
  4. 1 tsp granulated sugar
  5. 1 cup hot water
  6. 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  1. 2 Tbsp +1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 1 can (15oz) S&W Kidney Beans
  3. 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 to 4 cloves)
  5. 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  6. 2 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  8. 2/3 cup vegetable stock
  9. 2 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and diced small
  10. 6 to 8 large green olives, pitted and finely chopped
  11. 2 green onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal
  12. 1 tsp dried oregnao
  13. 1 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
  14. 2 Tbsp dried currants
  15. Salt and black pepper to season
  16. Vegetable oil, for frying (approx 1qrt)
  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, and sugar.
  2. Add the hot water and oil and knead the mixture until it forms a soft dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from bowl and wrap in plastic wrap for storage in the refrigerator (up to 2 days) or get started on your empanadas straight away!
  1. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and beans and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano and stock, and cook for 3 minutes more.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped eggs, olives, green onions, parsley, currants, and 1 Tbsp of butter.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl and cool to room temperature.
  1. Divide the dough into a dozen 2-inch balls.
  2. Using a a rolling pin (or a tortilla press if you're fancy), press each dough ball into a 6-inch round, about 1/8" thick.
  3. Scoop 2 Tbsp of bean picadillo into the center of each dough round and fold over to form a half-moon.
  4. Use a dinner fork to crimp the outer edge.
  1. Heat the oil to 350°F in a large pan using a kitchen thermometer to monitor temperature.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Fry the empanadas in batches until golden brown and crispy, approx 3 minutes each, turning them once in the oil.
  4. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and set them on the baking sheet to drain and cool for a few moments before serving.
  1. These vegetarian empanadas are perfect for adults and children alike but they are rather spicy. Use half the cayenne pepper for a milder palette.
By Katherine Betts
Adapted from Jose Garces
Adapted from Jose Garces

I’d love to know how you find the recipe, I was really pleased with how they turned out.

The Ultimate Bean Vegetarian Empanada

Replacing the meat with beans was easy and could be applied to any ground beef recipe. The premium quality and versatility of S&W Beans will definitely be playing a role in my mission to eat less meat and live healthier. Don’t forget to get yourself a coupon

S&W Beans Kidney Empanadas
Who doesn’t love a coupon?

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About the author

Katherine is an electrochemist, hiking enthusiast, and family lifestyle blogger. As a mom of three, including twins, she enjoys DIY, travel, and eating good food. British born, Katherine moved to the US in 2014, and now called Las Vegas home.

11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Vegetarian Empanada: Beans Make it Better”

  1. Your empanadas look fantastic! You are so correct we do not need all that meat and I love beans! I will have to look for S&W in my grocery store. Not sure they carry that brand yet. Also thank you for the recipe!

    • They’re an classic brand and have been around for ages so keep an eye out next time your shopping. Enjoy your empanadas!

  2. I’ve never thought about having bean empanadas before. We’re all big fans of empanadas in our family. This is such a good alternative to ground beef. We’ve made it with cheese before for those who don’t eat meat. I’ll have to suggest this to my husband who’s the empanada maker in our house 🙂

  3. YUM! What a great recipe. I have not made Empanadas for a long time. I will have to pick up some beans and get cooking/baking. Your recipe looks great. So yummy and easy to make for a great family meal.

  4. Okay, I admit it … I usually reach for the dessert empanadas. This vegetarian bean empanada looks worthy of a try. I love trying new food options.

  5. I would use the meat for the boys but I would prefer the beans! I love food and I am willing to try just about anything. My waistline has shown it over the winer!

  6. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a kid, so there are so many foods I’ve never tried. I’ve never had an empanada because I figured there weren’t options for me. Mind blown! Can’t wait to try your bean empanada.


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