Easy Beef-less Empanadas for Brunch

A while back, I put together a brunch party for my friends. It was one of those times when everyone I invited happened to accept. I wondered how I could pull off eggs for twelve.

Once I decided the Latin theme, the answer to the egg dilemma was simple. I would make a hearty casserole of black beans and tomatoes, topped with eggs. Instead of experimenting and concocting, I found a great recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen for Mexican Baked Eggs.

I needed a secondary protein dish - something to take the place of sausage or bacon. Since my husband had been bugging me to make vegetarian empanadas, I decided to go that route. It was an undertaking too big for a sleepy Sunday morning, but I was determined.

It's been ages since I cooked meat, especially ground beef, but for some reason I wanted the real thing that weekend. I knew my friends would be into it, too. So I actually doubled my workload and made both real beef and fake beef empanadas - careful to avoid cross-contamination. I wanted them to taste authentic, and I didn't have time to test them out before the brunch unveiling, so I went with a classic Goya recipe for Beef Turnovers. You can't go wrong with Goya!

It turned into a taste-test challenge with my friends, actually. Which empanada was meat, and which was fake meat? Could you tell? Which one do you like better? In this case, we got people to try fake meat and they actually liked it as much as the real thing.

Although I had the random craving for this Latin brunch in February, it would make a great Cinco de Mayo brunch. It falls on a Saturday this year, so you'll need that high-protein base for a day of celebrating with cervezas y margaritas! And don't forget that cute little piñata!

If I had to do it again, I'd add a couple things to the plan - it would go something like this:

Vegetarian Cinco de Mayo Brunch Menu Plan

Mexican Baked Eggs - recipe
Easy Beef-less Empanadas - see recipe below
Green Apple and Cantaloupe Salad with Lime Juice and Mint - (to function as a natural antacid)
Fresh OJ & Prosecco Mimosas - but if you have a juicer, try 3 Grapefruit, 3-4 Apples, 2-3" ginger + Prosecco - it will be a hit!
Cabo San Lucas Mexican Coffee - this recipe from PBS is exactly how I remember it served at the Riu Hotel in Cabo

Easy Beef-less Empanadas
approx. 1hr
16-20 empanadas

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 C yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 C low sodium tomato sauce
6 Spanish olives stuffed with minced pimientos, thinly sliced
2 T golden raisins (optional)
2 T Sofrito
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Black pepper & Salt

1 package frozen puff pastry sheets (12-17oz)

*Heat oven to 400F.

1. In a skillet over medium heat, add oil and onions. Cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

2. Add the frozen crumbles and cover 5 minutes until thawed. Stir in tomato sauce, olives, raisins, sofrito, sazon, and oregano. Cook over medium heat another 10 minutes, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

3. On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry sheets. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out thin - about 1/16". Cut 3" rounds with a cutter or a martini glass. 

4. Place a tablespoon of filling on each round, and dab a little water around the edge. Fold in half and press closed with a fork. Stab a couple holes in the top for the steam to escape. 

5. Bake the filled pies 2" apart on baking sheets for about 8-10 minutes until golden brown. 

*Serve plain, or with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

Please excuse typos and inconsistencies. I work with dog attached.


I am always up for empanadas! FOund your blog through Foodbuzz. The pic of your pup is adorable! Happy to be your newest follower!
Deena Mehta said…
Thanks very much, and Welcome!
Oishii Treats said…
I love your blog, and i can understand the picture with your dog on your lap top, mine does the same exact thing all the time!
Lauren said…
This recipe just saved me! I'm co-hosting a brunch baby shower for my girlfriend who hails from Puerto Rico - It never crossed my mind to do a veg empanada. THANK YOU!

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