These golden and flaky Ecuadorian fried cheese empanadas are simple to make, delicious, and make the perfect party food or snack!
This is a veganized version of my grandma’s empanada recipe that I loved growing up. It requires a few simple ingredients, and tastes exactly like her original recipe!
Here’s What You Need to Make These Fried Cheese Empanadas:
All Purpose Flour: This empanada recipe calls for all purpose flour when making the dough. We like to use the Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached flour or the Bob’s Organic Unbleached flour, but any AP flour will do the trick. It’s also important to note that we have not tested these empanadas with gluten-free or whole wheat flour!
Vegetable Shortening: This will help our dough get nice and flaky. My grandma traditionally uses lard in her empanadas but since we are making them vegan, vegetable shortening is the perfect swap to keep a similar flavor and texture.
Baking Powder: This will act as a levening agent in our empandas and will make them nice and fluffy. We always do our best to use aluminum-free baking poowder. The one we like to use can be found here.
Salt: This will help enhance the flavor of the other ingredients and make your empanadas the best they can possibly be.
Vegan Cheese: My grandma always filled her empanadas with cheese, so that’s what we are doing today. You will be amazed by how the vegan cheese melts. We like to use Follow Your Heart brand mozzarella style shreds for optimal melty-ness. You can also fill your empanadas with any other fillings you’d like.
Sugar: This is the “secret” ingredient in this empanada recipe. As soon as they are finished frying, my grandma always sprinkled a pinch of sugar onto them to give it some well-rounded flavor. The sugar provided the perfect hint of sweetness in the mix of all that savory goodness.
Ecuadorian empanadas are traditionally filled with beef, cheese, and onion, or just cheese like we are making here today. All of these can be easily made vegan using plant-based alternatives, and chances are anyone enjoying them won’t be able to taste the difference.
Fun Facts About Empanadas
National Empanada Day is April 8th – so don’t forget to celebrate with this recipe! 😉
Different versions of empandass can be found in cultures across the world, however they seem to be most popular in Latin America, Portugal, the Caribbean, and the Philippines.
The word “empanada” comes from the spanish verb “empanar” which translates to “to wrap in bread.”
Empanadas can be enjoyed at any meal, but are more commonly consumed at lunch or for a snack.
These golden and flaky fried vegan cheese empanadas are simple to make, delicious, and make the perfect party food or snack!
1 cup (250 ml) water
2 tablespoons (24g) vegetable shortening
3/4 teaspoon (3g) salt
300g all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
2 1/4 teaspoon (8g) baking powder
~12 tablespoons shredded vegan mozzarella cheese
Sugar, as desired
In a small pot, add in the water, vegetable shortening, and salt. Heat over low heat just until the shortening is melted, mixing often, and then set aside.
In the meantime, grab a large bowl and mix together the flour and baking powder.
Add 1 cup of the water mixture into the flour bowl and mix with a spatula until well combined.
Switch to mixing with your hands and continue adding the water mixture, about 2 tablespoons at a time, until a smooth dough forms.
Flour a clean work surface. Transfer the dough onto the surface and knead until smooth, about 8-10 minutes. If the dough is too wet, add flour about 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until it is smooth. If the dough is too dry, add more liquid about 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until it is smooth.
Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it with a wet kitchen towel. Rest for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, heat 2-inches of oil over medium heat to about 350°F.
Divide the dough into 12 balls. Feel free to weigh them if you would like for them to be uniform, but it is not necessary. Place all but one of the dough balls back into the bowl and cover them up again with the wet towel so they don’t dry out! Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper for the empanadas to rest after rolling.
Roll each ball, one at a time, into a thin disk, about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. Add a heaping tablespoon of vegan cheese into the middle of the disc. Fold the bottom of the disk over the cheese to meet the top, and then use your fingers to seal the edges. Next, either braid the edges or use a fork to seal the empanada. Set the finished empanada onto the lined baking sheet and continue with the remaining dough.
Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar to a small bowl and set that aside. Line a large plate or additional sheet with paper towel to drain excess oil later on after cooking.
Place the empanadas into the hot oil. Once the bottoms are golden, about 2-3 minutes, flip them and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes more.
Transfer the empanadas to the paper towel lined plate or baking sheet and immediately sprinkle them with a heavy pinch of sugar. Continue cooking the remaining empanadas.
Serve warm and enjoy!
Please note that this dough is ideal for frying, not baking.
These empanadas are best when eaten the day of making them. You can store them in an airtight container on the counter for about 2-3 days (they get hard and stale fast, unfortunately) and just reheat them in a convection or toaster oven to get them nice and crispy!
Hi, we’re Jasmine and Chris! We share fresh and fun recipes to show you that vegan cooking is easy, approachable and delicious. When we’re not blogging, you will probably find us enjoying live music, tending to our backyard garden or playing with our dogs Berry and Louie