Holiday Vegan Gardein Beefy Argentine Empanadas

As a child, one of my favorite appetizers to eat during the holidays were Argentine empanadas. Sometimes, my mother would make them from scratch, and at other times, we would buy them from the Argentine deli. Either way, they were delicious!

As an ethical vegan, I have missed them because they are meat-filled. Over the last few years, I have attempted to duplicate the taste that I remember from my childhood but was not able to… until now!  I have created a fantastic recipe using Gardein Beefless Ground. (A very special thank you to Gardein for making this possible!)

If you are wondering what Argentine empanadas are, here is a rundown:



Okay, well maybe that is not all of it. Some Argentine empanadas are filled with spinach or potatoes or a combo of both. Sausage is sometimes added. Most of them are filled with meat, however.

I made these on Christmas Eve for my family this year. I just might do it again for New Year’s Day!

Behold my recipe below:

vegan / nut-free


Baking sheets

Parchment paper (optional)


1 large onion, chopped

8-10 Spanish green olives, chopped

½ cup small raisins

3 cups white flour

1/3 cup vegan butter

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 Tbsp. paprika

½ tsp. thyme

1 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. salt

2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil

¾-1 cup Water (depending on how dry your climate is)


Making the Dough: (can be made in advance and refrigerated up to 24 hours)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt.
  2. Add vegan butter in small pieces and some of the water.
  3. Mix with a mixing spoon until the dough forms into a ball, adding water.
  4. Knead dough for about 10 minutes until it turns into a smooth ball.
  5. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 1 hour.

Empanada Ball

Cooking the Empanada Filling: (can be made in advance and refrigerated or put in freezer)

  1. In a large frying pan, cook chopped onions in olive oil until yellow on medium heat.
  2. Add the beefless ground, all spices, and cook according to Gardein’s instructions.
  3. Add the green olives and raisins and toss.
  4. Set aside.

Empanada Meat

Making the Empanadas:

  1. Cut dough into pieces lengthwise.
  2. Roll out each cut piece with a roller into circles. (I suggest using a plate or something round as a circle tracer). You can make the pieces as small or as large as you want. If you want a lot of empanadas, then make the circles smaller. If you want only a few, make the circles bigger.
  3. Coat the circle with a small amount of olive oil.
  4. Add meat alternative into each round piece of dough. How much meat you add depends on how many empanadas you want and how large or small you want them.
  5. Cover the meat alternative with one of the sides of the dough to make a half moon. Moisten the ends with a bit of water. Then crimp the ends with a fork (see image below).
  6. Baste the top of the empanadas with olive oil.
  7. Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet on top of parchment paper (optional) and bake for 15 min at 400 degrees.
  8. Broil for 1 min and serve right out of the oven.

Empanadas 1

Empanadas 3

Empanadas 2


  • You might have some leftover beefless ground. You can freeze for later use or refrigerate it for 48 hours.
  • You can reuse the leftover dough when making your circles; just knead the pieces again to create another empanada.
  • They are best eaten hot right out if the oven.
  • You can reheat them however they will taste a bit dry if you do.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

©2019, Vilma Reynoso,, VEG out: go Vegan. save Earth. be Good to animals

Vegan Christmas

Bringing in the Alternative, Vegan Christmas

As a vegan, the holidays can be difficult. As Christmas approaches, I am pondering about customs and traditions.

Every family is different, and every family cherishes their traditions. But what is it that we treasure so much and makes holidays so special? Is it the delicious meals, the gifts, the time with family and friends or the religious celebrations?  Some of us are fortunate to have loving families with whom to spend our holidays, and some of us are not so fortunate, so we choose not to partake in holiday celebrations. We all, however, appreciate tradition and custom to one extent or another. They are part of us. They are pinpoints that mark moments in time to remember and reclaim. We even fly across the country for sometimes a minimal amount of days for “tradition.” And, every family has its own customs.

The custom in my family is no exception. Food was an integral part of my Christmas celebration with my family when I was a child. As a first generation American who immigrated from Argentina to the United States, I grew up celebrating the holiday on Christmas Eve with my family and friends with a large meal in the evening consisting of pan dulce, nuts, fiambre and Argentine sandwiches, empanadas, a large ham, delicious side dishes, Argentine flan and mate for dessert, and a glass of Sidra as a toast at midnight. We all could not wait to partake in the delicious food.

After midnight, we opened our gifts. We sometimes attended midnight mass and sometimes did not. We spent Christmas day enjoying our gifts and munching on leftovers.  I remember great times, laughter, celebration, love, and feeling happy every Christmas. However, even though I loved the holiday celebrations with my family, I am now not able to participate in the family tradition anymore.  As a vegan, the food, which was an integral part of our celebration at Christmas, does not appeal to me anymore for ethical and health reasons. So, where does that leave me? Am I to ignore my family traditions completely? What is the best that I could do in this predicament?

You might be in the same predicament.

The answer for me was to start my own new family traditions eliminating the animal consumption without eliminating the people. This year, I will be having a vegan Christmas dinner with friends. I have also decided to perfect a vegan version of most of the foods that were part of my family’s Christmas tradition. This might take time and practice, but my goal is to recreate those special moments with a new, healthy, and delicious cruelty-free versions of our family Christmas dinners. I will mesh the old with the new. I am starting with one item this Christmas!

If you are a new or seasoned vegan and struggling with whether you will partake in a holiday celebration consisting of animal-based foods, or if you are feeling anxious about spending the holiday with non-vegans, here are a few suggestions that might help:

  • Realize what is truly important. The people are. There is no replacement for each and every one of us, and we all matter.
  • If you have not done so, explain to your family that you are now vegan and explain why you are vegan for the animals, for your health, and for the planet (see Why Vegan). Explain how it has changed your life for the better with enthusiasm and grace. Hopefully, they will respect your decision and not become argumentative.
  • If someone should try to start an argument, take a deep breath and remember that their attack is about them and not about you.  If you do not have an answer for their particular question, simply tell them you don’t know but will find out.
  • If you should have a very argumentative person at the table, simply tell them you are not there to argue, and if they are interested in learning more about veganism, suggest a vegan book to read such as The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle.
  • Contribute to the family meal by bringing one or two vegan dishes. Everyone will be curious, and they will love them!
  • The dinner table, especially during holiday times, is not the place to preach about being vegan.  Remember that many people will already feel threatened by your diet. They know they are not eating ethically and healthy and are not willing to face that truth for whatever reason. Your very presence might be a threat. This is the time to enjoy your loved ones and not the time to assert your choice of lifestyle. If they should be genuinely interested, fantastic! Spread the truth with grace, patience, and with all your knowledge.
  • Focus on what you like or love about the particular people at the dinner table. You will enjoy your time with them more.
  • If for whatever reason, all of the above should fail, start your own holiday traditions with cruelty-free, vegan, delicious meals. You will be contributing to making the world a better, more compassionate place for all living beings.

Wishing you a peaceful and cruelty-free holiday.