Global Comfort Food: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Empanadas

By Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD | January 27, 2021 | Rally Health


Makes 16

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

The name “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb empanar meaning “to bread” or “to wrap in bread.” Credited by most as having originated in Spain, empanadas are commonplace in Latin America and the Caribbean, and both the filling and dough (some made with flour, others made with corn meal or plantains) will vary based on where they’re prepared.

This recipe variation uses refrigerated pie crusts that you simply roll, cut and fill to create the savory pastries. This shortcut keeps time and mess minimal, but also ensures a golden flaky pastry no matter your baking skill level. For the filling, I recommend baking a small to medium sweet potato the day before at 425 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender. Once cool, mash and refrigerate until ready to make the filling.


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ¾ cup canned drained no-salt-added black beans
  • ½ cup mashed sweet potato
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ tsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 (14.1-oz, 2-count) pkg refrigerated pie crust dough
  • 1 egg


1. Heat oil in a shallow saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add beans and 2 to 3 Tbsp water. Cook 3 minutes or until hot throughout and liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from heat.

2. Using the back of a fork or spoon, coarsely mash half the beans. Stir in sweet potato, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, chili powder and salt.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

4. Unroll pie crusts onto a flat surface. Cut dough into circles that are 4 to 5 inches in diameter, rerolling dough as needed until there are 16 circles.

5. Divide bean mixture equally among dough circles, placing bean mixture on one side of each circle. Fold dough over bean mixture, pinching the edges together to seal. Using a fork, make hash marks on the edges of each empanada to seal. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make 2 to 3 small slits in the top of each to allow steam to escape.

6. Whisk together egg and 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl. Lightly brush each empanada with egg wash. Bake 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

NUTRITION FACTS (per 1 empanada): Calories 120; Total Fat 7g (Saturated Fat 2.5g); Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 200mg; Total Carbs 16g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Total Sugars 1g, Added Sugars 0g); Protein 2g

This recipe is from Comfort Foods From Around the World.


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