Roasted Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Caramelized Onion Empanadas with Salsa Verde

Do you have a running list of recipes you plan to tackle at some point in your life? I'm talking about things you'd love to make, but that have always seemed a bit daunting, so you keep putting them off for a day when you have just a little more time or are feeling just a little more ambitious. Croissants top that list for me--I'd love to have homemade croissants, and I'd love even more to be able to brag that I know how to make homemade croissants, but I just haven't worked up the energy yet. Up until this last week, empanadas were on that list too. But folks, no longer! I'm happy to say that I finally tackled homemade empanadas and have put a big mental strikethrough to another recipe on my bucket list. Really, they weren't that hard. I wasn't about to purchase a deep fryer, so this version is baked. They still tasted great (and were a bit healthier as a bonus).

The combination of sweet potatoes, caramelized onions and black beans makes them savory-sweet. The tangy salsa verde has a generous kick of lime to balance the sweetness of the empanadas. And finally, using a food processor to prepare the dough made the whole endeavor no more difficult than baking a pie (shall we say easy as pie?). My salsa verde recipe came from the amazing book Modern Sauces (more on that in another post), but any tomatillo and lime-based salsa will work.


1 yellow onion
1 tbsp butter
1 large sweet potato
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey 
1/4 tsp salt
1 14 oz can black beans
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
1 egg white
1 egg yolk

3 cups flour
1 egg yolk
½ cup vegetable shortening
¾ cup to 1 cup of warm milk
½ tsp salt
  1. To caramelize the onion, heat a pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp butter. Coarsely chop the onion and add to the pan. Cook until the onion has become translucent (3-5 min), stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for an additional ~30 min, stirring only every 10 min to ensure adequate browning and caramelization.
  2. While the onions are cooking, preheat oven to 375 F. Peel and cut sweet potato into 1" cubes. Toss with the honey, olive oil, and salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30 min, turning once half way through. Set aside.
  3. Transfer the black beans (including liquid) to a small pot and heat over medium heat on the stove. Add the chili powder, cumin, and paprika, and mix well. Simmer until the liquid has thickened (~15 min), then mash slightly using a fork or potato masher. They should be slightly chunkier than refried beans.
  4. To prepare the dough:  pulse the flour and salt in a food processor until well combined. Add the vegetable shortening and blend well. Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts, pulsing until small dough clumps start to form. Gather the clumps into 2 balls, flatten into disks and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 
  5. Once you're ready to fill and bake the empanadas: Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thick. Use a roughly 5" diameter bowl to trace out circles of dough. Fill each circle with about 2 tblsp of a mixture of the three fillings. Brush the edge of the circles with egg white, fold in half and press closed. Flute the edges by twisting with your thumb and forefinger; alternatively, the edges can be pressed with a fork.
  6. Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg yolk and bake at 400 F for 25 min.
  7. Makes 12-16 empanadas, depending on the size of your circles.
Dough recipe found here.


  1. Empanadas are on my list as well! I love the filling you picked for yours ;-)
    I was very sad when Macondo closed since they had some delicious gluten-free empanadas, but a new place, Cassava, opened up that I want to try...they bake their empanadas as well!

    1. You should give them a shot, they're really not too hard! Too bad I'm not in Chicago to try those restaurants :-/