Quinoa lentil baked empanadas with jalapeño lime sauce

These empanadas are a delicious and filling vegetarian option.

Contributed by Allison Collins, MD

Quinoa lentil baked empanadas with jalapeño lime sauce

If you want a new, creative idea for a vegetarian lunch at home, try this tasty recipe! It does take some time, so I tend to double the recipe and then freeze the extra empanadas. They can easily be reheated and taste just as good as when they’re fresh baked.

The lentils and quinoa pair nicely and add lots of protein and fiber to help fill you up for the afternoon or evening. Using whole-wheat or spelt flour makes these 100% whole grain and adds a nice nutty flavor. The smoked paprika adds a smoky umami flavor, so I highly recommend using it instead of substituting sweet paprika. Most stores carry smoked paprika, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

My kids like to help with the rolling out and filling process. I find it’s easiest to use a fork to help seal the empanadas and make them look "professional." 

Servings: 8 (makes sixteen 4-inch empanadas)

Prep time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 3 cups spelt or white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons butter (I used cashew-based vegan butter)
  • 1 3/4 cup water, divided (or more if needed)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced dried onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper


  1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Whisk in 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Add the yogurt and the melted butter to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Knead mixture very gently and briefly with your hands until you obtain a relatively smooth dough. Don’t overwork the dough. It's fine if the dough appears a bit shaggy and unevenly mixed (like pie crust), but it should have enough moisture to come together to form a cohesive ball. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more water. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour, and knead lightly.
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Set aside to rest and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Dough may be prepared the day before and chilled overnight.
  6. In a medium saucepan, add the quinoa, lentils, and water and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until done (longer if using larger lentils).
  8. Add walnuts to the cooked lentils and quinoa.
  9. In a large bowl, combine the lentil and quinoa mixture with minced dried onion, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 
  10. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  11. Roll out dough on a floured surface until very thin (1/8 inch or less). Use a glass cup or circle press to cut out circles (mine was about 4 inches wide). Roll out each round a bit more to make it larger.
  12. Put a couple of spoonfuls of the mixture into the center of each empanada.
  13. Carefully fold over one side of the dough on top of the other. Use a fork to seal the edges.
  14. Bake empanadas for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown.
  15. While empanadas are baking, blend the fresh cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeño pepper in a food processor to make the jalapeño lime sauce. 

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Serving size: 2 empanadas
  • Calories: 310
  • Total fat: 9 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 350 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 48 g
  • Dietary fiber: 5 g
  • Total sugars: 3 g
  • Protein: 14 g