Black Bean Empanada – Empanada de frijol Costa Rica

Four bean empanadas and green bowl of black bean puree.

These Costa Rican black bean empanadas are made from gluten-free corn flour, filled with Costa Rican refried black beans and fried until hot and golden brown. 

About Costa Rican Black Bean Empanadas

Black beans are a staple of Costa Rican cuisine. Most Costa Ricans eat black beans every single day, if not multiple times a day. This means that there are always some beans hanging around the Costa Rican kitchen, and people look for creative ways to use them in cooking.

Related posts: Costa Rican Style Slow Cooker Black Beans Recipe and Traditional Costa Rican Gallo Pinto Recipe

For beans that have been reheated a lot of times, or are just about to go bad, we grind them up with some spices and make frijol molido. Similar to Mexican refried beans, except with black beans and Salsa Lizano. 

These frijoles molidos then become the filling for these vegan bean empanadas. The recipe is great for vegans, vegetarians, and those who follow a gluten-free diet. Plus they are delicious little fried pockets of corn dough full of protein-rich black beans.

Black Bean Empanada Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow corn tortilla flour (Maseca)
  • 1 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup Costa Rican style refried black beans 
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • cooking oil
  • tortilla press with plastic inserts
  • pan for frying (like a cast-iron skillet)

Instructions:

Prepare the masa by whisking together salt and tortilla flour. Add the water and stir to combine. Your masa should be the consistency of cookie dough. 

Create 6-8 equal-sized balls of dough. I do this by halving the dough, then halving the halves and so on until it’s all done.

Press the dough into circles in your tortilla press by placing one plastic insert on the bottom, then the ball of dough. Cover with another plastic insert and press down. 

You don’t want your empanadas too thick or it can be hard to get them to cook evenly. 

On one half of the empanada place about 3 tablespoons of the black bean filling. I keep the bean dip at room temperature or hotter because when it’s cold sometimes it doesn’t cook as well inside the empanada. 

Seal the empanada shut with your finger.

Heat oil on medium-high heat and fry the empanadas for about 7 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. If you get your il too hot, the outside of the empanada will burn but the inside will still be raw. It’s not a very great experience. 

Drain excess oil and serve hot.

Substitutions

So many filling substitutions! Here are a few of my favorite Costa Rican empanada recipes:

Did you know we have dessert empanadas too? 

Variations

Oftentimes, Costa Rican empanadas will be huge. Like 8 inches long. In that case, you would need to form the empanadas with your hands into a circle before filling it. I have never seen a tortilla press big enough to make that big of an empanada!

Our most popular Costa Rican recipes:

Serving Suggestions

Serve hot- piping hot! Preferably with a napkin to absorb the grease. Oh, and with Salsa Lizano of course.

We usually eat these with a hot cup of coffee or agua dulce. Breakfast or snack is most common, and empanadas are a popular street food. 

You can also make empanadas arregladas, which is basically taking a regular empanada and covering it with shredded cabbage. Then squirt ketchup and mayonnaise all over it and eat it with a fork. A true empanada tica!

FAQ

What is the difference between Costa Rican and Argentine empanadas? – Costa Rican empanadas are gluten-free and use a corn-based flour. They are also fried. Argentine empanadas tend to use a finer flour (like cake flour) and are baked. Both have savory fillings, however. 

Can I make bean empanadas ahead of time? – You can! Some people make the empanadas and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Other people actually fry them partway and store them, and then fry them the rest of the way right before serving. 

Printable Recipe

Yield: 8 empanadas

Black Bean Empanada

Four bean empanadas and green bowl of black bean puree.

These Costa Rican black bean empanadas are made from gluten-free corn flour, filled with Costa Rican refried black beans and fried until hot and golden brown. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups yellow corn tortilla flour (Maseca)
  • 1 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup Costa Rican style refried black beans 
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • cooking oil
  • tortilla press with plastic inserts
  • pan for frying (like a cast-iron skillet)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the masa by whisking together salt and tortilla flour. Add the water and stir to combine. Your masa should be the consistency of cookie dough. 
  2. Create 6-8 equal-sized balls of dough. I do this by halving the dough, then halving the halves and so on until it's all done.
  3. Press the dough into circles in your tortilla press by placing one plastic insert on the bottom, then the ball of dough. Cover with another plastic insert and press down. 
  4. You don't want your empanadas too thick or it can be hard to get them to cook evenly. 
  5. On one half of the empanada place about 3 tablespoons of the black bean filling. I keep the bean dip at room temperature or hotter because when it's cold sometimes it doesn't cook as well inside the empanada. 
  6. Seal the empanada shut with your finger.
  7. Heat oil on medium-high heat and fry the empanadas for about 7 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. If you get your il too hot, the outside of the empanada will burn but the inside will still be raw. It's not a very great experience. 
  8. Drain excess oil and serve hot.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 884mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 4gSugar: 0gProtein: 7g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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