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Costa Rican Bean and Cheese Empanadas

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These Costa Rican empanadas with beans and cheese are a delicious vegetarian appetizer recipe. Gluten-free corn dough filled with refried black beans and mozzarella cheese and fried in a half-circle.

About Costa Rican Bean and Cheese Empanadas

Empanadas are a very popular food in Costa Rica, both because they are easy to make at home, but also because you can buy empanadas on the street in practically every location imaginable.

Bean and cheese empanadas (empanada de frijol con queso) are a popular vegetarian type of empanada. Most other empanadas just have a single filling, but the bean and cheese are a fun take on the traditional filling. In Costa Rica, we generally use refried black beans flavored with Salsa Lizano and a salty homemade white cheese. 

When I make these in the States I just add a little bit of salt to the gluten-free empanada dough and then use mozzarella. 

Bean and Cheese Empanada Recipe

Ingredients:

  • tortilla press
  • pan for frying
  • cooking oil for frying
  • 2 cups Maseca
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 8 slices of mozzarella
  • 1 cup of Costa Rican refried black beans

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together Maseca with the salt. Add water and combine to make your empanada dough. Combine until there is no visible flour.

Make 8 equal sized dough balls. Press each one into a circle in your tortilla press.

Now you will fill the empanadas. I place one slice of mozzarella on half of the empanada dough circle, then put about 2 tablespoons of the bean filling on top.

Seal each empanada shut with your finger, making sure there isn’t a hole. If there is, the empanada will fill with oil when you cook and it’s not too delicious.

Heat the cooking oil in a pan until it’s about medium hot. Place as many empanadas as will comfortably fit in the pan (meaning they can fry without touching) and fry for 5-7 minutes. Your empanada should be golden brown on the outside but the dough should be thoroughly cooked on the inside.

Drain excess oil and serve.

Additional Costa Rican Black Bean Recipes:

Substitutions

You can experiment with the types of cheese you want to use in the empanada. You can also use different cooking oils such a canola oil or peanut oil. That just comes down to personal preference.

I sometimes used queso fresco or queso panela in place of mozzarella.

You can buy Costa Rican refried black beans in a can. 

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

Did you know we have dessert empanadas too? 

Variations

You can top these empanadas with shredded green cabbage and then squirt mayonnaise and ketchup all over the top. This becomes an empanada arreglada! You generally eat an empanada arreglada with a fork. And lots of napkins.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with good company. I like to make a bunch of different types of empanadas with all the odds and ends in the fridge. Then we eat them with coffee, tea, agua dulce or another type of hot drink. 

I even make a huge batch for dinner and we eat them with butternut squash soup or a big salad. Makes a nice vegetarian recipe- especially during Lent!

Our most popular Costa Rican recipes:

Printable Recipe

Yield: 8 empanadas

Costa Rican Bean and Cheese Empanadas

Fresh homemade bean and cheese empanadas.

These Costa Rican empanadas with beans and cheese are a delicious vegetarian appetizer recipe. Gluten-free corn dough filled with refried black beans and mozzarella cheese and fried in a half-circle.

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

Ingredients

  • tortilla press
  • pan for frying
  • cooking oil for frying
  • 2 cups Maseca
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 8 slices of mozzarella
  • 1 cup of Costa Rican refried black beans

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together Maseca with the salt. Add water and combine to make your empanada dough. Combine until there is no visible flour.
  2. Make 8 equal sized dough balls. Press each one into a circle in your tortilla press.
  3. Now you will fill the empanadas. I place one slice of mozzarella on half of the empanada dough circle, then put about 2 tablespoons of the bean filling on top.
  4. Seal each empanada shut with your finger, making sure there isn't a hole. If there is, the empanada will fill with oil when you cook and it's not too delicious.
  5. Heat the cooking oil in a pan until it's about medium hot. Place as many empanadas as will comfortably fit in the pan (meaning they can fry without touching) and fry for 5-7 minutes. Your empanada should be golden brown on the outside but the dough should be thoroughly cooked on the inside.
  6. Drain excess oil and serve.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 475mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 11g

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

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About the Author

Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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2 Responses

    1. Hi- Essentially it’s raw corn ground up into a really fine flour. So it is raw and needs to be cooked, but it’s used mostly for homemade corn tortillas and empanadas.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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