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Fried pasteliots on a rectangular plate with the front pastry torn in half to show the filling.

Vegan Pastelitos

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  • Author: Catherine Perez
  • Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 16-18 small pastelitos 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dominican
  • Diet: Vegan


These vegan Pastelitos are pockets of dough stuffed with ground tempeh simmered with Dominican spices. Can be baked or fried as a delicious Christmas appetizer.



Vegan Carne Molida

  • 12 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 block (227g) tempeh, crumbled
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sazon
  • 1/2 tsp adobo seasoning, ground cumin, coriander, and oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp chopped green Spanish olives, optional
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp oil or vegan butter
  • 1/3 cup water or more as needed to make a smooth dough


Vegan Carne Molida

  1. Heat up oil in a medium sized skillet, then add in your onions to sauté until translucent.
  2. Stir in your tempeh and sauté along with the minced garlic sauté for about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in soy sauce and sprinkle in spices then continue sautéing until fragrant.
  4. Make a well in the middle of your pan and add your tomato paste and a small splash of oil.
  5. Cook your tomato paste for about 2 minutes, then stir into the tempeh mixture.
  6. Pour in vegetable broth, stir, then cover with lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in your cilantro, Spanish olives and vinegar, then allow to continue cooking until most of the liquid has absorbed.


  1. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a bowl and mix well to combine.
  2. Fold in the oil and water and kneed flour until a smooth dough forms. If dough is really dry, add additional water by the tablespoon until dough is formed. If too wet, add a small amount of flour.
  3. Allow your dough to rest for 5 minutes before rolling.

Preparing the Pastelitos

  1. Roll out your dough and cut out little 4 inch circles from the dough using a thin lipped glass.
  2. Take a disk and roll it out a little thinner on a floured surface.
  3. Spoon about a tablespoon of filling into the center of the dough, making sure not to overfill it.
  4. Take one end of your dough and fold it over to meet the other end. Press your fingers down to seal and reseal again using a fork all around the edges of your dough. If you have excess dough around the edges, feel free to trim it using a knife.


To bake, place your prepared pastelitos on a baking sheet and spray with a little oil then bake in the oven at 375F for 10 minutes and then set to broil on high for 2-3 minutes until dough has browned.

To air fry, brush the pastelitos with some oil and place in the airfryer at 375F for 3-5 minutes until golden.

To fry, place 2 cups of oil in a pan and heat up before frying each empanada on both sides until golden. Rest the cooked empanada on a paper towel to soak up excess oil, then serve as desired.


For best results, make sure to roll your dough out fairly thin. If it’s too thick, it won’t be as flaky for frying.

Make sure the pastelitos are properly sealed to avoid the dough from opening up while they are cooking.

If you’d like to make gluten-free baked pastelitos, follow the instructions for this Sweet Potato Empanada recipe, but use oat flour. This was tested by other users and they had great success with it.