Nopales & Mushroom Empenadas


Empenadas are Spanish food that are flaky, buttery, pastries and traditionally stuffed with beef. My take on it, however, uses some fresh produce and some spicy ingredients to bring you a tangy, citrus



So what are morales? Nopales are cactus paddles, but don’t worry – you don’t have to eat the spikes on the sides. In fact, you can usually buy them with them already removed.


Nopales are rich in fiber, manganese, protein, and vitamin C, too! If you cook them on their own, they have a tangy & juicy flavor, plus their texture is one-of-a-kind.



The wonderful thing about this empanada filling is that is the flavors blend and mesh so well together – not to mention the texture of all of these slow-cooked vegetables is so savory. The first time I made it to test it out, I told my husband that this was the best thing I’d ever tasted in my life – YEAH, it’s that good.



Not going to lie, though, this recipe is A L O T of work, it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, and you’ll be working the whole time. Want to make it easier? Find a buddy! This is a great recipe to make with friends & I can guarantee you’ve never tried anything like it.


So read it through, figure out what you need to grab from the store, and phone a friend! This will surely impress, too!

By the way, you can pick up nopales at mexican grocery stores & markets. I recommend calling around, first.


Nopales & Mushroom Empenadas

Serving: 14
Time: 1 hr 15 min

The Dough

dough recipe is adapted from the New York Times Beef Empenada recipe


  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 oz vegan buter
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. In a large bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over salt & butter. Mix until it has all melted together.
  2. In smal batches, add flour and mix continuously with a wooden spoon until it is no longer sticky & a warm dough has formed.
  3. Knead a few times on a floured surface (with floured hands!) and form into a ball. Wrap or cover and refrigerate for 1 hour

The Filling


  • 1 peeled potato, cubed
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (seeded if you can’t handle the heat)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 3 oz mushroom (oyster variety is best)
  • 2 nopales (cactus paddles) with spikes removed, diced
  • 1 tsp each:
    • chili powder
    • tajin (chili lime seasoning)
    • cumin
  • 1 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced


  1. Heat about 1 tbsp of water in a large pot at medium heat. Once heated, add potato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, & bell pepper.
  2. Saute for about 5 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add 1 cup water & bouillon cube – cover & simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fully cooked.
  4. In a frying pan, heat at medium-low with a tbsp of water or a bit of oil. Once heated, add mushroom & cactus.
  5. Saute for about 10 minutes – until the cactus is no longer crunchy – stirring frequently.
  6. After 10 minutes are up, add cactus & mushroom to the other pot of vegetables. Add chili, tajin, and cumin, as well.
  7. Cover until the 20 minute mark is up (you want potatoes cooked well).
  8. Once the potatoes are easily washable, remove lid and crank up the heat to medium. Mix up a bit and begin to smash the potatoes with a fork (roughly, doesn’t have to be perfect).
  9. Leave at medium heat without the lid for 15-20 minutes (until all liquid is gone). You want the filling to be thick, moist, but not watery.
  10. Remove from heat and add cilantro and the lime juice.
  11. While that is finishing up, the dough should be ready.

Putting it all Together

Have these items on hand:

  • a cup with some water in it
  • a small bowl with a bit of flour


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Separate the dough into golf ball sized sections (should make about 12-14).
  3. On a floured surface, roll a ball into a 6 inch wide circle.
  4. Add about 1 tbsp of filling to the center.
  5. Dip finger in water & run along edges of empanada dough (like a glue to seal it shut). Fold dough over into semi-circle.
  6. Seal by pressing down edges with a fork (see image above).
  7. Continue filling & folding with the remainder of dough and filling.
  8. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
  9. Brush a bit of oil on the top of each empenada and broil for 1 minute on top rack, or until they are golden brown.
  10. Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, or try out my easy no-soak cashew sour cream!

Tell Me:

Have you ever had an empenada before? What was in it?

Did you try the recipe? How did it work out? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t forget to like, share, and pin the recipe for later!


cactus & mushroom