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My Caramel Apple Empanadas are melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Complete with Granny Smith apples cooked in a spiced caramel sauce and a flaky, buttery pie crust, they are the best caramel apple hand pies ever. Just like mini apple pies!
Best Apple Empanadas Recipe
This Mexican empanada recipe is perfect for packing into kids’ lunch boxes, serving at parties, or just as a treat to enjoy at home.
They’re just what you need to remind you of the Taco Bell apple empanadas everyone misses, but even more delicious! Trust us, this little apple pie recipe is going to rock your world.
Seriously, what is better than a warm apple dessert? They are the things dreams are made of. My family loves anything apple, especially this amazing apple crisp recipe.
Delicious! Made this for my boyfriend’s birthday and he LOVED IT! He said it reminded him of the Taco Bell empanadas but waaay better! Thanks for sharing!@sassypaants on PInterest
Caramel Apple Empanadas Ingredients
Empanada Dough Ingredients
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- cold water
Caramel Apple Empanada Ingredients
- Granny Smith apples, diced
- lemon juice
- caramel, cajeta, or dulce de leche
- vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon
- ground cloves
- egg yolk
- cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- caramel sauce, for drizzling (optional)
Slice your apples easily by following my How to Use a Mandoline guide!
How to Make Apple Empanadas
How to make empanada dough
Check out my step-by-step instructions on how to make the best empanada dough recipe!
How to make the apple pie filling
- Toss 4 diced Granny Smith apples with lemon juice, then add to a saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir together with the caramel. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the apples soften, 15-20 minutes.
- Stir in vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to come to room temperature.
How to make empanadas
- Once the filling cools, remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin sheet. Use a 3 ½″ circular cutter to cut out circles of dough, or cut using the mouth of a glass around the same size.
- Place the apple pie filling into the center of one of the circles. Fold the dough over the filling and press the edges together to seal.
Seal completely by slightly pulling out, folding over, and pressing down with a fork to create a rope-like appearance. Repeat until all empanadas are folded.
- Place the caramel apple empanadas 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and water. Brush the egg wash over the tops of the chilled empanadas and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Empanada Recipes Tips
- Refrigerate for 20 minutes before baking. Don’t skip this step! This helps firm up the dough and filling to keep everything inside as they bake.
- Crisp them up. To make your caramel apple empanadas crispy, swap granulated sugar for turbinado sugar to crisp up the tops of the apple empanadas further and add a little texture!
- How to make cinnamon sugar. You can easily make your own cinnamon sugar by mixing ½ cup sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Make it even sweeter. Add a spoonful of brown sugar or piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) to the simmering apples.
Empanada Recipes FAQs
Empanadas are baked or fried turnovers with a sweet or savory filling. They are common in Latin American and Filipino cuisine, but variations of the empanada exist all over the world.
An egg wash is a simple combination of egg and water or some other liquid, like milk. The ratio is one tablespoon of liquid to one egg. Place them in a glass bowl, beat together, and then use to brush over the top of whatever you’re baking.
In the case of these dessert empanadas, the egg wash gives the pastry dough a beautiful golden-brown color when baked.
You can use either ready-made pie dough or even Goya discos to make these caramel apple hand pies.
If you have the time, I highly recommend making homemade pie dough. It is truly delicious! However, you will get incredible results using pre-made dough, too.
How to Freeze Empanadas
- How to freeze empanadas before baking:
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Assemble the empanadas according to the instructions, making sure to seal them tightly, then place on the pan. Make sure the empanadas are not touching so that they do not stick together in the freezer.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap, then store in the freezer for 3 hours. Once frozen, remove them from the pan and add to freezer-safe bags or individually wrap them in plastic wrap. You can also store in an air-tight container.
- When ready to bake, add 10 minutes or so to the baking time.
- How to freeze empanadas after baking:
- Assemble and bake the empanadas according to the instructions. Allow them to cool completely.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the empanadas on the baking sheet, spaced out just so they do not touch. Cover the sheet loosely with plastic wrap, then store in the freezer for 3 hours.
- Once frozen, remove them from the pan to add to freezer-safe bags, or wrap individually in plastic wrap. You can also store in an air-tight container.
- When ready to reheat, you can do so at baking temperature for about 10-15 minutes straight out of the freezer.
Make Ahead Empanadas
You can make both the empanada dough and the apple pie filling ahead of time.
- Empanada dough: Form the dough according to the instructions outlined in the post. Then, add the dough to a greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Store for no more than 3 days before assembling the empanadas.
- Empanada filling: Cook the filling according to the post instructions, then let cool and add to an air-tight container in the fridge. Store for the same amount of time as the filling, no more than 3 days.
Apple Empanada Variations
- Instead of caramel, try using cajeta (Mexican goat milk caramel) or dulce de leche for these caramel apple empanadas. Dulce de leche is great for having on hand to make recipes like these hand pies or Carlota de Limón.
- Use ready-made dough or Goya discos to save yourself some prep time on making the dough. They are just as flavorful!
- Add a little piloncillo to the simmering apples. Piloncillo is like a Mexican brown sugar. It’s a raw form of cane sugar that tastes wonderful in this recipe!
This Mexican dessert recipe is truly delicious. It really will remind you of the Taco Bell empanada recipe, and we guarantee your family will love it!
How to Serve Dessert Empanadas
These caramel apple hand pies are perfect for pairing with dessert toppings or ice cream. Here are our suggestions:
- Serve with cinnamon gelato, ice cream, or a little whipped cream.
- Drizzle additional caramel sauce or even butterscotch sauce on top.
Or serve these apple hand pies as an alternative to a full pie for a holiday dessert. They make a wonderful treat in the Fall, especially for Thanksgiving!
Best Empanada Recipes
If you love apples, try my guide on How to Make Candied Apples or my Puff Pastry Apple Tart next!
Caramel Apple Empanadas
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter chilled and cubed
- ½ cup cold water
- 4 Granny Smith apples diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓ cup caramel, cajeta, or dulce de leche
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- Cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- Caramel sauce for drizzling
To make the dough:
- In a food processor fitted with a dough blade or a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
- Pulse in the cubed butter or cut in using a pastry blender or your fingers to create a crumbly texture with no pieces larger than a pea.
- Mix in enough water just to bring together the pieces and create a smooth dough. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling:
- Toss the diced apples with the lemon juice. In a saucepan, stir together the diced apples and caramel over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the apples begin to soften, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Once the filling has cooled to room temperature, remove from dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin sheet. Use 3 ½ inch circular cutter to cut out circles of dough.
- Place 1-1 ½ tablespoons of the apple filling into the center of one of the circles. Fold the dough over the filling and press the edges together to seal. Seal completely using the tines of a fork or create a rope appearance by pulling the edge out slightly and folding over, starting from one end and finishing at the opposite side. Repeat with remaining empanadas.
- Place the empanadas two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and water. Brush the egg wash over the tops of the chilled empanadas. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar.
- Bake in preheated oven until the empanadas are golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
If you want even more sweetness, add a spoonful of brown sugar or piloncillo to the simmering apples.
Using an egg wash to seal the empanadas is key to keeping the apple empanadas intact while baking. Don’t skip on refrigerating the empanadas for at least 20 minutes before baking. This will help firm up the dough and filling to keep everything inside.
Garlic + Zest says
I am drooling over here! Those little empanadas look positively luscious! Definitely my kind of dessert!
Em Beitel says
Thank you so much! It’s one of my favorite kinds too.
These look fabulous. I love empanadas savory and sweet, yum!
Em Beitel says
Me too! Thank you, Erika!
Low Carb with Jennifer says
These look amazing. Anything in a hand pie can’t be beat! Thanks for sharing! *****
Em Beitel says
Thank you so much, Jennifer! We love these little empanadas.
I’ve never had or heard of sweet empanadas and boy, I was missing out on such a delicious treat!
Em Beitel says
Aren’t they fantastic? You just can’t go wrong with a hand pie! So glad you like it. Thank you!
These look amazing! I want to make them for a party.. can they be frozen after baking? Or, if not, can I make the dough and filling a few days in advance and then assemble and bake that day?
Em Beitel says
Hi Chenia! Thank you so much for your questions! You can actually freeze them before or after baking, whichever you prefer. Prepare them according to directions and stop just before baking them. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the empanadas next to each other, but make sure to space them out so they don’t stick together when they freeze. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, then add to the freezer for 3 hours or so.
Once they’re frozen you can take them out and add them to freezer bags or tightly wrap them in plastic wrap. Go ahead and label them and use them within 2-3 months. You can bake them straight out of the freezer this way! Just add extra time to the baking time when you do (I would add about 5-10 minutes; check at 5, and if they aren’t done, leave in for a bit longer).
You can do the same for already baked empanadas, just let them cool completely first before freezing.
As for making the dough in advance, yes! I would make it no more than 3 days in advance. Add it to a greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. You can store the filling in an airtight container in the fridge for the same amount of time and then assemble as needed.
Thank you again for your questions. We greatly appreciate it and will add this advice to the post!
Can you fry these instead of baking?
Em Beitel says
Hi Taylor! Thank you so much for your question. Yes, you can fry these empanadas instead of baking them if you’d like. I recommend using Goya Discos if you’d like to fry them! Fill a skillet with neutral oil enough to cover about half the empanada in the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, then flip. Drain them on paper towels when you’re done. We would love to know how they turn out for you!
Can you use bottled caramel like sundae topping or one for caramel apples? Thank you! 🙂
Em Beitel says
Hi Rachel! Absolutely, that should be fine. Since you need a third of a cup it may be easier to use jarred caramel, but bottled should work just fine. Thank you for your question!