Caramel apple empanadas are pastries stuffed with buttery, caramel-glazed cinnamon apples and then fried to a glorious golden brown crisp. This drool-worthy treat is inspired by Taco Bell’s caramel apple empanadas. Serve it as a game day snack or a Thanksgiving dessert.
For more dessert recipes, try my Old Fashioned Banana Pudding next.
Caramel Apple Empanadas
Apple empanadas are a new spin on the classic apple pie recipe. It’s apple pie if you deep-fried it and made it portable. The flaky pastry holds sweet diced apples, enhanced by butter, cinnamon sugar, and a delectable caramel sauce.
You may recognize this from Taco Bell’s menu but these homemade dessert empanadas are so much better. Bite into a lightly crispy shell to reveal a warm, gooey center. Satisfy your sweet tooth with these easy caramel apple empanadas!
Why You’ll Love This Apple Empanadas Recipe
- Perfect for Any Occasion! Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, or dessert, this is the perfect way to sweeten up the day.
- Great for On the Go! They have the buttery, flaky crust of an apple pie but they’re much easier to grab and go. Enjoy these handheld sweet bites anywhere!
- Super Easy to Make! The instructions are simple. Make your filling, let it cool down, stuff your empanadas, then fry them!
What are empanadas?
An empanada is a baked or fried pastry filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. Although the exact origin of these hand pies is unknown, they became popular in Spain and Portugal and are now a popular food staple in Latin cuisine.
Apple Empanadas Ingredients
- Granny Smith Apples: With their crisp texture and sour taste, these apples pair perfectly with the ultra sweetness of caramel.
- Dark Brown Sugar: Add for a cozy depth of sweetness.
- Ground Cinnamon: This spice pairs perfectly with apples and a little goes a long way.
- Unsalted Butter: To control the sodium, I use unsalted butter but we still get that rich, buttery flavor.
- Kosher Salt: You can use more or less than suggested based on your preference.
- Cornstarch Slurry: Combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch + 1 tablespoon of water in a separate bowl for cornstarch slurry. This thickens the filling.
- Caramel Sauce: Use your favorite brand or whip it up from scratch.
How to Make Caramel Apple Empanadas
Make Caramel Apple Mixture
Peel and dice your apples and toss them in a skillet or saucepan on medium heat. Add your brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter. Cook down for 6-8 minutes.
Then add corn starch slurry and let simmer additional 2-3 minutes until thickened. Next, add caramel and stir to combine. Set aside and let cool for 15-20 minutes.
Assemble and Fry Empanadas
Add a spoonful of filling to the center of the empanada wrapper. Then fold and seal it closed. Crimp the edges with a fork, and fry in 350°F degree oil until golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel or wire rack.
- Baked Apple Empanadas: If you’re trying to save some calories and want a less hands-on approach, bake them instead of frying them. Place the assembled empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar. Then put them in the oven and bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes.
- Air Fryer Caramel Apple Empanadas: Place them in a preheated air fryer at 350°F for 10 minutes. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to cook them in batches.
- Dulce de Leche: Instead of caramel, you could use this. They taste similar but dulce de leche is creamier than caramel.
- Spices: For more warm, fall flavor add another spice like cloves.
Tips for the Best Apple Empanadas
- Spritz chopped apples with a little lemon juice in order to prevent them from browning.
- Do not cook the apples on high heat or they may stick to the pan.
- Remember to allow the apple filling to cool before adding it to the empanada.
- Don’t have empanadas? Use a refrigerated pie crust or pastry dough instead!
- Use leftover empanadas from dinner to make this easy dessert.
- Use leftover apple pie filling or this recipe to make the filling for a traditional apple pie.
What to Serve with Apple Empanadas
- Dipping Sauce: Drizzle it with additional caramel sauce or dip it in a sweet vanilla glaze.
- Ice Cream: Serve each empanada with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Whipped Cream: Keep it light and add a little whipped cream on the side.
Allow the apple empanadas to completely cool before refrigerating them so they can stay crispy. Place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
To freeze them, first, cover them on a flat surface covered in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for three hours. Then store them individually in aluminum foil or freezer-safe plastic bags in the freezer for up to 2 months.
You can eat them cold, at room temperature, or gently reheat them in the oven or air fryer.
Can I Make Apple Empanadas Ahead?
Yes! Prepare the apple filling up to 3 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge after it has cooled down.
Should empanadas be fried or baked?
You can do either. For less grease and calories, bake them. To save time, frying is the better option. (And a few extra calories almost always taste better!)
What dough do you use for empanadas?
For ready-made empanadas use Goya pastry dough. You can find empanada dough in the freezer section at the grocery store.
Does taco bell still have caramel apple empanadas?
As of August 2019, Taco Bell no longer serves caramel apple empanadas. Luckily, you have a recipe of your own so you can make it whenever you want!
I hope you enjoy making this Caramel Apple Empanadas recipe! Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more Internet Chef content!
Caramel Apple Empanadas with Dipping Sauce
- 5 Granny Smith Apples
- 1½ cups Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch + 1 tbsp Water in a separate bowl for cornstarch slurry
- 2 tbsp Caramel Sauce
- Empanada Wrappers
- Peel and dice your apples and toss them in a skillet on medium heat.
- Add your brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter. Cook down for 6-8 minutes.
- Add corn starch slurry and let simmer additional 2-3 minutes until thickened. Next add caramel and stir to combine. Set aside and let cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Add spoonful of filling to center of empanada wrapper, press closed, crimp with fork, and fry in 350°F degree oil until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel or wire rack.