Caramel Apple Empanadas - These cute little hand pies are easier than traditional apple pie in a few ways. They are easier to travel with, quicker to cook and re-heat, and can even be a hand held snack. My favorite part is that they don't have to be shared! Everyone gets their own.
This recipe came together around the fall and winter holidays, but the flavors of sweet apples, cinnamon, and salted caramel are pretty much always in season, right? For a decadent and indulgent treat, have one with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
We baked these up using our own flaky pie dough recipe, which creates a tender and buttery crust that is just incredible. The batch size in the recipe makes the perfect amount for these little caramel apple empanadas.
- cinnamon - it's hard to imagine a more perfect spice for apples.
- flour - we prefer an unbleached all purpose flour, if you can find some that is not brominated, that is even better.
- salt - a nice large flake sea salt adds a nice texture to these little cuties, we like to use Maldon.
- caramel morsels/chips - rather than making caramel from scratch, these little nuggets are readily available, and super convenient.
- apples - use your favorite variety for cooking, we like gala, or fuji.
- butter - we always suggest unsalted for cooking or baking, it's really important here, since we need to tightly control the salt content.
- pie dough, (Not shown) - you'll want to follow our recipe for pie dough at least a day in advance, letting it set up in the refrigerator, (you can use store bought pie dough also.)
See recipe card for quantities.
Step One - Peel and Cut Apples
Peel and core the apples.
Cut the apples into ½ inch sized chunks.
Step Two - Cook the Apples
Over medium high heat, sauté the apples with butter, adding cinnamon when they start to release some moisture.
Add the sugar followed by the lemon juice, and reduce the heat to medium.
Step Three - Finish the Filling
Thicken the juice from the cooking apples and sugar with a little corn starch slurry to make a thick sauce.
Add a knob of fresh butter right at the end when turning the heat off.
Step Four - Prepare the Dough
Cut the pie dough down into 12 equal pieces on a floured surface.
Roll the dough pieces out to about ¼ inch thickness. Using a bowl or a 5 inch round cutter, cut out circles.
Step Five - Fill and Form Empanadas
On a parchment lined sheet pan, scoop the apple filling into the center of each round of dough.
Add the caramel morsels, and brush the edges of each round with egg wash. Fold one end to meet the other, and crimp the edges to form a seal.
Step Six - Prepare Pies for Baking
Brush the tops with more egg wash, and make three small slits in the top of each empanada.
Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top of each before placing in a 350 degree oven to bake.
Step Seven - Remove and Cool
Remove pies from the oven when they are golden brown.
Place hand pies on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling off.
Make sure to allow the filling to completely cool before assembling these. If the apple and caramel mixture is even a little bit warm, it will cause the dough to melt and get really impossible to work with.
The finished caramel apple empanadas will stay fresh tightly sealed in the refrigerator for about 7 days.
The filling can also be made in advance and be held under refrigeration for about 3 days before making the pies, making for an easier and more convenient recipe to finish.
When going to re-heat, they will heat up in an oven heated to 350 degrees in about ten minutes, just until the inside is warm.
Just like the filling, the pie dough needs to be nice and cold. Not only will the dough be very difficult to work with when it warms up, but it won't bake well either. Remember that a pie dough is basically just flour, butter, and a littler water. If the butter melts before the flour starts to cook along with it, you'll basically just have oily flour. We actually suggest putting the formed empanadas into the freezer for about ten minutes before baking them, just to make sure!
- Can this recipe be made with store bought pie dough? - Yes, you can purchase pie dough to make this recipe.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Caramel Apple Empanadas
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Chef Knife
- 1 Mixing Bowl
- 1 Measuring Spoon Set
- 1 Measuring cup set
- 1 kitchen spoon
- 1 pastry cutter
- 1 pastry brush
- 1 small paring knife
- 1 Small 5-inch bowl or cutter
- 1 large sauté pan
- 1 Rolling Pin
- 2 baking sheet pans
- 1 baking rack
- 1 liquid measuring cup
- 1 portion scoop ice cream scoop
- 2-3 sheets of parchment paper
- 5 Apples cored and diced
- ½ Lemon juiced
- ½ cup Sugar
- 3 tbsps. Butter unsalted
- 2 tsps. Cinnamon ground
- ½ tsp. Sea salt
- 3 tbsps. Corn starch
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 Lb Flour
- 8 oz Butter unsalted, cold (could be frozen ahead of time)
- 4 tbsps. Vegetable oil
- 4 tbsps. Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¼ cup Water with ice
Building the Pies
- 1 bag Caramel baking chips
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt a pinch on each pie
- 1 large Egg beaten with a tbsp. of water to create an egg wash
- 1 tbsp. Sanding Sugar or granulated sugar to sprinkle on the tops of the pies
- 12 Rolled and cut pieces of tart or pie crust store bought pie crust will work great
- 1 batch Apple Filling cooled
- as needed pan release spray lightly spray the parchment paper before placing the pies on it to bake
- Peel, core, and cut apples into cubes, roughly ½ inch in size.
- Place the sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 tbsps. of butter.
- Place the prepared apples into the pan with the melted butter and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add the ground cinnamon and sea salt to the pan and stir to coat evenly.
- Add the sugar and stir to combine evenly.
- Add the juice of the half a lemon to the pan and lower the heat.
- Cook over low to medium heat for about 4 minutes, releasing the juice from the apples.
- In a liquid measuring cup measure out ¼ cup of cold water, add the corn starch and mix with a spoon until smooth.
- Slowly add the corn starch mixture to the pan stirring it in. The apple mixture will become very think, this is what you want.
- Once the mixture is thick, turn off the heat and add the remaining tbsp. of butter, and stir it in.
- Place the apple mixture into a container, and into the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Place the flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl, and stir to combine evenly.
- Cut the very cold butter into small pieces.
- Add the cold butter to the bowl with the flour mixture, and using a pastry cutter or 2 butter knifes, cut the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles wet sand.
- Add the vegetable oil to the flour mixture and combine using your hands until incorporated (be very careful not to overmix and cause the cold butter to warm up).
- Add the ice-cold water to the mixture slowly forming a dough with your hands.
- Turn the dough out onto a cutting board or countertop that has been dusted with flour. Form the dough by pushing it together with your hands, be careful not to overmix it, or the cold butter will warmup and the dough will be less flaky and tender.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least a day,
Building the Empanadas
- Cut the cold dough into 12 even pieces (I like to cut it in half first, it makes it easier)
- On a floured surface roll the pieces out to about ¼ inch thick.
- Place a small bowl on top of the rolled dough and using a small knife or pizza cutter, cut a circle. Continue cutting the circles until finished, stack them using parchment paper so they don't stick together.
- Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with pan release spray. Place 4 of the dough rounds on the pan.
- Using the ice cream scoop, scoop the chilled apple filling onto the dough rounds.
- Then using a tablespoon, place the caramel chips over the apple filling, sprinkle each with a small amount of sea salt.
- Beat the egg and tablespoon of water together creating an egg wash.
- Brush the dough with the egg wash around the filling.
- Fold the dough over the filling and seal it by folding the edges together, you could use a fork to push the edges together more securely. Continue this process until the dough and filling is used up. You will need 2 sheet pans for baking all 12.
- Using a small sharp knife make 3 slits in the top of the dough, then using the rest of the egg wash brush the tops of the pies. To finish sprinkle, them with sugar.
- Before baking preheat your oven to 350℉, and place the empanadas in the freezer for 10 minutes. You could skip the freezer step, but I think it results in a better final product.
- Place the pies in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pan and continue baking for 15 or until nicely golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and place them carefully onto a cooling rack, cool for 10-20 minutes and enjoy!