Abuela's Apple Empanadas

Abuela's Apple Empanadas recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Chill Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 4 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 12 medium empanadas
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
438 Calories
22g Fat
58g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 438
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 142mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 21%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 30g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 4mg 18%
Calcium 89mg 7%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 172mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These sweet treats are sometimes made with leftover dough from meat empanadas. After cooking chopped fresh apples with sugar and raisins to make the filling, the empanadas are fried after dinner for a much-anticipated dessert. Whether you're making a big batch of empanadas or not, these crisp and sweet apple empanadas are worth making all on their own.

This recipe makes a delicious dessert, breakfast, or a snack. Apple empanadas are perfect for fall celebrations or an unexpected addition to a cookie tray.

You man have some filling leftover, which can be served with the empanadas, as a topping for vanilla ice cream, or saved to top buttered toast for a morning treat.

“A lovely spiced apple dessert Empanada, especially lovely in the fall season where the warmth of this treat is perfect complement to the cold weather setting in. These guys reheat pretty well so it’s perfectly fine to make them ahead of time.” —Noah Velush-Rogers

Abuela's Apple Empanadas Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Dough:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 pinch fine salt

  • 1/2 cup good-quality lard, or vegetable shortening

  • 1 large egg

  • 3/4 cup water

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup water, more as needed

  • 2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes

  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup raisins, softened in warm water and drained

  • Vegetable oil, or shortening, for frying

Steps to Make It

Make the Empanada Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Abuela's Apple Empanadas dough ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Use a fork or a whisk to toss the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl.

    flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Cut in the lard with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

    lard mixed with the flour mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Beat the egg in a small bowl, then stir in the water.

    beat egg in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and knead it until a dough forms. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

    empanada dough in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Make the Apple Caramel Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Abuela's Apple Empanadas filling ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a simmer over high heat in a shallow saucepan. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the apples and cinnamon and simmer until the apples turn fork-tender and the water evaporates. (Add a little more water, if necessary, for the apples to fully cook.)

    apples and cinnamon in a pan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of water. Warm it over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a simmer.

    sugar, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. When it turns a golden color (or reaches 335 F/168 C on a candy thermometer), take it off the heat, but continue stirring constantly.

    sugar mixture cooking in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Quickly fold in the cooked apples and softened raisins. If the filling begins to harden before you assemble your empanadas, return it to the stove and keep it warm over low heat.

    apples added to the sugar mixture in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Assemble and Fry the Apple Empanadas

  1. Lightly flour a surface and roll out the empanada dough to 1/4-inch (6.3-millimeters) thick.

    rolled out empanada dough

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Cut out 4-inch (10-centimeter) circles for small empanadas, 5-inch (13-centimeter) circles for medium ones, or 6-inch (15-centimeter) circles for large ones. Re-roll the scraps of dough for more empanadas.

    empanada dough pieces

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Place 1, 2, or 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the small, medium, and large dough circles respectively. Fold the dough over to form a semi-circle, and use a fork to press the edges together.

    filling dough with apple empanada filling

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Refrigerate the prepared empanadas for 3 hours before you fry them.

    empanadas on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pan on medium-low to 350 F (177 C). Deep-fry the cold empanadas in batches for 6 to 7 minutes or until they turn golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary to avoid burning.

    empanadas frying in oil

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Drain the empanadas briefly on a metal rack or several layers of absorbent paper before you serve them.

    Abuela's Apple Empanadas on a wire cooling rack

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


  • Caution: The filling may be very hot.