Abuela's Apple Empanadas

Apple Empanadas
Felipex / Getty Images
  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Chill: 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings: 12 servings

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.


  • For the Dough:
  • 3 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar (white)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup lard (good quality; or vegetable shortening)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup water
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (divided)
  • 4 pounds apples (peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 2 cups sugar (white)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup raisins (softened in warm water and drained)
  • Oil (or shortening, for frying)

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, these empanadas are broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Empanada Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Use a fork or a whisk to toss the flour, 4 teaspoons sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl.

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

  4. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl, then stir in 3/4 cup water.

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

Make the Apple Caramel Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Bring 1 cup of water to a simmer in a shallow pan. 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.)

  3. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Warm it over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a simmer.

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

  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.

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.

  2. Cut out 4-inch (10-centimenter) circles for small empanadas, 5-inch (13-centimeter) circles for medium ones, or 6-inch (15-centimeter) circles for large ones.

  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.

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

  5. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pan to 350 F (177 C). Deep-fry the cold empanadas in batches for 6 to 7 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

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


  • Caution: The filling may be very hot.