Updated: Jun 15
When I think of comfort food, empanadas are on the top of my list. The empanada has roots that trace back to Spain; however, these half-moon shaped pastries have gained immense global popularity as they’ve found their place in several restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and bakeshops. I have many fond childhood memories accompanying my parents to our neighborhood Cuban panaderia (bakeshop) in Miami where the friendly attendants knew us by name and also knew which sweet and savory empanadas we’d enjoy best.
I’m excited to share this recipe with you as it represents the best of both worlds I experienced growing up as a kid, which includes foods and flavors with American and Latin flair. I find that the apple filling combines perfectly with the tender, buttery empanada dough, but part of the beauty of this recipe is there’s plenty of room for culinary creativity as you can experiment with swapping out sweet fillings for savory meat or vegetable fillings.
I do not earn a commission for any of the products referenced or recommended.
To prepare the apple filling you’ll need:
Apples – 2 3/4 cups (approximately 324 grams) chopped. I used 3 medium sized Honeycrisp apples as they’re on the sweeter side. If you prefer some tartness you can combine Granny Smith apples. For additional options, check out this quick reference guide from Bon Appetit.
Light Brown Sugar – 1/2 cups (100 grams)
All-Purpose Flour – 1 Tablespoon
Cinnamon – 1/2 Teaspoon (if you prefer a stronger, slightly spicier flavor, I recommend using Saigon cinnamon)
Nutmeg – 1/4 Teaspoon
Kosher Salt – 1/4 Teaspoon
Vanilla Extract – 1 Teaspoon
Unsalted Butter – 4 tablespoons (57 grams)
To prepare the empanada dough you'll need:
All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups (284 grams)
Baking Powder - 2 Teaspoons
Salt - 3/4 Teaspoon
Unsalted Butter - 6 Tablespoons (88 grams) melted and slightly cooled
Whole Milk - 1/2 cup
Oil (I recommend using peanut or canola) - 8 cups
Most of the items listed below are common kitchen tools you'll likely have on hand. For those of you who are familiar with some of my other posts, you'll notice most of these items reappear frequently, as they can be used in several cooking and baking recipes. With proper care, the items featured below will make your cooking and baking experiences easier, enjoyable and will last you many years --- and recipes --- to come.
1. Kitchen scale - In most of my recipes, I include measurements by volume and weight. Weighed measurements are the most accurate and is what professional bakers use, so if baking is a passion for you, I highly recommend you get the Escali food scale as the price point can't be beat; it yields precise measurements; is compact in size; comes in an array of fun colors to choose from; has a capacity to hold up to 11 pounds (5,000 grams) and provides weight readings in 0.05 ounces (1 gram) increments using the following units: Ounces, pounds and grams.
2. This large dough and dumpling press by Norpro is great for a variety of foods including calzones, dumplings, and pocket sandwiches, so your not limited to this recipe. The press has a 6" diameter when open and folds to an empanada sized at 3 inches by 6 inches.
3. Here's another versatile kitchen tool, Vollrath's disher/scooper in size 60, will cut down on prep time and yield consistently filled empanadas. I also use this tool for drop cookie recipes and it's the ideal size when portioning batter for mini cupcakes.
4. Yes, I know, there's a theme going here as all of the items I've listed in this section can be used for an array of cooking and baking recipes. I especially appreciate having an instant read thermometer as it takes the Goldilocks guesswork out of the process of determining if the oil you'll be using to fry up the empanadas is too hot or too cold. This type of thermometer gives precise and wide range of temperature readings via the digital display and can be used for other foods including meat, poultry, candy making and so much more.
5. A rolling pin is essential for this recipe as you'll need to roll out each of your empanadas before cutting and filling them. I opted for using a marble rolling pin to ensure the dough stays as cool as possible as I'm working with it. You can also make good use out of this type of rolling pin when preparing cookie dough that calls for being rolled out (e.g. sugar cookie or gingerbread) or pie dough.
I didn't include the food processor that I used in this recipe as this piece of equipment is on the bulky and pricier side and isn't as versatile as the aforementioned tools. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry cutter or your hands to mix the dough.
1. Wash apples and remove skins.
2. Place an apple corer/slicer over top of each individual apple and while firmly holding the handles, carefully push the corer/slicer through the apple.
3. Using a chef’s knife, coarsely chop the apple slices and set aside 2 3/4 cups.
4. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar to the mixing bowl.
5. Add 1 tablespoon of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt to the mixing bowl.
6. Stir ingredients until combined.
7. Add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter to medium sized saucepan and melt butter over medium heat (approximately 3-4 minutes).
8. Reduce heat to low-medium setting and carefully add chopped apples to the saucepan.
9. Add brown sugar mix to the saucepan and stir until combined.
10. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the saucepan and stir until combined
11. Cook apples until sugar mix has thickened (approximately 6-8 minutes).
12. Place cooked apples in a medium sized mixing bowl and allow to cool while preparing the empanada (hand pie) dough.
13. Add 2 cups of flour to the bowl of a food processor.
14. Add 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
15. Add 3/4 teaspoons of salt.
16. Pulse flour mixture 3-4 times until combined.
17. Add 6 tablespoons of unsalted melted butter.
18. Pulse another 8-10 times until mixture looks gritty.
19. Pour 1/2 cup whole milk into the food processor.
20. Process until flour has been completely blended. Mixture will look like coarse.
21. Using a lightly floured working surface, turn dough and form into a disc.
22. Split dough into eight pieces of equal proportions. (Tip - using a food scale can remove guess work as I set the scale to measure in grams and each dough piece weighs approximately 64 grams).
23. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and using the palm of your hand, flatten each piece into a disc. Set discs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or non-stick mat (as pictured above), cover with food wrap and refrigerate for approximately 20 minutes.
24. Add flour to your working surface and roll out each disc to approximately 6 to 7 inches.
25. If using a dough press, lightly flour it and gently place the rolled out dough on the press. Add 2-3 tablespoons of apple filling to one side of the disc. (Alternatively, you can follow the same steps without the press and continuing to work on your lightly floured counter. Dab finger in water and rub along the edge of the empanada.
26. If using a dough press, flip the empty side of the dough disc using the press handle and firmly seal the edges of the dough together. Remove the empanada from the dough press and set aside. (Alternatively, you can use your hands to fold the empty side of the dough disc and use the tongs of a fork to seal the edges of the dough together). Repeat steps 25 and 26 for remaining empanadas. Prepared empanadas can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours or individually wrap in wax paper and place in freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 month. If using the freezing method, allow to thaw in the refrigerator and follow next step.
27. Pour 8 cups of cooking oil into a large pot/Dutch oven and set heat to medium-high. Bring oil to a temperature of 375°. While oil is heating, place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. (Alternatively, you can set a few sheets of paper towel on a plate to remove excess oil from cooked empanadas). Once oil has reached 375° carefully add 3-4 empanadas.
28. Cook empanadas until golden brown for approximately 3 minutes, flipping halfway through.
29. Using a slotted spatula or metal tongs, carefully remove one empanada at a time and place on wire rack. Allow excess oil to drain.
Best served while warm. For extra yum factor, enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Thank you for reading this post and let me know how much you enjoyed it by dropping a comment below. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Have a sweet day! ~Xina