Copycat Taco Bell Caramel Apple Empanadas

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The Caramel Apple Empanadas at Taco Bell are sorely missed, so you know I had to come up with a copycat! Armed with refrigerated pie crust, crisp Granny Smith apples, and homemade caramel sauce, you can make over a dozen treats with this caramel apple empanada recipe.

titled: Taco Bell Caramel Apple Empanadas


 

Caramel Apple Empanadas

As much as I love to eat out, it seems like my favorite menu items are always the ones to be discontinued — and the caramel apple empanadas at Taco Bell are near the top of the list!

Flaky crust, sweet apple filling, and all for a dollar? It was the perfect sweet treat when I was zooming around for errands and Munchkin’s activities. 

Lucky for you, it’s easy to make a whole batch of Taco Bell empanadas at home with just a few ingredients.

And they keep a bit better than the fast food version, so you can enjoy them throughout the week!

Apples and caramel are the perfect sweet pairing, which is why I’ve got half a dozen recipes featuring the duo.

Whip up a quick dump cake or spend some time perfecting creamy cheesecake with crumble topping. 

I’ve even got libations available — a bright green caramel apple martini with a tantalizing pucker, or this creamy pie version full of fall spice.

ingredients for caramel empanadas recipe

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Pie Crust – I like to use refrigerated pie crusts for this caramel apple empanada recipe. It makes the whole process quicker and it’s easy to keep some on hand.

    That said, you can use your favorite homemade pie dough recipe if you’d like!
  • Apples – Granny Smith is the best choice as the tart flavor will contrast well with the sweetness of the caramel in your copycat Taco Bell empanadas.

    Feel free to experiment with other varieties if you’d like.

    Look for firm apples with at least a little tartness — Pink Lady, Braeburn, and McIntosh would be my top recommendations.
  • Sugar & Cinnamon – These form the spiced sauce for the filling so your hand pies aren’t too dry.
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed is best! This adds a little acidity to cut through the sweetness and balance the flavors.
  • Caramel Sauce – I highly recommend using my homemade version in this recipe for caramel apple empanadas!

    It’s nice and thick, while storebought versions can sometimes be too runny.

    You could also melt down caramel squares on the stove and use that as a quick substitute.
  • Egg – Beat until well combined and smooth, then brush this over the top of the crust.

    It helps it brown and adds a lovely shine too. Melted butter is a good substitute.
cooking apples in a sauce pan for taco bell empanadas

Helpful Tips When Making This Recipe for Caramel Apple Empanadas

  • Make dough rounds about 4 inches in diameter.

This means they should measure 4 inches across through the center (at the widest part).

Like most hand pies, the dough for caramel apple empanadas is folded in half.

You need enough room for a good amount of filling, but any bigger and they tend to fall apart.

A 4-inch round cutter is perfect for the job, but a small bowl flipped upside down will do the job.

In a pinch, grab a lid that’s the right size and cut around the edge with a knife.

  • Let the apple cinnamon filling cool first.

Hot pie filling can make the dough soggy and hard to work with. If you make this first, it’ll be ready to go by the time you cut out all of your dough rounds.

  • Don’t add too much filling.

If you overfill the dough, it won’t seal properly and will burst open when baked. 

Small cookie scoops can help with portioning, and you’ll know that each empanada holds the same amount of filling.

As an extra precaution, you can poke small vent holes in the top of the dough for steam to escape — this also prevents the filling from bursting out!

  • Add a little extra shimmer.

After brushing the dough with egg, sprinkle on a little sugar.

Extra granulated sugar works just fine, but sanding sugar is a bit more polished and adds a little crunch to this caramel apple empanadas recipe too.

filling empanadas with caramel sauce and cooked apples

Prep Ahead

  • Peel and chop apples
  • Juice lemon
  • Preheat oven to 375°F

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Baking Sheet lined with Parchment Paper – Used for anything from cookies to roasting, a good baking pan will last for years.
  • Medium Saucepan – Heats evenly and is easy to clean too.
  • Citrus Juicer – This gets every last drop out, which makes juicing lemons so much easier.
  • Round Cookie Cutter – One that’s about 4 inches wide is best for this caramel apple empanada recipe.
  • Basting Brush – Useful for everything from greasing pans to basting food.
baked caramel apple empanadas

Serving Suggestions 

Caramel apple empanadas are best served warm, but they’re just as tasty after they’ve cooled.

Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for an extra sweet treat!

And who doesn’t love a bit of nostalgia?

Pair this recipe for caramel apple empanadas with more of your drive thru favorites like Mexican Pizza or a Black Bean Quesarito — you never have to worry they’ll disappear again!

Storage and Reheating Taco Bell Empanadas

Allow your dessert empanadas to cool, then transfer leftovers to an airtight container.

They’ll keep at room temperature for about 3 days, but you can refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

To reheat, pop homemade Taco Bell empanadas in the microwave or oven until warmed through. And if you want an extra crispy crust again, try the air fryer instead!

Caramel Apple Empanada Recipe FAQ

Why are my empanadas falling apart?

First, make sure you sealed them properly. Crimp the edges all the way around the filling and press down firmly with the tines of a fork to make sure it’s closed.

It’s also important that the dough isn’t too warm when assembling. Allow the filling to cool before spooning it on, and it doesn’t hurt to pop your tray of hand pies in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before baking.

Can I make caramel apple empanadas ahead of time?

You’ll get the flakiest, most tender results when freshly baked, but that doesn’t mean shortcuts aren’t an option!

Make the caramel sauce and apple filling a day or two in advance and store both in the fridge in separate containers. 

Then, let them warm on the counter while you preheat the oven and cut out the dough. Assemble then bake my caramel apple empanadas recipe as directed!

What if I have leftover apple caramel filling?

You could unwrap some more dough and assemble a few more pastries, or stash it in the fridge as an ice cream topping!

caramel apple empanadas in a parchment lined basket

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.

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wide shot of taco bell empanadas

caramel apple empanada sliced on parchment paper

Copycat Taco Bell Caramel Apple Empanadas

Donna Elick
Caramel Apple Empanadas have a tart and sweet filling wrapped in crispy, flaky dough. Make more than a dozen Taco Bell empanadas in 1 hour!
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Method Oven
Servings 14 Empanadas

Ingredients
 

  • 1 package refrigerated pie crusts, 2 crusts
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Additional sugar for sprinkling

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter until it’s fully melted. Let the apple mixture cool slightly.
  • Unroll the refrigerated pie crusts onto a lightly floured surface. Using a round cookie cutter or a glass, cut out circles of dough that are about 4 inches in diameter.
  • Spoon about a tablespoon of the cooled apple mixture onto one half of each dough circle. Top the apple mixture with a drizzle of caramel sauce, being careful not to overfill the empanadas.
  • Fold the dough over the apple and caramel filling to form a half-moon shape. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal the empanadas.
  • Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with additional sugar.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the empanadas are golden brown.
  • Allow the empanadas to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Donna’s Notes

The type of apple used can impact the flavor of your empanadas. Granny Smith apples are recommended for their tartness which contrasts well with the caramel, but feel free to experiment with other varieties.
When filling the empanadas, be careful not to overfill them. Too much filling can cause the empanadas to burst open during baking.
If you don’t have a cookie cutter or glass for cutting out the dough circles, you can also use a small bowl or lid and a knife.
This recipe uses refrigerated pie crusts for convenience, but you can certainly make your own pie dough if you prefer.
These empanadas are best served warm, but they can also be enjoyed at room temperature. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container. To reheat, simply warm them in the oven or microwave.
For an extra treat, serve these empanadas with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 103cal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 75mg | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.4mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Taco Bell Caramel Apple Empanadas - PIN

Originally published May 2024

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