Air Fryer Caramel Apple Empanadas are a throwback Taco Bell copycat made even better! Store-bought crust with an apple pie filling and melted caramel candies comes together quickly, then air fried (or baked) until golden on the outside and thick and syrupy on the inside. Topped with cinnamon sugar, these easy 30-minute dessert empanadas are the best!
Apple Empanadas (Air Fried or Baked)
Caramel apple empanadas are little apple hand pies made with all kinds of shortcuts, including store-bought pie crust and a premade apple pie filling and we are here for it.
Sometimes we need a quick fix to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings and sometimes we just want something easy to make for a crowd!
Air fryer caramel apple empanadas always deliver a golden flaky pie crust filled with a sweet caramel apple filling that reminds us of apple pie without all the added effort. They’re portable which makes them great for school lunch boxes and after-school snacks.
However, nothing beats serving them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an extra drizzle of caramel sauce for dessert. It’s an unforgettable treat.
Why you’ll love Air Fryer Caramel Apple Empanadas
Easy dessert recipe – Make a quick filling, fold the dough, and with just 10 minutes in the air fryer and these babies come out ready to enjoy. Unwrapping the caramel candies is probably the hardest part! They’re so simple and so quick to make.
Simple ingredients – You only need 6 ingredients that you might already have!
Customizable – If you’ve ever had the original savory beef empanadas (and even if you haven’t), you’re going to love the sweet version. That’s what’s great about them, they’re customizable! Use this recipe for a variety of fillings, savory or sweet and you can also make as much of it from scratch as you want.
Baked not fried – The air fryer works its magic so that the crust is nice and golden while keeping inside warm and gooey, without the need for deep frying and extra heavy oils.
Equipment you’ll need
- Air Fryer – I’ve had this one for years & still love it.
- 4″ Round Cookie Cutter – Or a large coffee cup will work just as well.
- Silicone Pastry Brush – I find the silicone brushes easier to clean.
- Air Fryer Liners – Parchment paper liners for easy clean up, just make sure you order the correct size/shape for your air fryer.
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.
- Pie Dough – To make 20 caramel apple empanadas you’ll need two 15 ounce boxes of refrigerated pie crust. Each one comes with 2 sheets, so if you want to halve the recipe and just use one box you can. You are welcome to use your favorite homemade pie crust, but this is a shortcut recipe.
- Apple Pie Filling – This comes in a can and is a premade filling made from apple slices, brown sugar, and cinnamon, for the most part. You can use your own homemade filling with fresh apples if you’ve got a recipe for that.
- Caramel Candies – I like to use the single wrapped Kraft caramels and melt them with the filling rather than using the liquid caramel. I don’t want it to get too runny and have the filling run out of the empanadas.
- For the Topping – We’ll top the apple pie empanadas with melted butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. The perfect way to finish them!
How to make easy Caramel Apple Empanadas
- Step One: Pour apple pie filling into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Drop in the caramels and stir frequently until they are fully melted. Remove from the heat and set it aside.
- Step Two: Unroll the pie crusts on a large clean surface. Use the rim of a large coffee mug (turned upside down) to cut out 5 circles in each sheet. You can also use a 4” round cookie cutter. You should have a total of 20 dough circles.
- Step Three: Grab the filling you set aside, and spoon approximately a Tablespoon of the caramel apple filling into the middle of each dough round.
- Step Four: Carefully fold over the circle to create a half moon shape. Pinch the edges together with your fingers, or if you want to get fancy, you can use fork prongs. Just as long as it’s sealed so the filling can’t escape.
- Step Five: Brush melted butter overtop each one and sprinkle a cinnamon sugar mixture overtop. Place them in the air fryer and cook for 10 minutes at 330°F. Keep an eye on them and feel free to check on them a little sooner. Repeat with remaining batches.
What to serve with Caramel Apple Empanadas
A bite of warm caramel apple empanada with cold creamy vanilla ice cream is all kinds of heavenly. Of course you can decide on whatever ice cream flavor you like.
You can also serve them with extra caramel sauce, whipped cream, or a butterscotch drizzle. They’re just as good without anything at all, which is how I pack them for school lunches.
If you want the full Taco Bell experience, serve them with a copycat Taco Bell chicken quesadilla.
Tips & Substitutions 🍎🍏
- Take the pie crust out of the fridge ahead of time. You don’t want it to be warm, but it doesn’t need to be too cold either.
- Squirt a little lemon juice into the filling mixture as it cooks. The tartness will help brighten it up a bit!
- For added assurance that the dough is firm once it’s folded, you can refrigerate your assembled caramel apple empanadas for 20 minutes before air frying.
- Instead of the cinnamon sugar mixture you can dust with powdered sugar just out of the oven.
- You can also replace the melted butter with an egg wash and a sprinkle of coarse sugar.
- Use brown sugar instead of granulated white sugar if you prefer the flavor.
- Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket. Arrange them in a single layer with enough room between them for the heat to circulate. Work in batches or if you’re pressed for time, use the oven instead.
- Keep any leftover filling and enjoy it poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
How to reheat and store leftovers
How to store leftovers
These will stay fresh in an airtight container and because of the stabilizing sugar, they don’t need to be refrigerated.
How long will they last in the fridge?
Air Fryer caramel apple empanadas will last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator when sealed tightly.
Can I freeze apple empanadas?
Sure! Once cooled completely, store them in a freezer-safe bag and keep them frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat straight from frozen!
How to reheat them?
If you’ve been keeping them at room temperature, enjoy them as is! If you want to warm them up again, pop them back in the air fryer to give the crust a little bit of its crispness back.
Can I bake them in the oven instead?
Absolutely. Arrange all the empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
How can I keep them from getting soggy?
Caramel apple empanadas are best (and most crispy) enjoyed right away. However, if your mission to eat all 20 empanadas wasn’t successful, wait until the leftovers are cooled completely before storing them. Any residual heat will create a moisture which will have nowhere to go in the sealed container.
I recommend not drizzling any sauce overtop the empanadas you know you’re going to be storing for later.
What other pie filling flavors can I use?
All of them! Pumpkin, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, peach, pear, blackberry, blueberry, you name it!
Are these empanadas authentic?
Not exactly. The original Spanish empanada was made with a savory filling of meats, cheeses, veggies, etc., and baked or fried.
Other Latin countries have tweaked the recipe over time, but this sweet treat? This is more of a nod to Taco Bell! So, by not exactly authentic, I mean not at all authentic, but still AMAZING!
How do I keep them from exploding?
As long as the edges are sealed and you haven’t filled them too much, you should be good!
For a little added assurance feel free to score the top just a bit to allow for any steam to escape.
Need more apple caramel recipes? Try these:
Easy Caramel Apple Pecan Bundt Cake
Click here for my entire collection of dessert recipes.
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