The early 2000s were another time in the realm of Taco Bell. The 90s decor still existed in the majority of locations and the chain had just introduced their newest dessert that would rival McDonald's famous fried apple pies. With a flourish, Taco Bell introduced Caramel Apple Empanadas, giving brand new life to the chain's dessert menu. However, in 2019 the chain quietly removed the caramel apple empanadas from their menu, sending many into a dessert spiral. Thankfully we were able to recreate Taco Bell's caramel apple empanada recipe at home and share the process with you. Phew!
What is an Empanada?
Originated in Spain, an empanada is a hand pie or turnover that is stuffed and either baked or fried. They can e sweet or savory and filled with almost anything your heart desires. This dessert empanada features a golden brown and flaky pie crust filled with an apple pie filling and caramel sauce.
How to Make Copycat Taco Bell Caramel Apple Empanadas
Using frozen empanada dough or a refrigerated pie crust is the secret to this fast Autumn-inspired dessert recipe. You can make your own pastry dough, but for these simple apple hand pies, we recommend cutting down on the prep time and sticking to store-bought!
To begin, peel and dice two granny smith apples into small pieces. Add the apples to a small bowl and add a squirt of lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning. Add some apple pie spice or in the case of my own pantry, add ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and allspice. Add caramel sauce then toss to coat.
Meanwhile preheat your oven and prepare a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
On a floured surface cut the pie dough into 4-inch circles with a cookie cutter or anything round. I used the top of a glass container! Place a small bit of apples in the middle of the circle and brush egg wash on the outside of the circle to bind the dough. Fold and press the edges with a fork to seal. Place on prepared sheet and repeat with remaining dough rounds and apples.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes. The total time really depends on your oven. I pulled mine out a bit early because the egg wash was burning on the pan. Oops!
Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Top with ice cream and caramel sauce for a decadent treat.
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Copycat Taco Bell Caramel Apple Empanadas
- 1 package refrigerated pie crusts
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1 Tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp apple pie spice
- 1/3 cup caramel sauce
- 1 egg
- sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 375?F and prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl combine the apples, lemon, and apple pie spice. Stir in caramel sauce.
- Prepare egg wash by combining egg with 1 Tablespoon water.
- On a floured surface cut the pie dough into 4-inch circles with a cookie cutter. Place a small bit of apples in the middle of the circle and brush egg wash on the outside of the circle to bind the dough. Fold and press the edges with a fork to seal. Place on prepared sheet and repeat with remaining dough rounds and apples.
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving