Kid-friendly Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie) Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie)

Recipe: Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie)

Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie)

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Ildi Papp/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
20 minutes
6-12 servings

Fun Food Story

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Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie)

You'll find empanadas in many countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Latin America, the Philippines, and the United States, although they may have different names. They are essentially a filled pastry or hand pie. The name comes from the Spanish verb "empanar," meaning "to bread" or "coat in bread." Usually, you make an empanada by folding a thin circular-shaped dough patty over a filling and sealing the edges, which creates a half-moon shape. Fillings include meat, seafood, potatoes, vegetables, or fruit, and apple empanadas are a popular sweet version. Your kids will have fun making and eating these delicious kid-sized, hand-held apple pies!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • dice :

    to cut foods into small pieces of equal size so that the food is cooked evenly or looks uniform and pleasant when used in the recipe.

  • toss :

    to lightly lift and drop food items together or coat food items with flour, or a sauce or dressing, as in a salad.

  • zest :

    to scrape off the outer colored part of a citrus fruit's rind (skin or peel) using a metal tool with small sharp blades, such as a zester, microplane, or the small holes of a grater (avoid the "pith," the white, spongy lining of the rind that can be bitter).

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper (optional)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Zester (or grater with small zesting plate/side)
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Fork (to mix)
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Circular cookie cutter or jar lid (optional)
  • Peeler
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife


Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie)

  • No-Roll Pie Crust Dough:
  • 1 lemon (used for dough and filling)
  • 1 2/3 C all-purpose flour + more for work surface **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1/4 C fine cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar (or 1 stevia packet)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 7 T vegetable oil **
  • 1/4 C cold water
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon (or nutmeg/allspice)
  • Apple Filling:
  • 1/3 C granulated sugar (or 6 to 8 stevia packets)
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or nutmeg/allspice)
  • 3 large apples
  • 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 squeeze lemon juice
  • 4 heaping T ricotta cheese **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie)

  • Gluten/Wheat: Sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour.
  • Soy: Substitute canola oil or other nut-free oil for vegetable oil.
  • Dairy: Omit ricotta cheese.


Spanish "Empanada de Manzana" (Apple Pie)

preheat + zest + whisk

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Have your kids wash and zest the peel of 1 lemon (only the yellow part, not the bitter 'pith') and set to the side (this will be used in both the dough and the filling). Then have them measure and whisk together 1 2/3 cups flour, 1/4 cup fine cornmeal, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 pinch of cinnamon in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add 7 tablespoons oil, 1/4 cup cold water, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Mix with a fork until it makes a ball. Set aside to rest while you make the apple filling, then separate out into about 12 small dough balls.

measure + combine

In a medium bowl, have your kids measure and combine 1/3 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

peel + dice + toss

Have your kids peel 3 large apples and then dice into small bits. Add the diced apples, 1/2 cup of applesauce, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 squeeze of lemon juice, and 4 heaping tablespoons of ricotta cheese (if using) to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Toss the apples to coat them with the rest of the mixture. Set to the side to fill the empanada crusts when ready.

flatten + fill + fold

Have your kids flatten the dough balls into rectangular shapes (or circles cut out with a circular cookie cutter or jar lid). Place a small amount of apple filling either on the lower half of each rectangle (leaving a 1/4-inch border or in the middle of each circle). Fold the dough over the filling and press the edges to seal well.

bake + cool

Place your empanadas on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown, rotating the pan after 10 minutes for even browning. Remove, sprinkle some sugar on top if you like, let cool for a bit, and then eat!

Surprise Ingredient: Apples!

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Photo by Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash

Hi! I'm Apple!

"I'm delighted to be part of your recipe! Not only does "an apple a day keep the doctor away," but I'm also versatile and delicious in both sweet and savory dishes, like pies, cakes, breads, salads, and casseroles, and added to vegetables and roasted meats. Not to brag, but I have a fabulous, round(ish) figure and come in several colors and varieties of sweet and tart flavors!"


  • Here's a story about the Granny Smith apple that is long but cute: In the year 1868, near Sydney, Australia, a grandma named Marie Smith had been testing different types of French crabapples for cooking, and she ended up throwing the used apple cores out her window as she worked. Granny Smith saw that a new apple tree (or cultivar) had sprung up below her kitchen windowsill. She cultivated the tree and found that the apples it produced were good for cooking and eating. They were tart, sweet, and crisp. Grandma Marie Smith took a stall at a farmer's market in Sydney, where her apples stored exceptionally well and became very popular. She sold her apples once a week and called them Granny Smith's Apples. Smart (and enterprising) fruit merchants in the 1890s and 1900s experimented with methods to transport the Granny Smith apples overseas in cold storage. Because of its excellent shelf life, they could export the Granny Smith apple long distances and most times of the year. Since growing fruit from the seeds of the Granny Smith apple produces trees with fruit that isn't as good as the original, grafting or cuttings are required instead. All Granny Smith apples grown today are from grafts of Grandma Marie Smith's original tree in Sydney.
  • Apple trees were domesticated thousands of years ago. A wild apple native to the mountains of southern Kazakhstan in Central Asia is considered the ancestor of most domestic apple varieties.
  • Worldwide, 7,500 varieties of apples are grown! If just 12 kids were growing that many, each of them would end up with 625 different kinds! 
  • Apples are victims of (or blessed by, depending on how you look at it) their own genetic creativity. An apple from a tree grown from a seed will be nothing like its parents. And because of this, historically, thousands upon thousands of varieties of apples have come into existence. Apples have evolved to adapt to all environments. They can be grown all over the world. Now, the number of apple varieties is much more narrow due to farming practices and consumers' desire for the "perfect red apple." The only way to ensure genetic repeats of apples is to "graft" the trees.
  • Grafting apple trees involves combining a bottom rootstock of one tree to the scion, or budding branch, of another tree to grow a new successful apple tree.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Apples come in all shades of reds, greens, and yellows. They are members of the Rose family. Other members include strawberries, pears, plums, peaches, and raspberries.
  • Every spring, apple trees bloom or flower. At the bottom and inside each blossom is an ovule. Inside the ovule are the seeds that will eventually turn into an apple! It takes about 4 to 5 months from the time the blossoms are pollinated for the apples to be ready to pick.
  • New apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit!
  • A raw apple can contain 86 percent water! 
  • If you put an apple in water, do you think it will sink or float? It will float! That's because about 25 percent of an apple's volume is air. And that's why you can play a game of "bobbing for apples" at Halloween parties!
  • An apple tree can grow to more than forty feet and live over a hundred years!
  • A Japanese farmer picked the heaviest apple on record in 2005. It weighed 4.1 pounds! 
  • The word "apple" came from the Old English "æppel," which is Germanic in origin. Until the 17th century, "apple" could refer generically to any nut or fruit other than berries. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • August marks the beginning of apple season. Apple season peaks in September—some of the most delicious apple varieties are available then: the Honeycrisp (our fave!), Cortland, Macintosh, and Gala. October apples are perfect for baking. 
  • Apples are picked by hand when it's time to harvest them. Choose apples that have smooth skin and are free from blemishes. They should feel heavy for their size and feel firm. Then, give it a sniff—fresh apples smell almost floral-like and super pleasant.
  • It is so fun to go to an orchard in the fall and pick apples for yourself. Of course, apples are available year-round in most grocery stores and are most affordable during the months when they're in season (August through October).
  • Farmers often use honeybees to pollinate apple trees.
  • You can eat apples in so many ways. Try dicing half an apple and adding it to a spinach salad with walnuts or pecans, red onion, and goat cheese. Stuff and bake them for a cozy autumn treat. You can juice, blend, or grind apples to make juice, cider, or smoothies. Slice, chop, or mash them and add them to a variety of apple treats: pie, strudel, cake, donuts, tortes, turnovers, dumplings, galettes, fritters, muffins, and crisps or crumbles. You can thinly slice and dehydrate apples to make chips or cook and mash them to make applesauce, adding a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor. Apple marries beautifully with a ton of different sweet AND savory foods like fennel, cheddar, caramel, cinnamon, butternut squash, rooibos, sauerkraut, and sausage.    


  • "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away." This saying originated because people believed fruits were important to a nutritious diet. A 2015 study found that people who ate an apple a day took fewer prescriptions. 
  • Red Delicious and Fuji apples contain the most polyphenols, micronutrients found naturally in plants with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can help prevent heart disease, control blood sugar, lower cancer risk, and help your immune system function properly. More polyphenols are found in an apple's peel than its flesh, so be sure to eat the peel, which will also add to your fiber intake!
  • Isn't it amazing to think that our bodies are hard at work keeping us strong and healthy while we go about our daily activities? Think of it: just now, your body is pumping blood through your veins and arteries, delivering nutrients to your cells to create energy, building proteins to protect you from getting sick, and so much more. That's why it's so important to eat nutritious foods, like apples!


History of Empanadas!

Photo by Los Muertos Crew
  • It is thought that empanadas originated in Galicia (northwest Spain) and Portugal. A Catalan-language cookbook from 1520 includes the first mention of empanadas. They may have been a modified version of the "samosa," a similarly filled pastry from India and the Middle East. Empanadas were likely brought to Latin America by Spanish colonists. 
  • Empanadas are served as snacks, appetizers, or main course and are often sold as street food. Many countries and cultures have comparable stuffed pastries that go by different names and, like empanadas, were probably created to be portable, easy, and hearty meals for working people.

Let's Learn About Spain!

Photo by MJTH/
  • Spain is on the Iberian peninsula in Europe. Its official name is the "Kingdom of Spain," and its capital is Madrid. Spain's government is a constitutional monarchy, with a king, prime minister, and parliament. The population of Spain is more than 47 million people. 
  • Mediterranean settlers migrated to Spain, Africa, and Europe, and a people known as the Phoenicians called the Iberian peninsula "Span" ("hidden land"), so you can see where the name Spain might have come from! 
  • Did you know there is more than just one Spanish language?! The official and most prominent language of Spain is Castilian Spanish. However, Spanish dialects are also spoken, such as Andalusian, Canarian, Castúo, and Murcian Spanish. In addition, there are six other regional, co-official languages recognized in the country, including Aranese, Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Valencian. 
  • The Mediterranean climate in Spain means that summers are hot and dry, especially in the south. However, snow can be found in the winter, especially in the Pyrenees, mountains in the north that border France.
  • Soccer or "fútbol" is the most popular sport in Spain. Some of the other sports Spaniards participate in are tennis, cycling, basketball, and handball. 
  • Spain is known for its rich culture and exciting festivals. The Tomatina Festival is the world's biggest food fight. It's held on the last Wednesday in August every year when people throw over 100 tons of tomatoes on the streets of Buñol. The festival of San Fermin, in Pamplona, in the northern region of Navarre, is an eight-day celebration in honor of Saint Fermin, the co-patron of Navarre. The famous Running of the Bulls event occurs each morning of the festival when a small group of bulls and steers are let loose to run down fenced-off streets toward the bull-fighting ring. Young adults, often tourists, try to race ahead of the animals, dodging the bulls' horns when overtaken. Unfortunately, a few people always end up being injured during the runs.
  • Spanish art, food, literature, and music have become popular all over the world. Examples are the famous Spanish novel, Don Quixote, written in the early 1600s by Miguel de Cervantes; the painter Francisco Goya's works from the late 18th to early 19th century; and Flamenco music and dance from Andalusia, first documented in 1774. 
  • In addition to fideuà and paella, Spain is known for its "gazpacho" (a cold veggie soup), "jamón ibérico" (dry-cured ham), "olla podrida" (a meat and veggie stew), and Manchego cheese (sheep cheese from the La Mancha region). Spanish cooks use a lot of garlic and olive oil, of which they are the largest producer. 
  • "Tapas" refers to a Spanish way of eating, in addition to the name of small dishes served individually as appetizers or combined to make a meal. When friends are out together, they will often share tapas plates at their table. The Spanish word "tapa" can mean "top," "lid," or "cover," and tapas may have begun as a slice of bread or meat to cover a wine glass to keep beach sand or flies out. In many parts of northern Spain, such as Basque Country and Navarre, tapas are called "pintxos" or "pinchos."

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Spain?

  • Most Spanish children speak the Spanish language, also called Castilian, but some may speak Catalan, Galician, or Basque, depending on where they live in the country. 
  • Families are close-knit, and grandparents often take care of children if both parents work. 
  • Kids primarily play soccer but also play basketball, tennis, handball, or other sports. They may visit beaches, zoos, aquariums, museums, and amusement parks for fun. 
  • A popular breakfast is a churro with a chocolaty drink made with ColaCao. "Tortilla de patatas" (potato omelet) is also a favorite. Kids might have a snack at school since they might not have lunch until they get home, and they look forward to "la merienda," a snack between lunch and dinner that often consists of a sandwich, since dinner may not be served until 8 pm. 

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the apple cry? 

Its peelings were hurt!

That's Berry Funny

What can a whole apple do that half an apple can't do? 

It can look round.

That's Berry Funny

What reads and lives in an apple? 

A bookworm.

That's Berry Funny

What kind of apple has a short temper? 

A crab apple!

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the apple tree say to the hungry caterpillar? 

"Leaf me alone!"

THYME for a Laugh

What do you get if you cross an apple with a shellfish? 

A crab apple!

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