Pumpkin Empanadas

Plan a special day with the kids to bake Pumpkin Empanadas, a mix of creamy pumpkin puree and caramelized apples encased in a flaky crisp and a drizzling of caramel kefir sauce on top. The people of Galicia (Spain) and Portugal were the first to bake empanadas. Its name has the root word empanar, which is a Spanish verb that means “to obscure” or “to wrap or coat in bread.” The first known empanadas appeared in Medieval Iberia during the Moorish invasions. At that time empanadas were stuffed with seafood, which was an easy, portable meal for working people. Our recipe calls for farmer cheese to make the pumpkin puree and plain kefir for the caramel kefir sauce. Both are great ingredients to bake with because they are gluten-free, unsweetened, and give the empanadas protein. Needless to say, they’re stuffed with love.

Pumpkin Nutritional Benefits

  • Rich in fiber, which will help you feel fuller for longer! One cup of canned pumpkin contains seven grams of fiber.
  • Low in calories – fewer than 30 calories per serving.
  • Full of vitamin A, which is critical for healthy vision and a strong immune system. One cup of raw pumpkin delivers nearly double your daily vitamin A needs.
  • One cup contains 2.5mg of lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases.
  • May protect Type-1 diabetics by helping to lower high-blood sugar. A recent Chinese study found that extract of the Asian pumpkin helped protect the pancreatic cells of type-1 diabetics from further damage.
  • A good source of vitamin C for immunity.
  • The seeds are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, minerals zinc, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. Simply rinse them off after carving, pat dry, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Servings: 6-8


  1. Empanada Dough Instructions
  2. Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  3. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)
  4. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
  5. Caramelized Apples Instructions
  6. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples to the pan and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar.
  7. Sauté the apples, frequently stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes until they just begin to turn tender. Be careful not to overcook, or the apples will begin to fall and become an apple puree instead.
  8. Sprinkle the apples with the remaining sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Toss the mixture gently and cook over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize, and the apples are crisp-tender.
  9. Transfer the apples from the skillet to a serving bowl with a spoon. Turn the heat up to high and add the apple cider to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits.
  10. Reduce the heat slightly and allow the cider and the pan juices to simmer for 1 to 3 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Pour the finished sauce over the warm apples.
  11. Pumpkin Mixture Instructions:
    Mix everything together in a small bowl and set aside.
  12. Caramel Kefir Sauce Instructions
  13. Melt the butter in a deep, medium saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbling. Add the sugar and whisk until combined. Whisk in 2/3 cup of the kefir, honey, and salt, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is deep amber in color, about 10 minutes
  14. Remove from the heat, and pour in the remaining 1/3 cup kefir and vanilla. The mixture will bubble up and release a lot of steam. Use a long-handled whisk to whisk vigorously until the bubbling subsides and the mixture is smooth.
  15. Return the pan to medium-high heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes more. The sauce will also thicken as it cools, so stop cooking when the sauce is still a bit thin for your liking. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then serve warm.
  16. Make the Pumpkin Empanadas
  17. On a floured surface, roll a dough ball out into a thin circle about 6 inches across; spoon about 1/3 cup of filling into the center of the dough circle: a mixture of pumpkin puree and caramelized apples.
  18. Fold the dough over the filling to make a half-moon shaped pie, and crimp the edges of the crust together with a fork, leaving little fork lines in the dough. Gently lay the empanadas onto the baking sheets. Brush the top of each pie with beaten egg mix.
  19. Bake till golden brown and enjoy!