With juicy, perfectly spiced apples encased in the flakiest pie dough, these handheld pastries are great to put together to celebrate the arrival of fall; or, anytime you find yourself with a lot of apples in the kitchen. These amazing Apple Hand Pies are easier to make than you might think, and this recipe contains step by step-by-step photos and tips!
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If you love apple pie, you'll love these sweet little hand pies. They're filled with a juicy, cinnamon-laced apple filling and have the flakiest, most tender butter pie crust. Hand pies are great to serve as an easy dessert option for a party, and you can make them ahead of time if you want to spread out your to-do list the day of your gathering. For my daughter's 1st birthday, we went to a park for a small celebration and these are the hand pies we served in lieu of cake. They were a hit, and made getting ready for the party easy since they could be made and frozen ahead of time!
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe is listed below in greater detail.
- 1 batch All Butter Pie Crust
- granulated sugar + brown sugar
- cinnamon + nutmeg
- fresh lemon juice
- apple cider
- vanilla extract
Here is a list of some of the major tools I used in this recipe. You won't necessarily choose to use them all, but they are exactly what I used here. The links may contain affiliate links.
- food processor
- rolling pin
- pastry brush
- circle cutters
- apple peeler
- baking basics: bowl, spatula, sheet tray, measuring cups
What Kind of Apples to Use
For just about any apple dessert, you want to have an apple that can hold its shape, has a nuanced flavor and a slight tartness to break up the sweetness of the sugar. Using a combination of apples is practical because it introduces a few different types of flavors and textures to the dessert you're creating.
My two favorite types of apples for any apple pie are Gala and Granny Smith apples.
Some other favorites are:
- Yellow Delicious
- Pink Lady
- Ginger Gold
Why Precooked Filling is Best
Hand pies bake quickly, which means there might not be enough time for the filling to cook inside the crust by the time the pie crust is finished cooking. For this reason, the apple filling needs to be made ahead of time.
Making the apple filling is super easy. Essentially, your choice of apples are mixed together with sugars, spices, lemon juice and cornstarch and then cooked.
For this recipe, I used my tried and true Apple Pie Filling recipe, except I halved it since you only need about 1 pint of apple pie filling, and that recipe makes about 2. However, this filling recipe is amazing, and I like to keep some on hand on the freezer at all times, all year long.
So if you love apple pie, and find yourself with a ton of apples (hello: apple picking season) you can make a full batch or two using this filling recipe.
How to Make Apple Hand Pies
There are a few steps needed to make apple hand pies. Luckily, the steps can be broken down and spaced apart, so in the end, it will seem very easy.
First, you have to make the pie dough. The dough needs to chill overnight. I've linked the recipe for my basic Butter Pie Crust, which is also a comprehensive guide on making pie dough. This recipe calls for 2 9" pie crusts or 1 batch of my butter pie crust recipe.
Next, the filling needs to be prepared. This can be up to 7 days ahead of time. Just make sure it is chilled thoroughly before you assemble the pies.
Like any pie, you'll need to roll out and cut out your dough. This recipe is based on a 4″ round hand pie. To simplify things, I recommend buying a 4″ circle cutter, especially if you plan to make hand pies of any variation in the future; I think you'll find it to be a "go-to" tool in your kitchen. If you don’t want to buy one, you can cut out a 4-inch circle of parchment paper and use it to trace and cut out the circles.
Then, it's time to assemble: brush an eggwash around the edges of one circle of pie dough. Place about a ¼ cup of the apple filling in the middle. Place another pie dough over the top and press down on the edges to seal the two pieces together. Crimp the edges of the bottom to the top, which will seal the pie and add a decorative touch.
Place the hand pies on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough circles.
- If at any point your pie dough is getting too warm, simply place it in the refrigerator or freezer to chill until it is easy to work with
- Filling the hand pies requires a delicate balance of not overfilling them, and not underfilling them. If you find that you are having trouble closing the hand pies without the apple filling spilling out, then use less filling.
- It's best to chill the hand pies briefly before baking, or you can chill them overnight and bake the next day! Hand pies can even be frozen unbaked, and then later baked straight from the freezer.
Baking Apple Hand Pies
Before being baked, the hand pies can be optionally brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with turbinado sugar for a beautiful color and crunch.
Because the filling is premade I find it unnecessary to poke holes in the pastry to let steam escape. However, if you'd like to make holes in the pastry for aesthetic reasons, it's fine to do so.
To bake, pre-heat the oven to 400ºF and set a rack to the second-lowest position in the oven. This small step will ensure a crisp bottom crust of the hand pies. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the pie dough is lightly golden all over. If you are baking from frozen, you may need to bake for an extra 10 minutes or so.
How to Freeze Apple Hand Pies
These can be frozen, unbaked, for up to 3 months. Assemble the hand pies up to the point of the final egg wash, and then freeze them flat on a sheet tray for 24 hours. Then, transfer to a bag with as much air removed as possible. The hand pies can be baked from frozen. Doesn't get much easier than that! Bake them as directed plus 10 additional minutes or so.
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