Apple Hand Pies

Apple hand pies with homemade buttery flaky pie crust and juicy apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome to the July Baking Challenge! If you’ve been reading my blog for a few years, you may be familiar with my annual July 4th tradition. 🙂 Every year on or around July 4th, I share a new apple pie recipe. Apple pie, an American classic, is my all-time favorite dessert. I shared my first recipe back in 2013 and every year since then:

This year marks year 6 and I combined my annual apple pie tradition with the July recipe for Sally’s Baking Challenge!

Apple hand pies with homemade buttery flaky pie crust and juicy apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

In July, I challenge you to bake individual apple hand pies. This is a really fun recipe for summertime; hand pies are an easy grab and go dessert, so they’re great for summer picnics. Awesome portion control. No serving utensils or plates required. Can be served warm, room temperature, or cold and honestly taste great each way. Kids can help shape them and hand pies can be prepared days ahead or frozen.

And, best part of all, you literally have an apple pie just for yourself.

Today I’m sharing my apple hand pie recipe, step-by-step photos, and a video tutorial. I also include alternate filling suggestions just in case apple isn’t your thing. Lots to go over so let’s get started!

Apple hand pies with homemade buttery flaky pie crust and juicy apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Homemade Pie Dough

First step is to make your pie dough. There’s a higher crust-to-filling ratio in hand pies, so we want a crust that tastes GOOD. I recommend using my homemade pie crust. This crust, prepared with a mix of butter and shortening, is sturdy enough to bake in different shapes and designs. Pie crust may be new for some baking challenge participants or even intimidate you, so let’s go over my pie crust tips and tricks:

  1. Why a mix of butter and shortening? Not all fats are created equal. With its high melting point, shortening helps pie crust hold its shape and since it melts slowly, creates flaky layers and a tender texture. Butter imparts unparalleled, impeccable flavor. So I use both fats to create a strong, flaky, and buttery crust.
  2. Use cold fats and ice cold water. Keeping the pie dough as cold as possible is imperative, especially in the summertime. If room temperature or warm, the fats will melt as you mix and roll out the pie dough, rendering it impossible to work with. The baked crust will be tough and dense. In the summer months, I even suggest beginning with cold flour. Stick the bowl of flour + salt in the freezer for 30 minutes before adding the fats. This acts as extra insurance to help guarantee your pie dough will be (1) easy to work with and (2) taste good!
  3. Handle the dough with care. When rolling out pie dough, go slow. Always start from the center and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go. If the edges are cracking, smooth them out with your fingers and hands. (You can see me do this in the video below.)
  4. Marbles and specks of butter in the pie dough are a good thing. All the more buttery pockets and flakes in the baked pie dough!
  5. All is not lost. If you notice the dough is cracking or too dry, dip your fingers in cold water and smooth out any cracks. If it’s cracking, it needs some moisture. If the dough seems really flimsy and sticky, lightly flour it. If it’s sticky, it’s too wet.

Here’s the full recipe for pie crust. More tips and troubleshooting over that way. The recipe yields two crusts and you’ll use both in this recipe to produce 10 hand pies.

Homemade apple pie filling on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Homemade apple pie filling on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Apple Pie Filling

Just apples, sugar, spices, and butter. What more could one want?* The hand pie bake time isn’t long enough to really soften the apples, so let’s get them started on the stove. The filling is buttery, pleasantly sweet, and filled with cinnamon spice. You can prepare it a couple days ahead of time (along with the pie dough!) so all you have to do is assemble and bake the hand pies for dessert.

*Caramel. One would also want caramel. That’s going on top!!

My only tip for the apple pie filling: cut the apples into small bite-size pieces. That way you can fit more into each hand pie.

How to make mini apple pies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Alternate Fillings

Use any filling for the July Baking Challenge!

  • Blueberry: Combine 2 cups of fresh blueberries (I don’t recommend frozen– too wet), 1.5 Tablespoons cornstarch, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and a splash of lemon juice together in a saucepan. Cook the filling just like you would with the apple pie filling in the directions below.
  • Strawberry: Follow blueberry instructions, but use 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries.
  • Cherry: Simply follow the filling recipe + instructions for my cherry pastry pies (step 1 in that recipe).
  • Jam: fill with a spoonful or 2 of your favorite jam or preserves.
  • Brown sugar cinnamon: Just make my homemade brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts. They’re hand pies. 🙂

Alternate Shapes

You can shape the hand pies whatever shape you want. I use a 3.5 inch round cookie cutter. I don’t suggest anything smaller than 3 inches in diameter because you can’t fit enough filling in a pie that small. You can also shape into rectangles. See my homemade brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts as an example. I use a ruler and cut into 3×4-inch rectangles. Bake time will be more or less depending on size– just bake until crust is golden brown. Use the same oven temperature.

How to make mini apple pies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Watch me assemble the hand pies in this video:

Easy, right? After I cut the dough into circles, I pile it on a plate and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Remember what I said above? The colder the pie dough is, the easier it is to work with. After the hand pies are assembled, brush with a little egg wash to help the crusts brown, sprinkle with coarse sugar for added crunch and sparkle, then bake until golden brown.

Apple hand pies with homemade buttery flaky pie crust and juicy apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Apple hand pies with homemade buttery flaky pie crust and juicy apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Apple hand pies with homemade buttery flaky pie crust and juicy apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Best served with salted caramel on top, but bowl + spoon + vanilla ice cream is perfectly acceptable!

Apple hand pies with homemade buttery flaky pie crust and juicy apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Join the July Baking Challenge

Make the apple hand pies or any hand pie using my filling suggestions above. If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate July Baking Challenge:

After you bake the hand pies or alternate recipe, share your photos throughout July using #sallysbakingchallenge on your public Instagram or Twitter, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. Or email it to me. By sharing or sending your photo, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway!

Apple Hand Pies

Ingredients:

  • Homemade Pie Crust (makes two crusts, use both)
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and diced into small bite-size pieces (about 2 and 1/2 cups diced)
  • 1/3 cup (70g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk
  • optional: homemade salted caramel for topping

Directions:

Preliminary note: you can shape the hand pies whatever shape you want. I use a 3.5 inch round cookie cutter. I don't suggest anything smaller than 3 inches in diameter because you can't fit much filling in a pie that small. You can also shape into rectangles. See my homemade brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts as an example. For those I use a ruler and cut into 3x4-inch rectangles. Bake time will be more or less depending on hand pie size-- just bake until crust is golden brown. Use the same oven temperature.

  1. The crust: Prepare my pie crust recipe through step 5. The dough must chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator. You can make pie dough ahead, see instructions below.
  2. The filling: Combine the diced apples, granulated sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice together in a medium saucepan or skillet over low-medium heat. While occasionally stirring, bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool uncovered at room temperature for 30 minutes. You can make filling ahead, see instructions below.
  3. Roll out the pie dough: See my video above as a visual guide for the next few steps. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls. At any sign of sticking, sprinkle some flour underneath then keep rolling. Roll out until it's about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8th - 1/4th inch thick. Using your cookie cutter, cut into circles. Re-roll any scraps and cut into circles. Place cut circles in the refrigerator to keep cold. The colder the shaped dough, the easier it is to work with. Repeat with 2nd pie dough and refrigerate cut circles for at least 15 minutes before filling the hand pies.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F (191°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  5. Fill the hand pies: Arrange half of the circles about 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. These are the bottom crusts. Using a sharp knife, cut slits into the remaining circles. These are the top crusts. The slits act as vents so that steam can escape as the hand pies bake. Place about 2 Tablespoons of filling in the center of each bottom crust. (Or however much fits while leaving the edges bare.) Place top crust on top. Press your fingers all around the edges to seal, then crimp with a fork. If the hand pies lost some shape, use your hands to form a round circle again. It's OK if some filling juice is leaking out. Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with egg wash mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.
  6. At this point the hand pies can be baked, but if they don't feel cool to touch anymore, freeze for 10 minutes before baking. The colder they are going into the oven, the better they'll hold their shape.
  7. Bake for about 28-32 minutes or until they’re golden brown on top and around the edges. Rotate pans halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and allow the hand pies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool until ready to handle. You can serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, serve with a drizzle of warm salted caramel.
  8. Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Make ahead tip + freezing instructions: A couple ways to make ahead of time! The pie crust dough can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using. Filling can also be prepared ahead of time. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Prepared filling can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using. Assembled and unbaked hand pies can be covered and refrigerated or frozen for up to 3 days. If frozen, no need to thaw before baking; simply add an extra couple minutes of bake time. Baked hand pies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. If desired, you can halve the the filling recipe and only use 1 pie crust to yield about 5 hand pies.
  2. Use any apples you like best. I always use Granny Smith + a red variety for a tart/sweet combination. I love Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Jazz, or Fuji.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Pastry Cutter | Rolling Pin | 3.5-inch Round Cutter | Baking Sheet |  Pastry Brush | Cooling Rack

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67 Comments

Comments

  1. Connie on July 16, 2018 at 2:19 am

    Hi Sally, I just made this over the weekend and I must say the pie crust is excellent! It was nice and flaky after baking. However, when I was rolling it out, some parts fell apart as I was lifting it off the tabletop. When baked, the top part for some also came off quite easily. Can you tell me what the problem is so I can correct for the next batch. Thanks!

Reviews

  1. Melissa Downie on July 3, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    I made these today and they are so delicious! My family loves them and I know I’ll be making these again in a week or two! Thanks so much Sally! Another perfect recipe! ♥️

    • Sally on July 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      You are welcome, Melissa! Glad you liked them!

  2. Kristen on July 9, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    I made these yesterday to bring to work today and they were SO GOOD. I kept feeling like I was tooting my own horn because I just couldn’t get over how good they were. And fun to make! Thank you for a great recipe!

    • Sally on July 10, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      It’s 100% acceptable to toot your own horn over baked goods! 🙂

Questions

  1. Nastia on July 3, 2018 at 1:41 am

    Hi Sally. In my country there is no shortening available. What should I do? Is there any alternative?

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 6:59 am

      Hi Nastia, no Crisco? You can try my all butter crust instead. The recipe yields 3 pie crusts, so you can freeze one disc for later: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/06/13/strawberry-blackberry-slab-pie/

      • Amy on July 3, 2018 at 3:42 pm

        Wow-just the question I was going to ask. No Crisco in France either! I love your all butter crust, Sally, so I’m glad that it will work! I’ll use the extra crust for a quiche for dinner!



  2. Destiny on July 3, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Would you recommend how to create a sweet cherry pie filling? I have sweet cherries but they did not make the list for how to make as an alternative filling.

  3. Allison Hess on July 3, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Not sure if this makes any sense so hopefully you can advise… Something like strawberry lemonade hand pies? I have a bunch of frozen lemon curd that I’m trying to figure out what to do with – is your lemon curd recipe an appropriate consistency for hand pies? I was thinking to make it even more summery and fun maybe putting some strawberries in too, but that might be over the top… I haven’t used lemon curd before, so don’t really know how it would work in a hand pie situation. Advice appreciated!!!

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Hey Allison! You can try halving the strawberry filling suggested in the blog post and mix in a few big spoonfuls of lemon curd and use all that as a filling. Let me know if you try anything! It sounds so good!

  4. Heidi on July 3, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Hi.
    I want to ask you…….is this low carb apple pie??? I would to make apple pie myself but im diabetic….is there alternate?

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 10:02 am

      Hi Heidi! I’m unsure of the exact nutritional content, but feel free to calculate using an online calculator.

    • Amy on July 4, 2018 at 11:52 am

      Hi Heidi,

      If you’re concerned with the sugar content, Stevia makes a brown sugar that I believe is a 1 to 1 ratio with regular sugar. Not sure how it would work in the crust but I love it for the filling. I am diabetic and it is what I used. As a diabetic I have a love/hate relationship with baking.

  5. Megan on July 3, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Yum! Do you have a peach filling suggestion or would they be too watery for these? Maybe the filling from your peach pie? Would love to use our Texas peaches while they’re in season.

  6. Lane on July 3, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I can’t wait to make these! I had hand pies on my menu for my upcoming housewarming party! I was thrilled to see this recipe pop up! I wanted to do apple and also pecan. How do you think pecan pie would work for these?

  7. Jake on July 3, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Hello!
    Great looking recipe.
    Do you think I could use a mini tart pan and make something more of a mini tart-pie shape?
    Curious about your experience and opinion!
    Thanks!

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Hi Jake! A mini tart pan should be just fine. I’ve only used my tartlet pans for tarts, but I can’t see why this wouldn’t work!

  8. Laura on July 3, 2018 at 11:44 am

    These look delicious!! Do you have a specific variety of apple you like to use?

    Thanks!

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Laura, I usually use a variety of apples for a tastier pie. I usually use Granny Smith + a red variety. I love Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Jazz, and/or Fuji.

  9. Julie M. on July 3, 2018 at 11:45 am

    I’m definitely going to try these, they look amazing! Quick question – have you ever subbed lard for the shortening in the crust? I have some but I’m a little scared to try it!!

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      I haven’t because I don’t keep it on hand. Let me know if you try it!

    • Julie on July 4, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      I use lard in my pie crust and it works fine. You can substitute it 1:1 for shortening.

  10. Barbara on July 3, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Sally. I love your videos! The pictures on your site are beautiful! Can you tell me what kind of Apple’s are best for these pies? Thank you.

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      I find a variety of apples makes for a tastier pie. I always use Granny Smith + a red variety. I love Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Jazz, and/or Fuji.

  11. giuli on July 4, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    hi! do you have a pear filling i could use? Last time i substitude apple with pear it was to runny. Thank you!

  12. Shana Nielsen on July 8, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Sally! I’m overwhelmed with strawberries at the moment and I’m so glad one of your filling options is strawberry! But I’m completely out of cornstarch. Can I substitute flour for the cornstarch in the strawberry filing to make it thicken? If so should I use straight flour or a flour and water slurry?

    • Sally on July 9, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Hi Shana! This is a great question. Yes, flour works as a sub for the cornstarch. I would use only about 2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour. No need to mix it with water before adding.

  13. Sara on July 9, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I have 2lbs of frozen strawberries, can I use those? Your recipe says “use 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries.” If I can use my frozen ones, whats the best way to thaw/cook them? Thanks!

    • Sally on July 9, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Sara! Frozen are a little trickier to work with. They leak a lot more liquid, even if they’re thawed before using. Fresh is the best option here, but you can try using 2 cups of thawed chopped strawberries.

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