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apple hand pie cut in half and stacked on a cooling rack

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. This year marks year 6! Apple pie, an American classic, is my all-time favorite dessert. I shared my first recipe back in 2013 and every year since then:

Apple hand pies on a cooling rack

My recipe for homemade individual apple hand pies is really fun 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 in a white baking dish

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 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 assistance over that way. The recipe yields 2 crusts, and you’ll use both in this recipe to produce 10 hand pies.

apple pie filling ingredients in a skillet

apple pie filling in a skillet

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.

*Salted caramel. One could also want salted 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.

pie dough rolled out and cut into circles

apple pie filling on circles of pie dough for hand pies

Alternate Fillings

So many delicious options!

  • 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.

hand pie before baking

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 after baking

hand grabbing an apple hand pie from a baking dish

Best served with salted caramel on top, but bowl + spoon + vanilla ice cream is perfectly acceptable! Maybe a dollop of whipped cream too? Eat your heart out!

See Your Apple Hand Pies!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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Apple hand pies in a white baking dish with salted caramel sauce

Apple Hand Pies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 3.5-inch hand pies 1x
  • Category: Pie
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Homemade apple hand pies with buttery flaky pie crust and a juicy cinnamon apple pie filling! Topped with salted caramel, these mini apple pies are both delicious and adorable.


  • Homemade Pie Crust (makes 2 crusts, use both)
  • 3 medium apples, peeled and diced into small bite-size pieces (about 2 and 1/2 cups, or 300g, 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


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 3×4-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 1/8–1/4-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.


  1. Make Ahead / 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 for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. 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.
  2. Special Tools: Pastry Cutter | Rolling Pin | 3.5-inch Round Cutter | Baking Sheet |  Pastry Brush | Cooling Rack
  3. Half Recipe: If desired, you can halve the the filling recipe and only use 1 pie crust to yield about 5 hand pies.
  4. Apples: 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.

Keywords: apple hand pies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I love this recipe! I made a double batch for a 4th of July party and they were a huge hit. I decided to use your pie crust recipe and it was super flakey and delicious. Thank you so much!

    1. What are your thoughts on aubving strawberries and rhubarb? What would uou alter?

  2. I made the pie crust and prepared the apples a day ahead so making the individual pies didn’t take too long although I kept refrigerating the dough and filled pies along the way. Several people said they liked the crust/fruit ratio better than a pie slice (more crust). I served it with vanilla ice cream and Sally’s salted caramel and BF used a fork and spoon (one in each hand) to eat his dessert without looking up or talking. These individual apple pies look good and are delicious!

  3. I really love this recipe. The only problem I had was a watery filling, so I thickened it a little with a cornstarch slurry. They were a big hit with everyone at our gathering.

  4. Have you ever measured or weighed the amount of apples used? A “medium” apple can mean so many different things especially when farm grown.

  5. Since discovering this recipe I’ve made blueberry and cherry handpies at least a dozen times . They are very popular !

    My problem is that the tops crack every time . I refrigerate after cutting the discs , cut a vent AFTER the egg wash … still they crack .

    What am I missing !

    1. Hi Patti, are the vents splitting open wider? Is that what you are referring to? Pie dough can crack a bit when baking, so I don’t think it’s anything you’re doing wrong. You may want to use more ice water when making the dough, though. Are you using the homemade dough linked in this recipe?

  6. I want to make these for our towns historical commission bake sale. I’m wondering if I could cut up caramels to add to the filling to make it a caramel apple… I thought about just drizzling it, but that makes packaging messier

    1. Hi Christina, we haven’t tested the recipe that way, so are unsure of the results, but if you try it, please let us know how it turns out!

  7. I’d love to make this for the kids. Can I sub out the sugar for something else (not honey)?

    1. Hi Caitlin, We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes or without sugar completely. Thank you!

  8. Made recipe with some local farm apples that were gifted to me. Love the crust as I prefer shortening in my homemade crust recipes. They were flaky and just the perfect amount of spice in the filling. Thanks.

  9. Hi Sally! How can I make this with pumpkin instead so that it is pumpkin hand pies? Thanks!

  10. This looks so good. How do you think it would work if I cooked them the day before and warm the next morning. I am having about 12 ladies for breakfast on Saturday and need my oven that morning for other things. ?? Thanks for input –Elaine

    1. Absolutely! See recipe notes for make ahead instructions 🙂

  11. I really like your cherry hand pies recipe because using the preprepared puff pastry dough is so easy. Can this apple filling be subbed into that recipe with puff pastry instead of making the pie dough?

  12. I loved these so much! I’m wondering if I can use the blueberry pie filling you have instead of apples?

  13. ” If room temperature or warm, the fats will melt as you mix and roll out the pie dough, *rendering* it impossible to work with.”

    I see what you did there!

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