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:
- 2013: Salted Caramel Apple Pie
- 2014: Apple Pie Bars (with Salted Caramel on top)
- 2015: Apple Crumble Pie
- 2016: Apple Slab Pie with Maple Icing
- 2017: Deep Dish Apple Pie
- 2018: Apple Hand Pies
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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. 🙂Print
Apple Hand Pies
- Prep Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
- Yield: 10-12 3.5-inch hand pies
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F (191°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 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.
- Special Tools: Pastry Cutter | Rolling Pin | 3.5-inch Round Cutter | Baking Sheet | Pastry Brush | Cooling Rack
- Half Recipe: If desired, you can halve the the filling recipe and only use 1 pie crust to yield about 5 hand pies.
- 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 Comments & Reviews
Do you have to use the egg wash? Or is there a substitute for the eggs? My kids are allergic so I’m looking to avoid eggs. Thanks!
Hi Jennifer– a little milk instead of the egg wash would be just fine.
Delicious! Thank you Sally!
Should I wait to drizzle the caramel sauce until serving? Excited to make these!
Hi Valerie! You can drizzle the hand pies with caramel ahead of time or right before serving– either way works!
Made it and my family loved them! Where can i upload pictures??
Sally, I’ve made an embarrassing amount of recipes from your site (lol) and each one always turns out delicious. I rarely comment but these hand pies are SO good that it would be unfair if I didn’t come here and give this a 10/10 positive review and thank you for always putting together the best recipes. You are seriously my go to blogger whenever I’m going to a gathering and they request I bring a baked good. These hand pies are the most highly requested item I get! Just in the past couple days I have made these TWICE and the people are still begging for more hahaha. I literally walked in with a batch fresh out the oven today and kids and adults alike descended on these and they were WIPED out within 5 minutes of me walking through the door hahaha. I’ve done these with the apple filling and the recipe for your cherry filling – both were a hit. Thank you for all your hard work and delicious recipes!!!!!
Hi Lori! I absolutely loved reading this, thank you so much for taking the time to write. I’m so glad you love and trust my recipes and especially loved these apple hand pies. Truly one of my favorites– and so good with the cherry filling too!!
I made these yesterday for the first time. I was intimidated because they seemed difficult but I’m so happy with how they turned out! Can’t wait to try other flavors!
I made these to take out to a LARP. They didn’t survive very well in just a wax wrapper and in retrospect maybe a bumpy trailer wasn’t the best place for them to spend two hours in the first place BUT the crumbs that remained were very tasty and everyone who had some really enjoyed it!
First time making pie dough (I used your butter pie dough) and pie period! These mini apple pies came out great ;-). Thank you so much for making it all so approachable and easy. The visuals (photos, video) along with detailed instructions make a huge difference, especially when you’ve never made something before. You are my go to place for making any type of dessert! Now I won’t be as nervous approaching those chocolate croissants..LOL. I just think you are awesome, thanks for sharing!!
Hi Sally! Have you made them with a blackberry filling? What would be your suggestions on how to make it if you would do it?
Hi Alycia! I actually haven’t, but you can use my suggestion in the blog post for the blueberry filling and replace blueberries with blackberries.
I made the apple hand pies this morning, they turned out beautiful! My mom is pie maker extrordinaire, but I never could make them as nice as hers. Your crust recipe worked! Thank you! I used an organic shortnening, which worked out just perfect!!
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!
Hi Connie! The pie dough becomes a little flimsy after rolling out and sitting on the counter. You can try chilling the shaped pie dough and/or the assembled hand pies on the baking sheet in the refrigerator before baking. That makes handling them easier! Did you crimp the edges with a fork? That helps the top crust and bottom crust stay together.
Apple pie is my favorite dessert in the universe, just love it! I’ve been looking for the perfect pie recipe but I’m from Mexico and I can’t find allspice, would u help me to make my own? Thank u!
Love your blog and recipes ♥️
You can leave out the allspice! Enjoy!
I literally just took these out of my oven! They were so fun to make and I cannot wait to eat one tomorrow! I’ll be posting some photos tomorrow. Thank you for a great challenge recipe!
I made these yesterday for the 4th. They were delicious! Were, as in, all gone now 😉
Thanks for sharing!
I made these yesterday on the 4th of July and am so proud of myself! First success with homemade pie crust – no more store bought for me! An overall success, but 2 questions for an even better next time: (1) My husband thought the accompanying caramel sauce was a bit salty. I actually used unsalted butter instead of the salted you recommended, since I had that more readily available. Now, I don’t think I agree with him that it was too salty, but for argument’s sake let’s say it was…any ideas what I might have done wrong? The only obvious thing that came to mind was not stirring in the salt adequately. (2) I did not have any coarse sugar and would like to get some for future recipes. Is there a product called coarse sugar, or does it mean sugar in the raw, or something else? Sorry for the novel – I love talking about food! 😀
Hi Susan! I’m so happy you tried the apple hand pies! The salted caramel is indeed salty. But shouldn’t be overly so. What type of salt did you use? I use regular table salt. Next time, try reducing to 3/4 teaspoon added salt. That should help. For coarse sugar, I love the brand Sugar in the Raw. This is turbinado sugar, a coarse light brown sugar cane sugar. Any coarse/larger crystal sugar is great. It’s completely optional as a topping though! 🙂
I did use regular table salt, but it’s possible I was careless in my measuring. 😉 Next time (there WILL be a next time for that lovely sauce), I’ll try 3/4 tsp per your suggestion. Thanks so much!
Is it possible to use all shortening? I’m working with a milk allergy.
Hi Catherine! You can replace the 6 Tablespoons of butter with shortening, yes.
Hi Sally. I’d like to make A big batch of these and freeze them for lunchboxes. I’m using the all butter crust. Will they stay crispy after thawing ? Nobody likes soggy hand pies in the family. Any tips before I get started? Thanks so much for sharing!