Apple Hand Pies

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 over that way. The recipe yields two 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.

*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.

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!

Print
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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: 10-12 3.5-inch hand pies
  • Category: Pie
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • Homemade Pie Crust (makes two crusts, use both)
  • 3 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

Instructions

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 1/8th – 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.

Notes

  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.

125 Comments

  1. Can I use already made apple pie filing?

    1. Hi Coleen, you can but I find pre-made filling is a little thinner and more liquidy. Your hand pies may leak quite a bit.

  2. Hi Sally, just commenting to say this recipe worked fantastic for me- the crust recipe you linked to was more delicious and flaky that any all-butter or all-shortening dough I’ve made before. This year I discovered your site and I’ve now learned to totally trust your recipes. I now always check your site first when trying to bake something new because I know you’ll walk me through it and the bake will be a success! Thanks so much for your site- it makes my baking less stressful, more delicious, and it feels like I’m baking alongside a friend.

  3. Hi, what can I use to replace nutmeg? Can I skip this ingredient all together? I just can’t find one in my area.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sab, You can either leave it out or replace with ground cloves, ground ginger, or more cinnamon.

    2. Hi sally,
      Thank you for this recipe and many others, I used to search the whole net for recipes and how-to’s until I found your site. I love your style and use of ingredients!

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Shayna, thank you so much for your positive feedback and for making our recipes!

  4. Made these cute hand pies this evening and served them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Absolutely delicious. Thank you Sally!

  5. Fantastic! I made these with your all-butter crust, with the tablespoon of cider vinegar in the ice water. The key factor in my success is following the directions to chill the dough after it’s rolled and cut and before assembling. I mixed the dough in my food processor till it just came together. Beautifully crisp and flaky crust!

  6. Made this tonight, never made pastry before but with the video and instructions it came out well. It was all very tasty and with practise it will be quite simple. Perfect size! Can’t wait to try some of the other flavours!
    Thank you for giving me the confidence to try the pastry!!!

  7. I made a double batch using your pie crust recipe and they are delicious! I cut mine into rectangles and folded them over. The whole family loves these. Will be making again soon.

  8. These were super easy and delicious! I only had half a batch of pie crust leftover from a previous bake so I ended up using a mix of homemade and store-bought crust, but the filling was delicious, they were a beautiful golden color, and they were very easy! I recommend reheating in your toaster oven (if you have any leftovers on day 2!). I was a little nervous as mine were heart-shaped for Valentine’s Day but I followed Sally’s recommendations about the size and they held together fine.

  9. These taste amazing! I was requested to make them several times at home. We couldn’t stop eating them. This is the best pie crust I’ve ever tasted.

  10. I’ve made these before and they were delicious. If I wanted to make peach hand pies, how would I go about that? Would I use Sally’s peach pie recipe and scale it down? If so, how much should I scale it down?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenna, We haven’t tried the hand pies with peach filling yet, but you can try using our peach pie filling recipe — same amount of filling. Let us know how they go!

  11. I want to try this recipe using a mini tart pan. Would I need to adjust the baking time ? Or pre-bake the crust ?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laure, A mini tart pan should be just fine. We’ve only used tartlet pans for tarts, but can’t see why this wouldn’t work! We’re unsure of best baking time, let us know how they go!

  12. This recipe was perfect! The descriptions and details helped make the most delicious, flaky hand pies. I will be coming back to this recipe for many variations!

  13. Elaine Newbold says:

    I made the hand pies loved that I could half the recipe most times when baking something you can’t do this. They turned out beautiful.
    I must say I loved the pie crust recipe. That is my new go to for any pie. My family really enjoyed them.

  14. I made apricot hand pies using this pie crust, but I fried them instead of baking – they we’re delicious!
    However, several of them didn’t “seal” very well and opened up slightly while frying.
    I followed the directions on sealing the crusts together in this recipe.
    Is there something else I should do to ensure this doesn’t happen the next time I make these?
    This is the first pie crust recipe that has not only worked for me, but is so easy to make and incredibly versatile!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bev, Apricot pies sound delicious! It’s OK if some filling juice is leaking out, we always end up with some that way! We haven’t tried frying these, but if they are opening up too much you may simply need to press harder with your fork to really get a tight seal before frying.

  15. I didn’t use the crust recipe ( had a couple of boxes of trader Joe’s pie crust which is excellent in the freezer) but these are phenomenal! Perfect amount of crust to filling ratio, delicious filling. I used a mix of honeycrisp, gala and Fiji apples. I’m usually not crazy about apple pie usually ( I mean when French silk, banana cream and coconut cream exist, apple has to move down a few pegs IMO) but my husband is and he raved as well.

  16. Hi Sally! I attempted the recipe with gluten free flour (King Arthur Measure-for-Measure) like I have done with success in many of your other recipes. For anyone wondering, that substitution does not work for the pie crusts. However, I now have a TON of apples prepped for this recipe (I tripled it, did someone say over-confident?) and the yummy salted caramel. Do you have any suggestions for what I can use those ingredients for?

    1. Hi Erin, though I haven’t tested these suggestions, you could try putting the filling into a casserole/baking dish and topping with a sheet of thawed puff pastry. Or maybe even the biscuits from this berry cobbler or try the topping from this gluten free apple crisp recipe.

    2. Did you ever find a gluten free version of this that works?

  17. There was so much liquid left in the pan, which left a lot of the spices behind! Maybe my apples were just too juicy. Seemed like such a waste of all that flavour!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Diane! It may seem like a waste, but that extra liquid is better to be left behind than in your hand pies making them soggy – hope you love them!

  18. not impressed says:

    Was not flavorful, and don’t yell at me from your ‘dummy account’ for not liking it either- just being honest it was not anything special.

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