Will you just look at these?! Homemade dough, hot ham and cheese, hand-held bliss!
I grew up eating microwaveable bricks of dough and cheese, aka hot pockets. How about you? Not ashamed to say that I still love those pockets of comforting cheesy goodness. Not a huge fan of all the junk and artificial flavor packed inside, so I started making my own. We’re talking real ingredients. That you can see, taste, and pronounce.
Kevin and I are obsessed with these homemade ham & cheese pockets. In fact, obsessed doesn’t even cut it. Downright addicted. Lately I’ve been freezing all the extras for a quick and easy lunch, snack, meal, etc. We’ve been on the go nonstop with new house stuff, so they’ve been remarkably convenient. Just microwave the frozen pockets for about 2-3 minutes and you’ve got hot and melty pockets with real food packed inside. They’ll be your food obsession too!
Have you ever made my homemade pizza crust before? I hope you have– it’s the only homemade pizza crust I use. And it’s actually really simple to make- like, much easier than you’d expect with a homemade dough. The reason I ask if you’ve ever made it before is because we’re using the exact same miraculous dough to make today’s homemade ham & cheese pockets. 1 dough = many uses!
For exceptional tasting dough, I always use Red Star Platinum yeast– the reason I always recommend this yeast to you? Like a broken record? Their Platinum is a premium instant yeast, strengthening and improving the quality of your dough and the finished volume. You’ll see and taste the difference. Trust me on this.
The dough is pretty basic– for complete step-by-step photos and explanations for the simple ingredients used, here is my homemade pizza crust recipe page. Lots of thorough info there! You can’t mess it up.
Once you have the foolproof dough made– about 10 minutes prep and a 1 hour rise– begin assembling! Here’s how it’s going to go down: the pockets are made by dividing the dough in half. From each half, you’ll get 4 pockets. So this dough (while making TWO pizzas) makes 8 homemade ham & cheese pockets. Take a look at the video above to help guide you.
Let’s flatten out each piece of dough into 6×4 inch rectangles. They don’t have to be perfect rectangles as evidenced by the ugly shapes above– you’re really just going for a flat surface to top with the ham & cheese.
(Speaking of ham, you can totally use leftover Easter ham in these!)
Place the ham & cheese on one side, then fold the dough over to fully enclose it.
Press down the edges together to seal, then use a fork to crimp them down so nothing spills out. (Though cheese may ooze out a little– still tasty! Embrace that melty goodness.) Like pie crust and other pastries, we’ll brush the top of the pockets with an egg wash. The egg wash helps brown the top and gives it its sheen as it comes out of the oven. Pretty, right? ↓ ↓
The homemade ham & cheese pockets are incredible right out of the oven because the bread is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It’s a miracle in hand-held form. Just be careful when taking that first bite because the center is very hot! Obviously burnt my tongue.
Though the warm ham & melty cheese filling is fantastic, Kevin and I both agree that the CRUST is the best part. This bread tastes phenomenal and you probably know that already if you’ve used this pizza dough as pizza crust before. How delicious does it taste?! Like I mention above– we’re using the exact same dough recipe for this, though there is a little less rise time required because we aren’t as concerned with a bread-y, puffy crust. We really just want dough to wrap around the ham & cheese filling. Does that make sense?
I’m already dreaming up other variations like pizza pockets (pepperoni or sausage!), cheese & broccoli, bbq chicken & cheese… if I make different flavors, I’ll share the recipes on my blog for sure!
For freezing instructions, see the last step. 🙂
Homemade Ham & Cheese Pockets
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast (1 standard packet)
- 1 and 1/3 cups (320ml) warm water, about 110°F (43°C)
- 3 and 1/2 cups (440g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk
- 8 slices cheese or 2 cups shredded (I use sharp cheddar)
- 16 thin slices deli ham or 2 cups cubed ham
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy. If the yeast doesn't dissolve or foam, your yeast is dead. Start again with active yeast. Add flour, sugar, olive oil, and salt. Mix by hand or with the dough hook on low speed for 1 minute. Once all of the ingredients are mixed, slowly knead for 7 minutes by hand or with your dough hook on low-medium speed. If your dough is too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. After kneading, your dough should be smooth and elastic. Poke it with your finger - if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl that has been greased lightly with olive oil. Turn it over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm environment (about 75°F or 80°F/24°C or 27°C)1 for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Once risen, punch the dough down to release the air. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, slice dough in half. Then slice each half into quarters. You'll have 8 pieces of dough, as shown in the photo above. Flatten each piece with your fingers or use a rolling pin. You want each piece of flattened dough to be about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. They don't have to be perfect rectangles, as you can see in my photos! Transfer flattened dough to the baking sheets. Place the cheese (I fold the slice in half) and ham (2 slices for each) on top of the dough on one side, then fold the other side over top. Pinch the edges to seal as best you can. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Brush the tops and sides of each pocket with egg wash, then slice 2-3 slits in the tops for air vents (use a super sharp knife to do that).
- Bake the pockets for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Make sure to rotate the baking sheet once or twice during bake time. Remove pockets from the oven and allow to cool on the pan until ready to handle and serve.
- Make ahead tip: The pockets can be made through step 4 then covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Then bake as directed. You can also freeze the baked pockets, which is what I do. After the pockets cool, wrap them individually in aluminum foil and freeze. Then microwave for 2-3 minutes on high or bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes. No need to thaw. To make just the dough ahead of time, see freezing and thawing instructions in my pizza crust post.
1. For the warm environment, I heat up my oven to 200°F (93°C). Then, I turn the oven off and keep the door slightly opened. This will be a warm environment for your dough to rise. After about 30 minutes, I close the oven door to trap warmish air inside. If you are not using an instant yeast, your dough will take longer to double in size.
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Also freezer-friendly: homemade bagels! I take you through each step, so you fully understand what’s happening. They’re surprisingly simple to make, too!
I’m working with Red Star Yeast to bring you today’s recipe. Thank you for helping me work with brands I love!