These delicious Apple Hand Pies are made with a combination of dried apples, fresh apples, and plenty of spices, including cinnamon and cardamom. This amazing applied filling is packed into a buttery flaky pie crust for a scrumptious fall treat.
- Why This Recipe Works
- The Ingredients for These Apple Hand Pies
- Apple Pie Filling
- Pie Dough
- How to Make the Apple Pie Filling
- How to Make the Flaky Pie Crust
- How to Assemble the Apple Hand Pies
- How to Bake the Hand Pies
- Which Apples Are Great for Baking
- Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- Recommended Equipment
- Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
- If You Like These Hand Pies Try These Pie Recipes
- Apple Hand Pies
Hand pies make for great desserts, and these apple hand pies (aka mini apple pies) are just the right size for an individual dessert or when you want a portable snack. You can freeze the unbaked pies and then bake 1 or 2 when you want something a little sweet.
Why This Recipe Works
The flavor in this apple hand pie recipe comes from combining fresh and dried apples. The dried apples increase the apple flavor in the pie. Orange juice adds a nice tanginess to the filling. The apples are surrounded by a pie dough that has almost equal amounts of flour and butter which produce an amazingly flaky crust. These apple hand pies are a great combination of sweet, tart, and buttery goodness.
And if you like hand pies check out my recipe for Roasted Peach Hand Pies and Blackberry Hand Pies, two of my favorites.
The Ingredients for These Apple Hand Pies
This hand pie recipe consists of two recipes and here are the ingredients:
Apple Pie Filling
- Apple Filling. This apple filling is made with dried apples and fresh apples. The dried apples are cooked with orange and the fresh apples are roasted in the oven with cinnamon, cardamom, dark brown sugar, and unsalted butter. Both cooking methods create an apple flavor bomb.
- Dried Apples. Use dried apples that are soft and pliable. Do not use apple chips.
- Orange Juice. The orange juice hydrates the dried apples and adds a nice tart flavor to the apple filling. A lot of apple hand pie recipes call for lemon juice, but orange juice is less acidic and adds a nice sweetness to the apples along with some tartness.
- Orange Zest. The zest adds a nice subtle citrusy note to the bakes apples.
- Fresh Apples. Use your favorite apples for baking. Granny Smith apples are my favorite apples for pies.
- Ground Cinnamon and Cardamom. I love this spice combination for the filling, but feel free to use your favorite combination and adjust the amounts to your taste. Allspice and nutmeg also work for this recipe.
- Unsalted Butter. The butter adds richness to the apple filling.
- Light or Dark Brown Sugar. Sugar is needed to add sweetness to the filling
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: Provides the structure for the pie crust.
- Cold Unsalted Butter: Butter provides the flavor and flakiness of the pie. Use unsalted butter, because different brands of salted butter contain different amounts of salt and it's better to control the salt by adding salt.
- Kosher Salt: The salt enhances the flavor of the pie crust.
- Granulated Sugar: Sugar adds a little sweetness and helps with the browning of the dough as it bakes.
- Ice Cold Water: Water holds everything together. Ice cold water helps ensure that the butter stays cold. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of water. The dough will be a little wet, but as the dough rests and chills it will absorb the water. Start with half the water and add the remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time. In most instances, you'll use all the water, but I've found that during the winter I might not use all the water because of the moisture in the air.
How to Make the Apple Pie Filling
This delicious apple filling consists of dried apples and fresh apples, which are cooked separately and then combined. Cooking two separate fillings is a little extra work, but absolutely worth it in terms of flavor.
I experimented with the filling three times to come up with the right ratio of dried apples and fresh apples to produce this final filling with a complex taste.
Cook the dried apples in orange juice with a cinnamon stick until the orange juice has reduced and thickened to a delicious orange and apple syrup that coats the bottom of the pan.
Don't walk away while cooking the dried apples or like me, you will end up with a burnt combination of orange juice and dried apples.
Chop the fresh apples and roast them on high heat with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, sugar, and butter. Roasting the fruit brings out the natural sweetness of the apples and creates a delicious sugary syrup that coats the apples.
Combine the two apple fillings together and refrigerate until the filling is cold. Chilling it will help ensure that the dough does not get too warm while assembling the pies.
How to Make the Flaky Pie Crust
Homemade pie crust will give you the best results and this recipe is absolutely the best pie crust recipe for these apple hand pies. It's an incredibly flaky buttery crust. This flaky pie dough contains almost equal parts of butter and flour.
The secret to creating a really flaking dough (besides the butter) is the multiple turns of the dough. A turn is the step of folding the dough, rolling it out, and then folding it again.
Use a large stainless steel bowl so you will have plenty of room to work the dough into the flour and then schmear it against the sides of the bowl without getting flour and bits of butter everywhere.
Whisk the dry ingredients together. Cut the butter into small cubes and toss with the flour mixture. Smash the butter into quarter-sized pieces. Once all the dough pieces are flattened, add the water and mix it in with a spatula.
Now start to schmear the dough up the sides of the bowl. Use your knuckles to smear the dough up and rotate the bowl with your other hand to get all the dough. The dough will look very shaggy.
Pour the dough onto a floured work surface and knead the dough until it starts to come together. Shape it into an 8 x 10 rectangle and then fold it into three sections, similar to a tri-fold brochure or letter. Then roll out to a rectangle again, fold it and roll it.
When you're finished roll the dough into a 10 x 8-inch rectangle and divide it into two even pieces. The final pie dough will weigh one kilogram or 2.2 pounds, so each piece should weigh about one (1) pound. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
How to Assemble the Apple Hand Pies
Divide each half of the dough into 6 equal pieces weighing about 80 grams each, then roll each piece into a circle slightly larger than 6 inches. Use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into a precise 6-inch circle.
If you don't have a large pastry cutter you can eyeball it and use a pastry wheel or sharp knife to cut the circle down to 6-inches.
Place about 1/4 cup of the apple filling in the middle of each of the dough circles. Brush the top edge of the dough circle with egg wash and fold the dough over pressing the edges together. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges.
Chill the pies for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
How to Bake the Hand Pies
Place 4 pies on a parchment-lined large baking sheet, brush the pies with egg wash, cut three slits in the top of each pie, and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Make sure you cut the slits after the egg wash. If you add the egg wash after it will close the slits.
Bake the pies for about 15 minutes until they are dark golden brown color and you can easily see the flaky layers.
Remove the hand pies from the oven. Let the pies rest for about 10 minutes, then move the individual pies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Let the baking sheet cool completely before baking the next set of pies.
These hand pies are perfect while still warm but are still delicious if eaten a day or two later. Eat them plain or with your favorite ice cream. I hope you enjoy them.
Which Apples Are Great for Baking
Apples are great for eating fresh and baking, but not all apples are great for baking. Here is a list of a few apples that are great for baking:
- Granny Smith
- Golden Delicious
- Honey Crisp
- Newton Pippen
Use your favorite baking apples to make these hand pies. Growing up, my mother used a combination of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious to make her awesome apple pies. And I still prefer that combination, but today there are so many more varieties available that my mother didn't have access to, that I like to experiment with different apples.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- When making the pie dough always use cold water and cold butter
- If the dough starts to get soft while assembling the hand pies place the dough in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill and then start working with the dough again
- Use apples that are still firm and crunchy. Don't use apples that have become mushy. Save those for apple sauce.
- This recipe uses a lot of spices, so make sure the spices are still good and haven't gone stale or lost their flavor.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make the apple filling in advance and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.
No, you do need to use cornstarch to thicken the filling. Because the apples are cooked before adding them to the pie dough most of the moisture is cooked off.
Yes, you can assemble the apple hand pies and then freeze them before baking them. Lay them on a parchment lined board or sheet pan in a single layer and stick them in a freezer. When they are frozen (usually 24 hours later) store them in a freezer bag.
Preheat the oven. Place the frozen pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush them with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake. Add a few minutes to the baking time.
If You Like These Hand Pies Try These Pie Recipes
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Apple Hand Pies
Flaky Pie Dough
- 2-3/4 cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon (13 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (454 grams) unsalted butter cold
- 1/2 cup ice cold water
- 2 cups (227 grams) dried apples
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 3 (530 grams) chopped Granny Smith apples cut into small dice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter melted
- 1 (50 grams) large egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Make the Pie Dough
- The pie dough can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated.
- Place the flour and the salt in a large stainless steel or glass bowl and whisk to combine. Cut the butter into small chunks and with your fingers toss the butter with the flour to coat the butter. With your fingers, smush the butter into flat pieces. Continue smushing the until all the butter is flattened but none of the pieces are larger than a quarter. The flour will look like course cornmeal.
- Add half the water and quickly fold it into the flour/butter mixture with a wooden spoon to distribute the moisture. If the dough appears dry stir in the water 2 tablespoons at a time until the appears shaggy. Use your knuckles or your palm to smear the dough up the sides of the bowl.
- Once you’ve gone all the around the bowl, fold the dough a few times to pick up dry bits. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll to an 8 x 10 rectangle. Fold the dough into letter fold and roll the dough again to an 8 x 10 rectangle. Repeat two more times. The last time fold the dough using a letter fold. Pat it into a rectangle and cut it into two pieces.
- Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be refrigerated up to 1 week and frozen for up to 1 month.
Make the Apple Filling
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- Combine the dried apples, orange juice and cinnamon stick in a 3-quart sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to o a simmer. Cook until the orange juice reduces to thick syrup, about 30 minutes. There should just be a little syrup coating the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Line a half sheet pan and line with parchment paper.
- While the dried apples cook, peel the apples and cut them into a small dice. You should have a little over 4 cups of chopped apples. Melted the butter. ombine sugar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, orange zest and whisk to combine. Add the apples and toss to coat the apples. Spread the apples into a single layer. Cut the butter into about 8 pieces and dot the apples. Bake for 20 minutes and stir the apples. Stir the apples every 10 minutes until the sugar mixture has turned into a syrup, about 40 minutes.
- Zest the orange into the brown sugar and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. Add the salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg to the sugar mixture and whisk together. Pour the melted butter over the apples and toss the mixture together.
- Spread the apples into a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the apples for about 20 minutes or until the sugar and butter start to bubble and looks thicker. Stir the apples every 10 minutes.
- Scrape the apples into a large bowl, add the cooked dried apples and stir to combine. Cool the mixture to room temperature. The mixture can also be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Assemble the Hand Pies
- Remove one piece of oue dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 6 pieces about 80 grams each. Roll out each piece into a rough circle slightly larger than 6 inches and then use a 6-inch pastry cutter to cut out a circle. Place about 1/4 cup of filling in the center. Brush the edges with the egg wash. Fold the dough in half. Seal the edges with a fork or crimp the edges. Chill the hand pies for 30 minutes. Repeat with the other dough half.
- While the hand pies are chilling preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Make the egg wash by combining the egg and water and whisk together with a fork.
- Remove 6 pies from the refrigerator. Place them on the baking sheet, brush with egg wash and cut three slits across the top of the pies. Sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture on top.
- Bake the pies for 15-17 minutes until the top of the hand pies are golden brown and the pies have risen. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack. Serve the pies warm or at room temperature.
It took me 3 days to make the dough, filling, and assemble the pies but it was worth it. The crust is flaky and the orange and cardamom paired with the apples is a winning combination. Thank you, Cheryl, for another great recipe.
Cheryl Norris says
Thank you so much for trying this recipe and leaving a comment. I'm glad to hear that you think the final flavor is worth the extra effort and that you enjoy the addition of the orange and cardamom. I love experimenting with flavors and this combination is one of my favorites.