October 23, 2013

Homemade Apple Hand Pies

A sweet and comforting recipe for homemade apple hand pies, with a buttery crust and spiced brown sugar apple filling, these handheld treats are a favorite way to bake up freshly-picked Fall apples.

Homemade Apple Hand Pies via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

I had promised him a pie that perfect day in the apple orchard. We collected a small basket’s worth of apples – a few varieties for snacking, but mostly for baking. The Honey had to cut me off; we already had two crisper bins full of colorful apples waiting for us at home. My eyes, as always, were too big.

Apple pie was one of the very first desserts that I learned to bake as a teenager, carefully following the classic recipe – the page always marked with that red ribbon – from our smudged and fading copy of the original Joy of Cooking. Over time I could recite the ingredients from memory, and learned to adapt, adding a little more or less of this and that as needed for each pie. The flavors ingrained.

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife SwoonApple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon
Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Homemade Apple Hand Pies via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

When we got back from Asheville, it was clear that Fall had settled in for good. Cashmere socks and piping hot tea seem continuously in order. Dreary days are brightened by the intoxicating aroma of fall baking and slow-braised soups and stews. I’ve been adding apples to everything lately – baked into desserts, swirled into ice cream, tossed with cinnamon atop steamy oatmeal in the morning, roasted with butternut squash to create a savory soup… – the list goes on.

Instead of a traditional pie, I decided to make miniature hand pies; all the classic apple pie flavors – sweet apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves – in convenient hand-held form. I find individual desserts like these so much easier for just the two of us. I can split the recipe in half, for a special occasion, or we can freeze a few for later. It’s less commitment than a whole pie, but certainly no less indulgent.

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon
Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

The pie pastry that I used in this recipe is the Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough from Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful baking book – Baking: From my home to yours. It’s a great, all-around, flexible and easy to work with dough, and is lovely in this recipe (as well as any number of other pies and tarts). If you already have your own go-to pie dough, feel free to use that here, but if not, I highly recommend Ms. Greenspan’s recipe.

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon
Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Homemade Apple Hand Pies

  • Author: Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 70 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 mins
  • Yield: 12 Hand Pies


Pie Pastry (from Dorie Greenspan)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2-1/2 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
  • 1/3 cup all-vegetable shortening, very cold or frozen, cut into small pieces
  • 6-7 tbsp ice water

Apple Filling

  • 5 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

To Top

  • 1/3-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • demerara or sanding sugar


Make the pie pastry

  1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt until well-combined. Add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the butter and shortening pieces are evenly dispersed, with the largest pieces about the size of peas. Be careful not to over-mix. Add the ice water, a tablespoon or two at a time, and pulse to combine, until the dough is evenly moistened. Pinch a bit of dough together between two fingers to test – the dough should stick together. If the dough seems dry, add a few more teaspoons of water and pulse again.
  2. Transfer the pastry to a clean, well-floured work surface, and divide the dough in half. Gather each half of dough into a ball, then flatten into a round, disk, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before you begin to roll out the dough.

Make the filling

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-heat. Add the diced apples, butter, brown sugar and spices to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the butter is melted and the apples are just soft, but not mushy, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and transfer the apple filling to a mixing bowl to cool. Set aside and let come to room temperature.

To bake the pies

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Remove one of the dough disks from the refrigerator. Roll the dough out on to a generously-floured piece of parchment paper, until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Using a 5-inch-diameter cookie cutter or saucer (my preferred method), cut out six circles. Re-roll the dough as necessary to achieve all six.
  3. Lay the pastry circles on one of the sheet pans and top with half of the apple mixture, being sure to reserve as much of the apple liquid as possible. Adding too much liquid to the pies will get messy, quickly. Fold the dough in half, and use your fingers to gently press the edges together. Using the back of a fork, gently press down to create a fluted seal along the edge.
  4. Lightly brush the top of each pastry with the cream, and sprinkle generously with the demerara sugar. Cut a small x-shaped slit in the top of each pie, and repeat these steps with the second dough disk, if using.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pies are golden brown and cooked through. Let cool for 10 minutes on a baking rack. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon
Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon

Apple Hand Pies | Fork Knife Swoon




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Make this recipe? Let us know what you think!

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Leave a Comment & Review


  • Reply
    May 13, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Made these today. Excellent. Will definitely make these again!

    • Reply
      May 16, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      So happy to hear that, thanks, Melissa!!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Hello! I am just a bit confused about the instructions, where it says “Lay the pastry circles on one of the sheet pans …. being sure to RESERVE AS MUCH LIQUID AS POSSIBLE. Adding too much liquid to the pies will get messy”. Does that mean I am reserving as much liquid OUT of the pie? Or what am I reserving it for? Thanks.

    • Reply
      November 16, 2017 at 8:43 am

      Hi Patsy! Sorry for the confusion – yes, you’ll want to keep as much liquid as you can out of the pie filling. Otherwise they’ll leak out quite a bit when baking. It’s yummy stuff, and you can reserve the liquid for something else or discard (you won’t need it again in this recipe). Hope that helps! Enjoy! 🙂

  • Reply
    November 13, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    The pastry can be made without using a food processor too right? And is there a big difference if I don’t brush the cream on top before baking?

    • Reply
      November 14, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      Hi Sarah! Yes, absolutely. It will take a little bit longer, but you can absolutely use a pastry blender, or a large fork, or even your fingers in a pinch. Just be sure to work quickly so that the dough stays cold. The cream gives the pies a nice shiny, golden crust, but you can omit if you’d like to. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Maureen K. Cosentino
    October 16, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Can these be frozen? If so, how do you defrost them so that the dough won’t be wet? Thank you.

    • Reply
      November 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Maureen! You’ll actually want to bake them from frozen for the best results. Assemble the pies, wrap tightly before freezing, then brush with the cream before baking. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 11, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    I always put some scoops of ice cream on the top!

  • Reply
    Jen Zalucky
    June 25, 2017 at 6:31 am

    I bake. A. LOT.
    My kids and extended family tell me I should go on a baking show. (I’m not quite that good but good enough.) My great grandmother gave me a rolling pin and pie plate for my 12th birthday and I was taught the art of making pie dough. Every single recipe I’ve ever tried uses a ratio of flour:fat with less fat than this one. They’re all wrong. For hand pies, this is far and away the best recipe I’ve ever used. I worked it with my hands a little more than I typically do (never a food processor), and I split the dough into 2 separate disks for chilling. I baked on a parchment lined HIGH QUALITY aluminum pan at 350*. Even my brother, who has eaten a lot of my pies, announced, “this is money, right here.”
    It will go to the front of my recipe book, for sure. DELICIOUS.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you for saving my thanksgiving. I made this pie with apples we dried at the end of summer. I couldnt believe I made this from scratch. My mother in law can’t wait to test these pies. The crust was soon good. Thanks again for sharing

  • Reply
    October 30, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Made these today and they are out of this world! The dough is light, flaky and flavorful. Apples were perfect.
    made the mistake of building them before apples were fully cooled so tore the pastry a bit. Next time I will TRY to be more patient. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Hello! I just wanted to say, that this recipe turned out great! The dough is awesomely delicious – after trying and buying a dozen different tasteless doughy crusts, this one finally is a winner! It’s super tasty, enough so that my husband was actually eating some of it raw! 🙂

    I threw in some cinnamon, clove and allspice into the dough to spice it up a little and mixed it by hand with a pastry cutter since I don’t have a large enough food processor. In addition to the apple filling, I also used some blueberry and cherry pie filling I canned last year. I noticed the dough was a tad crumbly, next time I’ll add a bit more water as mentioned in the recipe, and perhaps even chill the dough overnight like I do for my sugar cookie recipe.

    At any rate, these were awesome and it’s definitely a recipe I’ll be making again. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Reply
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    May 10, 2016 at 9:01 am

    […] You can individually wrap each pie in parchment paper making packing and serving even easier! Click HERE for the […]

  • Reply
    Ma Toscano
    October 19, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I loved this whole recipe but the crust was by far the best I have ever made!
    As I got the ingredients together I was a bit hesitant with the 2.5 sticks of butter required – my reaction was “this crust better be worth it”. It was even better than I expected!
    The dough was so easy to work with and the taste was great.
    I notice you said it could be used as a pie crust – I am assuming it would be good for a 2 crust 9 inch pie?
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      October 19, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you so much, Ma Toscano! Yes, the pie pastry recipe also works for a 9-inch double crust pie.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    July 23, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Look great – can you bake ahead of time and keep them – for kids lunches – some what like the Hostess pies

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 6:50 am

    What r the nutrion facts for this recipe.

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