Is there anything more American than warm apple pie?
This handheld version is just as delicious as the original. Run to the kitchen, don’t walk, and check your pantry for the ingredients. Make a run to the store if you need to, but make these apple hand pies today!
But I think hand pies are better. What’s the difference, you ask?
Obviously, the shape, but these pastries are ready to go anytime you are. Perfect for a party, this handheld version of the classic is easily shared and eaten.
I will point out that most recipes are fried, which is an essential difference. To keep these more in line with the classic, I chose to bake not fry. It’s a bit healthier that way too, right?
These tasty pastries won’t come with an argument about whose slice is larger like a traditional pie will, although you may still argue about who gets the last one. Sorry, you will have to figure that out on your own! Might I suggest the cook, though?
Making this recipe is a labor of love. It is not inherently difficult, but it is time-consuming for sure.
There is a lot of chilling, assembling, and chilling again. No one will ever say the perfect crust is simple.
Homemade pie crust is, however, amazingly delicious and always impressive! Can anything really compete with a homemade flaky and perfectly golden brown pie crust? Sweet or savory, the crust is always the star of the show when it comes to pies.
From the first bite to the last, this indulgence is pure bliss. The flaky crust and perfectly spiced apple filling will keep you coming back to this recipe time after time.
Ready to Get Started?
Baking is an art and mistakes are not the easiest to recover from. Do not worry though; this recipe is virtually foolproof. Follow our step-by-step instructions in the Cooking By The Numbers section below, and you will have a deliciously moist and flaky crust every time.
The dough makes eight large hand pies. Feel free to cut smaller circles if you are feeding a crowd. My crowd tends to be a little gluttonous from time to time (especially where this particular variety of delightful dessert is concerned) so I went with big circles.
Any way you cut the dough, these apple hand pies are sure to steal the heart (and stomach) of any person who tries them. You will be the hero of the cookout or potluck.
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Arrange Mise en Place
First, prep and measure all of your ingredients.
Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the unsalted butter into tablespoon-sized slices and put in another bowl. Put both bowls into the freezer for 1 hour.
While you’re waiting, go ahead and juice a lemon and set aside. You will need the juice later in the recipe.
Step 2 – Combine Crust Ingredients
Using a pastry blender, work the butter and flour until the lumps are gone and both are well combined. If you don’t have a pastry blender, a sturdy fork or two table knives will work as well.
In a bowl, whisk together the water, sour cream, and lemon juice. Make a well in the flour mixture and add half of the liquid.
Mix lighty with your fingers and you will notice clumps will start to form. Toss these lightly between your fingertips to shake off excess flour and add them to a large piece of plastic wrap.
When all the large lumps have been removed, create another well and repeat the process with the remaining dough.
If you find you still have dry flour mix left over, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of COLD water and mix until it clumps up.
Step 3 – Form and Chill Dough
Work the lumps into a ball and be sure the plastic wrap covers said ball completely. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
If you are making this dough ahead of time or only want to make a few hand pies, you may freeze this dough now.
Step 4 – Prepare Filling
While the dough is chilling, peel, core, and dice 4 apples. I used gala, but feel free to use any variety so long as it is a firmer type.
Mealy apples do not make good pie filling. You want the apples to be firm and maintain their shape.
I used about a 1/2-inch dice. Be sure to make these small enough to fit in the hand pies. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the diced apple and mix well. Set aside.
Step 5 – Roll and Cut
Remove the dough from the fridge and divide in half. Place the half you are not working with back in the fridge to keep it cool.
Flour a pastry mat (or your sanitized counter if you don’t have one) and begin to roll the dough out until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Be sure not to roll it out too thin. If you are unsure, go a little thicker. If the dough is too thin, it won’t hold up when you stretch it to seal your hand pies.
If your dough is sticking to your rolling pin, flour it as well. You may need to add more flour to your working surface and rolling pin throughout this step and the next.
Cut out your circles. If you have a pastry cutter, feel free to use that. I used the lid of a medium-sized circular Pyrex dish. Since my lid isn’t sharp, I did have to use a paring knife to cut the circles out.
Repeat this process until you have used all your dough. Note that you may have to combine scraps and re-roll the dough – plan carefully so you can avoid doing this. Dough that has been re-rolled too many times will be tough, and we’re going for a flaky crust!
After using the second half of dough that was in the fridge, I ended up with a total of 8 circles. You may end up with more if you use a smaller circle cutter. Any size circle is fine – customize this step of the recipe to fit your needs.
Step 6 – Chill, Then Fill
Once the circles are cut out and laid on the parchment paper, put them in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
I used a large baking sheet lined with parchment for my base. I also used 2 layers of parchment to hold all of the circles and keep them from sticking together.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove your prepared dough from the fridge and gather your filling that you made earlier and set aside.
To each circle, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling, depending on the size of your circles. I add the filling to the center because it helps me to see how much space I have to work with.
Keep in mind: you will be folding these circles in half, so leave enough room to seal your edges without stretching the dough and tearing it. Add filing to all of the circles.
Step 7 – Seal and Add Finishing Touches
Get a small bowl of water and, using your fingertips, add a small amount to the circumference of the dough. Fold the dough over to create a semicircle and press to seal.
Repeat until all of the pies are sealed. Use the back side of a fork to press into the edges for a decorative seal.
With a fork, beat egg yolk and water in a small bowl.
Using a pastry brush, put a thin layer of egg wash on each pie. Cut 3 slits in each pie and sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.
Step 8 – Bake and Enjoy
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the hand pies are golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.
Remove from the parchment carefully with a sturdy spatula – the egg wash and sugar can cause them to stick a bit.
These are best served immediately, but may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days, wrapped in foil loosely, and reheated in the oven or toaster oven before serving.
And the Winner Is…
Whether you’re looking for something special for dessert, or a sweet snack that’s easy to pack into lunchboxes, this is the ideal treat.
Go ahead, make these delicious handheld pastries and take that blue ribbon for yourself! Everyone will be so grateful you did.
For more mini pastry treats, try these:
Don’t forget to Pin It!
Photos by Leslie Morrison, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published October 23, 2008 by Shanna Mallon October 23, 2008. Last updated: June 7, 2021 at 19:59 pm. Revised and updated by Leslie Morrison.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Leslie Morrison
Leslie is a food photographer and writer. She enjoys spending time in her kitchen and behind the lens of her camera and working on her food blog, Deliciously Plated (deliciouslyplated.com). When she isn’t working, she is spending time with her son and her husband.