Apple cinnamon hand pies with a from-scratch all butter pie dough, and a deliciously sweet cinnamon apple filling. It’s perfect for holiday baking!
Make an apple pie? ❌
Make apple hand pies? ✅
These hand pies are delicious and can be made ahead of time, and reheated or served cold (my guilty pleasure).
Pie dough: This is a simple recipe that needs to be made ahead of time. You’ll need unsalted butter, flour, salt, sugar, and ice water.
Apples: Any apple in season will work. I’ll go into more detail below…
Cane Sugar: Go with a good quality sugar
Light Brown sugar: This will give your filling some color, and a deeper flavor that just going with 100% cane sugar.
Lemon juice: Preferably from a fresh lemon. Not only does this help prevent oxidation while your letting the filling set, but it adds a little tartness to your filling.
Cinnamon: How can you NOT put cinnamon in an apple pie filling.
Nutmeg: This is optional, but a pinch of nutmeg will add a little extra flavor to the filling, that I like.
Corn Starch Slurry: Just some corn starch whisked in a little water. This will thicken up all the liquid that has released while cooking down and makes your filling complete.
I’m a fan of granny smith apples for pie filling, they have a sweet and tart flavor when cooked down and don’t get mushy. I like a little bite in my apple hand pies, not fee like I’m eating applesauce.
Here’s a couple runner ups if you want to try a different apple:
Honeycrisp: This is one of my favorite eating apples. Juicy, crisp and sweet. These also work great in pies, tarts and dumplings!
Pink Lady apples: When in season, these are great pie apples! Tart and sweet and hold up to being cooked.
Golden Delicious: If you get them not too ripe, these make good crisp apples for apple hand pies. Really nice rich and sweet flavor.
If you want a deeper dive, Serious Eats has an article that goes into more depth of apples for pie.
Pie dough is easiest to work when its nice and cold. It needs to set in the fridge for a minimum of at least 1 hour; preferably overnight. But, sometimes I’ll chill it in the freezer for about an hour when I’m lazy. 😉
Combine the flour, salt, cane sugar and cubed butter in a bowl. Using your fingers, break down the butter into the flour until the butter is about the size of peas.
Take your ice cold water, and slowly work it into the flour mixture until a dough starts to take form. It should looks similar to a sugar cookie dough in consistency. Not too dry, but not wet at all.
Wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
Prepare your apples: Peel each apple once at a time. Then you’ll want to remove the core by cutting the apple flesh near the core, and repeat on each side until you have 4 chunks of apple removed from the core. Or just use an apple corer.
Cut the apples into 1/2 inch thick cubes.
Macerate the apples: This is a fancy term for “letting it sit in sugar”. Evenly coat the cubed apples in the can and brown sugar, and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The sugar will start to dissolve and a liquid will start to form as well.
Cook the apple filling: Add the macerated apples with the liquid into a Sautee pan, add in the lemon, cinnamon and nutmeg and bring it to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
Thicken up the apple filling: Stir in the corn starch slurry, and let it cook on low for about 2 minutes and cut the heat. It should be nice and thick by this point.
This is the home stretch. It’s now time to put your apple hand pies together and bake them.
Prepare the dough: Roll out your down to about 1/8 inch thickness, then cut out circles with a small bowl.
Add the filling and close: Spoon in the filling and fold the dough in half. I found using a method similar to preparing dumpling to lock in the filling while folding the dough together works best.
Seal your hand pies, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush and egg wash on the top of the hand pies. Top with sugar, cut slits on the top and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the apple hand pies are golden brown.
There’s a couple methods to sealing a hand pie.
With a fork: Personally, I like using a fork to crimp the edges down. It has a rustic, homemade look, the tools are readily available and easy to do.
To seal, press down firmly with your fork on the edges of the hand pie until the edge is stuck together.
Empanada Press: I mean, an empanada is pretty much a handpie in its own right so this makes sense. You’ll definitely have a more consistent look and serving size to your hand pies this way.
PLUS use can use the back side of your empanada press to cut out your dough as well.
To seal, place your pie dough in the empanada press, add the filling, and firmly press shut.
100 percent you can make these ahead of time. It’s definitely a laborious recipe.
If you want to make these ahead, your can make your dough at any time, and store in the freezer tightly wrapped for up to 6 months.
The apple filling, I would make as close to baking time as possible for maximum freshness. But you can easily get by 1-2 days ahead of time.
I would stop there at “making ahead”. Assemble your hand pies when your ready to bake.
If, in the rare case you have leftovers, you can store these in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Reheat at 350 in the oven for about 10 minutes, or if you’re sadistic like me. Eat them cold. Cold dessert for breakfast is the best!