These super simple Apple Cranberry Hand Pies make for such a festive, yet no-frills, dessert for the holiday season. This recipe uses store bought pie crust for the easiest assembly. The filling is made with a merry blend of sweet apples, tart and juicy cranberries, and the most warm and cozy seasonal spices. It’s everything you want in a slice of pie, but in a handheld vessel that you don’t have to share with anyone.
Tis’ the season for holiday desserts, and I for one, am here for it. I have such a sweet tooth all year round. But I get so excited about all the yummy, sugary, festive treats that are such a staple part of the holiday season. And especially after the year we’ve had, we all deserve to indulge a little extra this season. Sure, maybe my January self won’t be too pleased. But she’s hibernating right now and we’re not listening to her opinions. Bring on the desserts!
A new favorite of mine this year are these super easy and delicious Apple Cranberry Hand Pies. There’s nothing fancy about them, but there is something magical about the nostalgic comfort that I feel when I bite into one of these. They taste like Christmas morning.
Some of our favorite seasonal fruits (and the stars of countless pies and desserts) are baked inside flaky pastry dough, along with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and lemon. The flavors are the perfect balance of warm and cozy, but also bright and fresh (kind like how I feel about Christmas in general).
And honestly, what makes this recipe even better is that it uses store bought pie crust for a simple dough shortcut. All you have to do is cut out your hand pie circles, fill them up and fold ‘em over. The result is a flaky little hand pie with a nice crunchy crust, and a warm, soft, steamy filling.
It’s also worth pointing out that this recipe for individual hand pies makes for the perfect dessert for sharing with friends and family in the time of Covid precautions and socially distanced gatherings. Everyone gets their own little pie, no slicing and passing utensils required.
Whether you want to make a batch to have all to yourself (I say DO IT), or double up the recipe for a holiday gathering, this recipe will get everyone in the spirit.
A simple, seasonal fruit filling…
This recipe comes together in a few simple steps, and starts with the easy, fruity filling.
Start by chopping up a fresh apple (I like to use tarter varieties like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady or Granny Smith). Throw it in a skillet with some melted butter and a handful of fresh or frozen cranberries. For some extra acidity to cut through the sweetness, add some lemon juice. Then, spice things up with brown sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
Let all those yummy ingredients cook down for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Then turn the stove all the way down while you prepare your dough.
Assembly as easy as pie…
This recipe uses 2 sheets of pie dough, which is normally what you get in one package from the store. Keep the dough in the fridge for at least a few hours before you start on this recipe so it has time to thaw out.
Thoroughly dust a clean, flat work surface with flour and then roll out the dough sheets. If they break or crack while you’re unfolding home, don’t worry about it. Just bunch it all up and knead it back into ball. Then using a flour-dusted rolling pin to roll it back out to about 1/2-inch thickness.
I find the simplest way to cut dough circles out is with the mouth of a cereal or soup bowl from my cabinet. As your cutting out circles, you’ll have to keep balling up and re-rolling out the dough so that you can get as many pies as possible out of it. Ideally, you’ll get about 6 pie circles from 2 sheets of dough, each about 6 inches in diameter.
To assemble the hand pies, spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of filling on to the center of each circle. You really don’t need a lot. Be careful of overfilling, because it will just make for a burnt mess in the oven. Fold each circle in half over the filling, and use your fingers to gently crimp the edges together to the seal the pies.
Lay out your hand pies on a lined baking sheet coated with non-stick spray. Next, prepare an egg wash for the pies. This will help them turn crispy and golden on the outside while baking. Simply whisk together an egg with a few teaspoons of milk. Use a pastry brush to gloss the tops of each pie with the wash.
Don’t skip this next important step. After brushing the pies with the egg wash, use a knife to make a few small slits in the tops of each pie. This will allow steam to escape during the baking process. If you fail to do this, you risk your pies overheating and exploding in the oven.
Finally, sprinkle some sugar over the top of each pie. Bake for 30 minutes at 400ºF, and then be sure to let the pies cool before digging in.
These hand pies are so good straight out of the oven. Even better with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream piled high on top. They’ll also keep in an airtight container for about a week, and can be reheated easily in the microwave.
Let me know if you give these Apple Cranberry Hand Pies a try! I love to hear from you in the comments, or tag me on instagram @eat.think.live and let me see your creation! Plus, you can check out the rest of my recipes HERE.
Apple Cranberry Hand Pies
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Large Apple Peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
- 1/4 Tsp Ground Cloves
- 2 Tsp Corn Starch
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour (for dusting)
- 2 Sheets Prepared Pie Dough* thawed
- 1 Egg
- 2 Tsp Milk
- 1 Tbsp White Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and coat with non-stick spray.
- Prep the filling: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, cranberries, lemon juice, brown sugar, spices and cornstarch to the skillet and sauté everything for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low.
- Prep the dough: dust some flour on a clean, flat surface and unwrap your sheets of pie dough. If the sheets start to crack or break, don’t worry. You can just form the dough into a ball and use a rolling pin to re-roll it out.
- Use an upside down bowl to cut out circles from the pie dough, about 6 inches in diameter. You’ll have to keep gathering and re-rolling out the dough scraps (using more flour as needed) until you’ve formed as many circles as you can, probably around 6.
- Assemble the pies: spoon 1-2 tablespoons of filling into the center of each dough circle, leaving at least 1/2 an inch around the edges. Be careful not to overfill the pies or they will become a mess in the oven. Fold the circles in half and use your fingertips to gently press the seams together and close the pies completely. Some filling juice might spill out during this process, and that’s okay.
- Arrange your hand pies on the prepped baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Brush the egg wash over the tops of each pie. Then, use a knife to make 1-3 small slits in the tops of the hand pies, which will allow steam to escape and prevent the pies from exploding in the oven. Finally, sprinkle the tops of the pies with some white sugar.
- Bake for 30 minutes, and let cool before handling.