Apple pie is All-American comfort food at it’s best. Fried apple hand pies are all of that, in a portable, deep-fried package. For me, these little hand pies are a classic summer fair food and connected to all of the good, carefree memories I have of eating them, still warm, in the swaying cart of the ferris wheel. Warm breeze and sticky fingers, the last of dusk and the first few stars.
These mini apple pies are fun and easy to make, and perfect for all of your parties, picnics and on-the-go fun. I’ve made these for after-school snacks, barbecues, and ball games; they’re always a hit and one of the first things to disappear!
I topped some of these with cinnamon sugar, churro-style, and others with a quick vanilla glaze made with confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla extract. They’re great either way, and even without any topping at all when you’re looking to keep little fingers clean. If you’re enjoying these at home, they are next-level when warm and served with vanilla ice cream and a bit of caramel sauce.
- Apples – A firm, tart baking apple is ideal here. You want an apple that won’t fall apart when it’s cooked. You’re not aiming for applesauce. I like Honeycrisp, Stayman Winesap, and GingerGold for baking, and Granny Smiths are the classic baking apple and available at the supermarket all year long.
- Lemon Juice – The lemon juice is here to both keep your apples from turning brown and to add brightness and acidity to the apple filling. The acid in lemon juice complements the sweetness in the apples and the brown sugar, providing balance to the flavors. Your filling will not taste like lemons, I promise.
- Cinnamon – You can play around a little bit here. If you like cinnamon a lot, add a bit more. If you’re not a fan, leave it out. A sprinkle of any of the other baking spices can be added if you’re feeling adventurous, too. Nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, I’d just stay away from cloves. Clove is really strong, and with a small amount of filling like this recipe, it’s nearly impossible to not overdo it.
- Vegetable Oil – When frying dessert items like this one, a neutral oil with a smoke point high enough to deep fry is important. I use canola or sunflower oil for frying these, but vegetable, corn of safflower oil will work great as well.
- Pie Crust – The recipe starts by making a batch of pie crust. If you haven’t nailed down that skill yet, you should eventually, it’s a good one to have. BUT. If you haven’t mastered that yet, or making pastry dough intimidates you, or today just isn’t that day, buy premade pie crust at the store. It’s going to work just fine for this. Unpackage, roll it out a bit, and cut out the circles. Follow the recipe from there. It won’t make a big difference to the finished product, and this is totally not the recipe to stress yourself over. Buy the crust if you want to, and anyone who judges you for it is a snobbish jerk who doesn’t deserve dessert anyway.
- Cook the filling – While traditional apple pie doesn’t require cooking the apple filling before baking, it is really important to cook the filling for these hand pies. A big apple pie goes in the oven for 50-60 minutes, giving the apples plenty of time to cook. These hand pies are small and are fried in only a few minutes. The apple inside doesn’t have nearly enough time to cook before the crust is browned.
- Cool the filling completely – Completely! Things will go very badly indeed if you try to put hot filling inside pastry dough! Pie crust is mostly butter. Butter melts when you warm it up. You will have piles of hot filling coated in a pasty mess if you don’t let the filling cool.
- Don’t overfill! – It’s always my downfall. Every time I make a filled pastry, or ravioli, pretty much anything with this kind of shape, I put too much filling in the first one or two. If you overdo the filling, it will seep out and make a mess. When that happens, the edges of the pastry resist sealing closed and then the whole operation goes downhill when you try to place them in the hot oil. More than 2 tablespoons of filling in these hand pies will make it difficult for you to seal them closed.
The Best Fried Apple Hand PiesCourse: Recipe, VegetarianCuisine: American
Easy and delicious fried apple hand pies are perfect for your summer and fall parties, picnics, and on-the-go fun.
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter
3-4 tbsp ice water
- Apple Filling
1 tbsp butter
2 cups peeled, cored and diced apple
2 tsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Additional Ingredients
Vegetable oil for frying
Cinnamon sugar for dusting, optional
Vanilla icing for drizzling, optional
- Cut cold butter into cubes.
- Add flour, salt and butter cubes to food processor, process until the butter is the size of small peas.
- Add ice water and pulse until combined, but not wet.
- Wrap pastry dough in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Apple Filling
- Melt butter in skillet and add apples and lemon juice. Saute 3-5 minutes until apples start to soften and produce juice in the pan.
- Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon and cook on medium-low until the apples are cooked and the juice has evaporated.
- Cool filling completely.
- Assembly and Frying
- Roll out pastry dough and cut out 4-5 inch circles. You should get about 8.
- Fill each circle with 2 Tbsp of filling in the center. Fold the dough over to make a half-moon shape, and seal with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator while you heat the frying oil.
- Heat 2 inches of oil to 350F. Fry hand pies in batches 3-4 minutes, turning over halfway through.
- Remove from oil.
- Roll immediately in cinnamon sugar, or cool and drizzle with vanilla icing if desired.
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