These hand pies are super delicious little pockets of brown sugar caramelized sweet apples and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Slow-cooked granny smith or golden delicious apples make for the best pie filling in these homemade fried hand pies. The crust is flaky, golden, and fried to perfection. The inside is sweet, tart, and syrupy. All combined together in your own personal apple pie that you can hold.
Apple hand pies are also known as Apple Jacks in the South. They may be more of a southern thing, but anyone that remembers and loved the original fried McDonald’s apple pies will want to make this recipe. My husband and I attempted to make these just for that reason, the good old pie memories we had (btw, some airports, European McDonald’s, and Hawaii locations still have the old fries and the classic pies)
These are made traditionally with homemade pie crust. If you have your favorite go-to recipe, please use that here. This recipe is using store-bought refrigerated pie crust, such as Pillsbury’s. I wanted this recipe to be a bit easier for everyday enjoyment so it a half-scratch recipe. It is made mostly with homemade ingredients but for a quick shortcut, a simple ready-made pie crust saves some time. (and clean up!)
For another amazing apple pie recipe, do not miss BROWN SUGAR CARAMEL APPLE PIE
The best apples for this hand pie recipe are either granny smith for a perfect balance of sweet and tart or golden delicious if you want something a bit sweeter. (or be a rebel and use both – haha) Cooking the apples slowly with the brown sugar, sugar, and spices brings out a ton of caramelized sweetness that is the pop of flavor as you bite into the crispy pastry crust. The pie filling is completed cooked ahead of time so that the quick fry can be done since the final step is all about getting that crispy flaky golden pie crust cooked perfectly. You can even swap out the apple pie filling here for your other favorites like blueberry, peach, or cherry.
Making Hand Pies Ahead of Time
The beauty of this easy and tasty dessert is that it can also be made ahead of time. You can assemble them the day before and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to fry them off the next day. They can even be made and frozen so you have your own little dessert heaven any time you want them. The recipe for these homemade handheld pies that can be made ahead of time and ready whenever you want is really amazing.
To Refrigerate Hand Pies and Fry Later
As you assemble the pies, arrange them in a single later on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. No need to bring them to room temperature before you fry them. Just fry as directed below.
To Freeze Hand Pies and Fry Later
As you assemble the pies, arrange them in a single later on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the sheet pan in the freezer. Freeze for at least one hour. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and put the frozen pies into a freezer zip-lock bag and seal. The night before you wish to fry the pies, remove the number of pies from the freezer bag and arrange them in a single later on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate. No need to bring them to room temperature before you fry them. Just fry as directed below. (may take a bit longer if not 100% thawed)
Frying Hand Pies in a Deep Fryer or StoveTop
If you do not have a deep fryer, that is ok you can still make this recipe. If you do own a deep fryer, simply plug it in and set it to about 375° and let it heat up as you do some of the prep and cooking per the recipe below. If you do not have a deep fryer, you can still fry these on your stovetop. In a medium-sized pot add enough vegetable oil so that it is 3″ deep. Clip-on a candy/oil thermometer so you will know when it reaches 375°. When frying the hand pies, you will only do a few at a time so that the oil is not over-crowded and brings the temperature down too quickly. Remove all pies with tongs and be careful!
How to Make Homemade Apple Hand Pies
Bring the pie crust dough to room temperature by placing it on the counter. While that is happening, peel, core, and dice the apples into very small pieces. In a medium-sized skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add apples and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Turn down to low. Add sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir and cook on low to cook through and caramelize. Cook for about another 8 minutes. The apples will be fully cooked but not fall apart. Turn off the heat and add the cornstarch and lemon. Stir to combine completely. Let cool while you do the next steps for these fried apple jacks.
Optional – to make these mini caramel apple pies, add 2-3 Kraft caramel bits to each one.
PIN FOR SAFEKEEPING & SHARING!
Product Recommendations for this Recipe:
The Short Order Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission on the sale at no additional cost to you. This helps with the costs of running the blog. Thank you!
Caramelized Apple Hand Pies
- deep fryer
- Round Cookie Cutter
- Rolling Pin
- Vegetable Peeler
- 2 TB salted butter
- 3 medium granny smith or golden delicious apples peel, core, and diced small
- 2 TB packed brown sugar
- 1/4 C sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 pkg Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts (14 oz - 2 crusts to unroll)
- Bring the pie crust to room temperature. Place on the counter as you do the next few steps.
- Peel, core, and dice the apples into very small pieces.
- In a medium-sized skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add apples and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes.
- Turn down to low. Add sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir and cook on low to cook through and caramelize. Cook about another 8 minutes. The apples will be fully cooked but not fall apart. Turn off the heat and add the cornstarch and lemon. Stir to combine completely. Let cool while you do the next steps.
- Start heating up the deep fryer. (If you do not have a deep fryer - see the note above about how to fry on the stovetop.)
- Unroll the store-bought pie crusts. On a lightly floured cutting board and using a rolling pin, roll the pie crust to 1/8" thick. With a round cookie cutter (or drinking glass if needed) cut out 4-inch circles. You should get 5-6 per pie crust depending on how you space them out.
- Place about 1-1/2 tablespoons filling on one half of each circle. Moisten pastry edges with water. Fold pastry to cover the filling and press edges with a fork to seal. (see photo above for reference)
- Once the deep fryer is at about 370-380°, you can begin frying. Deep fry 3 at a time for about 3-4 minutes each. You may need to flip them halfway during the cooking time to ensure both sides are cooked evenly. They will be just golden and crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool before eating. CAUTION FILLING WILL BE HOT!
- These hand pies are great just as they are. Reminds us of the old original fried McDonald's apple pie. You can also serve with ice cream or simply top with powdered sugar.
Did you make this The Short Order Cook Recipe?
Tag @theshortordercookblog (Instagram & Facebook) or @shortorder_cook (Twitter).
I would love to see your latest creations and kitchen adventures.