Make comforting homemade Apple Hand Pies with sweet, buttery caramel sauce, flakey pie crust, and cinnamon-spice filling for the perfect hand-held holiday dessert.
My family is all about pies, all year long. And especially during the holiday season. We love to fill our Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert spread with an abundance of homemade treats, from Pumpkin to Pecan.
This year, I turned my favorite classic flavor duo, apples and caramel, into cute, cinnamon-spiced hand pies. These treats make excellent take-away gifts or individual, portable desserts if you’re keeping your distance a little more than usual this holiday season.
How to Make Apple Hand Pies with Caramel Filling
If you’re wondering “what are hand pies?”, they’re everything you love about a full double-crusted apple pie, in a convenient, hand-held size. They’re easy to make, share, and enjoy any time of year, and for any occasion.
There are three simple components to this Caramel Apple Hand Pie recipe. First, a flaky homemade crust made with my go-to recipe. I always make pie crusts with butter and shortening for the best flavor and texture.
Second, a simple sautéed apple filling, sweetened with brown sugar and spiced with cinnamon. And last but not least, the caramel sauce!
Making Pie Crust for Hand Pies
While using store bought crust is a good shortcut when you’re short on time, I recommend starting with my pie crust tutorial if you have questions about how to make the best pie crust. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
- Use cold butter and shortening. I like to stick them in the freezer for a few minutes before I start baking. This is key to a truly flaky crust.
- For the same reason, use very cold ice water to make the dough.
- You can use a food processor (on the pulse setting) or a hand held pastry cutter to work the fat into the flour. If you use a food processor, be careful not to overmix. Stop when you have a crumbly mixture that looks like wet sand.
Apple & Caramel Filling Hand Pies
I recommend using a mixture of sweet and tart apples for the pie filling. My favorites include honey crisp, granny smith, jonathan, and gala.
When dicing the apples for the filling, keep in mind that your mini apple hand pies will be around 4 bites, so the apples should be diced into small bite size pieces.
Unlike a typical apple pie, you’ll cook the filling before assembling. Simply add the apples, butter, sugar, and cinnamon to a skillet and cook for about 10 minutes. The apples should still a little crispness to them (they’ll cook again in the oven).
Finally, be sure to let the apple filling cool completely before assembling the hand pies. Otherwise, hot filling will melt the butter in your crusts.
For the caramel sauce, select a good quality sauce that’s not too runny. A sign of quality is that the sauce is a nice amber color and slightly cloudy from cream and butter. Ghiradelli and Sanders brands both work well for this recipe.
There are a few tricks to getting golden, flaky layers and a bottom crust that’s cooked all the way through:
- First, use high heat. These apple hand pies bake at 400°F.
- Wait to preheat the oven until your fully assembled hand pies are chilling in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- While the oven is preheating, place an empty baking sheet on the center rack. The sheet will warm up with the oven. When you place the hand pies on the hot baking sheet, it will help cook the bottom crust perfectly.
Can You Freeze Hand Pies?
Yes, you can make these pies ahead of time and freeze them. Simply follow the recipe all the way through pie assembly. Instead of refrigerating, place the pies on a baking sheet in the freezer for one hour, or until frozen solid.
Then wrap each frozen pie in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or zip-top bag. You can bake the pies directly from frozen in a 400°F oven for 30-40 minutes, or until hot all the way through, and golden on top.
More Caramel Dessert Recipes
If you can’t get enough buttery caramel flavor, try these treats next:
- Dutch Caramel Apple Pie Bites are an even more bite-sized way to enjoy the winning combination of caramel and apples.
- Simple Caramel and Chocolate Turnovers are similar to hand pies, but made with extra-flaky phyllo dough and plenty of decadent chocolate.
- Pressure Cooker Caramel Pecan Cheesecake from Pressure Cooking Today is so creamy, decadent, and show-stopping, it made the cover of our cookbook!
- Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel Tart from Adventure Bite is a sweet and savory way to end any meal.
Caramel Apple Hand Pies
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter cold
- ⅔ cup shortening cold
- 6 – 7 tablespoons ice water
- 2 cups apples peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Good quality jarred caramel sauce Ghiradelli brand works well
- 1 egg whisked
- Sugar crystals
- Place flour, salt, butter and shortening into a food processor. Pulse a few times.
- While the food processor is running, pour in the ice water. Pulse a couple of times until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Pour the dough mixture onto a large sheet of parchment paper and press into a ball. Divide in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
APPLE PIE FILLING:
- Place all ingredients into a medium sauté pan, sauté on medium heat for 10-12 minutes stirring frequently until apples are fork-tender and the juices are thickened. Cool completely before making hand pies.
- Prep tips: Get everything ready before you start assembling: cooled apple filling, caramel sauce, egg wash, sanding sugar and a fork to crimp the edges. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Once chilled, roll one dough ball into a circle about ⅛-inch thick.
- Use a 4 inch biscuit cutter to cut out dough rounds. You will need two rounds per hand pie. Reshape and roll out the dough as needed until it’s all used.
- Put 1 ½ tablespoon apple filling in the center of the bottom crust rounds, leaving a ¼-inch border around the outer edge.
- Top with 1 tablespoon caramel sauce.
- With a pastry brush or your finger, spread a thin layer of egg wash around the outer edge of the bottom crust.
- Gently place the top crust on top of the apple filling. You may have to stretch a little to make the edges meet.
- Use a fork to press around the outer edge of the pie dough and seal the edges closed.
- Using a sharp knife, pierce 4 slits on top of the crust for venting.
- Brush egg wash over the top crust and sprinkle with sugar crystals.
- Repeat with the second dough round that you have refrigerated.
- Refrigerate hand pies for 30 minutes.
- While pies and chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a second empty baking sheet into the oven to get hot.
- Transfer the prepared hand pies, including the parchment paper, to the hot cookie sheet in the oven. This will allow the bottom crust to crisp up better
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until pies are light golden brown and the crust is fully baked.