Hand pies are such a simple alternative to traditional pies. They are made using pie dough and any pie filling you like and can be baked or fried. These cranberry hand pies are sweet, tart, tangy, and perfect for fall and winter.
What Are Hand Pies?
Just as the name implies, hand pies are pies that you can hold in your hand.
You can make them using round circles of pie dough or crescent-shaped dough. They are very similar to turnovers only turnovers don’t always use pie dough.
I typically make this recipe in the oven. But, fried hand pies (simply called fried pies) are so decadent and delicious. As a compromise between the two, use an air fryer to make hand pies. They aren’t as greasy as their deep fried pie counterparts, and the crust comes out crispy and perfect every time.
Best Tips for Making Perfect Hand Pies
- Don’t overfill! We all like lots of filling, but make sure to leave a 1/4″ border to seal the pies closed.
- Make sure the dough is sealed. You don’t want the pies to open up during baking or frying. The best way to do this is to use the tines of a fork to press the dough closed around the entire border.
- Cut a few slits into the top of the dough before baking. This lets the steam out so your pies don’t explode in (and all over) the oven or fryer.
How to Make Cranberry Hand Pies
Every year at Thanksgiving, my aunt makes her famous cranberry relish. It’s different from a cranberry sauce in that the cranberries aren’t cooked down. It’s made by food processing cranberries with oranges, nuts, and sugar.
Use this cranberry relish or your favorite cranberry relish as the filling for these pies.
Cut pie crust into the size you’d like by either using two circles that you will crimp together or one circle that you’ll fold onto itself for a crescent moon shape.
Fill with a dollop of the cranberry relish.
Crimp the pie dough closed and bake.
You’ll know it’s done when the pie crust is golden brown.
They are best served warm, but can be stored at room temperature for a few days or frozen in an airtight container for months. Reheat before serving!
Do You Need a Special Pie Crust?
You can use any pie crust for this recipe.
My current favorite is the one from BraveTart’s new cookbook. It is without a doubt the best pie crust that I’ve ever made and it’s all butter and doesn’t use vodka. Luckily, she has the pie crust recipe along with a video on Serious Eats so you can check it out there. If you’d like a vegan alternative, my vegan pie crust recipe is totally flaky and delicious.
If you want to make cheater hand pies, you can even use store-bought puff pastry or try using homemade chocolate puff pastry for an amazing twist!
How to Decorate Hand Pies
I like to decorate simply, with just a little sanding sugar sprinkled on top of the pies before baking.
But, sometimes it’s fun to glaze them as you would donuts.
You can also decorate them with sprinkles and serve them on popsicle sticks to make adorable pie pops!
Other Filling Ideas
- Jam – Jam makes for the easiest hand pies ever. Just use a spoonful of your favorite jam (you could even use cranberry jam) and you are good to go.
- Apple pie filling – Try the filling I use in my apple crumble pie. It’s so tasty!
- Brownie batter – Warm brownie pies are the best!
- Pumpkin – Pumpkin hand pies are also known as pumpkin pasties.
Cranberry Hand Pies
- 12 ounces frozen cranberries
- 1 navel orange plus peel
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 Pie crust
- Sanding sugar to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Food process cranberries, orange, and walnuts until finely chopped but not liquidy.
- Add sugar and pulse a few more times to combine.
- Roll out pie crust to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 3 inch circles.
- Place a tablespoon of cranberry relish in the center of half the circles. You will have tons of leftover relish. Eat it on sandwiches, with turkey, or all on its own.
- Top each circle with one from the second half of circles.
- Seal the edges of the hand pies using the tines of a fork.
- Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
- Put a few small slits in the top circles with a butter knife.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the crusts are slightly browned.