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Apple and Cranberry Hand Pie Recipe

Cranberry and Apple Hand Pies

In Life:

We’re finally hitting the real countdown until Thanksgiving. Just over one week left for last minute recipe collection and idea inspirations. You can sense the excitement and feel the energy in the air as everyone gears up for the kick off to the holiday season. I love when the weather gets cooler and the morning sun comes up early. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, indeed. Late fall is my absolute favorite time of year. And like many other folks, I like to reflect back on my life and see what I have to be thankful for this year.

While it’s all generally a lot of food, shopping and merriment this Thanksgiving season, let’s remember to give thanks to those who allowed us to be here in the first place. I want to first remember those who have given their time and even their lives over the last 200+ years fighting for and preserving our freedoms as Americans. So many people have scarified so much for us to have the country we have today. I keep that fact in my heart and mind daily. Freedom isn’t free, and a whole truckload of gratitude should be paid to those people every day.

Another thing I am really thankful for is just having a happy and healthy life. I am also grateful for my fantastic husband, and the good life we’ve been able to build together. I am thankful that I have a grocery store right next to my house. I am thankful that Jeremy and I can make do with one car. I am thankful for my family and friends and all the love and support they provide. I am thankful that I am here writing this blog post right now. I could still be miserable working in an office. But I am here at my kitchen table writing this blog post, preparing to share a great holiday recipe with you. When I look at it, life is good, and I am so grateful for all the things I’ve worked so hard for. And these little words of thanks just really begin to illustrate the depth of my gratitude.

What about you? What are you especially grateful for this time of year? Something interesting or just for the basic good fabric of your life? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for interesting perspectives on gratitude, and looking for ways to celebrate people’s good fortunes with them.

In Cooking:

So today I’ve got something we can surely all be grateful for – pie! And not just any pie, this is a yummy apple and cranberry hand pie recipe. Hand pies are some of my favorite pies. They’re these adorable self-contained pies that don’t require a fork or plate. They’re made to just be eaten like a pastry, hence the name hand pie. I’ve been wanting to make an apple cranberry pie since last year so this year I got my planning done early and actually was able to publish this before Thanksgiving this year. Yay for on the ball!

Cranberry and Apple Hand Pies

Overall this pie is pretty simple. Yes, it requires you to make your own pie crust, but fear not! I’ve developed a good pie crust recipe for you. One that you don’t need to be scared of. Pie crust isn’t even close to one of the scariest things in baking. Seriously, when you look at it, there are much more scary things like soufflés, meringues, French macaroons, angel food cake – I really could just go on and on. So don’t fear pie crust. It is your friend and just needs to be handled delicately. Such is the case with many delicious things.

So let’s back up just a little and talk about the basis for this pie – Granny Smith apples. Granny Smith apples are great for making pies because they’ve got a good, crisp texture that doesn’t turn to mush when baking. Also, I like that they’re tart. That matches well with the cranberries I’ve added in. I really like the tartness of a Granny Smith apple and find that when sugar’s added, the tartness is definitely at a manageable level for me. Also, I’ve cut the apple in this recipe into small cubes so they’d be closer to the size of the dried cranberries and also so they’d be easier to deal with in assembling the hand pies.

Granny Smith Apples - the best for apple pies

Below is a mixture of what the filling looks like right before it goes into the pie crusts. All the filling ingredients are mixed together so that they can be evenly dispersed into the the little pie crust rectangles. Combining the ingredients like this makes filling the pies very easy. It’s just everything combined in a bowl, mixed and scooped into the pie crusts.

Filling for Cranberry and Apple Hand Pies

So the main difference between hand pies and regular pies is that you roll the pie crust into a square or rectangle. Really, it’s however you can best roll the dough out to get the end result. As long as you get it about 12”x12” or 9”x13″ you can get the six hand pies you need. And these don’t have to be perfectly shaped either. You can see mine below are actually different shapes and sizes. The first time I tested this, I made the dough into a rectangle. The second time I rolled it into a square. I just go with how the dough wants to shape itself. I also used a lot of flour and rolled the dough out on parchment the second time. That really helped with the sticking.

Assembling Cranberry and Apple Hand Pies

The second batch I made came out much prettier overall. As you see below most of the hand pies were the same shape and size. I just had one that was a bit more square than rectangle. But I just went with it. These are handmade and each one should be special and a little different from the others. Sure, if you’re into everything being uniform and perfect, you can work at it. But I just want you to know it’s not necessary. The pies will be delicious even if they’re imperfect.

Cranberry and Apple Hand Pies

Oh and finally, something I used here more for show than anything else is the sparkling sugar. These are the big fat crystals you see below. My friend Jen picked this up for me at TJ Maxx of all places. You can also get sparkling sugar at cake supply stores and maybe even party stores. And a little goes a long way, too. I’m going to have that container of sparkling sugar for years. But that’s cool.

Cranberry and Apple Hand Pies

So there you have it, a tasty, compact and self-contained Thanksgiving dessert that’s sure to please any crowd. I have it on good authority that these hand pies also make a delicious breakfast (Jeremy just LOVES to bring them to work). This leads me to believe that pie is the perfect food. Anything that’s a great dessert AND breakfast clearly should be included in the perfect food category. Okay, I’ll admit I have weird standards. But I also have pie so I win. 🙂

Cranberry and Apple Hand Pies

Yield: 6 pies

Apple and Cranberry Hand Pie Recipe

This apple and cranberry hand pie recipe is the perfect fall dessert. It's small, holdable and delicious.


Pie Crust:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons leaf lard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • Extra flour for rolling out dough

Pie Filling:

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped green apple (skins on)
  • 1/4 cup morena cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sparkling sugar


Preparing the Pie Crust:

  1. Add the flour, butter, lard, and kosher salt to a food processor. Pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.
  2. Add the cold water and pulse again until the mixture comes together in clumps. Add more water if needed, a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Remove the dough from the food processor and set on a large square of plastic wrap.
  4. Form a 1-inch thick square and cover with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour (up to overnight), until firm yet pliable.
  5. Remove from fridge and set on a lightly floured surface.
  6. Proceed to roll out dough to a 12x12-inch square. Cut that square into 6 smaller rectangles.
  7. When you’re about 15 minutes away from wanting to bake, reheat oven to 375 °F.

Filling and Baking the Pies:

  1. Toss the cranberries, apples, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Brush edges of the dough rectangles with water then mound some of the apple/cranberry mixture into each. Fold the dough over, and press edges to seal. Use the tines of a fork for the edge effect shown in the pictures.
  3. Place each pie on a Sipat or parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with the sparkling sugar. Finally, cut 2-3 slits in each pie.
  4. Bake hand pies, rotating sheet halfway through, until the pastry is golden brown - about 25 minutes.
  5. Once out of the oven, transfer hand pies to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Filling inspired by Bon Appetit and pie crust inspired by Serious Eats.

Prep:30 min

Cook:25 min

Total:55 min

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