Thanksgiving is fast approaching and my all-time favorite holiday. It’s a time to rejoice with family and loved ones, give thanks, enjoy a good meal together, and end the day with a plethora of desserts. What could be better than that? And while, unfortunately, this year people may not be able to gather together with loved ones as they have in years prior, it is my deep hope that everyone is still able to enjoy a special meal and be grateful for all that we still have. And if a special meal seemslike too much, then at least a special holiday-esque, fall-inspired dessert! These (paleo) Apple Hand Pies pack all the flavors and warm cozy goodness of an apple pie without having to commit to, well, a whole pie. And they are made better-for-you! Plus, you can eat them with your hands, which means less plates to clean! Unless, that is, you want to top these with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. At which point, a plate is probably best.
What Do These Apple Hand Pies Taste Like?
These healthified, single serve pies taste exactly like a classic apple pie. An inviting flakey golden-brown crust encases an apple filling that is perfectly spiced with the likes of cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. These mini-pies have the perfect ratio of crust to apple filling. They are so incredibly delicious I suspect that even the harshest of critics would not guess that they are made better-for-you. And while a traditional apple pie requires at least one hour of cooling before being able to slice, these are best served warm when just slightly cooled from the oven.
How Do You Make Them?
These Apple Hand Pies are fairly easy to make! I will say that these do require a bit of time, patience, and some rolling out of dough. That being said, this dough is exceptionally easy to work with. It is made with almond flour and contains no gluten, so there is no need to worry about overworking the dough. If you see that the dough is starting to get a bit sticky or break, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes to help it firm back up. The Apple Hand Pies are definitely worth the time to make. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps and check out step-by-photos of the recipe below:
- Make the dough by mixing together the dry ingredients, mashing in the coconut oil and maple syrup, then sprinkling in ice water until a soft dough comes together. I made this by hand, but this can absolutely be made in a food processor.
- Separate dough into two discs and wrap in parchment paper.
- Let dough chill in the fridge for two hours and up to two days. Or, if you’re short on time, chill in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough.
- Cut 3-inch circles from the dough. I used the largest circle from this set (which I bought for my Homemade Thin Mints recipes) but you can use the rim of a wide glass or the lid of a wide mouth mason jar instead. These will be the bases for the pies.
- Roll and cut out circles with second half of the dough, then gently roll out the second batch of circles so they become a slightly larger 3 ½ inch wide circle. These will become the tops of the hand pies.
- Make the filling while the dough circles rest in the fridge.
- Brush base rounds with egg wash or dairy free milk to make vegan.
- Fill the base rounds with a small mound of filling.
- Cover the filling with the top (larger) dough rounds.
- Seal the pies with your fingers then close the edges with a fork.
- Brush with egg wash (or vegan alternative), cut air vents in the top of the crust, and finish with a dusting of coarse sugar.
- Bake, let cool slightly, and enjoy!
These can be baked in advance, stored, covered, in the freezer, then reheated in the oven for a few minutes before serving!
What Ingredients Do I Need?
These Apple Hand Pies are made healthier as they contain no refined sugars, flours, or oils. They are also paleo-friendly meaning they are free from gluten, grain, and dairy. Plus, they are easily made vegan by omitting the egg wash and substituting with a dairy-free milk of choice or melted and cooled coconut oil. Here’s a rundown of the ingredients:
- Almond Flour – The base of the pastry dough and makes them gluten and grain free!
- Tapioca Flour – Tapioca flour is used in both the pastry to help crisp and brown the dough and in the filling, which thickens the apple mixture.
- Maple Syrup – Adds moisture and the perfect amount of sweetness to the pastry.
- Coconut Oil – Instead of butter or hydrogenated oil, coconut oil helps makes the dough wonderfully chewy while still being crisp! Use refined coconut oil for a no-coconut flavor.
- Egg – To help the filling stick and add color to the exterior of the pastry when baked. If vegan, brush the pastry with your favorite non-dairy milk or some more melted and slightly cooled coconut oil.
- Apples – The recipe only uses two to three apples. I tend to go for Granny Smiths when making pies because they are inherently tart and create a nicely balanced filling. Use any apple you like, I recommend Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn, or McIntosh.
- Coconut Sugar – To make these mini pies refined sugar free and adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the filling.
- Lemon Juice – Adds moisture to the filling and brings out the sweetness of the apples in contrast to the tart citrus juice.
- Spices! – All the classic spices you’d expect in an Apple Pie, ample cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
- Sprinkling Sugar – The finishing touch to these Apple Hand Pies is a dusting of coarse sugar. I used organic cane sugar but turbinado or demerara sugar are also great options. Or leave this out to make these strictly refined sugar free.
These Apple Hand Pies are the perfect fall treat! They are great to enjoy on your own or to impress your loved ones with personal pies! Either way, these are sure to satisfy any apple pie craving while being made better-for-you. And as with most Apple Pies, these are exceptionally delicious when paired with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.
paleo friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free), refined sugar free, easily vegan
If you make this recipe, share your experience with others by leaving a review or rating down below. And I’d LOVE to see your creation! Please tag me on Instagram @freshlydafna and use #freshlydafna.
Healthy Apple Hand Pies
These healthified, single serve pies are even better than a classic Apple Pie. They pack all the flavor of a regular pie without having to commit to baking an entire pie. They have a perfect ratio of crust to filling, and you can eat them with your hands!
paleo-friendly, refined sugar free, easily made vegan
- 2 cups almond flour 240 grams
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour 60 grams
- 1 tsp baking powder 4 grams
- 1/2 tsp salt 1 gram
- 4 tbsp maple syrup 85 grams
- 4 tbsp coconut oil 55 grams room temperature. if liquid, chill in fridge a few minutes until solid.
- 2-3 tbsp ice water 28-42 grams
- 2 medium or 3 small apples 12 ounces, cut into ¼ inch chunks
- ¼ cup coconut sugar 36 grams
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour 7 grams
- 2 tsp lemon juice 8 grams
- 1 tsp cinnamon 4 grams
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp salt
- Egg wash: 1 egg whisked with 2 tsp milk of choice. If vegan use dairy free milk or melted and slightly cooled coconut oil.
- 2 tbsp Sprinkling Sugar Organic cane sugar, turbinado, or demerara.
In a large bowl mix together the almond flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, and sea salt with a large fork until well combined.
Add the maple syrup and coconut oil to the bowl and using the fork, mash everything together until the largest pieces of coconut oil are the size of small peas and the mixture has the texture of damp sand.
Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of ice water and gently stir the dough with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add additional water in small splashes if necessary to form a dough.
Separate the dough into two even discs. Wrap discs tightly in parchment paper and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. If short on time, chill in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
Once chilled, roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, into a large rectangle ¼ in thick. Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter, a similarly sized glass rim, or wide mouth mason jar lid to cut out circles from the dough. Remove the scraps, re-roll the dough, and cut out circles until all dough is used. You should get 10 dough rounds from one dough disc. These will be the base rounds of the pies. *See original post for step-by-step photos*
Place the discs on a piece of parchment paper and slide onto the bottom of a baking sheet or a large cutting board to help easily transport the dough rounds to the fridge or, ideally, the freezer.
Repeat steps to roll out the second disc of dough. Once you cut out 10 circles, use the rolling pin, or a straight sided glass to gently flatten the dough rounds into thinner, 3 ½ inch wide circles. Try to keep the circular shape as much as possible. These larger circles will become the upper crusts.
Place larger rounds on a piece of parchment paper and place in the fridge or freezer. You can stack these on top of the other dough rounds.
Arrange one rack in the bottom third of the oven and one in the center, heat oven to 375 degrees, and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
Make the filling. Place chopped apples in a medium bowl, add all remaining filling ingredients, and stir until everything is well coated.
Prepare the egg wash by whisking together the egg with 2 tsp of dairy free milk in a small bowl. Or if vegan, use 2 tsp of dairy free milk of choice or 1 tbsp melted coconut oil.
Remove (smaller) base dough rounds from the fridge/freezer and brush the surfaces with egg wash.
Add a small heap of apple filling (without the juice) in the center of each dough round leaving a ¼ inch border around the edges.
Remove the (larger) top crust dough rounds from the fridge/freezer and gently place over each the filling. Close the edges with your fingers and press a fork along the perimeter to seal the pie.
Brush tops with egg wash. Using a sharp knife cut four air vents in the center of each pie. Then dust with sprinkling sugar.
Bake on the bottom rack for 9 minutes, then move to center rack to bake for an additional 9-10 minutes.
Hand pies are done when they are crisp and golden all over.
Let cool slightly, then serve! Add a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream for Apple Hand Pie ala mode!
Apple Options: Choose any slightly tart and not overly sweet apples. Good options are: Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, or McIntosh.
To Make Dough in a Food Processor: Pulse the dry ingredients together a few times, add the coconut oil and maple syrup, pulse until coconut oil is the size of small peas, drizzle in water, and pulse a few final times until a soft dough forms.
Assembly Tips: The dough will be easiest to work with when it's cold. Ensure that there is enough room in your fridge or, ideally, freezer to accommodate the pieces of dough between steps. I like to use a large cutting board to transport the dough to and from the fridge.
Storage: These can be made in advance, stored in the freezer in an airtight container, then just reheated in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. No need to bring them to room temperature before re-heating. Or make ahead and freeze and bake/toaster oven one at time when ready to enjoy!
Make Ahead: Pie dough can be made up to two days in advance stored in the fridge. The dough can be rolled out and cut into rounds and stored, covered tightly, in the freezer for up to a week. These can be made completely in advance and simply reheated in a hot oven (see above for heat/time) before ready to serve.
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