Cherry hand pies are made with a juicy homemade cherry pie filling inside a flaky, golden browned pie crust. This is the perfect pie recipe for any backyard BBQ, potluck or family gathering!
This hand pie recipe uses fresh or frozen cherries for the pie filling. Hand pies are easy to make, freezer friendly and can be fried or baked. Homemade cherry pie filling is made with basic ingredients in about 20 minutes.
This is truly the best cherry pie recipe for individual desserts for backyard barbecues, picnics, potlucks and family gatherings. Cherry pie is one of my favorite pie recipes, so why not make it into a hand pie?!
Hand pies are individual pies that you can eat with your hands. These single-serving pastries, fried or baked with sweet or savory fillings can be traced back to 19th century England. Usually made into a meat pie, was a convenient way of having a warm lunch.
Cherry hand pies can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated or frozen. This hand pie recipe is easy to make using either store-bought or homemade pie crust or even refrigerated biscuit dough.
Why this recipe works
- Simple ingredients – uses ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores.
- No preservatives – Homemade cherry pie without preservatives or artificial flavors.
- Several ways to make – this cherry pie recipe gives you several options, including frying or baking.
- Can be made ahead of time! prepare cherry pie filling ahead of time. It will keep in the fridge for a few days or freeze for 1-2 months.
- Freezer friendly – make these hand pies ahead of time, place on half sheet pans lined with parchment paper and freeze. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap to prevent frost bite.
- Makes a great individual dessert! hand pies are the perfect size dessert.
What you’ll need
- Cherries – Use fresh or frozen pitted cherries. I love the frozen pitted cherries from BJ’s Wholesale. They’re already pitted, frozen at peak of ripeness and available year round. (Saving me time and money!)
- Sugar – Adjust as you like depending on how sweet or tart your cherries are. Sugar will naturally draw out the juices of the fruit and create a juicy pie filling.
- Lemon juice – Adds a bit of tartness to the filling and helps preserve it.
- Cornstarch – Helps thicken this cherry pie filling. Make a slurry with cornstarch and cold water mixed together.
- Butter – Adds a nice touch of flavor to this recipe.
How to pit cherries
If using fresh cherries for this cherry pie recipe you will need a cherry pitter to pit them. (Super simple to do!)
Work over a Pyrex liquid measuring cup, pitting cherries right over the cup. Place the pitted cherries into a large saucepan. Place your hand over the pits and gently pour any cherry juices into the pitted cherries.
I personally love using frozen cherries for this pie recipe. They’re already pitted and ready to make pie filling directly from the freezer.
How to make Cherry Hand Pies
- Make cherry pie filling. Use fresh or frozen cherries to make pie filling. Let cool completely before putting into pie crust.
- Roll out pie crust. Roll out biscuit dough or pie crust on a lightly floured surface, into 4-6 inch ovals.
- Fill with pie filling. Scoop about 1 tablespoon or so of the cooled pie filling in the center of each round.
- Seal pie crust. Fold over, lightly press down on the filling, trim and crimp edges.
- Place on sheet pan. Place hand pies on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate or freeze for later.
Tools for making pie crust
- Pastry Blender – needed to cut in lard, vegetable shortening, and/or butter into the flour and salt mixture when making homemade pie crust.
- Rolling Pin – use a wooden rolling pin to carefully roll out your pie dough. Wash by hand with hot water and a little dish soap.
- Cherry Pitter– easily remove the pits from fresh cherries in no time flat!
- Pastry Brush – brush on egg wash without damaging the pie crust.
How to make flaky pie crust
- Make ahead of time – make pie dough ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.
- Mix by hand – use a pastry cutter to cut lard and butter into the flour, rather than using a food processor. (while I love my food processor, it tends to overwork make pie crust.) The more you handle pie dough, the more tough it will become.
- Keep pie crust cold – an imperative detail! While working with pie crust and should it become too warm, plop the entire bag into the freezer for about 20 minutes.
How to freeze hand pies
As you make each hand pie, place onto a half sheet pan lined with a piece of parchment paper. I will typically overlap them just a tad and be able to fit about 5-6 hand pies in each row, with a total of 3 rows per sheet pan.
Wrap the entire sheet pan of hand pies and place in the freezer flat. So the entire sheet pan stays flat. Once they are completely frozen you can stack another sheet pan of hand pies on top, if needed. But, not until they are completely frozen– otherwise you will squish the hand pies!
Sweet cherries (Bing and Rainier) are among the most popular cherry varieties readily found in the produce section at your grocery store. Also found in the frozen section, already pitted, with the frozen fruit.
A handheld pastry filled with sweet or savory filling, formed by placing a dollop of filling into a piece of biscuit dough or pie crust, folded over then crimped together to seal edges. They are either baked or fried.
Refrigerate or freeze to keep pie crust chilled. You’ll want pies to be very chilled (not frozen) going into hot oil or before baking to keep pie crust flaky.
I drizzled these cherry hand pies with a simple glaze.
Glaze for hand pies
Whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar, splash of vanilla extract and 1-2 tablespoons of whole milk. Adjust the milk as needed, depending on the thickness of glaze you desire. Whisk together well to work out any lumps. Spoon over hand pies and let the icing dry.
More Pie Recipes
- Apple Pie
- Caramel Apple Pie
- Blueberry Pie
- Blackberry Hand Pies
- Blackberry Cobbler
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
- Mixed Berry Pie
- Blueberry Slab Pie
- Peach Cobbler
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Cherry Hand Pies
Cherry Pie Filling
- 4 pounds Bing cherries pitted
- ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
- 1 to 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup cold water
- Homemade pie crust or biscuit dough
Cherry Pie Filling
- If using fresh cherries; Pit the cherries over a glass liquid measuring cup. Place pitted cherries into a deep frying pan. Place your hand over the pits and pour any excess juices into the pan.
- If using frozen cherries; they will already be pitted and halved. Just add to the skillet and follow directions below.
- Add the cherries into a large cast iron skillet or pot and cook over medium heat. Add the butter, sugar and lemon juice. Cook until soft, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally.
- Dissolve the cornstarch into cold water, stir with a tablespoon.
- Stir the cornstarch mixture into the cherry mixture. Cook over medium to high heat to thicken. Let the mixture simmer and stir constantly with a wooden spoon as it thickens.
- Let pie filling cool completely before putting into the pie shell.
Cherry Hand Pies
- Roll out your biscuit dough or pie crust on a lightly floured surface, into 4-6 inch ovals, about ⅛-1/4-inch thick.
- Scoop about 1 tablespoon or so of the cooled pie filing in the center of each round. Fold over, lightly press down on the filling and the edges. (Lightly wet edges with water, using your fingertip if needed)
- Trim the edges of pie crust with pastry cutter or small pizza cutter. Crimp the edges of the dough with a floured fork.
- Place uncooked pies on a half-sheet pan which is lined with parchment paper. Place the entire tray into the refrigerator while the oil heats.
- Or cover the sheet pan loosely with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for later use.
- Fill a fry pan with about 2-3 inches of canola oil. Heat the oil until very hot (about 370 to 375 degrees F).
- Place only a few hand pies in the hot oil at a time, as to not overcrowd the pan or let the oil cool. Fry until they are brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from the hot oil and let drain on paper towels on a half-sheet pan. Sprinkle with granulated sugar or dust with powdered sugar while they are still warm.
- Or drizzle each hand pie with a simple glaze. Let dry slightly before handling.
- These are best served warm.
Cherry Pie FillingCherry pie filling can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use. Sometimes I add a pinch of ground nutmeg.
Cherry Hand PiesYou can make hand pies AHEAD of time. Overlap them slightly on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer. Cover the tray loosely with plastic wrap. Thaw cherry hand pies Remove the plastic wrap that was covering the tray and discard it. It will have extra moisture you DO NOT want! Let them thaw, uncovered in the refrigerator overnight OR on the counter for 1-2 hours. You still want them very cold when frying. Cooking Cherry Hand Pies Use canola oil heated to 375 degrees. This is so the pies do not absorb any odd flavors. OR bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven. Place hand pies on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the pie crust is golden browned. Monitoring the oil temperature If you do not have a thermometer. You can test if the oil is hot enough by sprinkling a tiny bit of flour off of your fingers into the center of the oil. If the flour bubbles out to the edges of the pan quickly, the temperature is ready.
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