It’s a small thing, but when I was about eight years old, I remember my parents letting me occasionally snag a cherry hand pie from the gas station when we filled up. It was a special treat, for sure, but one that I eventually grew out of because I found the packaged cherry hand pies to be too sweet.
Good news, though! I’m an adult now and I can make my own cherry pies—ones that have a better balance of sweet and tart flavors.
Use Puff Pastry for Easy Hand Pies
While you could use a homemade pie crust, I like to take a shortcut and use frozen puff pastry for my hand pies. It’s easy to roll and shape, sturdy enough to hold the filling (so it doesn’t explode everywhere during baking!), and turns a beautiful golden brown during baking.
Puff pastry needs to be thawed in advance, so plan accordingly when making this recipe!
Fresh or Frozen Cherries?
When it comes to the cherries, you can use either frozen or fresh cherries.
If you are using fresh cherries, make sure to remove the cherry pits, but leave the cherries whole. Don't cut them in half—this will make the cherries leak more juices and break down more while baking.
Frozen sweet cherries are more consistently available any time of year for when cravings strike. Just make sure thaw them completely before mixing up the filling.
Rectangular or Round Hand Pies?
I prefer rectangular hand pies because you can really stuff them full! This said, you can certainly make round or half-moon-shaped hand pies, if you like.
Brush the pies with some egg wash, give them a quick chill in the freezer (very important—this step prevents the fruit from exploding in the oven) and then bake them for a beautiful and easy homemade treat. Enjoy!
More Desserts With Cherries!
Cherry Hand Pies
Be sure to thaw the puff pastry before using, ideally in the fridge overnight. Puff pastry can also be quickly thawed on the counter top, but keep an eye on it on hot days so that it doesn't become too soft to work with.
- 1 pound fresh or frozen sweet cherries -- pitted but left whole if fresh, thawed if frozen
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water
- 1 17-oz. package puff pastry, thawed
- Coarse decorating sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°F:
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Make the cherry filling:
In a colander placed over a bowl, combine the cherries, 1/3 cup of sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and juice. Stir to combine and then let it sit for 15 minutes. This resting time allows some of the juice to drain out of the fruit and will ensure your filling isn’t too liquidy. Don’t worry. There will still be plenty of cherry juice left!
Taste after 15 minutes and add additional sugar if needed.
Unroll and cut the puff pastry:
When you’re ready to make the hand pies, unroll one portion of puff pastry and press it out gently to make it even thickness. Cut into 6 even rectangles and place the rectangles on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cut the second sheet of puff pastry into matching pieces.
Fill the hand pies:
Spoon about two tablespoons of cherry filling onto each rectangle on the baking sheet and then top with the rectangles from the second sheet of puff pastry. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the hand pies to seal them. You should get six cherry hand pies out of the recipe.
Cut 2 or 3 slashes on the top of each hand pie with a serrated knife. Whisk together the egg and tablespoon of water and brush over each hand pie. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using.
Briefly freeze the pies:
Prior to baking, freeze the hand pies for 15 to 30 minutes to chill the filling so it doesn’t explode while baking.
Pies can also be completely frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and stored for up to 3 months before baking.
Bake the pies:
Remove the pies from the freezer and put them straight into the oven. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan once half way through until the hand pies are beautifully browned and puffy.
If you are baking completely frozen hand pies, you can move them straight into the oven from the freezer. Add 5 to 6 minutes onto baking time.
Cool and serve, or store:
Let the hand pies cool before serving. Once cooled, store leftover hand pies an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for a few days.