I don't know about you, but my favorite part of pie is the buttery, flaky pie crust. So what's even better than a slice of pie? Mini hand pies!! These cute little cranberry hand pies have a tart cranberry filling sandwiched between two layers of my perfect flaky pie crust! They're the perfect holiday treat!
How to make perfect pie crust
I've included the recipe for my perfect flaky pie crust in this recipe, but I also have a whole blog post dedicated to just pie crust! I break down my 5 main tips for making perfect pie crust and have links to all my favorite products that I use!
If making pie crust intimidates you at all, you need to check it out!!
How to thicken the cranberry filling
There's nothing worse than super runny filling that leaks out of your hand pies and makes a mess! My favorite ingredient for thickening berry fillings for pies is Instant Clearjel from King Arthur baking! You can also find different brands of Clearjel on Amazon but King Arthur is the only brand I've used. It thickens pie filling beautifully, leaving it super smooth! I also use it in my cherry pie recipe! However if you can't find Clearjel or don't have time to order it, cornstarch will also work.
I recommend using fresh cranberries if you can, but if you only have frozen cranberries you may need to add an extra ½ teaspoon of Clearjel.
How to assemble the hand pies
I use a 3 ½ inch biscuit cutter* to cut the hand pie circles, but you could make them in a variety of shapes! Almost any shape of cookie cutter will work, just make sure there's at least 3 inches
Don't overfill the hand pies! It's tempting to just load them up with tangy cranberry sauce, but you want to leave at least ½ inch around the edges so that you can get a good seal.
Since both the pie dough and cranberry filling have to chill, I recommend making them the night before you want to assemble the hand pies. Then the next day you just have to roll out the dough, assemble, and bake!
Both the dough and the filling can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
These cranberry hand pies are delicious on their own, but they're also great with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!
More Pie Recipes
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Cranberry Hand Pies
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold & cut into cubes
- 2 cups pastry flour, substitute all purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening
- ¼ cup water, cold
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
- sparkling sugar, optional
- Note: check out my post all about how to make perfect pie crust for more tips and tricks!
- Cut butter into small cubes and place in the fridge to firm up while you get the rest of your ingredients together.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add the shortening and combine with your hands (or a pastry cutter) until coarse crumbs form. After the shortening is fully incorporated, add the cold chunks of butter and work them into the dough until you get pea sized crumbs.
- Add in the cold water and combine until dough forms a nice ball but is still slightly sticky.
- Take the formed ball of dough and separate into 2 equal sections and shape into slightly flattened disks (you can keep it all together but I find it's easiest to work with only half the dough at a time). Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This is important to keep the butter from melting so that the crust will be nice and flaky. The chilled dough is also much easier to roll out.
- While the dough is chilling, make the cranberry filling.
- Add all of the filling ingredients to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the cranberries begin to split open. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove the cinnamon stick, then transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.
- Make sure the filling is completely chilled before assembling the hand pies.
Hand Pie Assembly
- Note: I like to work with half the dough at a time. So make half of the hand pies then let those chill in the fridge while you make the other half. Then the second batch can chill in the fridge while the first batch is baking.
- Once both the dough and cranberry filling are chilled, preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you may need a second baking sheet).
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick. Use a 3 ½ inch biscuit cutter to cut out circles of dough (re-roll the scraps 1 time). You should end up with 20-24 circles (10-12 if you're working with half the dough).
- Lightly brush egg wash around the outside edge of each circle. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cranberry filling into the center of half the circles then top with the remaining circles, egg was side down. Press the edges together and then seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Using a sharp knife, cut a small X in the top of each hand pie.
- Place the hand pies in the fridge to chill 15 minutes before baking.
- Remove from the fridge and light brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
- Bake at 400°F for 18-22 minutes or until the hand pies are golden brown.
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