There’s no slicing or serving with these Pecan Hand Pies. Just grab one and enjoy!
Mini Pecan Hand Pies
One of my all-time favorite desserts is pecan pie. It’s been a staple in my baking for many years, but I’m always thinking of new ways to make it, with additional flavors or some other twist. And these Pecan Hand Pies are one of my favorite twists on the classic.
These little pies turn pecan pie into a grab-and-eat treat. There’s no slicing and serving. Just pick up one of these and enjoy!
The filling is a little different than traditional pecan pie. It’s less gooey with the absence of corn syrup. Instead, it’s a simple mixture of butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and pecans that I think works better for filling these pies. Despite the differences, you’ll still get the great flavor of a sweet pecan filling that you love.
For these pies, I like to use one of my favorite pastry doughs. You can, of course, use a traditional pie crust recipe, but this simple dough made with cream cheese is perfect for hand pies and mini pies. It mixes easily and handles so well.
These Pecan Hand Pies are a great alternative to traditional pecan pie, especially for those of you who don’t like to use corn syrup or don’t have easy access to it. Plus, they’re just the kind of individual treats that add a perfect grab-and-eat option to dessert time!
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions. Here are some notes about the ingredients.
For the pastry:
- Unsalted butter – This should be cold when mixed. To keep it nice and cold, I recommend cutting it into cubes and returning it to the refrigerator for several minutes before mixing.
- Cream cheese – Unlike the butter, the cream cheese should be soft, so set it out so it can come to room temperature. Full-fat cream cheese works best.
- All-purpose flour – Be sure to measure accurately, either by weight or with the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
For the filling:
- Unsalted butter
- Brown sugar – Either light or dark brown sugar works here, depending on how strong you want that molasses flavor.
- Pecans – Chop these into small pieces, or skip a step and buy pecan pieces.
- Vanilla extract
For the assembly:
- Egg – You’ll be making a simple egg wash with just an egg and a little water to help the pies brown nicely. In addition, it will help the sanding sugar stick to the tops of the pies.
- Sanding sugar – This is optional but adds a nice bite of sweetness and crunch, along with a pretty sparkle!
How to Make Pecan Hand Pies
You’ll be making an easy dough for the crust along with a simple filling. A food processor makes quick work of the pastry dough, but you can mix it with a pastry blender or a fork if you prefer. Be sure to factor in the chilling time for the dough when making your baking plans.
Make the Pastry
Combine the ingredients. Place the butter, cream cheese, flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a dough forms. This should take about a minute.
Divide and chill. Form the dough into two discs, using half of the dough for each. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You can chill the dough longer, but you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling.
Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Roll and cut out the dough. Place one of the discs of dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll it to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds using a cutter. (I use a 2 & 3/4-inch cutter for these.) Gather and re-roll the dough once and cut out more rounds. Then repeat with the remaining dough disc. You should have about 40 rounds.
Make slits in the dough. Use a sharp knife to make a small slit in the center of half of the dough rounds. You can make a single cut or an X like the ones pictured here.
Make the Filling and Assemble
Mix the filling ingredients. Stir together the butter, brown sugar, pecans, vanilla, and salt until thoroughly combined.
Fill the pies. Place about 2 teaspoons of the filling mixture in the center of the dough rounds that don’t have a slit cut in them. Spread the filling, leaving about a 1/4-inch border around the outside.
Top and seal. Place the dough rounds with the slits on top of the filled dough rounds. Press the edges together, and then use a fork or some other tool to press down on the edges to seal.
Make the egg wash. Whisk together the egg and water. Then, lightly brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash. (You won’t need all of the egg wash.)
Add sanding sugar. If you like, sprinkle the tops of the pies with a pinch or so of coarse sugar, using either a white sanding sugar or another coarse sugar like turbinado.
Bake. Place one pan at a time in the heated oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.
Cool. Place the pans on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Then transfer the pies from the pans directly onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Tips for Success
- Make in advance. Unlike a lot of baked goods, these pies are actually better the day after they’re baked. That makes them a great make-ahead dessert for those of us who like to get things done in advance and also makes them great for gifting if you like to make homemade treats for friends and family.
- Don’t have a food processor? You can mix the dough with a pastry blender, a fork, or your fingers.
- Change the crust. I think you’ll love this crust, but you can also use your favorite pie crust recipe if you prefer.
- Don’t over-fill. Too much filling in these pies, and they won’t stay sealed well.
- Don’t skip the egg wash. It will help your hand pies brown nicely. And if the edges of your pies aren’t holding together well after assembling, brush a little bit between the top and bottom edges to help it stick better.
How to Store Leftovers
After the pies have cooled, place them in an airtight container. They should keep at room temperature up to 3 days. If you like to serve them warm, heat them briefly in the microwave or a low-temperature oven.
Can These Hand Pies Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze these Pecan Hand Pies! After they’ve cooled completely, wrap each pie in plastic wrap and place them inside an airtight, freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. Properly stored, they should keep in the freezer up to 2 months. Unwrap and thaw for an hour or two at room temperature.