Strawberry Hand Pies are the perfect early summer treat. Roasting the strawberries for the filling intensifies the flavor. Grab a pie and dig-in, no utensils required!
When strawberries come into season I mostly prefer to eat them out of hand. Here in the northeastern U.S., we get to enjoy local strawberries for just a few short weeks. Once I get my fill of fresh berries, then it’s the time for shortcakes, tarts, tempura strawberries (yum, more on that in a later post) and pie.
The tips for making the best Strawberry Hand Pies
- A seasonal strawberry is glorious to eat because it’s so juicy. But this is also what makes cooking strawberries in a pie a bit tricky. Put uncooked berries into a pie crust you’ll end up with a soggy crust and a mushy filling.
- This is especially a problem when you’re making hand pies. Hand pies, as the name suggests, need to be sturdy enough to pick up and eat without falling apart in your hands.
- For my Strawberry Hand Pies I wanted a filling that tastes as close to fresh strawberries as possible. My goal was to pre-cook the berries enough to avoid a soggy pie, but not so much that I made strawberry jam.
Hmmm, seems like a little experimentation is in order. You know I’m always looking for an excuse to do another kitchen experiment!
Two easy steps to great strawberry hand pie filling:
- There was no question how I would start the filling – macerate the berries to draw out some of the juice. Macerating helps the berries keep their shape while cooking. I use the same technique for making Peach Pie.
- After macerating I planned to roast the berries because roasting intensifies flavor. But rather than just assume roasting was the way to go, I made the filling two ways to be sure.
- After macerating and draining the juice from the berries, I cooked half the strawberries on the stove top and the other half I roasted in the oven.
- I preferred the filling made with the roasted berries because the flavor was a little more intense and the fruit remained whole rather than breaking down.
Scroll through the process photos to see how to make a great Strawberry Hand Pie:
Cream Cheese Crust is perfect for sturdy hand pies:
The crust for the hand pies has both cream cheese and butter. By mixing in the cream cheese first you’ll coat the flour to help keep the dough tender and by leaving the butter in large flakes you’ll help create flaky layers.
It’s a very easy dough to work with. Of course you can use your favorite pie crust recipe for the hand pies, or you can use puff pastry.
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- 1 1/4 cups (6 oz 168g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 oz, 84g) cake flour
- 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz, 14g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) cream cheese, cut into 1" chunks
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz, 168g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1" chunks
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120ml) cold water
- 1 Pound (1 dry quart) strawberries, clean, hulled- cut in 1/2 if small and 1/4 if large
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) granulated vanilla sugar (see note)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 egg for egg wash
- granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Whisk together the flours, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and toss in the cream cheese.
- Using your fingers, mix the cream cheese into the flour until it resembles coarse corn meal. Toss the butter into the flour and squeeze the cubes into "flakes". Allow the flakes to break up into slightly smaller pieces. Work quickly so the butter doesn't get warm. Don't break the butter down completely. There should be some large flakes remaining.
- Pour the water onto the flour all at once and toss to combine. Gently work the dough just until it comes together. It may look a little dry in spots, but the water will redistribute as the dough rests.
- Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, or make it the day before and let it rest overnight.
- Toss the strawberries with the sugar and allow to macerate for 1.5-2 hours
- Roll the dough to 1/8" thick. Use a 3.5" cookie cutter to cut circles. Place the circles onto a parchment lined sheet pan with a sheet of parchment between each layer of circles. Piece together the scraps and form them into a disc, re-roll and cut until all the dough is used. Cover and refrigerate the dough rounds while you make the strawberry filling
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Drain the juice from the berries. Place the drained berries onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes until the berries are nicely browned and fragrant.
- While the strawberries are roasting, pour the drained juice into a small sauce pan with the lemon juice/ Whisk the cornstarch into the juice until there are no lumps (do not heat up the juice before adding the cornstarch!)
- Cook the juice mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil, thickens and becomes translucent. Toss the thickened juices with the roasted berries. Allow the berries to cool completely (you can put them in the fridge to speed up the cooling)
Assemble and Bake
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Lay 1/2 the chilled dough rounds on your work surface/ Brush the rounds with egg wash, making sure to go all the way to the edge of the round. Divide the strawberries among the egg-washed rounds, there should be about a tablespoon per pie.
- Place place a top onto each pie, being careful to keep the strawberries in the middle of the dough. Gently pinch together the edges of each pie, making sure they are well sealed. Place filled pies on the prepared baking sheet. Cut vent holes in the top of each pie. Brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake until puffed and golden brown. The pies are best the day they are baked but will keep at room temperature for a day or two.
I used vanilla sugar for the filling. If you don't have vanilla sugar you can add a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the juice.
To work ahead - make the dough and cut the rounds in advance. Wrap and freeze the dough rounds with parchment paper between them so they can be easily separated. The filling should made the same day that you will bake the pies.
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