A flaky crust and caramelized nutty filling make these Pecan Hand Pies the perfect individual-sized treat for your Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. Surprise your friends and guests with this unique (and easy!) twist on a classic favorite. The best part? They’re simpler to make than a traditional pie!
Best Pecan Hand Pies Recipe
Having grown up in the South, right on the border of Texas and Louisiana, pecan pies are a tradition at just about every Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration.
Then just this last week I was trying my hand at making homemade empanadas (recipe coming soon, I promise!) when I thought, hey! Why not turn my FAVORITE pie into a delicious hand pie?!
And my friends, I couldn’t be more THRILLED to present to you hands down the BEST Pecan Hand Pies! (Like that play on words there ;))
So what makes them the best?! Well, lemme tell ya…
The filling is made much like your favorite pecan pie except with a hint of orange zest and a bit more cinnamon added in. Which equals… a flavor explosion!
Then the crust is brushed with a bit of egg wash so it comes out a gorgeous golden color and gets super flaky.
But even better than the taste and texture?! We’re making these SO super quick and easy. Instead of laboring away to make your own Homemade Pie Crust (which yes, indeed you can!), we’re simply using store-bought pie crusts to speed things up. So much easier and a very minimal sacrifice on the finished taste!
What are Hand Pies?
A hand pie is just what it sounds like—a miniature pie you can fit in your hand! These tasty treats can be sweet or savory in a variety of flavors, and they go by many names. In fact, just about every culture in the world has some form of hand pie.
To make them, usually, a pie crust is cut into a circle, filled with prepared ingredients, then folded and crimped before baking.
To make this easy pecan hand pie recipe you need:
- Pecans. Be sure to grab raw, unsalted pecans at the grocery store. Save some time by buying chopped nuts, or grab whole pecans or halves and chop them yourself.
- Sugar. Brown sugar will give you that rich, caramelized flavor you find in traditional pecan pies. You might also want some powdered sugar and sanding sugar, as well.
- Butter. Stick with salted butter for the best results. Unsalted butter will work, but you’ll need to add additional kosher salt to the recipe.
- Milk. You only need a tablespoon, so either regular milk or a plant-based alternative works fine.
- Vanilla. Don’t skip this, and go with pure vanilla rather than imitation if possible.
- Cinnamon. This warming spice is essential for this dish. It adds an irresistible pop of flavor you didn’t know you needed.
- Egg. An egg wash gives the crust the beautiful golden color and flaky exterior.
- Orange zest. While this ingredient is optional, it adds so much to the recipe.
- Pie crusts. You can definitely make your own homemade pie crust, or take the easy route and grab the refrigerated kind from the store.
How to Make Pecan Hand Pies
Please see the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and more detailed instructions.
Make the Filling
Preheat the oven to 375℉.
Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet, be sure they are spread evenly and not overlapping.
Bake the nuts for 5 to 6 minutes, just until they’re toasted and fragrant. (Here’s more info on how to toast pecans.)
Then, stir together the roasted pecans, brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange zest in a medium-sized or large bowl.
Make the Egg Wash
Crack the egg into a small bowl, then pour the milk in as well. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine.
Set aside until the pies are assembled.
Cut the Crust into Circles
To ensure the pie dough won’t stick, lightly dust your cutting board with powdered sugar. (You can also use a lightly floured surface, but powdered sugar tastes better!) Then, roll one of the pie crusts out with a rolling pin so it lays flat.
Use a 4 ½-inch round cookie cutter to make 6 circles. If you don’t have one, you can use a cup or large biscuit cutter. You will need to reshape and reroll the dough to get enough circles.
Then, repeat the process with the second pie crust. You will end up with 12 mini pies.
Fill, Fold, and Seal
Use a pastry brush to spread the egg wash over the outside ½-inch of each pie crust circle. Then, spoon about 1 ½-tablespoons of pecan pie filling mixture slightly off-center of the dough rounds. You will be folding half over, so leave some space.
Pull the opposite side of the crust over the filling, taking time to line up the edges. Picture folding a taco in half!
Use your thumb to press the edges together. They should stick because of the egg wash. Use a fork to crimp all the way around the edges of the crust that meet to seal it even better. The key is to press firmly enough that the crust sticks together but not so hard you end up pushing through the crust.
Repeat the process with the remaining 11 circles.
Brush and Vent
Place each of the filled hand pies on a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 1 inch in between each one.
Coat the tops with more egg wash. Then, use a sharp knife to cut a plus sign or small slit in the middle of the top of each pie. This allows steam to escape without breaking through the edges.
Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes. The edges should be golden brown and the dough completely cooked.
Be sure to let the pies rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes, then dust the tops of the pies with sanding sugar (or granulated sugar if that’s all you have.)
Let the mini pecan pies cool on a wire rack.
How to store hand pies?
Once you’ve made your hand pies, you can easily store them at room temperature for up to 3 to 4 days. Pop them in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds to warm them back up.
The recipe you’ll find below is already vegetarian as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:
- Gluten-free: Use a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend instead of all-purpose flour in the crust.
- Dairy-Free: In place of butter, opt for a vegan butter alternative.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Nice and toasty. Quickly roasting the pecans first adds the perfect taste and texture.
- Go brown. Granulated sugar doesn’t add quite the same flavor as brown sugar.
- Don’t forget the wash. The egg and milk mixture binds the crust together and gives the outside a flaky, golden texture.
- Let it breathe. Don’t forget to cut the small plus sign so the steam can release easily.
- Save time. While you can make your own pie crust, it’s so quick and easy to buy one at the store.
More Pecan Dessert Recipes
Pecans were MADE for dessert. Try any of these tasty yet super simple pecan dessert recipes next.
If you love pecan pie, you have to whip up a traditional Pecan Pie Without Corn Syrup, Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie, or Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars. They’re some of my favorite things on a Thanksgiving table. (Learn if Pecan Pie Needs to Be Refrigerated and How to Freeze Pecan Pie, too.)
Tap stars to rate!
Pecan Hand Pies Recipe
- 1 cup pecans finely chopped
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp. butter salted, melted
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. orange zest optional
- 1 egg large
- 1 Tbsp. milk regular or plant-based
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- 2 refrigerated pie crusts 14.1 oz package
- 2 tsp. sanding sugar or granulated sugar optional
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Mix Together Filling: Place chopped pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant. Add the roasted pecans, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange zest to a medium-sized bowl. Toss until well combined.1 cup pecans, 1 cup brown sugar, 4 Tbsp. butter, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. orange zest
- Make Egg Wash: Whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl and set aside until ready to use.1 egg, 1 Tbsp. milk
- Cut Crust into Circles: Lightly dust a cutting board with powdered sugar. Roll out one of the pie crusts so it lays flat on the board. Using a 4 ½-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 6 circles, reshaping and re-rolling the dough, as needed. Repeat this with the remaining pie crust until you have 12 circles.Powdered sugar, 2 refrigerated pie crusts
- Fill, Fold, and Seal: Using a pastry brush, brush the outer ½-inch edge of each circle with egg wash. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of pecan pie filling mixture slightly off-center in each of the pie crust circles. Fold over the opposite side of the pie crust to cover up the filling, making sure the edges meet. (Like you would fold up a taco!) Press down around the outer ½-inch edge with your thumb to seal the packet. Then, crimp the edges with a fork around the perimeter of the hand pie to further seal it; press firmly enough to ensure it’s closed, but avoid going all of the way through and breaking apart the pie crust. Repeat this process with the remaining pie crust and pecan filling. You should get 12 hand pies.
- Brush and Vent: Place the hand pies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at least 1-inch apart. Coat the surfaces with more of the egg wash and create a plus sign-shaped vent in the center of each one using the point of a sharp knife.
- Bake in Oven: Bake the hand pies in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden and the dough is cooked through.
- Finish with Sugar: Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes and then finish with sanding sugar or granulated sugar just before serving. Enjoy!2 tsp. sanding sugar or granulated sugar
Tap stars to rate!
Meal Prep and Storage
- How to prep ahead of time: You can toast the pecans and make the pie crust (if you’re making your own) a day or two in advance. Keep the pie crust in the fridge.
- How to store: These hand pies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 to 4 days in a Ziploc bag or covered in plastic wrap.
- How to freeze: Place hand pies in a freezer-safe bag after they have completely cooled and freeze for up to 3 to 4 months.
- How to reheat: If you want to serve the hand pies warm again, simply pop them in a 300℉ oven until warmed through or use the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.