Cranberry Orange Hand Pies

Unpopular opinion: cranberry sauce is the best part of Thanksgiving. No, not cranberry sauce from a can, but homemade, slowly stewed cranberries, with orange zest and a little sugar. Almost like a dessert that’s acceptable to eat during the dinner portion of Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t have to agree with me, but I think you will agree that making, and eating, these cranberry orange hand pies is a pretty great way to spend an afternoon.

The recipe for the pastry comes from a cookbook published in 1897 and is one of the best pie crusts I’ve ever tried. The original recipe called for half lard and half butter, but I modernized, and vegetarian-ized the recipe by switching it to an all butter crust. This dough is so simple to make and could easily be made in a larger batch and frozen in pie sized portions for use at a later date, which might be helpful as we approach the holiday season!



For pastry:

1/2 cup butter, frozen

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup ice water

1 egg

1 tbs cream

For filling:

12 oz cranberries

1 cup water

5 tbs sugar

6 drops orange essential oil or 1/2 tsp orange extract

For icing:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tbs cream

2-3 tsp water

1/4 tsp vanilla extract



  1. Freeze half a cup of butter until completely frozen solid.
  2. Once the butter is frozen, fill a cup measure with 1/4 cup water and a few ice cubes.
  3. Sift 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and one pinch of salt into a large bowl.
  4. With a cheese grater, grate the butter into the bowl of flour.
  5. With your hands, rub the butter into the flour, adding just enough of the ice water to form a dough.
  6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill.
  7. While dough chills, combine 12 ounces of cranberries, one cup of water, five tablespoons of sugar and 6 drops of orange essential oil in a medium sauce pan.
  8. Stew this mixture on medium heat until the cranberries have burst and the sauce has reduced into a jam.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into a thin and flat sheet.
  11. Cut dough into nine rectangles and place on lined baking sheet.
  12. Drop a teaspoon of cranberry jam onto one half of each of the rectangles.
  13. Fold the rectangles over and crimp the edges sealed.
  14. Cut three vents into the top of each hand pie.
  15. Beat one egg and one tablespoon cream together and brush on top of each pie.
  16. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  17. While the hand pies bake, mix together 1/4 cup powdered sugar, one tablespoon cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and two tablespoons water until a thin glaze is formed. Add another tablespoon of water if the glaze is too thick.
  18. Once the pies have been removed from the oven and have cooled slightly, brush the glaze on each pie and allow to cool completely.
  19. Enjoy!




2 thoughts on “Cranberry Orange Hand Pies

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