Southern fried apple pies, also known as hand pies or Applejacks, are crispy and savory on the outside, sweet and smooth on the inside and bring back the best memories!
You haven't fully lived until you've had one of these pies! They are nothing like the store-bought, fast food apple pies. The crust is incredibly flaky and crispy and is filled with dried apples that have been cooked down and seasoned with cinnamon and sugar to perfection.
Like most grandmothers, my Mamaw Estine cooks and measures with her heart. When I tasked her with getting the exact measurements for these pies, she said "I will if you help me, because I know what I'm doing." She's right, no measurements needed for her, but I wanted her pies to taste just like they came from her cast iron skillet...and they do!
When I first shared Mamaw's pies, I got lots of questions about dried apples, seasonings and cooking methods. So here are Mamaw's answers to all your questions:
- What are dried apples? Drying apples and canning was a method of preserving fruit for the winter.
- How are dried apples used? Other than these fried apple pies, they are also used for old-fashioned stack cakes, apple butter for homemade biscuits, for snacking, on cereals or on salads.
- How do you dry apples? There are lots of ways folks dry apples. They might place the apples on wire frames and cover them with a sheet or cheese cloth (so that insects wouldn't get to them) and then place them where they get a lot of sun. Some folks put them on their roof. They're sometimes strung on strings and hung from the ceiling over a fireplace. They might be placed inside a car under the windshield where they will get lots of sun. Also sun rooms and patios are popular places to dry them. Mamaw either uses apples she drys or buys them already dried from the Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store. Some grocery stores carry them too.
- Can you use regular/fresh apples in this recipe? You're basically rehydrating dried apples for this recipe. Yes, you can use fresh apples, but sometimes this yields a wetter filling consistency. They can take quite a bit longer to get rid of that extra moisture during the cooking process. Also, dried apples take on an amazing tart/sweet flavor and yields an incredible texture. Mamaw said "they won't be old-fashioned fried pies if you use fresh, but it'll work."
- Can applesauce or apple butter be used instead? Using these is not ideal, but technically, you could. They both have quite a bit more moisture in them, so you would need to cook them down until they become more of a paste.
- Can you season the apples with other ingredients? Of course! Mamaw goes with the traditional cinnamon and sugar combo, but you could also use honey, maple syrup, brown sugar and/or sugar substitutes as sweeteners. You could also use different spices like cloves and ginger.
- Can you use other fruits? Yes! Dried peaches is another fruit that hand pies are often made with.
- What is sweet milk? It's an old way of saying whole milk or regular milk.
- What kinds of oil can they be fried in? You can fry them in vegetable and canola oil, peanut oil, refined coconut oil or a high quality lard.
- Can they be baked instead of fried? Place the filled and crimped pies on a parchment paper lined or buttered sheet pan or baking dish. Brush the top with a beaten egg or milk. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
- Can you use store-bought pie crust? Of course, but one of the best parts about these pies is the homemade crust. It's tastier, flakier and down-right more delicious! Another shortcut folks have been known to use is biscuit dough. It yields a completely different tasting pie and I would call it something completely different, but it would work.
What You'll Need
- Dried Apples
- Self-Rising Flour
- Canola Oil
Tools You'll Need
- Cast Iron Skillet
- Rolling Pin
- Dried Apples (not a tool...but here is where you can order them)
How to Make This Recipe
- For the apple filling, cook dried apples with water in a covered crockpot on high for 2-3 hours or on the stove-top on medium-high heat for 1 hour or until ALL the liquid is absorbed. If there's liquid remaining, you'll have soggy pies. Stir occasionally if cooking on the stove-top to avoid sticking. Mash the apples with a potato masher until it's slightly thicker than the consistency of apple butter, then add cinnamon and sugar.
- For the dough, work Crisco into self-rising flour until crumbly, then slowly add sweet milk. Using your hands (like Mamaw) or with a spatula, work the flour in a little at a time until it’s a dough ball. Slightly knead for about 30 seconds, then cover and place in the fridge, along with the filling, at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Working on a floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to an ⅛-inch thickness. Cut in 6-inch diameter circles. You can use a 6-inch plate for a guide in cutting even circles. Spread 3 tablespoons of the filling on one side. Fold the dough over, then crimp and pierce with a fork.
- In a large skillet, heat canola oil on medium-high heat. Once hot, fry the pies 1-2 minutes per side and on the flat edge or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined pan or cooling rack, and cool slightly before eating.
- If desired, garnish with powdered sugar, ice cream or caramel.
Tips and Substitutions
- You'll likely be cooking these in batches of 2-3 pies at a time. Watch the pies closely the entire time as they cook quickly and can burn easily. After a few batches or if the oil starts burning, you might need to start over with fresh oil. Just pour the old oil into a bowl, carefully wipe the pan out with a paper towel, then heat fresh oil.
- Over-filling the pies or not crimping properly will cause the filling to burst out from the dough during the cooking process. Make sure to add only 3 tablespoons of the filling (adjusting to your size pie if changed from Mamaw's 6-inch pie) and crimp well all along the edges of the dough with a fork.
- These pies are best eaten within a couple days. If there happens to be any leftover (which I highly doubt), they can be stored in an air-tight container at room-temperature up to 3 days. They can be reheated in the microwave, air fryer or in the oven. They can also be frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months, thawed and then reheated.
Mamaw’s Fried Apple Pies
- 2 lb dried apples
- 2 cups water
- 1 ⅓ cups sugar or to taste
- 2 ½ teaspoon cinnamon or to taste
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- ½ cup Crisco
- 1 cup milk
- 1-2 cups canola oil
- Rinse and drain dried apples. Add to a pot with water. Cook in a slow cooker on high until tender, about 2-3 hours. Mash with a potato masher, and add sugar and cinnamon to taste.
- For the dough, work Crisco into self-rising flour until crumbly, then slowly add sweet milk. Work the flour in a little at a time until it’s a dough ball. Slightly knead, then place in the fridge, along with the filling, at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Working on a floured surface, roll the dough to an ⅛-inch thickness. Cut in 6-inch diameter circles. Spread 3 tablespoons of the filling on one side. Fold the dough over, then crimp and pierce with a fork.
- In a large skillet, fry the pies in canola oil on medium-high heat 1-2 minutes per side and on the flat edge or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined pan, and cool slightly before eating.
These pies are so delicious and are such a treat when mom makes them! She enjoys sharing these with family and friends!
They sure are! I wish I had one right now!
I can't believe it! We called my mom's mom Mamaw (from Kentucky) and she made fried apple pies with dried apples and Crisco. I am so tickled to find a recipe because I never got hers. She passed after years of Alzheimer's. You even told where to find dried apples! I can't wait to make them!!
Aww! Kathy, this comment made my heart so happy! I’m so happy you saw this and that it made you think of your sweet Mamaw! I hope they taste exactly like hers too. Such precious and sweet memories!
Thank you so much, Tara! Mamaw sure does know how to make lots of yummy foods, especially these pies!
Thank you for sharing this recipe and your precious mamaw!
You're very welcome, Shelly! I'm so happy you liked the video as well...it's probably my most precious one of all of them!