Southern fried apple pies, also known as Applejacks or hand pies, are crispy on the outside but jammy on the inside. These old fashioned fried pies are made the classic way using dried apples for the filling and a homemade crust. My grandmother taught me all the secrets to success!
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Applejack Fried Apple Pies Recipe
You haven't fully lived until you've had one of these fried apple pies! They are nothing like the store-bought, fast-food apple pies. The homemade 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. I'm lucky to call myself an expert on these pies thanks to my mamaw’s recipe.
In the South, we also call these apple hand pies or Applejacks. They are often found at fairs or large community gatherings. Oftentimes, they are made with a biscuit-like pie dough or even pizza dough if you want to make it really easy. But as an expert on these fried pies, they are only traditional when made with dried apples and a homemade flaky crust.
Like most grandmothers, my Mamaw Estine cooks and measures with her heart. She is the true master when it comes to this fried apple pies recipe.
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 fried apple pies to taste just like they came from her cast iron skillet...and they do!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
- Precious Memories: Many folks have fond childhood memories of enjoying these fried pies with their parents or grandparents.
- The Flavors are Irresistible: Fried apple hand pies are filled with a sweet and spiced apple filling, creating a delicious combination of flavors!
- A Crispy Crust that Can’t Be Beat: The crispy, golden-brown crust that forms provides a perfect balance to the soft and tender apple filling inside.
- They’re a Labor of Love: Drying apples and making a crust from scratch is an old-fashioned art, but worth every second of it!
Using Dried Apples for Fried Pies
These Southern fried apple pies are best when made with dried apples. What is a dried apple? An apple slice that has been heated gently (or even by the sun) until the water evaporates and it becomes almost chewy.
When making the filling for these old fashioned fried apple pies, I rehydrate the apples with water and cook them down for several hours until they are easily mashed and almost jammy. I made the cooking process easy by doing it in the slow cooker.
Dried apples also give a sweeter apple flavor to the filling more than fresh apples. Dried apples still have some tartness to them, but since there is more concentrated sugar from the drying process they are definitely naturally sweeter.
Now many grocery stores have dried apples, but if you find them difficult to find, my favorite are from Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store. You can also use other dried fruits like peaches for the pie filling as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
When I first shared Mamaw's homemade fried apple pie recipe, I got lots of questions about dried apples, seasonings, and cooking methods. I thought I would answer the questions first before we start cooking!
Drying apples and canning was a method of preserving fruit for the winter. Dried apples are simply dehydrated until the water is removed and they become almost chewy.
Other than these fried apple pies, dried are also used for old-fashioned stack cakes, apple butter for homemade biscuits, for snacking, on cereals, or on salads.
There are lots of ways folks dry apples. They might place the apples on wire frames and cover them with a sheet or cheesecloth (so that insects wouldn't get to them) and then place them where they get a lot of sun.
Some people also dry apples 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.
Lastly, sunrooms and patios are popular places to dry them. If you don't want to dry your own apples then you can buy them at Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store. Some grocery stores carry them too.
You're basically rehydrating dried apples for this recipe. Yes, you can use fresh apples, but sometimes this yields a wetter filling consistency.
Fresh apples can also take quite a bit longer to get rid of that extra moisture during the cooking process. The dried apples also take on an amazing tart/sweet flavor and yield an incredible texture when cooked down.
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.
Of course! This old fashioned Applejacks recipe uses 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.
Yes! Dried peaches are another fruit that hand pies are often made with.
It's an old way of saying whole milk or regular milk.
You can fry them in vegetable and canola oil, peanut oil, refined coconut oil, or high-quality lard.
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 350ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
Of course, but one of the best parts about these old-fashioned fried apple pies is the homemade crust. It's tastier, flakier, and downright more delicious!
Another shortcut seen in fried pies recipes is using biscuit dough for the crust. It yields a completely different-tasting pie and I would call it something completely different, but it would work.
Ingredients in Old Fashioned Fried Apple Pies
- Dried Apples: It wouldn't be an old fashioned fried apple pie recipe with these! The texture and flavor they yield gives the best fried pies.
- Granulated Sugar: Along with the apples, it adds that perfect sweetness to the filling.
- Cinnamon: Couldn't be an old-fashioned fried apple pie recipe without this warm spice.
- Self-Rising Flour: This type of flour is a pre-mix of all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
- Crisco: Shortening creates air pockets and gives this pie crust a light flakiness.
- Milk: Gives the moisture to the crust as well as fat and protein.
- Canola Oil: While there are other oils that can be use, this is Mamaw's preference for deep frying for a beautiful golden crust.
Tools You'll Need
- Large Cast Iron Skillet
- Rolling Pin
- Here is where you can order dried apples if you don’t have them in your store or want to make them: Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store
How to Make Fried Dried Apple Pie
- For the apple filling, cook dried apples with water in a covered crockpot on high for 2-3 hours or on the stovetop 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 stovetop 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 a ⅛-inch thickness. Cut in 6-inch diameter circles. You can use a 6-inch plate as 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 fried apple pies 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.
- Overfilling 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.
Storage and Freezing
These dried apple pies are best eaten within a couple of days. If there happens to be any leftovers (which I highly doubt), they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
These fried pies can be reheated in the microwave for a couple of minutes. My favorite method of reheating these pies in a 350ºF air fryer, or oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until hot. They can also be frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months, thawed, and then reheated.
More Dessert Recipes:
Fried Apple Pies Recipe
- 2 pounds dried apples
- 2 cups water
- 1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar or to taste
- 2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon or to taste
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- ½ cup shortening I like Crisco
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1-2 cups canola oil for frying
- 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 shortening 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.
- Be sure to cook the pies in batches of 2 or 3 at a time. Don't overcrowd the skillet or the pies won't cook correctly. Watch carefully because they can burn quickly.
- Be sure the oil comes back up to temperature before adding another batch of pies. The right temperature of oil leads to the correct cooking of the pies.
- Don't overfill the pies and make sure they are properly crimped or the filling with leak out when frying.
- These pies are best when eaten within a couple of days of making. You can store the pie in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the pies, then thaw and reheat.
- Reheat the pies in the microwave for a few minutes. Alternatively you can preheat an air fryer or oven to 350ºF and reheat for 5 to 7 minutes until hot.
- If you are having trouble finding dried apples at the grocery store, order them from Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store.