The Art of Hand Pies Recipes

Hot Beef or Vegetarian Empanadas – Chef Gary Wahl, Stone’s Throw Cafe in Morris


Beef Filling

Yield: fills about 3 dozen empanadas

1 T vegetable oil (or lard)

1 c onion, finely chopped

1 ½ t salt

½ t coarse ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

¼ c pine nuts

¼ c golden raisins

1 lb ground beef

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T red wine

 Heat oil in a large skillet on med-high. Add onion, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes to soften onions, then reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, pine nuts, and raisins and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onions start to caramelize – approximately 8-10 minutes. Add beef to mixture, increase heat to medium-high, and cook and stir until beef is cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Add vinegar and red wine and continue cooking and stirring until moisture has reduced and the mixture has a glossy layer. Spread mixture on a sheet pan and chill, then transfer to the refrigerator while preparing the crust.

Veggie Empanada Filling

Yield: fills about 6 dozen empanadas

4 large potatoes, approximately 2 pounds (Russet are okay; Yukon Gold or new potatoes are creamier)

1 large butternut squash, quartered, seeds removed

3 T olive oil, divided

1 c chopped onion

1 ½ t minced fresh ginger

2 t curry powder (more to taste)

1 t ground coriander

¼ c currants, golden raisins, or raisins

2 T pine nuts (for extra flavor toast pine nuts prior to preparing filling)

1 t salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Rub squash with 1 T oil. Peel potatoes (young potatoes can be used with peels). Cut potatoes in half, and toss with 1 T oil.Roast at 400°F approximately 1 hour. Check potatoes at 30 minutes to see if they’re fork tender.When squash is tender and starting to brown, remove from heat and chill. Then remove squash skin and cut into ½ inch cubes. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients with final 1 T oil and onion in a skillet. Cook, stirring over medium high heat until soft and starting to brown. Combine onion spice mix with ½ squash and potatoes, stir together gently mashing squash and potatoes. Fold in remaining squash and potatoes. When cool, fill empanada dough.



Yield: 3 dozen empanadas

2 ½ c flour

1 t baking powder

1 c lard or butter, chilled

½ t salt

½ c ice water

Olive oil

Measure flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl with lard or butter. Using a pastry blender or a couple butter knives, cut butter into the flour until it forms pea-sized balls. Mix in salt and ice water in small amounts until a dough ball just forms. Do not overwork dough and do not fret if you have a little water left over. 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll dough out onto a floured surface to ⅛-inch thick. Using a 4” round jar as a guide, cut circles out of the dough. Add ¼ c filling mix just off-center, fold the opposite side over the filling, and pinch edges closed with fingers or a fork. Poke the top a couple times with a fork. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. Brush tops with olive oil and place on a cooking sheet, careful not to overcrowd the sheet. Bake for 12-15 mins or until the outside is golden and starting to brown at the edges. Serve over mashed potatoes and top with gravy.

Jamaican Pork Hand Pies – Chef Jessica Pettingill, Cafe Thyme in Chanhassen

Yields: 10 small hand pies

1 pkg store-bought puff pastry or pie dough

1 T cooking oil

1 lb ground pork

1 c diced yellow onion

1 T minced garlic

1 T minced ginger

1 small minced scotch bonnet or habanero pepper

1 T fresh thyme leaves chopped

1 t ground Jamaican allspice

1 t curry powder

1 t paprika

1 t dark brown sugar

¼ t ground cumin

¼ t ground cinnamon

½ t kosher salt

¼ t ground black pepper

½ c chicken stock

2 eggs

1 T water

1 t turmeric powder


Defrost the puff pastry or pie dough at room temperature. Cut the dough into 10, 3” squares or 10, 3” circles.  If you choose to go with circles, you can use an inverted coffee cup or a ring mold as a guide for cutting.  Set the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and hold in the refrigerator until ready to fill and bake.

 Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the ground pork and cook stirring often until browned, about 6 minutes. Drain the pork and return to the skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet (habanero) and cook while stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the dry spices, stock and lime juice and mix to make a loose paste.  Simmer the pork uncovered until almost all the liquid is evaporated.  You do not want the pork to be dried out but not too wet that the dough will become soggy when filling it.

In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, water and turmeric. Remove the pastry from the fridge and add ¼ c of filling to the center of each square/circle.  Brush the outside edges of the pies with a thin layer of the egg wash.  Fold over the dough to form a triangle or half-moon. Press the edges down and pinch the edges of the dough with a fork. Brush the tops of the pies with the remainder of the egg wash and bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and slightly puffed. Serve with a sweet mango chutney or red pepper jam for dipping.

Iron Range Pasties – Chef Jessica Pettingill, Cafe Thyme in Chanhassen

Yields: 6 entrée size pasties

1 pkg of store bought puff pastry or 6, 5” pie dough rounds

1 lb cubed beef stew meat (can use a mix of beef and pork)

6 each small red potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes

¾ c yellow onion, small diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 T fresh herbs chopped (mix of parsley, rosemary, thyme)

1 t kosher salt

1 t ground black pepper

2 eggs, mixed well

Ketchup or Brown Gravy for serving


Defrost the puff pastry or pie dough at room temperature. Cut the puff pastry into 6 equal squares. If using pie dough rounds, roll the dough out lightly (one time each direction).  Set the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and hold in the refrigerator until ready to fill and bake.

In a large bowl combine the meat, vegetables, garlic, and seasonings. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place a ½ to ¾ cup of filling in the center of each dough portion. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold over the dough to form a triangle or half-moon if using pie dough rounds. Pinch the dough ends together with a fork making sure no air can escape. Brush the tops of the pasties with the remaining egg wash. Bake at 400°F for 35-45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed slightly. Serve with a garden salad and ketchup or brown gravy for dipping.

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