Try baking sweet potato hand pies (also called pocket pies) for pie with a mini, handheld twist. These pie turnovers are filled with fresh sweet potato and chai spices, all surrounded by a flaky pie dough topped with turbinado sugar.
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Sweet potato pie is one of my favorite holiday traditions. But why make this delicious dessert only around the holidays? I've created this pocket pie recipe with a fresh twist that should be made all year long!
Mini sweet potato pie turnovers are the perfect size for one. They work well if you need to feed a crowd since everyone can have their very own individually sized pie.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
- Tips on keeping store-bought pie crust flaky.
- How an egg wash helps the pie crust become golden brown when baked.
- A homemade chai spice blend that you can use for almost any baking recipe.
To learn more tips like this to level up your baking knowledge, grab my free 13 page e-book. This guide has all the secrets you need to become a better baker!
What Are Pocket Pies?
Pocket pies, also sometimes called hand pies, are just a mini version of your favorite pie. It includes the crust and filling, just like a regular pie.
However, pocket pies are very portable since they are handheld. Usually, they are made in a way that all of the filling is encased by the crust so nothing spills out (like a turnover).
Not only does this make hand pies an easy, on-the-go option. It's also a great way to pre-portion a pie. Plus, if you're looking for sweet potato pie for one, you can easily freeze these pocket pies and heat up one individual pie when you need something sweet.
Sweet Potato Pie Ingredients
There are a few ingredients you'll need to make your very own sweet potato hand pies:
- Sweet potatoes: This is the star of the show in this recipe! In a pinch, you can substitute sweet potatoes for yams. Be sure to check out more about the history of sweet potato pie.
- Evaporated milk: Evaporated milk helps smooth out sweet potatoes to achieve a creamy, silky filling. Don't confuse this ingredient with condensed milk - it's not the same thing.
- Unsalted butter: Butter is a must in my world when making rich and delicious sweet potatoes. If you're using salted butter, be sure to adjust the amount of added sea salt.
- Light brown sugar: For some sweetness, we are using light brown sugar. Always measure by firmly packing it into a dry measuring cup.
- Vanilla extract: A high-quality vanilla extract will help add additional flavor and warmth to the recipe.
- Chai spices: All sweet potato pies have a slightly different combination of spices. This recipe will teach you how to make your own chai spice blend. However, feel free to substitute for your favorite pre-made chai spice.
- Fine sea salt: This is my preferred salt for baking as it blends nicely with the pie filling.
- Refrigerated pie crust: We're using a shortcut in this recipe with store-bought refrigerated pie crust.
- Egg: An egg wash is an important part of finishing off pies. It helps give the crust that rich golden brown color we all love.
- Turbinado sugar: This type of sugar will leave our pocket pies with sparkly, crunchy, golden tops. Turbinado sugar is made from the byproduct of refined white sugar. It's coarse sugar, great for finishing off desserts like these rugelach cookies.
How To Make This Recipe
There are a few main steps you'll need to take to make these delicious hand pies:
Mix Chai Spice Blend
First, you'll mix up a homemade version of chai spices. This spice blend will be incorporated into the filling and sugar topping. It really gives the dish a unique, warming taste! Included in this blend are ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg.
Make Sweet Potato Filling
Next, you'll work on the sweet potato pie filling. You'll first have to cook the sweet potatoes. The recipe below includes an option for oven-roasting or microwaving sweet potatoes. It really just depends on how much time you have, as well as your preferred cooking method.
Then, you'll work on creating a smooth and creamy filling with the help of some evaporated milk and butter. At this time, don't forget to also add in some flavor enhancers like brown sugar, vanilla, chai spice blend, and salt.
You'll be left with a silky smooth sweet potato pie filling at the end of the process.
Form Pocket Pies
It's time for the fun part - forming all the mini hand pies. Be sure to work on this process with one pie crust at a time. It's important to keep the crust cold so it bakes up super flaky.
You'll use a 3.5 inch circle cutter to shape the crusts. Each of these pies will hold about 2 tablespoons of sweet potato filling. It's the perfect amount for an individual pie.
Seal Pies & Brush With Egg Wash
Finally, it's time to seal the pies with the tongs of a fork. This process helps ensure all of the filling stays inside.
The last important step before baking is an egg wash. The egg wash, a mixture of one whole egg and 1 tablespoon of water, will help the crust develop a golden brown color.
- Want to make these sweet potato pies ahead of time? Once you've made the pies, you can freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then, cover and store them in the freezer until you're ready to bake. Once you're ready to bake, brush the tops of the pies with egg wash, sprinkle with chai sugar mixture, and bake as directed in the recipe.
- The key to a flaky crust is keeping the pie dough cool. You'll notice at different points throughout the recipe that I remind you to keep the dough in the refrigerator or place the dough in the freezer while preparing the other pocket pies. This will help the hand pies stay flaky!
- When sprinkling the sweet potato hand pies with turbinado sugar, don't get the sugar on the baking sheet, or it may burn in the oven. Do your best to keep the sugar on the pie dough.
Depending on the premade pie crust you use, this is completely normal! Just use a little all-purpose flour (about 1 teaspoon) and roll out the dough to fill the cracks in. Just be sure not to add in too much flour or you will ruin the dough texture.
This can happen if the sugar gets too far on the edges or underneath the pies. Just be careful when sprinkling the sugar to keep it away from the edges.
However, if they do happen to get a little browned on the edges, don't worry! They will still taste great!
Sure! You can absolutely substitute the chai spice mixture in the recipe for a premade one.
Yes, simply make the hand pies ahead of time and freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and store in the freezer until you're ready to bake.
Once you're ready to bake, brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Then, bake as directed in the recipe.
More Pie Recipes
If you loved this easy hand pie recipe, here are some other things you may enjoy cooking up in your kitchen:
Mini Sweet Potato Pocket Pies With Premade Pie Crust
- 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes scrubbed (about 3 - 4 medium potatoes)
- ¼ cup evaporated milk
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter room temperature
- ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons chai spices divided
- ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 30 ounces refrigerated pie crust
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup turbinado sugar
- Mix ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg together to create a homemade chai spice mixture. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Pierce sweet potatoes in several spots with a fork to allow steam to release as the potatoes cook. Place potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour until sweet potatoes are tender enough to be pierced all the way through with a knife. Allow sweet potatoes to cool to the touch, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, cook pierced sweet potatoes in the microwave on high power level (100 percent) for 10 - 15 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking process.
- Peel the skin of the sweet potatoes, and chop the flesh into large cubes. Place sweet potato cubes, evaporated milk, and butter in a high-powered food processor or blender. Cover and blend on high speed until the mixture is a smooth consistency. Stop food processor occasionally to scrape sides. Add brown sugar, vanilla extract, 1 ½ teaspoons chai spice, and sea salt to the food processor. Blend on high speed just until combined.
- Increase oven heat to 400°F (205°C).
- Roll out one 9 inch refrigerated pie crust (keep the other crusts in the refrigerator) onto a clean work surface. Use a 3.5 inch circle cutter to cut 6 - 7 circles from the pie crust. Collect the remaining pie crust scraps and re-roll to ⅛ inch thick. Cut an additional 3 - 4 circles. If you find the dough is sticking to the work surface or cracking when rolled out, you can add a small amount (1 teaspoon) of flour to the counter, pie crust, or rolling pin to assist you in this process. Don’t add too much flour, or you will ruin the dough texture.
- Cut two slits on top of half of the pie crust circles using a sharp knife. These will become the top crusts. With the remaining 5 pie crust circles, add 2 tablespoons of sweet potato filling to the center. Lay the top crusts over the sweet potato filled crusts. Seal the edges by crimping with the tongs of a fork.
- Arrange the pocket pies 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Store in the freezer while assembling the remaining pies. Repeat the assembly process with the remaining 3 pie crusts.
- Beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl to create an egg wash. Remove the pocket pies from the freezer. Thoroughly brush the top of each pie crust with the egg wash mixture using a pastry brush.
- Mix turbinado sugar with the remaining 2 ½ teaspoons of chai spice. Sprinkle chai sugar mixture on top of each pie. Be sure to keep the sugar mixture in the middle of the pocket pies. The sugar on the edges will burn.
- Bake for 17 - 20 minutes until the pie crust has turned golden brown. Transfer pies to a cooling rack until they’ve cooled to the touch. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Store leftover pies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.