Apple Jack Hand Pies with sugar sprinkles

When I saw these flaky, delicious AppleJack Hand Pies on Vivian Howard’s TV show, I swooned with excitement.  Great food does that to me. 

First of all, if you are not familiar with Chef and the Farmer from South Carolina, you should be! Vivian is the owner and head chef of this unique restaurant.  She shares her wonderful stories, adventures and cooking experiences on the PBS show A Chef’s Life.

In a recent episode, Vivian seeks out Creighton Leigh, the Johnny Appleseed of the Southern apple and heirloom apple tree collector in North Carolina’s Piedmont.  He showed her how easy it is to to dry the apples by slicing and then sliding onto a stick or rod for drying.

Anna Apples fresh picked

We had basket after basket of our Anna Apples this year. These apples come on early in the desert.

They have wonderful, crisp fruit with a sweet/tart combination that is well suited for pies, drying, applesauce and eating!

Victoria apple apple corer and slicer

No food dehydrator necessary! I pulled out the Victorio Apple Peeler and moved the peeler part out of the way (see right side of picture above).

It was easy to quick core and slice the apples. Then I cut through one side of the apple to create the rings.

Apple rings drying on a stick outside

A tree branch from our wood pile, scrubbed clean, made a great holder for the rings. They were hung outside balanced over my raised planter box for drying.

Later that evening I brought it into our garage, placing it between two chairs.  I did not want any little critters munching on my apples.

Dried apples on stick

Two days later, I had perfect dried apples.  Good for eating right away and even better for making the old fashion AppleJacks!

I have a husband who solves every problem and finds improved ways to efficiency.  He designed this Apple Apple Tree and we quadupuled our drying capacity!  I had to laugh out loud at his GENIUS creation!  Quick iPhone shot follows (our messy garage included!).

Dry your apples on this Apple TREE! for

Back to the AppleJack recipe!

Apple Jack Hand Pies filling before it cooks

The dried apples are combined with apple cider, water, sugar and wide pieces of lemon peel.

Apple hand pie filling ready for the dough

As the mixtures simmers, the apples absorb the apple cider and lemon peel and the flavor is beyond description! I wish you could smell this! (And I wish my picture was better… !!!)

Lard makes everything pie better

Of course, the best pie dough is made from lard!

Rustic Apple Jack Hand Pies

The crust is rolled out so thin that you can almost see through it.  I love that these little pies are imperfect and handcrafted.

Apple Jack Hand Pies

And of course they must be cooked in the lard as well!

I have never in my life tasted anything as delicious as these flaky, flavorful and addicting AppleJack hand pies.  The outside is crispy, yet tender.  On first bite, the flavors bursts in your mouth. Right then you will think you have died and gone to heaven.

You have to make them to understand how incredible they are. Do not ask me how many of these pies I ate, because I will fib!

I ran out of filling before I used up all the dough so I stored the dough balls in the fridge and the next day I filled the circles with our homemade applesauce.  And I ate more.

Vivian Howard’s recipe follows as well as her Apple Episode that aired on PBS.  Be sure to visit her website A Chef’s Life!

Best wishes!!

Old Timey AppleJacks

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups dried apple slices. If the slices are more than 1/4 inch thick, give them a rough chop with your knife.
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

For the Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup lard or shortening
  • 2/3 cup hot water

To Fry and Serve:

  • 2 cups lard or shortening
  • Rosemary Sugar


  1. Make the Filling: In a large saute or sauce pan, combine the apples, cider, water, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Bring it up to a boil and cook until the apples have soaked up all the liquid and the pan is nearly dry. Stir in the lemon juice, and transfer the apple filling to the refrigerator to cool before assembling.
  2. Make the Dough: Mound the flour in the center of a large bowl. Make a little well in the center and drop the lard in the well. Pour about 2/3 of the hot water over the lard, and using your hand, work together the lard and the water until its all sludgy and homogenous.
  3. Begin working in the flour gently, and bring it together until a soft, tender dough forms. Add the remaining water if need be. Cover the dough with a damp paper towel until you’re ready to make the pies.
  4. Make the Pies: Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough and flour your work surface. Dust the golf ball as well as your rolling pin with a little flour since this dough tends to be pretty wet. Roll the dough into a super thin circle. I’m talking thin like you can just about see through it. Trim up the edges, and stuff the inside with about 2 tablespoons worth of filling. Fold the dough over and crimp the edges with a fork. Store the hand pies on a floured baking sheet until you’re ready to fry.
  5. Fry and Serve: Heat half the lard in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, lay the jacks in a single layer and fry until golden on one side. Flip and fry on the opposite side. You’ll need to fry these in several batches and will probably have to add additional lard.
  6. Once the Apple Jacks are browned on both sides, drain on paper towels and sprinkle liberally with granulated sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: Makes 12 hand pies

Apple Jack Hand Pies Ready to Eat

This picture says a thousand words!

Watch this great video from Vivian Howard!



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21 Responses to Flaky, Delicious AppleJack Hand Pies

  1. Lori H says:

    Those Old Timey AppleJacks look amazing – seriously!

  2. Madonna says:

    Love the flaky.

    I would love to have dinner at Vivian’s. She thinks of the most unique combinations of food.

  3. This is so cool! I love dried apples and never realized that I could make them with a dehydrator~ I am loving this! This is a great recipe! I would love for you to share this at my party Making Memories Mondays going on now! Hope to see you there!

  4. Lora Cotton says:

    These look absolutely AMAZING; but alas, my husband cannot have anything fried (long health story being the reason.) So I won’t be able to make and try them for myself! 🙁

    • i would make them, place on parchment paper brushed with a little shortening and a little brush of melted button on top. Bake them hot like you would a double crust pie until browned. Try it and let me know! Thanks for coming by to see us.

  5. Lisa says:

    Hi! You linked this up with my “My Week in Review” instead of “Try a New Recipe Tuesday.” Here is this week’s Try a New Recipe Tuesday linkup: Hope you can join us there! 🙂

  6. Wow! Can I just say yummmm!
    Thank you for sharing your recipe with us today at Brag About It!

  7. Those look seriously amazing. Adding to my list of things to make when we go apple picking this fall. #wfmw

  8. hopeful50 says:

    I know I will never make these but I loved this post!!! And, that apple drying tree too innovative! Yay! clever husbands! I’m visiting from WWI, I am #49! (wish it was my age – LOL)

  9. Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance says:

    Hi Denise! Popping by to Thank you for linking up to The What to do Weekends Party an to let you know that I am Featuring your wonderful recipe on the Blog Party now! I hope you’ll come by and grab your button and join us again this week! Happy Friday!
    Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance

    • Thank you Theresa! What an honor. we certainly will be by this week, if I stop being lazy and do something interesting. Haha. Will come by for the button as we have a Featured Page. Happy Happy 4th!!

  10. These look amazing. So flaky – I agree about the lard. that’s how my mom makes pastry crust and it’s so good. Thanks so much for sharing them on homework | The Inspiration Board. I featured you today

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