Hand Pie Dough

Recipe Development by Lisa Donovan

Nashville chef and baker Lisa Donovan uses this master dough for all of her hand pie variations: Roasted Strawberry Hand Pies, Dried Apple Hand Pies, Lemon Thyme and Blackberry Hand Pies, and Spicy Green Tomato Jam Hand Pies.  

2.4 from 5 reviews
Lisa Donovan's Hand Pie Dough
Makes dough for 15 hand pies
  • 2½ cups plus 3 tablespoons (337 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
  • 2 cups (454 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ¼ to ½ cup (60 to 120 grams) ice water
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Toss butter into dry ingredients, and break apart before beginning to work together. Work butter into dry ingredients with your hands, making buttery flakes. You are looking to incorporate all the butter into the flour without overworking. If butter starts to feel warm, cool it off in the refrigerator at any time. Every piece of butter should be incorporated with some flour before you begin to add the water.
  2. To incorporate the water, start by drizzling ¼ cup (60 grams) cold water over flour and butter mixture. Using your hands, toss water into flour until it is fully absorbed. Continue adding water as needed until dough begins to form a ball. Once you feel your flour has become a dough and feels moist but not wet or sticky, give it a few strong kneads to work it all together. Your dough should be tacky and supple feeling, but not sticky or moist. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


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    • Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for reaching out! This recipe corresponds with all of Lisa Donovan’s Hand Pies. If you see above the recipe, there are links to all of her hand pies. You can pick which one you like best (for example, the Lemon Thyme and Blackberry Hand Pies) and bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes at 450°F. Let us know if we can explain further. Happy Baking!

  1. First, this was the flakiest pie crust I’ve ever made, but I’m not sure the amount of butter is correct. I was planning on halving the recipe and started out with 1.25 C flour and 1 cup (2 sticks) butter. I realized pretty quickly that there was no way I was going to be able to incorporate that much butter into the flour. I checked other butter crust recipes online and they all call for a ratio of ~2 C flour to 1 C butter. I added the full amount of flour called for and it was perfect! As I said, flakiest crust I’ve ever made, and I have a very long and tortured relationship with scratch pie crust.

    For a savory pie, the dough is perfect, but the crust desperately needs a bit of sweetness for fruit pie. Next time I’ll add a tablespoon or two of sugar to the dough.

  2. I followed this recipe exactly… There was WAY too much butter in this. My crust tasted like a stick of butter and was super, super heavy… Not flakey in the least. Back to the drawing board.

  3. Made this recipe 3 different times and I think there’s too much butter. While my hand pies baked the butter melted and they were sitting (getting saturated) in a pond of butter (yes, pond).

  4. There seems to be a typo with the amount of salt in the dough. I think there should be 1 teaspoon (not 1 tablespoon). The pies are overwhelmingly salty! I found this recipe in a Food and Wine article about Lisa Donovan and it called for 1 teaspoon of salt. I used this recipe from your cookbook so you need to update it there and online.

    • Also, the F&W recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter (not 2 cups). I think this recipe was originally a much bigger batch but for the cookbook was pared down. This would explain the typos.

  5. Hello – I made these hand pies and also thought the same about the ratio of flour to butter. I followed the recipe and though they turned out delicious would change the ratio as the butter did melt and pool in the pan. The pastry was still flaky and tasty but I believe the amount of butter was not necessary.

  6. Followed the recipe, was very salty and the pie was very doughy, definitely not crispy at all. What a waste of ingredients. Disgusting.

    • Hi Soraya,

      I’m so sorry the dough didn’t work for you!

      To start, we always recommend measuring out your ingredients by weight, as volume measurements can vary. Specifically, when it comes to salt, we use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, which tends to be less salty than Morton or your usual table salt. Finally, if you found the texture to be doughy, you’ll probably want to cut back on the amount of water added to the dough. With water in pie dough, less is more. The dough should never feel sticky or moist. If you continue to have issues, please let us know and we can continue to troubleshoot.

      Happy baking!

  7. For a flaky crust, use a pastry cutter ( can’t remember correct name of tool) and only use your fingers or hands when you absolutely have to.
    The warmth of your hands will start the butter pieces to melt. I also use buttermilk instead of water. Just my way of doing however I am going to try this recipe as well


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