Thanksgiving Leftover Hand Pies

hand-pie As we all took the last bites of our Thanksgiving feast, you know…those bites that leave you feeling like you can’t stand up…we were reflecting on how much turkey we had left over, and Eric’s mom said that they’d bought a 14-pound turkey this year. 14 pounds, people. Let’s just take a second and reflect on how big of a bird that is.

So, carpe´ leftovers, friends, because that’s half of what Thanksgiving is all about. Everyone’s got their preferred way of making the most of their leftover turkey. You’ve got your turkey pot pies or turkey noodle soup or there’s these turkey sandwiches that I think actually left drool on my keyboard. And of course, I’m a big fan of the old-fashioned sneak attack: a pinch of turkey from fridge to mouth while those around me argue about whether or not now is an appropriate time for Christmas music. But a week or so ago, my friend Christi sent me a link for these turkey hand pies.

Turkey. Cheddar. Onions. Apples. I was sold.

So, with some leftover smoked turkey from our Somali Thanksgiving, I made these the other night as a trial run (before offering to make them for Eric’s family after Thanksgiving). And I was so glad I did.

I made the dough, which is essentially a pizza dough, the night before and let its doughiness intensify overnight in the refrigerator. While it’s in its last stages of rising, you caramelize some onions, add some spinach until wilted, and then mix it with diced turkey, diced apples, and grated sharp cheddar.

knead dough Essentially you’re making a hot pocket (please click that link)  except that you’re using food instead of food-like substances. With these hand pies, you get an air-filled homemade dough pocket filled with Thanksgiving awesome. And the variations are endless.

handpie-open You’ve got the one listed below in the recipe. Or throw some mashed potatoes and stuffing in there. Why not cranberry sauce? Or some diced sweet potatoes? How ’bout Christmas ham in a month? The holiday sky is your limit here.

Make these this weekend. Make them yours. And listen to the best Christmas album of the year while you do.

heidi hand pie

Thanksgiving Leftover Hand Pies

Thanksgiving Leftover Hand Pies

(recipe adapted from

(yields: app. 20 hand pies)

Don't be afraid of making dough. This yeasty concoction is friendly, and you can do it. I modified this recipe in amount...the first time I made it, I had twice the amount of filling as I had dough. So I am doubling the dough amount here to have a more even ratio. I also added a bit more turkey, cheddar, and spinach. Additionally, the original recipe only listed fresh thyme and sage; here I list dried thyme and sage, an herbs de provence option, and what ended up being our favorite: cinnamon and curry powder. Try it, you'll like it.


For the Dough:

4-5 c. all-purpose flour

2 c. warm water

2 tsp. active dry yeast

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. sea salt

For the filling:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 c. baby spinach leaves

1 1/2 c. roasted and diced turkey meat

1 medium, crisp apple, diced

1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar

Salt and pepper to taste

Seasoning Options:

We split our "filling" up into 3 bowls, so the amounts given reflect that. Do math as needed.

Bowl #1: had 1/2 tsp. ground thyme and 1/4 tsp. ground sage

Bowl #2: 1 tsp. herbs de provence

Bowl #3: 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 3/4 tsp. curry powder (or to taste)


Dough Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for about 10 minutes. Whisk in the sea salt and the olive oil. Add the flour slowly, in half cup increments, mixing as you go. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl, it is ready to be kneaded.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary when dough becomes sticky. It should have a silky quality. I felt like I had to add a lot of flour because the dough seemed really sticky to me.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Ideally, leave the dough in the fridge overnight to let the flavor of the dough intensify. If you do put it in the fridge, take it out about 2.5 hours BEFORE YOU WANT IT TO RISE to allow it to return to room temperature. Either way you do it, let the dough rise for about 1.5 hours in a warm spot.

Filling Instructions:

Once the dough is just about risen, warm the butter in a skillet over a medium-low flame. Saute the onion, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Add spinach and stir to wilt the leaves, about two minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl (or several bowls if you want some variety, which I strongly suggest). Add the turkey meat, diced apple, cheddar cheese and stir to combine. Now's when you add your seasonings...whichever combination you choose. You could do a variety like we did (we marked the types with toothpicks to remember) or whatever suits your fancy.

On a floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a large square, roughly 12×12 inches. Divide into 16 squares about 3×3 inches (don't skimp on the size or you will be frustrated). Place the squares on a large, lightly oiled baking sheet.

Using a spoon or your hands, portion about 2 generous tablespoons of the filling in the center of each square. I felt like the dough/filling ratio was heavy on the dough side the first time I made these, so next time I'll stuff them more full.

Fold one edge of the square over the other, forming a triangle. Fold and pinch the edges together to seal. Pierce the top with a fork. Brush the surface with a little olive oil, and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Best enjoyed hot. Can be reheated, and bonus! They freeze well!

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7 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Leftover Hand Pies

  1. What a great idea! I’m really big on using leftovers or whatever is in your refrigerator…’s a game for me! The pocket sandwich is a fun twist. Lovin your recipes Liz……gave you a plug on my blog post tonight (

  2. These were GOOD! Thanks for making them for us. He he- that link for hot pockets helped my “morning attitude before work.” Although after watching that, I know these are nothing like what he’s talking about; they were so classy.

    • I’m interested to hear what these are like with other filling options…if you try something other than the “Thanksgiving” filling, let me know how it goes!

  3. Pingback: Thanksgiving Thursday Throwback | Carpé Season

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