Destination Dish November Recipe: Cranberry Hand Pies

Between the staple sauce on Thanksgiving and festive red garlands on the Christmas tree, cranberries could be considered the envoy ingredient of the holiday season.  For a bold twist on the berry this year, try this unique cranberry recipe for cranberry hand pies. 

It’s one of the best holiday dessert recipes since everyone gets their own individual pie and you can start preparing up to 5 days in advance. Plus, you can feel a little less guilty indulging in this Christmas dessert recipe knowing the health benefits of cranberries are hefty.  They contain high amounts of vitamin C and fiber, and are low in calories. Cranberries are also packed with cancer and disease-fighting antioxidants, with an amount second to only blueberries.

Fresher is always better, and fresh cranberries pack more flavor, but frozen cranberries will also do the trick for this holiday cranberry recipe, as long as they’re adequately thawed.




  •  3 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) plus 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, frozen

Filling & Assembly

  •  1 pound fresh cranberries (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant tapioca (not starch)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • Raw sugar



  •  A 3-inch-diameter cookie cutter or biscuit cutter


Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften slightly before rolling out.

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (no big pieces of butter should remain). With motor running, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup ice water through feed tube. Pulse until dough just begins to come together.

Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball; flatten into disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours. 

Filling & Assembly
Cranberry filling can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.  Pies can be made 2 hours ahead.

Combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest and juice, and tapioca in a medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Let stand for juices to accumulate, about 10 minutes, then cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken, 5-6 minutes. (Some cranberries will burst.) Let cool completely. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until very thin, about 1/16-inch thick. Using cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles. Brush edges of 8 circles with beaten egg.

Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of each egg-washed circle. Top with remaining circles to form 8 pies. Using a fork, crimp 1/4-inch around edges to seal. If desired, use cookie cutter to clean edges. Repeat with remaining dough, egg, and filling.

Divide pies between prepared sheets; chill for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°. Working with 1 baking sheet of pies at a time, score dough, forming a small X in the center of each pie. Brush tops of pies with beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake pies until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles out of Xs, 17-20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining baking sheet of pies.

Be sure to visit the Destination Dish website to see more unique cranberry recipes by other chefs, where the dishes are being served, and get to know the culinary talents behind Destination Hotels & Resorts’ delicious fare.


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