Make Lunchbox Apple Pie

A recipe for flaky, fried pies that are just the right size.

Lunchbox Apple Pie

Lunchbox Apple Pie

Fried lunchbox pies are the best part of a sack lunch.

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

Fried lunchbox pies are the best part of a sack lunch.


These sturdy fried pies are a longtime favorite with kids and adults alike as the best part of a lovingly packed lunch.  The tough little pie with the sweet taste of home has gone by many names over the years, including  pocket pies, hand pies, lunchbox pies, or sometimes just fried pies. All fine names, but I’ve always liked the sound of the more arcane "Crab Lantern."  I can't confirm the origin of the name, but the idea of the devoted crab fisherman's wife wrapping this up and putting it in his lunch pail to eat after the traps are set has a nice ring, although the imagery is as outdated as the name.  I've heard the tale told with a coal miner as the recipient, but it doesn't conjure the widow's watch or the waves crashing on the rocks. Who knew a fried pie could seem so romantic?

Lunchbox pies can be made with all kinds of fillings, but it’s hard to top the fall flavor and homemade goodness of a pocket-sized apple pie. Lunchbox pies can be ready to eat in about an hour, but can be frozen for future frying. Once you’ve pinched the edges of the pie closed, space pies on a plate and freeze. Once they are frozen solid, transfer to a ziploc bag or other airtight container for long-term storage.

Lunchbox Apple Pies

Makes 12 pies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Sugar for sprinkling

Place 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup cubed butter in food processor and pulse until crumbs form.

Whisk milk and egg yolk together and add to crumbs. 

Pulse until a sticky dough forms. 

Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Stir apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and 3 tablespoons flour together and allow to rest while cutting dough.

Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/8 inch or so. 

Cut dough into twelve 5 inch circles.

Spoon apple filling onto the center of each circle, leaving 1/2 border along the edge.

Fold  pies in half and pinch along the rounded edge to seal (if not sealing easily, dampen the edges before pinching).

Fill a heavy skillet 2 inches deep with vegetable oil and heat to 375 degrees over medium-high heat.

Fry pies in small batches for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

Remove pies from oil and rest on a paper towel to allow oil to drain.

While still hot, sprinkle lightly with sugar.

Serve warm or wrap in foil for the best part of a sack lunch.

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