Introduction: Copycat McDonald's Apple Pie
I've loved these single-serving mini apple pies since I was a kid, now that I'm more conscientious about what I eat, I haven't been to the Golden Arches in a few years, but it wasn't too difficult making my own version at home. I'd happily put my version, made with easily identifiable ingredients, up against theirs in any contest! If you search other copycat recipes, they're usually made with canned apple pie filling, I was thrilled my locally grown Ohio apples made it through our, fairly mild, winter, so I could make the apple filling. It's not as simple as opening a can, but it's truly easy, quick to make, and tastes so much better than that sickly sweet, gelatinous canned stuff. This recipe makes extra, which you can enjoy yourself, or reheat and top pancakes, waffles, french toast, or ice cream with.
If you were lucky enough to enjoy a McDonald's Apple Pie before 1992, or in other countries, you had a delightful fried apple pie. They switched to baking them in '92 and while they're still tasty, the fried version is really the best. I feel so strongly about this, I'll let you decide! I've made two versions here, a baked one, and a fried one.
The baked version makes a delicious apple pie that probably tastes even better than McDonald's, but frying them brings an entire other level of flavor to these pies and I highly recommend you try it with at least a couple of them! The fried pie dough gets more crispy and even more flaky than the baked version. I truly love my pie dough in baked pies, but wish I could fry every single pie I bake after eating these fried apple pies!
You can serve these mini apple pies alone, but I chose to add some Jeni's Churro Ice Cream because my favorite types of desserts blend warm with cold, crispy with soft, and slightly spicy with sweet. Other cinnamon ice creams can be substituted if Jeni's isn't sold near you.
This recipe makes 16 mini apple pies, but you can keep as many as you'd like frozen, and bake or fry when you want to serve them. I thought it was fun to bake AND fry them, but you can choose only one version if you prefer.
You do need to account for the time (at least an hour) the dough needs to rest after you make it, the apple filling needs to chill, and you need to refrigerate, or freeze, the assembled pies (at least two hours), before baking/frying. While the steps themselves are easy, you can definitely space out the timing to suit your schedule. For example, prep the pie dough and filling one day, then assemble and bake/fry the next.
How do you prefer your copycat McD's apple pies? No matter if you love them baked, or fried, I hope you'll try my version, enjoy!
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
1 recipe pie dough for a double crust pie, I use this recipe (doubled): https://www.instructables.com/id/Pumpkin-Pie-20/ Separate the dough into four pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
For the apple filling:
8 medium apples; I used 4 Granny Smiths, 4 Melrose (firm, sweet with slight tartness; firmer apples will hold up best for this recipe)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
For the baked pies:
One half of the double crust pie dough
Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling on top of pies
1 large egg, beaten
For the fried pies:
Remaining half of pie dough
5-6 cups shortening, canola, or vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
Step 2: Prepare Filling
Mix cinnamon, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Peel, core and slice apples into 1/4-inch pieces, add to the sugar mixture and stir well.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in apples and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-6 minutes, or until very slightly softened.
In a small dish whisk cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to pan while stirring, and continue to cook until apples are tender (but not falling apart), and filling is thickened. Let bubble 1 minute. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate until chilled.
Step 3: Prepare Crust
Take one quarter of the pie dough (keep rest of dough refrigerated), and roll out, on a lightly floured surface, to a 10-inch square, about 1/8th-inch thick. (A baker's rolling mat with measurements makes this very easy!) It's easiest to roll it slightly larger than 10-inches and trim the edges with a pastry cutter.
Cut 8 rectangles that are 5 inches by 2.5 inches. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate about 10 minutes so the dough is still pliable, but not soft.
Step 4: Fill the Pies
Have the beaten egg ready with a pastry brush.
Remove apple filling and pie dough from refrigerator, if your dough has gotten too firm, give it a few minutes until it's pliable.
Brush egg wash around edges of four of the rectangles. Spread about 2 tablespoons filling down the middle of each rectangle that you've brushed egg on. Try to keep it centered to lesson the likelihood of oozing once you seal, some will probably ooze out, it happens. Place a dry dough rectangle on top and firmly seal the edges, I found crimping with a fork to be the easiest method. If you are going to fry these, you need to make sure the seal is tight, or they'll burst open, and you will not be happy.
You can chill them in your refrigerator, but I prefer freezing for a couple hours. If you're frying them, you must freeze at least two hours.
Repeat, rolling out and filling, with rest of the dough, you'll end up with 16 mini apple pies. I freeze eight pies on each of two baking sheets, if you want to store frozen pies to bake or fry later, once frozen you can transfer to a freezer-safe bag for up to two months.
(Keep the egg wash if you're baking the pies, I pop it into the refrigerator while the pies freeze.)
Step 5: Option 1: Bake the Pies
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange apple pies on baking sheet, brush your pies with egg wash, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Use a sharp paring knife to make 4, 1-inch slits in each pie. (Here, I only baked four pies, but you can fit up to 8 on one baking sheet. If you want to bake all 16 apple pies, use two baking sheets.)
Bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking, 16 to 20 minutes, until the pies are golden brown.
Remove to a cooling rack and let cool about 30 minutes. Enjoy.
Step 6: Option 2: Fry the Pies
Preheat shortening or oil to 325 degrees F in a deep pot.
Set up a cooling rack over a baking sheet, or a stack of paper towels, and remove pies from freezer.
When oil has reached 325 drop (Ok, use tongs or a spider, don't drop them or you'll most likely burn yourself with hot flying oil!) two or three apple pies at a time (depending on the size of your pot, don't overcrowd them, I prefer doing two at a time since the oil temp. will drop with the addition of each pie.) Fry each pie, turning them over a couple times, until deep golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to the cooling rack. Check the oil temp. after each batch to make sure it stays close to 325, adjusting heat as necessary.
Let cool about 10 minutes, long enough that you don't scorch your mouth with molten hot apple filling, and enjoy!
These mini apple pies are best enjoyed the day they're made, but if you have leftovers, I'd recommend reheating in a toaster oven, and storing in an airtight container. I wouldn't keep them more than two days before the crust gets too soggy.