Turkey chili hand pies: my mama keeps me focused


Turkey soup, again?

Surely, you can’t be serious. “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”

Now that you’ve had your pop culture reference for the day, I’m totally serious about the turkey soup.

I don’t really care for turkey or chicken soup and I don’t want any more of it this year. I want something different to do with my leftover turkey, something bold and something with tons of flavor.

While I’m being bossy, I want something I can make ahead and freeze for later in the winter and I want something everyone in the family will eat. And oh, yeah, can it be portable?

At this point in my ramble, my mother would usually speak up with “Oh Mary, really…” My mom is the only person who gets to call me Mary, MaryJune, or Lady Jane Grey. I only got that one when I was in deep trouble. That, of course, was after she had given the rundown of everyone else in the house “Andrew, Mark, Angus (the cat), Cat (the other cat)… whoever I’m looking for!”‘ Did your mom do that, too, when she was mad? Susan and Frank in our test kitchen are both from big families, and they say this was a regular occurrence in the house when a mama was out for your hide. And that’s exactly what you did… hide!

I’m not trying to be unreasonable in my request, Mom, really. I just want something a little different to perk up the after Thanksgiving turkey-o-rama. Hey, what about those samosas we made a few weeks ago? Well, what if we take that great quick pastry and make a spicy tomato-chili filling? This is starting to sound like quite a plan. Let’s work up a batch and call them Turkey Chili Hand Pies. Here we go!

Begin by sautéing 1 cup of onion and 2 minced cloves of garlic in a touch of oil or water until the onion is translucent.

Add 1 tablespoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, salt, and pepper. Usually I like to sauté the spices in the pan with the onions and garlic for a minute before adding the can of tomatoes, but here I got a little ahead of myself and added everything at once. No harm done, do what makes you happy.

Add your 2 cups cooked turkey and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust the thickness of the chili with tomato paste, if needed. You want a thicker chili, one that’s easier to use as a filling.

Last but not least, stir in 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. I like the sharp contrasting with the chili, but if you like milder cheese, like Jack, go ahead and use it instead. My food police uniform is in the wash anyway.

Simmer for another few minutes, then remove from the heat and transfer to another bowl. Place in the fridge to cool and set up.

To make the flaky pastry crust, put the following in the bowl of your food processor:
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled

Process by pulsing until the mixture resembles granola.

With the machine still running, drizzle in ice water until the dough begins to form a ball. Stop the machine and check the consistency by squeezing a handful. When it holds together without crumbling, you’re good to go. Form a disk with the dough, wrap well in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

When you’re ready to make the hand pies, roll the dough out 1/4″ thick on a well-floured surface.

While you can cut circles and seal and crimp them by hand, check out this handy-dandy turnover press. Opened up, you use the back side for cutting the circles…

Then place the dough on the front side for filling and crimping.

The hinged center makes it easy to know where to put the filling.

Then like a big ol’ shark, you close the jaws and press down firmly to seal. If the dough is a bit dry, you can use a touch of water to help it seal, but that usually isn’t the case with this dough.

Check it out! I was averaging about 3 pies per minute, so this turnover press really moved things along.

**at this point you can freeze the unbaked pies in a single layer until firm, then place in a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 4 weeks. Bake straight from the freezer, adding about 5 minutes to the baking time.**

Did I mention the turnover press is part of a set of 4 different sizes, including this adorable little 2″ size? Perfect for a two-bite appetizer; I was hooked at first sight.

There were two things I really wanted to test out with this recipe. First, could you make the flaky pastry dough with whole wheat flour?

Yes, you betcha! I used our white whole wheat flour in the same proportions as the regular flour in the recipe and it worked beautifully. I made the initial dough just a touch on the wet side to make up for the extra absorbing power of the whole wheat flour, and I was completely impressed with how easy it was to handle.

Next, I wanted to show that you don’t need a fancy turnover making tool. Just cut, fill and fold by hand, and use a fork to seal all the goodness inside. Be diligent about not adding too much filling, though.

Brush your filled hand pies with a little egg wash, if desired. You can make your own by beating an egg with a pinch of salt and a splash of water, or like my buddy chef Susan Reid, use the eggs in a carton route (aka Eggbeaters). Works like a charm.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven until the crust is golden brown and you can hear it sizzling. Baking time will vary depending on the size of your hand pies.

See what I mean about not over-stuffing your hand pies? Sure, everyone loves filling but we love it better inside our pies instead of left behind on the baking sheet.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. After a dish has had its photo taken, what we call the beauty shot, it’s put with the other free yummy goodies in the employee kitchen. You would THINK it would disappear under a flurry of forks, everyone fighting for a bite of the “chosen one.” Nope. It usually sits there, untouched. Maybe people don’t want to disturb it, or they think if they take a bite, PJ or I will come shouting, “My precious, you ate my precious!”

This time, I wanted to make sure this tasty and pretty hand pie went to a good home like my mom taught me, so I left it perched next to Molly’s calculator. Molly is a genuine treasure here at King Arthur Flour. She works in ingredient purchasing with Sarah, and she’s the one we contact for all of the questions inquiring minds want to know.

“Is it gluten free?” Ask Molly. “Does it contain squid ink?” Ask Molly. Or in this case, “Who wants a turkey chili hand pie? ” That’s right, ask Molly!

Judging from the big smile on her face when she returned the empty plate, I’d say it was the right question to ask. Score one for Lady Jane Grey!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Turkey Chili Hand Pies.

Print just the recipe.

Shop for: turnover press set.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. "Paul from Ohio"

    Hilarious wonderful writing dear MJ: truly a gift with life treasures sprinkled in for flavor. Looks like a keeper recipe and I do have the turnover press set, and would love to add something to our ‘on hand in the freezer’ department. Turkey sandwiches are only good a few hours after the turkey (meat quickly loses it’s freshness appeal), in my book, and who wants them then when you’re already stuffed?

    Happy Thanksgiving, Paul – how’d your apple pie turn out? PJH

    I hope you had a lovely day yesterday and that Toby dog got to nibble some leftovers. David and I had our mini sandwiches around 7, and they were sooo very good. I’ve got some turkey set aside to make some hand pies on Sunday. I hope you like them. ~ MJ

  2. meedee

    I think I will try these. I usually make a barbeque sauce with chopped turkey. We love leftover turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to every one at KAF!

    And Happy Turkey Day to you, too – enjoy your hand pies! PJH

  3. Margy

    Too funny! My mom did (and at 82 still does, including 5 grandkids) the same thing; with 4 kids and a dog she just cycled down the roster of names until she hit the right one: “You all know which one I’m talking to!”. You knew she really meant business when she used your first, middle and last names.:-O I have the turnover presses, love them for little pies, ravioli, pierogies, filled cookies.
    I got to share this blog firsthand with my Mom and Dad yesterday, and she laughed and laughed over that part. It’s so funny that such a little thing is so universal. Have fun with the presses. Pierogi are on my list for the weekend. ~ MaryJane

  4. skeptic7

    Looks wonderful. About your directions for Turkey Chili, why are you sauteing onions until they are opaque? Raw onions start out opaque.
    I normally cook onions until they are translucent and sometimes past that point to a light brown.
    Also what size are the turnovers in your pictures? 6 inches? 5 inches? The Turnover presses come in a variety of sizes.
    Thanks for catching the onion typo. I’ve changed it to translucent, as it should be. The turnovers are hand sized, so about 6 inches. The baby ones towards the end of the blog are about palm-sized, 3 inches or so.
    ~ MaryJane

  5. Bobbi

    Recipe says “ground tomatoes” but grocery store says there’s no such thing. Assume I can use “crushed” tomatoes.

    Bobbi, I’m sure crushed tomatoes would be fine. We do have ground tomatoes in these parts; maybe it’s a New England thing… PJH

  6. bziol

    I will definitely have to give these a try since I have lots of turkey leftovers. We really like turkey sandwiches but this sounds like a tasty warm “sandwich” for late fall chilly days. Thanks KAF!!
    Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

  7. leannep

    I was just wondering what to do with that extra unused pie dough I have in my refrigerator! This definitely looks like a winner that my kids are going to love. Thanks!
    Wonderful! These would make a great after school snack too, or a snack-y type lunch on a busy Saturday. ~ MaryJane

  8. Monika

    The name of it is ‘pierogi’ in Polish or ‘dumplings’ in English. This is one of the traditional dishes in my country and it is really great. By the way, I have the same tools for cutting shapes since ages ago;-) You can experiment with it, there are lots of possibilities, boiling, frying, baking… Have you tried boiled and then fried ones with potatoes,onion and white cheese puree inside? Marvelous.

  9. JuliaJ

    What did you drizzle over the top? It looks like icing but on a turkey chili hand pie???? Sour cream maybe?

    Yes, when you read the recipe you’ll see that’s a sour cream drizzle on top, Julia. the little touch of dairy both dresses things up and cools them off! PJH

  10. misoranomegami

    Yum! I may have to try that with the 2nd or 3rd turkey of the season… here in my house we prefer left overs to the main roasted bird! In the last 3 days we’ve had turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad sandwiches, turkey a la king and I just put away a big pot of turkey jambalaya (made with the stock I made from the picked over carcass and the last of the meat) . We love the turkey. If I have the time I usually get a bird for grinding down into turkey sausage in the after holiday sales! And as for mom’s and the names: I grew up with Amber (my sister), Angela (me), Ashley (the dog) and Amanda (the cat). Rule was if you heard an A name you reported no matter whose it was!

  11. apronqueen

    I made these last night….Ohhh soooo good and easy to make, the pastry dough recipe is to die for, easy to make too. After church my kids and grandkids came over for a quick bite to eat before shopping, they loved them. Just warmed on a plate in the microwave. It was good for everyone, quick, warm, tastey, filling and not a lot of dishes to wash. I will make these again and freeze them.

  12. HMB

    Made a batch this afternoon — put some in the freezer and some in the oven to enjoy as a light supper with our younger son before we dropped him off at the airport to go back to school. That buttery crust is YUMMY and so easy to work with. I used the grill pocket press that I picked up at the end of the summer at Sur la Table on the clearance table for $1.99. It’s the greatest for making little hand pies — never have tried them on the grill, though.
    I see they are still available and on clearance on the website:
    Don’t you just love getting a sweet deal on kitchen stuff? I’m so glad you liked them, and that you got to spend time with the family for the holiday. ~ MaryJane

  13. mkasten

    Thanks for the heads-up that using white whole wheat flour with this recipe works well! I’m always on the look-out for really good whole-grain recipes. Looking forward to trying this with the turkey chili and the samosa filling posted previously! You guys are terrific!

  14. ShirleyHK

    I love that you suggest sautéing the onions in water! My husband’s forever diet requires that he eat not one drop of oil. So my question is, would the dough be possible with flaxseed meal as a substitute for butter in the dough recipe and if so, would I have to up the liquid amount? I use it as a substitute (3 to 1) in breads I make. Just wondering if the same thing would work in pastry. Haven’t gotten around to trying that yet!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Unfortunately, I very much doubt that flax would work as a good replacement for fat in a pastry. While it does provide some moisture in breads, it will not duplicate how the butter and flour interact to create a flaky dough. is there any form of fat at all that he can consume? Jon@KAF

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