Pecan Hand Pies

A family recipe inspired chef Brandon Carter’s nutty and delicious dessert

Photo: Gabriel Hanaway

There’s one item that never comes off the ever-changing menu at FARM restaurant in Bluffton, South Carolina: The hand pies. “I wanted to be able to share the pie crust that my mom, Genevieve, has become famous for,” says executive chef Brandon Carter. “I felt like doing the hand pie version would give us the most delicious and fresh-out-of-the-oven feel.” While he offers a variety of flavors, his pecan hand pies are especially beloved. Rather than use corn syrup in the filling, Carter swapped in cane syrup for a more Lowcountry feel. The nuts, though, remain the star. “I love the toasty fattiness and that they’re texturally interesting,” he says. “There’s nothing more quintessentially Southern than a pecan.” 


  • Pecan Hand Pies (Yield: 6 hand pies)

  • For the dough:

    • ½ lb. unsalted butter

    • 8 tbsp. shortening

    • 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour

    • 2 tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ cup ice water

  • For the filling:

    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter

    • 6 tbsp. light brown sugar

    • ½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ¾ cup cane syrup

    • 3 tbsp. bourbon

    • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

    • 3 eggs

    • ¾ cup pecans, toasted and chopped (chef recommends Schermer Pecans)

  • To assemble and serve:

    • 3 egg whites

    • 1 ½ tbsp. water

    • 1 qt. canola oil

    • Powdered sugar, to taste

    • Whipped cream, to taste


  1. To make the dough: Place the butter in the freezer for about an hour. In a large bowl, combine the shortening, flour, and salt. Using your hands, distribute the shortening through the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Using the largest side of a box grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture. Gently “fluff” the grated butter into the flour mixture with a fork. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Strain the water from the ice and pour into the well. Gently mix the dough by hand until a ball forms, adding more water as needed to hydrate the dough. Once at the desired consistency, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

  2. To mix the filling: In a large pot, combine butter, sugar, salt, cane syrup, bourbon, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs together. Once your syrup has come to a boil, remove from the heat, and whisk one cup of the mixture at a time into the eggs. Once thoroughly combined, return the contents of the bowl to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Stir in the pecans and let the filling cool.

  3. To assemble the hand pies: Make an egg wash by combining egg whites and water. Divide the chilled dough into six equal pieces. Work with once piece of dough at a time and keep remaining dough in the fridge. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a circle, about 8 inches in diameter. Spoon 1/3 to ½ cup of pecan filling in the center. Brush edges of circle with egg wash. Fold dough over filling to make a half moon shape and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat instructions on remaining dough balls. Store finished hand pies in the refrigerator until ready to cook. In a large fry pot, heat oil to 350 degrees. Add pies and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.