• Moroccan lamb and pine nut cigars (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson
It began with pop tarts. Now there's a new hand pie in town: empanada, knish, pastizzi, turnover. Call them what you will, as long as they’re wrapped in pastry and fit in the hand, we’ll be popping them in our mouths.
17 May 2021 - 12:01 PM  UPDATED 17 May 2021 - 12:01 PM

1. Being palm-sized means...

You can surreptitiously, yet easily, eat it during meetings while pretending to cough. Feast magazine's Polish creamy mushroom-filled pasties are our pick, with a just-right buttery pastry — not too dry but not too flaky to leave telltale crumbs in your moustache or on your shirt.

2. It's a great way to teach kids geometry (and yourself, too)  

Today's lesson: which type of triangle are these Italian chestnut pastries with vino cotto (from Feast)? Isosceles, equilateral or scalene?

3. And a very sneaky way to make kids like fruit — just wrap it in pastry

Like these Dutch apples and pears in pyjamas (those clever Dutch mums).

4. It's a three-bite, single-serve wonder 

You'll never have to fill up on bread again thanks to this Moroccan lamb and pine nut cigar. Serve these high-rollers for breakfast or brunch alongside your poached eggs and your toast will be looking on in jealousy.

Moroccan lamb and pine nut cigars

5. It's difficult to fry a whole regular-sized pie

But not these Mexican prawn empanaditas (below) from Feast

Or this Brazilian pasteis filled with guava paste (below) from Feast. Who doesn't love deep-fried sweet dough? 

6. Party pies were invented for a reason

Passing around a platter of regular-sized meat pies at parties is heavy. Upgrade the frozen version with Feast's easy Cuban beef pies (pastelitos) filled with green olives and sultanas. 

7. Every bite is the perfect pastry-to-filling ratio 

An important consideration when you've invested elbow grease into making Shane Delia's flaky pide dough for Maltese pork and pea pastizzi

8. Think of a hand pie as a meat-filled candy

Addictive. And you can't just stop at one. Pop these Lebanese baharat-spiced beef and pine nut pies, called sambousik, in your mouth.

Beef, baharat and pine nut pies (sambousik) are Lebanon's equivalent to the Aussie meat pie.

9. You can add booze to the dough 

Take a leaf out of the Brazilian playbook and add cachaça (a Brazilian spirit distilled from sugarcane) to your dough for these fried prawn pastries (pastels de camarão). This is Brazil! host Fernanda de Paula says, "cachaça will help the dough 'bubble' up and get crisp during frying." And the rest of the bottle comes in handy to make caipirinhas to go with your pastels, too, of course.

10. You can show off your crimping style

Argentinians have perfected the crimp (or repulgue) when it comes to empanadas, with a "crimp code" for various fillings so you'll never mix up your humita (top left) from your jamon y queso (bottom right).

 Recipe and image from Argentinian Street Food, Enrique Zanoni & Gaston Stivelmaher (Murdoch Books, $29.99, hbk) 

11. And for those who are too lazy to crimp ...

Or even to fold, enjoy Feast's vegetarian open-faced empanadas, which are light on the pastry — a bonus for those cutting down on carbs.

When you need something no-fuss but nourishing to eat on the go. Then prepare your pumpkin and your tortilla...

Tortilla hand pies

12. You can do away with pie tins

Go freeform with these popular Lebanese lamb-filled street snacks called sfhia from Shane Delia

13. Even ditch making pastry — cheat and use storebought

Use up all your leftover meat, and have party snacks ready in under an hour! 

Best Homemade Mini Meat Pie

Think outside the short-crust square and use spring roll pastry for a shatteringly satisfying shell, as with these South African curry-spiced minced beef samoosa (below) from Feast.

Or filo pastry, as we have to make haloumi, mint and preserved lemon cigars (below) from Feast.

And there's always fancy pants puff when you need to impress. Wrap puff around our yabby and truffle filling in these French turnovers (below) from Gabriel Gaté — who says store-bought can't be sexy?

14.  You're hand-span challenged

Then these are for you: Panzerotti is a filled thin bread pocket typical of Puglia, the most traditional filling being tomato and mozzarella. Small, deep-fried, addictive!

Panzerotti (fried dough pockets)

15. Or you have well-endowed hands

Then these are for you: Jewish potato and cheese bread buns, called knish, from Feast.


16. You can't afford plates or cutlery

Then a hand pie is your best friend, and you'll probably want to check out the rest of our hand pie recipes.

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