Lela’s Fried Peach Pies

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Lela's Fried Peach Pies

These are my great grandmother’s pies. Lela loved to make fried pies and the only kind we ever remember her making was peach. Mama loved her peach pies and ate them all the time growing up but one day asked her to make her apple instead of her customary flavor. So Lela got all of the ingredients and made a plate full of apple pies just for Mama. She took one bite and realized, unless they were peach, they just weren’t her her granny’s.

I remember Lela standing in the kitchen humming as she fried these, placing the crispy treats on a Corelle plate next to the stove as she dipped more into the hot oil in her cast iron skillet. The entire house seemed to smell of peaches, an especially welcome treat in the middle of the winter!

There are many ways to make fried pies nowadays and many shortcuts, but the traditional southern fried pie requires dried fruit and handmade dough, usually a form of biscuit dough rather than real pie pastry. Today I’m bringing you the traditional method, which is pretty easy. Hang on though because I also plan on bringing you two more methods pretty soon as well. They are a bit more newfangled, a bit different in taste and texture, but every bit as good.

Until then, if you’re yearning for an old fashioned fried pie like Granny used to make, you’ve come to the right place.

Before we get started with the recipe, here is my segment where I got to make these with Al Roker on the Today Show – that was Fun!

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You’ll need: Cooking oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, bit of margarine, sugar, and some dried fruit. This is for the filling.

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For the dough you’ll need flour, shortening, salt, and a bit of milk.

I didn’t picture the milk so we’re gonna have to use our imaginations here. Mooooo!

This is my little salt crock. It was made by Fire King and was originally used as a grease jar. Although these pieces of depression glassware were made very well, I couldn’t bring myself to chance putting hot grease in something so dear so I use it for a salt crock. It sits happily on my stove and I have salt at hand in a convenient form (no shaking it out!) anytime I need it.

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Lets talk dried fruit.

Drying fruit was one of the least expensive methods of fruit preservation available to folks back in the day (still is, actually). Apples, peaches, apricots, and other fruits could be dried in the sun and put up, then reconstituted into delicious fried pies, sauces, and baked goods which were a welcome delicacy in the hard winter months.

There were all sorts of improvised ways of drying fruit. Some folks even dried fruit on their shingles! The hot rooftop and stiff breeze provided excellent conditions. They’d lay out the fruit on a piece of cloth or screen and cover with cheesecloth or another screen to keep the flies out. My great grandmother dried her fruit on sheets of tin with the pieces covered in cheesecloth. Later on in her older years, when life was easier, she just took to buying her fruit from the grocer’s in bags such as these. I asked Mama how they kept the ants off of it and she says she thinks the tin just got too hot for them. Hmm, that makes sense.

You can use this recipe with any number of dried fruits. Peaches, apples, and apricots are the most common.

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To begin with, place your dried fruit in a pot and cover with two cups of water. Bring to a boil.

This bag was only six ounces of dried fruit but resist the urge to buy more because it will really go far!

I made ten pies out of this and ended up with about a cup of fruit leftover.

If you are using apples, you may find that your fruit needs about 1/2 cup more of water. There seem to be a lot more apples in that bag than there are peaches!

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Bring that to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until they are tender and soft. This will take about twenty minutes. To test, moosh one with a fork and see if it is able to mash up a bit, like a cooked potato. If so, you’re ready.

Apples will be a bit firmer than peaches but that’s okay.

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Turn off the heat and add margarine…

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Add sugar and cinnamon

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and a weeeee little bit of lemon juice.

Of course, if you are taking a picture and trying to get a shot of the juice actually pouring in you will most likely mess this part up and add two or three times the required amount but then you can just get a spoon dip out some of the excess really quickly.

It’ll still be fine. :)

Not that I’d ever do anything like that, you know. ~looks innocent~

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Use a potato masher or a fork and moosh all of that up together.

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This is the consistency you’re going for. Aren’t pictures great?

This is kind of lumpy and saucy and it smells like my great grandmother is in the kitchen.

~looks over her shoulder and smiles at Lela~ She’s wearing a blue house dress with a tiny flower print on it and she’s sitting with her left arm propped up on the table. Her face is set in that naturally pleasant expression she always had, the one that makes her look like she is about to think of something funny. Inside the right pocket of her house dress is a perfectly folded kleenex. I think she’s waiting for me to finish the pies so she can have one. It’s been almost eighteen years since she passed away but these pies sure do bring her back.

Now we make our dough…

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You can do this while your fruit cooks or let your fruit set aside a bit after you are done with it and make your dough then.

Place your flour in a bowl and add your salt.

fried-pies-239Stir that up a bit.

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Add shortening to the flour and cut it in..

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Like this.

You just keep pressing down over and over with your fork and stirring it a bit and eventually it will all get incorporated together.

You can use a fancy pastry cutter for this but I prefer a good old fashioned long tined fork.  No sense in complicating things.

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It is going to look like this. All of the recipes I have ever seen where they have you cutting shortening into flour tells you to do it until it looks like peas. That is the silliest thing I have ever heard. Does this look like peas to you? Even squinting my eyes and cocking my head, this looks nothing like peas in any way, shape, or form.

So just cut it in until it looks like this and we’ll be done with the whole “peas” reference once and for all.

Unless, of course, we make peas – which I dearly love.

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Now add in a little milk.

Y’all know the recipe is at the bottom of this post, right?

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Stir that up a bit until it forms a dough like this. If you need to, you can add a bit more milk but I would only add a teaspoon at a time, stirring it up after to see if that is enough.

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Dump that out onto a greased or floured surface and press it together to form a ball of dough.

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Divide that into ten balls of dough.

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Place a ball on a floured surface. I use waxed paper for this because it just makes cleanup so easy.

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Roll or pat that out into a five to six inch circle.

If you want to be precise, you can lay a saucer upside down on it and cut around the edges to make a perfect circle.

Fortunately for me, I’ve never really had the urge to be precise…

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Place about two tablespoons of filling in the center of each crust.

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Dip the tips of your fingers in water and run them around the outer edges so they’ll stick together when you fold it over.

You can use a pastry brush for this if you like but your granny would shake her head at you.

Food tastes better if you touch on it a bit, transfers more love that way.

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Fold your pie over and press lightly around the edges to seal.

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It will look something like this.

My others weren’t as messy but this was the one I took pictures of. I think messy tastes better anyway.

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Pour about an inch of oil into a medium to large sized skillet and allow to get hot.

I put my oil on medium high heat while I am rolling out my dough and then reduce the heat to medium when I actually cook the pies.

I’m using a cast iron skillet, but you can use a regular one if you prefer. There is a great tutorial on how to season a cast iron skillet on Southern Plate, you can read it by clicking here.

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Place pies in hot oil and cook until brown on both sides, turning once or twice to cook them evenly.

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Place on paper towel lined plate…

Lela's Fried Peach Pies

Smile, Lela is watching!

My great grandmother, Lela

My great grandmother, Lela

I just called my grandmother (Lela’s daughter) and said “Grandmama, I just made fried peach pies and they tasted just like Lela’s!” She said “Well now you’re getting good at cooking, aren’t you?”

~snickers~ Well I should hope so…

Lela’s Fried Peach Pies

Ingredients

  • Filling
  • 6-7 ounces dried fruit (I used peaches, can use apples, apricots, or other dried fruit)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (optional, but I use it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but I use it)
  • Dough
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup shortening
  • 1/2 Cup of milk (can add a little more if needed)

Instructions

  1. Place dried fruit in a pot and add water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until fruit is tender. Add other ingredients and mash together with a potato masher or fork. Set aside while dough is prepared.
  2. In medium bowl, place flour and salt. Stir together. Cut in shortening with a long tined fork. Add in milk and stir until dough sticks together. Divide into ten portions. Roll each portion out on a floured surface into a five or six inch circle. Place two tablespoons of filling in each. Wet the edges and fold over, crimping with a fork.
  3. Cook in oil which has been heated on medium heat, until browned on both sides, turning as needed. Remove to paper towel lined plate.
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Comments

  1. sheila miller says

    My husband, age 63, and I have been talking about fried pies one of the older ladies made 40 years ago. The taste still lingers. So, this weekend I am going to attempt to make these, I will definitely double the recipe and my son and grandson will be eating with us too. We all want plenty of these!!!!!!!!

    • Anne Morgan says

      When my children were home I used to make fried pies with canned apples from the army commissary. We could buy them by the gallon. One morning I used a gallon of apples and made pies, planning on enough for my HS senior son and guests for dinner that night. I left them cooling with a gallon of milk in the fridge and went out for something. I came back after lunch and the pies and milk were gone. He must have brought the whole class home for lunch. Had to make something else for guests. I learned to make them from my mother. I am almost 80 and got up this morning thinking about fried pies. Got to make some. Thanks for the memory.

  2. Barbara Fountain says

    Christy, hope you enjoyed your visit to our fair state, Georgia! What part did you visit? I have lived in Atlanta since 1968 but I am from south Georgia where the Vidalia onions grow. How I enjoy you site. Can’t wait to see what you post next. You cook the way my family cooks…good southern food. I might live in the city but my heart remains in south Georgia.

  3. Mona says

    I am so glad you posted a picture of your great grandma Lela , I was going to ask if you could. Makes my heart yearn even more for my grandma , so this was bitter sweet, thank you, as always receipes are great!

    • says

      Hi Elaine, we have never frozen ours. They are good for several days just sitting on the counter and we just re-heat them. If you experiment with them and try freezing them I would heat them up in the oven because the crust is going to suffer. Let me know if you try it though!

      • Debbie Carlisle says

        Both my grandmothers and my mother in law made these all the time (mother in law still does) and they do freeze well, you can also freeze them uncooked and when you take them out of the freezer and cook them there is no difference in the taste or quality of the pies….Happy eating, this is my first visit to your site, I really have enjoyed it…sending great wishes from the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee

    • Tammy Turner says

      yes you can freeze the homemade fried pies, what I did was I made them up and then put them on cookie sheet and froze them and put them into zip lock bags and freeze them as is. I do not cook them. Then take out when ready to cook them and it is just still good after deep frying them.

  4. Pat says

    I checked out this recipe because it reminded me of being a kid and my mom making fried peach peeling pie. When she canned the peaches, we saved the peels for the pies made the same way as your recipe.

    But when I got to the bottom with the picture of your grandmother, I just couldn’t believe how much she looked like my grandma Oza, my granddaddy’s second wife. Oza was one of the best cooks ever and made some the best pies ever. Unfortunately, I don’t think she ever made fried peach pies.

    Thanks for the memory of Oza. She was loved very much.

  5. Tabetha says

    Thank you so much for printing this!! I have regretted not getting into Good cooking earlier in life,, As an child and on up into my late 30s I always had grandmas Fried Apple Pies… I would ask for a basket for Christmas,, No kidding that’s how good they were!! Not long after my Dad passed she had a stroke and about passed herself ,, But thank God she is still here has good days and bad days may know who i am may not.. She is after all 86yrs young.. I always said i would come and get her recipes and take tips from her.. but now they are locked in her head forever.. thank you so much for this.. Now if i can get a good Chocolate Gravy recipe :)

    • says

      I am so glad you found the recipe Tabetha! So sorry to hear that your Grandma isn’t in the greatest of health but it makes me smile to see you grateful that you still have her with you. I hope on her good days you get the opportunity to have her talk to you about some of those beloved recipes that she made for you all your life. ~HUGS~

    • Dawn says

      I have a recipe for chocolate gravy. That was handed down to me from my great aunt. I grew up eating it with homemade buttermilk biscuits. The recipe is kinda rough but back then I was always told “eyeball” it.

      Chocolate Gravy
      1 cup granulated sugar
      1/2 cup flour
      1/4 cup powdered cocoa
      Milk
      1 teasp vanilla extract
      2-3 teasp butter

      Combine sugar, flour, cocoa in a sauce pan. Add enough milk to make it soupy (I was never told an exact amount, so I “eyeball” it.) Mix together until combined. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick. When mixture thickens, remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Stir until well incorporated. Done!

      I love this gravy so much! It may not be what you are looking for but I love it!

  6. Mary Jane Heisterkamp says

    Funny story about dried apples. Once I was in a conversation with people discussing how poor their ancestors had been during the depression. On man said, “we were so poor that we’d eat dried apples and drink water for dinner, then we’d swell up for supper”.

  7. says

    I used this receipe this past summer to show my 8 yr.old granddaughter how to make fried pies. A fried pie was a special treat when I was growing up.and I wanted her to experience them. Anyway, when she came for her annual summer visit, this is one of the things we spent a morning doing. It was so fun, and she adored the experience. She was very good at “gluing” the pies and pressing the edges with a fork. We attended a friend’s mother’s birthday party the next day and we took some of our pies, all dressed up in a pretty package complete with a bow. The receipents loved the pies! And, my granddaughter and I made a wonderful memory, as well. Thanks so very much for making the whole thing possible by posting this great receipe and the story behind it!

  8. Amanda Brannon says

    When I was little, my mom and I would stop by a fried-pie stand on the way home after elementary school. Peach fried pie will always be my favorite! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will make it over the holidays and share with my “Northern” friends here in Alaska.

  9. Gail says

    I have enjoyed your recipes and your stories for quite some time now. Reading this recipe about fried pies so reminds me of my grandma, who made the best fried apple pies in her cast iron skillet! She cooked her apples down with cinnamon and sugar, which is what i will do – now just have to get that iron skillet “prepped” – am sure the four grandsons will love these babies!

  10. Sandra says

    Aww. I added a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon. I was rushing and just saw the “big T”. It totally messed them up for me, but at least one of my girls is enjoying them. We usually make sweet potato or pumpkin fritters during this time of year, and that uses a can of biscuits, so I was trying something different. I used a mixed bag of dried berries/cherries…

  11. Diana says

    Tried yesterday for fried pies like Maw used to make but failed miserably with the dough.Thanks for your post.I can see where I messed up.Btw drying your own fruit sure tastes better.I had the filling right.

  12. Linda Ferguson says

    Thank You so much. This is very close to the consistency of my Mother’s recipe that I have looked for all these years. I have made apricot filling for years so you would think that these by combining these two items that I would have so enjoyed the fried pies. NOT SO…I think technology has removed the flavor from apricots!
    Great pastry however!!!

  13. Brenda Melahn says

    Christy, where I came from (southeastern Kentucky) they called these fried pies, “hand pies” … with homemade apple butter in the middle (or peaches, or apples, or berries — whatever). My favorite was apple butter hand pies — I’m going to try your recipe and substitute apple butter. Thanks for the memory.

  14. Christopher says

    And just when I thought it was safe to clean-up and put away my Fry-O-Lator… :-D
    I love these… too much. I make them with apples and raisins. I then sprinkle them with a fine sugar, a Turbinado sugar or a confectioners sugar, right as they come out of the fryer. So good!

  15. Marcia Mayfield says

    My son and daughter-in-law and I have all fallen in love with fried pies after spending time in Blue Ridge GA and getting them from Mercier Orchards, where they have way more flavors than I can think of. Seems I am becoming partial to peach, probably due to my daughter-in-law who is from Georgia.

    I’ve had pies shipped from Mercier Orchards, but it seemed the delivery people were intent on destroying my pies before I got them — the first delivery was left standing on edge, the second one was left upside down. Both resulting is smooshed pies — still edible but not presentable so I had to eat them all myself. I don’t have dried peaches or dried apricots on hand right now, but I do have a nice bag of dried mixed fruit that I just got from Costco. So I will be making my first batch of fried pies later today. If all goes well, I can ship a batch to my son and dear daughter-in-law sometime in the near future. Thanks for posting, I also enjoyed reading the story about Lela.

  16. Amanda says

    My grandmother made the most amazing fried apple pies and I never got her recipe. This is it! Thank you so much for helping me find such a wonderful memory of my grandparent’s house. PS There were no dried apples or peaches to be found at my store! We used cherries instead and they were great!

  17. Christie says

    I’m making fried peach pies in the morning. I thought I’d look at your recipe, Christy, to see if it was different from my mama’s. Mama passed away when I was 19. She was 53. At 56, when I am making something she did, I look at my hands and they move the same way hers did and her memory is honored by my work.

    I use the peelings in my fresh peach fried pies too. They add a depth of peachy flavor that you just can’t get from the meat of the fruit alone. I also add a little vanilla flavoring. If you use fresh peaches, you don’t need to use any water, there will be a gracious plenty of juice from the melting butter and sugar. Sometimes if the peaches are very ripe, you may even have to strain them. If you do, don’t throw out that lovely peach nectar, use it in homemade ice cream or use to sweeten a gallon of iced tea!

    Thank you Christy, from another Christie who looks up my favorite Southern recipes on your site and reminisces and sees how alike or different our families cooked when I was growing up.

    BTW, I’m a Sand Mountain girl from Rainsville who moved to Rome, GA 31 years ago.

  18. Glenda says

    Christy, I love your website. Your recipes are both timely and time-honored! Thanks for always taking me back in my memories to my childhood visits to Valley Head, Alabama – my family had great cooks! My grandmother was from GA, and she was great, too. :-)

    I love the picture of Lela. It brought tears to my eyes……………and your quote from Zephaniah sealed the deal. :-)

    For all of us doing our best in the kitchen and with all the other facets of our lives, I thank you for your work!

  19. Linda says

    I made the pies tonight. I ate four, I just couldn’t stop. I haven’t had anything that tastes this good in 50 years!!!! Now if I could just get a transplant of your beautiful spirit. You are a blessing. Thank you

  20. melly says

    i have never seen a more authentic recipe online than this one. thank you SO MUCH for posting this. now i have to make fried pies. i have lost both of my grandmothers, and i’m in the middle of making a baby blanket for my baby sister’s new daughter. i asked her what it should look like, and she told me, “it doesn’t matter. just make one, and it will be beautiful. since mamaw died you’re the only one making things anymore.” it struck me with a sense of awe and responsibility to my heritage that i have now been passed the torch of making crafted things and the old fashioned recipes in my family. this is one of them. thank you.

  21. Margaret says

    I roll mine out on foil. A tip for that and I’m sure it would work well with wax paper too is to slightly dampen your counter before you put the foil or wax paper down. That will make it stick to your counter while you roll out your pies and will lift up easily when you are done.

    I love that you use margarine. I was raised on Parkay and for everything except popcorn I prefer it to butter. I especially like the squeeze kind, it has no trans fat.

  22. Lela says

    Today I was driving back home from Dallas to Tennessee and saw a billboard for fried pies and it took me back about 25 years and I wanted one so bad, but every loving lady in my family that use to make them is up in heaven smiling down on me so I decided to google fried peach pies, and the first thing that popped up was Lela’s Fried Pies! I was so tickled because that’s my name so I read hat wonderful narrative of a recipe and can’t wait to get home and try it out…

  23. Emma Moore says

    It was so great reading your recipe for fried pies and all of the comments from everyone and their experience. Those ladies who stated they were from different cities in Alabama. I too am from Stevenson and not far from those ladies in Rainsville and Valley Head. My mother made great fried apple pies and she also fried hers in iron skillet. I don’t fry mine I cook them in the oven with melted butter spread on the tops and they are just as good.
    Thank you for all of your great work and your wonderful spirit. I think when everyone reads you web-sit every day you just make our day. God Bless.

  24. says

    Awwwww sweet memories! Such a sweet Southern tradition ~ fried pies are the best! Thank you for sharing not only the recipe but a memory so dear to your
    heart ♥
    As a young bride I had a set of that same Corelle (I rarely used it ~ I didn’t think it was as pretty as my “everyday china” that came from the jewelry store)! haha!

  25. Tom says

    Nothing is better than home fried Peach pies, My grand mother dried hers on Tim and when the rattled se o=would re head in the oven get the hut and place in glass jugs and seal. or coo=ol and put in bags and place in the freezer.

    I make mine a lot like yours but I use lard, mother said made the dough better, Lard was used for pie crust, Biscuits and Tea cakes.
    If I fy them I eat all of them

    Mother if in a hurry and did not have time to soaks then she would but the dried fruit in pressure cooker with water and salt. and pressure them. Just a quick tip if you do not hav time to soak and cook, esp of you have the hard dried fruit, I have the poles I use but no peaches that the old fashion Way.
    Tom

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