Fried Blueberry Pie with Root Beer Crust

Fried blueberry pies

My first memory of a fried pie was the cinnamon laced apple version at our local McDonalds. Granted my palette back then was more than a tad immature but I loved them, that crunchy, blistered, golden crust holding in the molten filling oozing chunks of apple with every bite - it was as close to culinary perfection that I could remember. When McDonalds introduced the pie around the late ’60’s it was a fried treat and stayed that way up until the early ’90’s. That’s when the fat Police came a calling and at least here in the good ole U.S. of A the cooking style went from the fryer to the oven and for me, that was a deal breaker.

A southern staple the fried pie sometimes labeled “hand pies” due in no doubt to its diminutive size seems to have burst out onto to the culinary scene around the latter part of the 1700’s when they were known as “crab lanterns.” The apple of choice was the venerable crab apple and the half-moon pastry was scored on its face for ventilation and apparently according to the gastronomic gentry they resembled lanterns so the “crab lantern” was born.

finished fried blueberry pies

Historically this pie is usually made from reconstituted dried fruit which offers a more toothsome and tighter filling which is how I usually made them but I was accosted by a mountain of fresh blueberries at my local market and couldn’t help trying my hand at a fresh version of this crispy classic.

When using a fresh fruit for a fried pastry it is of utmost importance to have a somewhat thick filling to prevent any seepage. I’m in the tapioca camp when it comes to thickening fruits for pies fried and otherwise. Tapioca flour or also known as tapioca starch is the ground root of the cassava plant and always seems to blend well and offers a shiny almost sparkling result rather than a cloudier or opaque finish like one would find with flour or cornstarch.

Adding root beer to the crust as opposed to water was another southern inspiration. There is a fair amount of documented soda pop cooking to be found in the South. it’s not uncommon to go to a church social or family reunion and find a Coca-Cola sheet cake offered for dessert or Dr. Pepper enriched pot roasts or even 7-UP biscuits. So I ask myself, why not root beer pie crusts?

I love these pies right out of the fryer but they are equally good at room temperature even though I don’t recommend refrigerating these as the dough will lose its crispness and possibly begin to leak, that being said, I highly doubt they well last that long!


Blueberry pie ingredients

For the blueberry filling:

• 2 cups blueberries, fresh, about 9 ounces

• 3 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch

• 1/2 cup beet sugar

• 1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

• 1 teaspoon lemon zest, fresh

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, pure

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pie crust ingredients

For the crust:

• 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/2 cup unsalted "sweet” butter, chilled and cubed

• 1/4 - 1/2 or as needed cup root beer, favorite brand


1. Preheat the SV1 to 190°F/88°C

For the fresh blueberry filling:

Blueberry filling vac bag

1. In a suitable sized VacMaster bag and using the VacMaster Bag Filler load the blueberries, tapioca, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and cinnamon. Gently agitate the bag to distribute the ingredients being careful not to crush the berries.

2. Using a VacMaster chamber or suction machine vacuum pack the bag.

3. Gently place the bag inside the water bath of the SV1 and cook for 2 hours.

4. Remove the bag from the bath and carefully agitate the bag again to blend.

5. Place the bag in an ice bath and chill thoroughly, refrigerate until needed.

For the pie crust:

pie crust dough

1. In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour and salt.

2. Add the butter, either with a fork, your hands or a pastry cutter.

3. When the flour is clumped together, slowly add the root beer a tablespoon at a time until the dough is moist enough to come together.

4. Form the dough into ball.

5. Using a VacMaster chamber or suction machine vacuum pack the dough and refrigerate for a minimum 1 hour.

To make the fried pies:

cutting pie dough

1. Roll out the chilled pie crust until it’s no more than a 1/4 of an inch thick.

2. Cut out 8-12 roughly five-inch diameter circles (I like using a martini glass as a guide).

3. Any scraps that are left over you can roll out again and cut out more circles.

4. To make each pie, place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each crust.

5. Moisten the edges and fold the crust over, sealing the edges with your fingers and then by pressing down on the edge with a fork.

6. Fill a deep fryer according to your manufacturer directions or using a cast-iron skillet, heat an inch of oil to 350-375 degrees.

deep fry pies

7. Using metal tongs gently place each pie into the hot oil, and turn over after a minute or two.

8. Cook on the other side for another minute or two or until the pies are well browned, and then drain on a rack or paper-towel lined plate.

9. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately or room temperature.