These savory Walnut-Citrus Tuna Hand Pies are easy to make, super-tasty, and can be enjoyed warm or cold. Naturally portable, they're perfect for a school lunch, quick meal, or afternoon picnic.
These savory tuna turnovers are just the thing when you want something special for your next sack lunch. Citrusy notes from orange and lemon complement and enhance the tuna flavor, and walnuts add both texture and rich flavor.
These little pillows of deliciousness are fast, easy to make, just the right size, and easily portable. Once baked and refrigerated, tuna hand pies have the same "out of fridge" sack-lunch life as a standard tuna sandwich (about 2 hours). Not only are they tasty and filling, but they also provide a healthy, solid source of protein and energy to get you through the day.
Tuna Hand Pie Ingredients
One of the great things about this hand pie recipe is how flexible the ingredient list is.
OOPS! You may notice that the orange juice in the recipe ingredient list is missing from this picture. I forgot to put it on the tray.
- Pastry dough: Use whatever pastry dough you like: Store-bought refrigerated pie crust (i.e., Pillsbury), your favorite pie crust recipe, or ½ batch of our Herbed Pie Crust recipe. (Omit the sage and thyme and substitute in a little dill and lemon zest!)
- Tuna: We suggest using albacore tuna, but any canned or cooked tuna will work.
- Cream Cheese: We like to use flavored cream cheese sometimes. An herb and chive cream cheese blend is particularly good.
- Fresh Dill: Dried dill weed works just fine.
- Red Pepper: Use any sweet pepper; orange, yellow, red, or even green.
- Red Onion: Just about any onion will work, including scallions.
- Lemon Zest: Orange zest adds a sweeter undertone that really brightens the tuna flavors.
- Walnuts: Sub in your favorite nuts.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted.
- Orange juice: Fresh or frozen.
- Chopped fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill
- Fresh orange zest or lemon zest
- Garlic salt
- Kosher salt
- White pepper: You can also use finely ground black pepper.
- Egg white
How to Make Tuna Hand Pies
Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
Add the chopped vegetables - onion, celery, and peppers - and the chopped walnuts and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, combine sautéed vegetable mixture, fresh dill, zest, orange juice, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper.
The warm vegetable mix will melt the cream cheese, making it easy to incorporate into the mix. Stir until mixture is fully combined.
Add tuna to the vegetable-cream cheese mixture and stir just enough to combine. You could add the tuna in the previous step with everything else, but if you add it at this point, it will maintain its "tuna texture" better.
Now - taste the filling! (Do not skip this step!)
Does it need a little more salt or pepper? How about a shake of lemon pepper? This is where you can tune the seasonings to your own tastes.
Form & Bake Pies
Once you have the filling mixed up to your satisfaction, it's time to roll out the pastry dough and make hand pies!
Roll out pastry dough about one-eight of an inch thick (about as thick as two quarters). It is important to not roll the dough too thin, or the the tuna filling will bleed through.
Cut four 6-inch or 7-inch pastry circles, and put a heaping ¼ cup of filling in the center of each circle.
Use your finger to lightly wet one side of each circle, and then fold the pastry in half, sealing and crimping edges with your fingers or the tines of a fork.
Cut a couple of vent holes in the top of each hand pie. If you are feeling extra creative, you can decorate the tops of the pies with some of the leftover pastry dough. (FYI: I cut the fish "bubbles" with the end of a drinking straw.)
In a small bowl, whisk the egg white together with 1 tablespoon cold water. Brush the tops of the prepared hand pies with the egg white mixture right before you put them into the oven.
Bake prepared hand pies in a preheated 425°F (218°C) oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with orange slices on the side. We like to drizzle the hand pies with a little fresh OJ when we eat them!
Tuna hand pies may be eaten immediately (let them cool first!) or refrigerated for up to one week.
Chicken Hand Pies: Substitute cubed or canned chicken for the tuna. (You can also used the Chicken Pillows filling recipe for making hand pies.)
Wrap cooled pies in plastic or seal in an airtight container before refrigerating. Tuna hand pies can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.
You can use a good old pastry cutter, but I like to use a nifty little pocket pie maker for cutting and sealing my hand pies. The bottom of cuts the pastry into perfect circles, and then the crimper folds and seals them!
More Seafood Recipes
If you love a good seafood and citrus combo, be sure to check out our Honey Glazed Salmon! It's fast, easy, and delicious!
Serving & Pairing
Tuna hand pies can be eaten warm or chilled. Pair them with Eggplant & Carrot Salad, Mango Quinoa Salad, or Moroccan Carrot Salad for a healthy, delicious, satisfying meal. Chilled tuna hand pies make a tasty addition to a picnic basket, too!
Walnut-Citrus Tuna Hand Pies
- 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
- 1½ teaspoons butter
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest or lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper or pepper
- 5½ - 6 ounces albacore tuna well drained
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon cold water
Pastry (enough for 9” pie) - Choose 1 Option:
- Store-bought refrigerated pie crust like Pillsbury
- Your favorite pie crust recipe
- ½ batch Herbed Pie Crust omit the sage and thyme and substitute in a little dill and lemon zest!
- Gather and prep ingredients.
- Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped pepper, celery, onion and walnuts. Sauté mixture for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine sautéed vegetable mixture, fresh dill, lemon or orange zest, orange juice, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper.Stir until mixture is fully combined.
- Add tuna to the vegetable-cream cheese mixture and stir just enough to combine.
- Season filling to taste. (Everything in filling is fully cooked.)
- Roll out pastry dough about one-eight of an inch thick (about as thick as two quarters). It is important to not roll the dough too thin, or the the tuna filling will bleed through.Cut four 6-inch or 7-inch pastry circles, and put a heaping ¼ cup of filling in the center of each circle. Use your finger to lightly wet one side of each circle, and then fold the pastry in half, sealing and crimping edges with your fingers or the tines of a fork. Cut a couple of vent holes in the top of each hand pie.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg white together with 1 tablespoon cold water. Brush the tops of the prepared hand pies with the egg white mixture right before you put them into the oven.
- Bake prepared hand pies in a preheated 425°F [218°C] oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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Originally published September 4, 2014