Easy as Apple Turnovers

My Grandmother developed a wonderfully flaky puff pastry recipe for her rendition of the Danish pastry she enjoyed as a girl growing up in Copenhagen. The pastries require nearly a full day of dedication, pounds of butter, and if you’re like me, a massive fair amount of patience. At the (literal) end of the day, you are rewarded with four of the most delicious pastries that will have ever graced your mouth. Seriously. 

There are times in life when you should try to stretch your comfortable boundaries to create something, if for no other reason than for the feeling of accomplishment it brings at the conclusion.

This is not one of those times.

While I may decide to share my Grandmother’s danish pastry recipe some day, I’m not entirely sure that y’all wouldn’t revolt, thinking that surely I’ve lost my mind to think that anyone other than my nostalgic family would take the time to make it–you’d probably be right on all accounts. 😉

Nope. I just can’t bring myself to do that to you…yet. These easy apple turnovers use packaged puff pastry sheets, which in my opinion, are a gift from God himself.  The apple filling is just the right balance of tang and sweet, wrapped in the kind of flaky pastry comfort that is sure to warm you up on a brisk fall morning. I make these turnovers at the first signs of the summer temperature dropping–with the hope that by doing so the breezes of Fall won’t be far behind.

Easy Apple Turnovers are absolutely perfect for munching on the porch on a chilly morning!

The original recipe is by Molly Wizenburg for Bon Appetit–this is my gentle adaptation of Molly’s brilliance. My version changes up the ingredients a bit, and yields twice as many pastries. Eighteen may seem like a lot, but relax! The turnovers store and freeze well; instructions for doing so are in the printable recipe at the bottom of this post.

So go ahead and grab a package of good quality, frozen puff pastry, both tart and sweet apples, lemon, brown sugar, an egg, water, and if you’re feeling sassy, powdered sugar and vanilla for the icing.

The night before you plan to make the turnovers, place the frozen pastry sheets into the refrigerator to thaw overnight.

The filling is the real star of these turnovers, so choosing the right apples is the key. I like an even balance between firm, tart apples and softer, sweet apples. In my opinion, Granny Smiths or Northern Spy are obvious choices for the tart side of the equation. Good sweet apple choices are Ida Red, Cortland, Gala, or Fuji to provide proper balance.

Peel, core, and chop the apples into 1/2-inch pieces before placing them into a large saucepan.

Squeeze in a touch of fresh lemon juice, being sure to fish out any pesky seeds that may jump into the pot.

Add the brown sugar and water, stirring well to combine.

Set the pot over medium heat, and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer apples for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet apples fall apart, and the tart apples are soft, but still hold their shape. Remove from heat.

Food Dork Note: It’s pretty cool to watch the sweet apples turn to applesauce as they cook while you’re stirring the filling. Really.

While I regularly would happily eat that chunky applesauce straight out of the pan with a spoon, the filling for the turnovers requires a slightly smoother texture. Very slightly. Use a potato masher to gently crush the larger apple chunks, but not so much that they lose their shape entirely–the best part about this apple filling is the texture you get with the first bite. Right after the buttery crunch of the pastry, you get a little sweet goosh of applesauce, along with a chunk of apple–it’s blissful, Friends!

Transfer the apple filling to a plastic container to cool completely. Why plastic? Well, plastic is a poor conductor of heat, thus allowing the filling to cool faster than if it were left in the metal pot. The filling can be made several hours ahead of time, or up to two days ahead. I usually make the filling the night before I plan to make the turnovers. That way, the frozen pastry is thawing in the ‘fridge while the filling is cooling, and both are ready to go in the morning.

And there is order in my otherwise chaotic world.

When you are ready to assemble the turnovers, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Whip a whole egg with a little cold water to make an egg wash.

The egg wash will serve both as a glue to seal the pastry, and as a glaze to give the turnovers a nice sheen while baking.

Take one pastry sheet out of the refrigerator, unfold it, and roll it  into a 15-inch by 15-inch (-ish.) square on a lightly floured surface. Use a knife or pizza wheel to cut nine 5-inch by 5-inch squares.

Place half of the squares onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Place a rounded tablespoon of filling toward a lower corner of each square.

Brush the edges of the two sides closest to the filling with the egg wash.

Pick up the corner farthest from the filling, and bring it to the opposite corner to form a triangle.

Starting from the around the filling, lightly press the pastry to release any trapped air, pressing the egg-washed edges to seal.

My boys like to help with this part because sometimes the trapped air being released makes a noise that is strikingly similar to a quiet burping sound. We’re easily amused around here.

Lightly brush the egg wash over the triangles. Use a small paring knife to cut three small slits above the filling to allow the filling to vent in the oven. Nothing will ruin your day faster than an oven full of turnovers that you forgot to vent and subsequently exploded in the oven. Or so I hear…

Place the filled & ready turnovers in the ‘fridge while you repeat the process with the other pastry sheet. Then go ahead and chill those turnovers for 10 minutes.

By the way, if you have any leftover apple filling–and I sure hope that you do–it makes an excellent topping on baked oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles; it’s equally fabulous stirred into cooked steel cut oats, or breakfast quinoa. ‘Just thought you should know. :)

Bake turnovers in the preheated 375° F oven for 14 to 16 minutes, or until pastry has puffed and become an even golden brown. Cool turnovers on the baking sheets for 4 to 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Now! The apple turnovers are delicious warm from the oven, so if that’s your thing, you can tear into them at this point–just be careful not to burn the roof of your mouth.

However! If you’re feeling sassy–and I know that you are–allow the turnovers to cool completely, and make a little icing to drizzle over top. Icing is pretty! Icing is tasty! Icing rules the world!

Okay, maybe not, but you should probably make the icing anyway. Just stir together some powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a little water with a fork to create a thick, smooth glaze. If you happen to have a little apple cider in the house, then substituting the cider for the water is always a good idea. Scoop the icing into a small sandwich bag, and mush is down to one corner of the bag.

Mush = a valid culinary term.

Snip a tiny corner off the edge of the bag, and squeeze the icing to drizzle over the cooled apple turnovers.

See? Pretty!

I hope these Easy Apple Turnovers bring cool breezes to your days, and a little warmth to your morning, Friends.

Bring it on, Fall!


Easy Apple Turnovers

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg via Bon Appetit, June 2009


Makes 18 Turnovers

For the Pastry:

1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm)

1 whole egg

1 ½ tsp. water

Cinnamon sugar (optional)

For the Filling:

2 pounds tart apples, such as Granny Smith (4 small)

1 pound sweet apples, such as Gala or Ida Red (2 small)

¼ C. brown sugar, packed

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/3 C. water

For the Icing:

½ C. powdered sugar

¼ tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp. water

One Day Ahead:

  1. Place the puffed pastry in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
  2. Peel, core, and chop the apples into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the apple pieces into a 2-quart saucepan; add the brown sugar, fresh lemon juice, and water, stirring well.
  3. Place saucepan over medium heat, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer apples, stirring frequently, until sweet apples fall apart, and tart apples are tender—about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Coarsely mash the apples to make a thick and chunky applesauce. Transfer applesauce to another vessel to cool completely. Once filling has completely cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight.

On Baking Day:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two half-sheet pans with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Whip together egg and water to make egg wash; set aside.
  3. Remove one sheet of puffed pastry from the package and roll it on a lightly floured surface, into a 15-inch x 15-inch square. Cut pastry sheet into nine 5-inch squares.
  4. Place a rounded tablespoon of the apple filling just off center of each of the pastry squares.
  5. Brush 2 perpendicular edges of the pastry with the egg wash, and fold the opposite edges over to form a large triangle. Lightly press the pastry around the filling to remove any trapped air, and to seal the edges.
  6. Once sealed, lightly brush the tops of the turnovers with the egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Use a paring knife to cut 3 small slits on top of the pastries to vent, being careful not to cut below the top pastry through to the bottom.
  7. Repeat the process with the other sheet of puffed pastry, filling, and egg wash to make a total of 18 turnovers.
  8. Refrigerate turnovers for 15 minutes.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 14 to 16 minutes, or until turnovers have puffed and turned golden brown in color.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes before transferring turnovers to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Once turnovers have cooled, prepare the icing by whisking powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and water together with a fork; icing will be thick.
  12. Transfer icing to a sandwich bag. Squeeze icing to one corner of the bag, twisting the top to form a pouch.
  13. Snip a small corner off of the edge of the pouch and squeeze the icing in a decorative drizzle over the turnovers.
  14. Turnovers can be stored wrapped loosely in aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 3 days.


  • To add a punch of extra flavor to the icing, substitute apple juice or cider for the water.
  • Cooled turnovers can be frozen, without icing them first, in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. After frozen, wrap turnovers lightly in aluminum foil, and place in a zippered freezer bag to store in the freezer for up to a month. Reheat foil-wrapped turnovers in a 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes, or until heated though. Prepare icing and ice as directed in the recipe.
  • Excess apple filling is lovely stirred into oatmeal, other hot cereals, pancakes, waffles, or just eaten with a spoon.

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    • says

      Ha! For you, Paula, I promise that at some point I will post the recipe. Next time I have 6 uninterrupted hours to make and photograph the steps. Oh, and “translate” my Grandma’s methods into common language. It’s truly wonderful. :)

  1. Not Inadequate says

    My husband was just talking about something like this last night! (Okay, he was talking about Toaster Strudels, which, let’s be serious, are an abomination). I told him I could make something better, and you deliver a recipe right into my lap! Thanks!

  2. theislandmom says

    Just reading this is getting me in the mood for fall. And “burping” always goes over well in our neck of the woods as well.


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