Copycat Varsity Peach Hand Pies

Yesterday’s Olympic events saw Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina win a gold medal in the women’s uneven bars. US all-around gold medal winner Gabby Douglas missed an element of her routine, bringing her score too low to make the podium for this event. Great Britain took another equestrian gold, in the team jumping event. Ukrainian weight lifter Oleksiy Torokhtiy won the first weightlifting gold medal of the 2012 London Games, and Grenada won its first medal ever when Kirani James won gold in the men’s 400m track event.

The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, were the first games where all 179 National Olympic Committees were represented. Softball, lightweight rowing, mountain biking, and beach volleyball were introduced. Many people remember the Opening Ceremonies, where Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic Flame and received a gold medal to replace the one he threw away upon his return to the United States following the 1960 Summer Olympics as a reaction to the way African-Americans were being treated in the US at the time. These were also the Games where gymnast Kerri Strugg landed her second vault on one foot after breaking her ankle on her first vault in an effort to help the United States win a team all-around gold in women’s gymnastics. The team did win the first United States team gold medal for the event, but it was later discovered that Strugg’s second vault wasn’t needed in order to do so.

I checked with my youngest sister to ask what food I should make to represent Atlanta in this series. I knew there were a lot of possibilities for this but I wasn’t shocked when peach hand pies from The Varsity were mentioned. The Varsity is something of an Atlanta institution, boasting up to 30,000 customers at times and the world’s largest drive-in restaurant. I’ve never been there, so I can’t comment on how close these fried peach hand pies are to the original, but my sister noted that the glaze is what makes the ones at The Varsity so addictive. I found a recipe that claimed to be an original, but it called for using canned biscuit dough as the crust. I found that hard to believe when The Varsity’s website indicates that the original owner insisted on three to six deliveries a day in order to offer customers the freshest ingredients and that 5000 fried pies are made from scratch daily. I decided to use The Pastry Queen’s recipe and I wasn’t disappointed.


Fried Peach Hand Pies


for pies:

  • 1/3 C. very cold butter
  • 2 peaches
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 2 C. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. ice water
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

for glaze:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


Heat 2 inches of oil in a large pan to 375 degrees.

Cut peaches into 1/2 inch cubes.

Toss peaches and 1 Tbsp. of the sugar in a bowl and set aside.

Using the grater blade of a food processor, grate the butter.

Switch to the dough blade and add the flour, baking soda, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar.

Pulse a few times to combine, then turn the food processor on and stream the ice water into the mixture.

Process just until the dough forms a ball and turn out onto a floured surface.

Roll the dough out to 1/16 of an inch thick, then cut into approximately 5 inch rounds. Re-roll the scraps and continue until all dough has been used (I made 6 hand pies).

Place a heaping tablespoon of peach mixture into the center of each round, then, using a finger, wet the edge of one half of the dough round.

Fold the dough over to make a half circle, pressing the edges to seal. Use a fork dipped in flour to crimp the edges.

Carefully put the pies in the hot oil and fry them for 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of the pan. If this is the case, fry a batch, then wait for the oil to return to 375 degrees in between each batch.

Remove the pies from the oil using a slotted spoon or spatula and place them on a paper towel lined plate.

To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla then brush over the warm pies.

Makes 6 hand pies.

Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from The Pastry Queen


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