Prudence Hilburn: Sweet or savory, fried pies make for perfect ‘packages’

Prudence Hilburn More Content Now

When the Southern cuisine is mentioned, fried foods usually come to mind. If a food can be fried, we Southerners probably will try it.

In addition to our signature fried chicken, there’s fried corn, fried okra, fried potatoes, fried meats of all kinds and even fried sweets.

My mother made some very good fried pies. Cooks in other parts of our country call these turnovers, and they are usually baked rather than fried. Although Mother’ favorite was apple pie, she also made great fried banana pies.

One of the most unusual requests I had while teaching cooking classes was for fried pecan pies. At the time, I had never heard of fried pecan pies, so I had to put in a little extra time and effort to come up with the following version, which tastes just like the pan pie but in a more convenient serving “package.”

Another unusual version of fried pies is my Southern Fried Chicken Pies. It’s as good as chicken pot pie, and you don’t even need a spoon.

Fried Pecan Pies

Filling ingredients:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon flour

3 lightly beaten eggs

1 cup light corn syrup

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

In heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar and flour. Mix well. Add eggs, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring continuously until mixture has thickened (about 6 to 8 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Refrigerate until cool.

Crust ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

Oil for frying

Combine flour, oil and milk in food processor. Process until mixture forms a ball.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead until slightly firmer than biscuit dough. Divide into 6 portions. Roll each portion to a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each ball to a circle about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Dough should be thin.

Place about 1/4 cup of filling in center of each dough circle. Fold to form a half moon shape. Press edges with a fork to seal well. Gently push fork into top and bottom of each pie 3 or 4 times. Pour oil into electric skillet to a depth of about 3/4 inch. Heat to 375 degrees.

Place pies, 2 or 3 at a time, into hot oil and fry until golden brown, turning as needed. Drain well on paper towels. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Southern Fried Chicken Pies

Filling ingredients:

2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken

1 small can (7 or 8 ounces) peas and carrots, drained

1 can cream of chicken soup with herbs, divided

Combine chicken, peas and carrots, and 6 tablespoons of the soup. Mix well. Set aide.

Crust ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour

1/3 cup shortening

2/3 cup buttermilk

Oil for frying

Put all crust ingredients in food processor and process until it forms a ball. Remove and divide into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball to a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Put 1/4 cup of filling onto one half of the circle. Fold over and seal with a fork. Push fork gently into each side of pie to allow steam to escape during frying. Set aside.

Heat 3/4 inch of oil to 375 degrees in an electric skillet. Fry pies until golden brown on both sides, turning as needed. Drain well on paper towels. Serve with Creamy Herb Sauce.

Creamy Herb Sauce


Remaining soup

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon diced pimiento

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and mix well. Heat just until warm. This can be made ahead and heated just before serving.

Prudence Hilburn of Piedmont, Ala. has won more than 30 national cooking awards and written several cookbooks, including, “Simply Southern and More.” Write her at or visit