Simple Greek hand pies with the delicious flavors of samosas!
Watch the Video:
These Cretan Kalitsounia filled with beef are simple to make and a real crowd-pleaser. Kalitsounia are little hand pies popular in Crete, Greece, traditionally filled with cheese or greens. I’ve posted the recipes for the cheese kalitsounia and the spinach kalitsounia before, but I stuffed them with beef this time. The pastry is homemade, the filling is homemade, and they’re so delicious.
If you like samosas, you’re going to love these hand pies. The filling is similar, but I’ve given it a Mediterranean twist. If you have leftover filling after stuffing your dough, stir it into a stew, sprinkle it over a salad, or eat it with a couple of eggs for breakfast.
Why won’t we be able to resist these?
Crispy, golden brown
Light, airy pastry
Delicious, crispy, beefy, dippable hand pies!
What do I need for the dough?
All-purpose flour -start with the small amount listed on the recipe card, but add a little at a time if the dough is too sticky.
Olive oil -you can use light olive oil or a good quality extra virgin olive oil like the one in our shop.
Lukewarm water -warm water hydrates the flour faster and melds everything together, creating a more pliable and tender dough that doesn’t crack.
Vinegar -a surprising ingredient used to make the finished hand pie pastry soft and flaky.
Salt -adds flavor to the pastry and helps keep the pastry from shrinking.
What do I need for the beef filling?
Ground beef -works perfectly, but if you’d like to deepen the flavor, try half beef and half lamb.
Olive oil -you just need light olive oil to cook the vegetables in the pan.
Onion -finely chopped onion adds a hint of savory sweetness to the beef.
Garlic cloves -grated or minced garlic is the perfect combination with onion to season the beef.
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper -always season the filling well because you can’t add it after you put the pies together.
Fresh parsley -finely chopped adds so much fresh flavor.
Can I add other things to the filling?
Yes! I would add a little cinnamon to the filling if all my children enjoyed it. However, a few of them don’t care for pairing cinnamon with beef. Try it if you haven’t before, or try crushed red pepper flakes, coriander, or cumin powder. For a bulkier beef sauce, try raisins, toasted pine nuts, peas, or cooked chopped potatoes. Add what you like, and let me know how they came out!
How do I make Cretan Kalitsounia filled with Beef?
I use the same super simple dough for all my kalitsounia because it has just a handful of ingredients, is easy to work with, and turns out perfectly every time. While the dough rests, I cook my filling in a skillet and then put the hand pies together to fry. It’s so simple that you’ll make these regularly.
How simple is the dough?
Very! In the bowl of a tabletop mixer, add the oil, water, vinegar, and salt and whisk them together. Add the flour and knead with the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes or until smooth. Add 1-2 tablespoons flour if the dough is still sticky, and knead until smooth. Dust with flour and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set aside to rest for 30-60 minutes at room temperature.
Should I make the filling while the dough rests?
Yes! Add the olive oil and onion to a skillet. Cook over medium heat until golden and softened. Add the garlic and warm through for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until browned and fully cooked. Add some water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Garnish with fresh parsley and set aside to cool.
How do you create the perfect hand pie?
Divide the dough into eight equal portions. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out each piece of dough to around 17 x 7-inch strips, or don’t divide the dough and roll it out to 1/8-inch thick and, using a round cookie cutter, cut 4-inch rounds.
Place a tablespoon of filling either in each round or, as I did in the video (see here), four tablespoons of dough spaced out on the long strip.
Fold the bottom half of the strip over the filling and cut out the shapes using a pastry cutter. Press the edges together using a fork to seal and place the pies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Then, lightly dusted with flour. Pierce the tops of the kalitsounia with a toothpick.
What’s the best way to cook Kalitsounia?
Add light olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 165 °F. Fry the kalitsounia in the oil for 3 minutes. Flip them over halfway through to cook on both sides evenly. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels.
How can I freeze them for later?
Once the kalitsounia are assembled before cooking, they can be frozen. Chill in the freezer until frozen solid, and then transfer them to freezer-safe bags or containers. They will keep fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw and fry in oil until golden brown.
What should I serve these with?
These hand pies are perfect for a holiday table, as an appetizer at gatherings, or to take as a dish to a party. They are delicious with tzatziki sauce, harissa sauce, or even marinara sauce. If you’re creating an appetizer table, serve these alongside some of my other appetizers. Try my marinated olives & feta, Greek potato & feta croquettes, Cheesy phyllo rolls, Greek 7-layer dip, or browse through all the appetizers in my recipe index. Let me know what you choose to serve it with. Kali Orexi!
More Kalistounia Recipes:
For the Dough:
- 3 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 pound ground beef
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- toasted pine nuts
Make the Dough: In the bowl of a tabletop mixer add the oil, water, vinegar, and salt and whisk together. Add the flour and knead with the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes or until smooth. Add 1-2 tablespoons flour if the dough is still sticky and knead until smooth. Dust with flour and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set aside to rest for 30-60 minutes at room temperature.
Make the Beef Filling: Add the olive oil and onion to a skillet. Cook over medium heat until golden and softened. Add the garlic and warm through for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-heat until browned and fully cooked. Add some water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Garnish with fresh parsley ad set aside to cool. Add the pine nuts and raisins if desired.
Assemble the Kalitsounia:
Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.
Lightly flour the work surface and roll out each piece of dough to around 17 by 7-inch strips.
Alternatively, do not divide the dough and just roll it out to 1/8-inch thick and using a round cookie cutter cut 4-inch rounds.
Place a tablespoon of filling either in each round or as I did in the video. (see here). 4 tablespoons of dough spaced out on the long strip.
Fold the bottom hald of the strip over the filling and cut out the shapes using a pastry cutter. Using a fork press the edes together to seal and place the pis on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and lightly dusted with flour.
Pierce the tops of the kalitsounia with a toothpick.
Freezer Instructions: Once the kalitsounia are assembled they can be frozen. Chill in the freezer until frozen solid and then transfer them to freezer-safe bags/containers. They will keep fresh in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw and fry in oil until golden.
Fry the Kalitsounia: Add light olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 165 °F. Fry the kalitsounia in the oil for 3 minutes. Flip them over halfway through to evenly cook on both sides. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with tzatziki. Kali Orexi!
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