Hot Pockets Recipe

Hot Pockets Recipe

For a certain generation, a warm hot pocket has the power to transport you straight back to after-school snacking bliss. The aluminum pouches are arguably a great feat of engineering, with their ability to produce a crispy, flaky exterior that rivals a French bakery. 

For this homemade (and slightly more grown-up version), you’ll lean on some pantry staples and an unexpected ingredient for a trip down memory lane. Ham and cheese is a classic combination, but this recipe elevates it slightly – using nutty gruyere in place of American, and a hint of apple butter for that sweet, spice-y je ne se quois. 

As with any yeasted dough, it’s important to look for visual indicators to determine its readiness, rather than relying solely on time. A number of factors—everything from the temperature of the air to whether or not it’s raining outside—can have an impact on rising. So make use of all five senses (well, maybe not taste just yet) to ensure success! 

When forming the pockets, make sure to pinch the edges tight to be sure none of the cheese or apple butter melts out. And just in case, baking on parchment paper means easy clean-up no matter what. 

In the oven, rack positioning is important with dough. Whether your heat source comes from the top or bottom of your oven, too close in either direction means the dough will cook unevenly. So be sure to rotate the pans on the oven racks half way through baking time to avoid uneven browning.

When it comes to dipping, look no further than honey mustard for a simple sauce—a little sweet, a little tangy, and a lot perfect for this pocket full of goodness. Eat these on their own, with a crunchy side salad, or some roasted broccoli to squeeze a bit of green in.

"This recipe allows you to take the great idea of hot pockets and make them yourself with wholesome and healthy ingredients instead of additives. Once you get the technique down you can easily switch out the ingredients to suit your tastes. These homemade hot pockets would make a great packable lunch!" — Joan Velush

Hot Pockets/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 (0.25-ounce) packet instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (about 115 F)

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

  • Cooking spray

  • 1/2 cup apple butter

  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

  • 24 slices deli ham (about 12 ounces)

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make Hot Pockets

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  2. Place the yeast, sugar, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir to combine. Let sit until small bubbles form, about 10 minutes. If this does not happen, your yeast is dead and you should get new yeast!

    Stand mixture with hook attachment and bowl with yeast mixture

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  3. With the mixer on low, add the flour gradually, mixing until flour and water are combined, about 2 minutes. Mix in the olive oil and salt.

    Stand mixer mixing dough

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  4. Switch to the dough hook. Increase speed to medium and mix until flour is fully hydrated and dough is smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky, adding more flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, 5 to 7 minutes.

    Stand mixer with dough book mixing dough

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  5. Tip out the dough onto a work surface lightly oiled with cooking spray. Spray the inside of the stand mixer bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return to the stand mixer bowl. Cover and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    bread proofing in a stainless steel bowl

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  6. Position 2 racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and heat to 425 F.

    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and divide it into 8 equal portions using a bench scraper or a sharp chef’s knife.

    balls of bread dough on a lined baking sheet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough portion into a rectangle about 5 x 7 inches. Place 4 rectangles on each baking sheet.

    rectangular pieces of down on lined baking sheet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  8. Spread about 1 tablespoon of apple butter on the right half of each rectangle, leaving at least 1/2-inch border from the edge. Divide the gruyere evenly over the apple butter on each rectangle. Layer 3 slices of ham over the gruyere.

    rolled up deli meat on unbaked rectangular pieces of bread dough

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  9. Carefully fold the left half of each rectangle over the right side to enclose the ingredients. Crimp the pastry edges with a fork to seal.

    unbaked crimped hot pockets on a lined baking sheet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  10. In a small bowl, beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water or milk. Brush each hot pocket lightly with the egg wash.

    With a sharp paring knife, cut two slits in the top of each hot pocket. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    unbaked hot pockets brushed with egg wash and seasonings

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  11. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes total.

    baked hot pockets on a lined baking sheet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  12. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix Dijon mustard and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

    dijon mustard mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  13. Once baked, allow hot pockets to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with honey mustard on the side.

    hot pocket on a white plate

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

Tips

  • For allowing the dough to rise, room temperature is colder than people realize. Be sure to seek out a warm place—perhaps near a sunny window (but not in direct sunlight), outside on a moderate day (no warmer than 80ºF), or inside of the oven with the light turned on.
  • When crimping the hot pockets closed, if your fork starts to stick, dunk it in a bit of flour. 
  • Be sure to layer the cheese first, then the ham slices. Layering the ham on top of the cheese prevents the cheese from bubbling up and out of the steam vents.

Variations

  • Feel free to get creative with what you sprinkle atop the hot pockets before they go into the oven. Sesame seeds, dried thyme, or even a pinch of cayenne would work well here.
  • If gruyere is not your favorite, feel free to substitute cheeses for anything you’d like, as long as you don’t overstuff the pocket: sharp cheddar, brie, or Comté would all be great substitutes.

Storage

  • Hot pockets can be frozen once assembled (before being baked).
  • Refrigerate them for 30 minutes, covered, so the dough firms up slightly, then wrap each hot pocket individually and tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.
  • To reheat, no need to defrost – simply preheat oven to 400F, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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