Healthy and Homemade Hot Pockets
Use refrigerated pizza dough and fresh ingredients to customize healthy and homemade hot pockets for a freezer-friendly and portable lunch, after-school snack, or dinner.
If you’ve followed my blog during the last 2 months, you’re very aware that lunches and back-to-school are certainly on my mind. I’ve had a great time playing around with new recipes to introduce to you as well as to the girls that can be made ahead and are lunchbox-friendly. Each month I participate in a challenge with other healthy food blogger dietitians called The Recipe Redux and this month we were encouraged to share a breakfast, lunch, or dinner freezer meal. Immediately, my brain went to lunch foods and I started to think about what can easily be made ahead, customized, is freezer-friendly and something kids would like…homemade “hot pockets.”
Growing up, we were never really a Hot Pockets family the way I remember some friends’ families being. Sure, we ate various convenience foods and, certainly, I still have a love affair with many a preservative-filled treat but this was one that never really did it for me. However, if we think about the components of a Hot Pocket and why people love(d) them so much: portability, freezer-friendly, yummy flavors, cheesy goodness, etc. then there should definitely be a way to “healthify” them while still offering the same qualities.
I created these individual hand pies with the idea that your children can help you make them using their favorite ingredients. When I was testing the recipes, I played around with a few basic flavor combos but the options of what you can make are endless. All of the ones I tested this go round included pizza sauce as a based but pesto or barbecue sauce could both be used to make some fun creations. Today’s tests included:
- Classic: Pepperoni, mushroom, mozzarella cheese
- Veggie: Kale, portobello mushrooms, red bell peppers, goat cheese
- Mediterranean: Chicken, spinach, basil, goat cheese (this would be good with fresh tomatoes and pesto)
- Hawaiian: Ham, pineapple, cheddar, cheddar cheese
How-to Make Hot Pockets
Roll your favorite pizza dough into a 16×18 inch rectangle. For easy and speed, I used a pre-rolled Italian pizza dough from my Publix bakery. I’ll be honest, I am TERRIBLE stretching and rolling pizza dough out into any shape so the pre-rolled helped tremendously. (If found these tips from King Arthur Flour to help with stubborn dough that doesn’t want to roll out. Very helpful!) They didn’t have whole wheat as an option but if they did, it certainly would have been my first choice.
Next, cut the dough into 10 equal strips. Thankfully, dough is forgiving so if “equal” is as tough for you as it (apparently) is for me, you can stretch the pieces to work in your favor.
So now’s here’s the tough part, don’t overstuff your hot pocket! Stretch the dough out width-wise and lengthwise and then add your toppings to one half. Fold the other half over and roll up the edges. I used an egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk whisked together) to help glue the ends. Next, brush the top of your hot pocket with the egg wash to give help give it a nice brown finish and then cut slits in the top using a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape.
Here’s a tip regarding the slits: Once the pockets are cooked, it is hard to remember what is inside so I used 3 slits for pepperoni, 2 slits for Hawaiian, etc. (You may want to write down what you did so you don’t forget!)
Bake the pockets on a parchment-lined baking sheet or on a baking mat until they are golden brown. You can eat immediately or allow them to cool on a baking rack and then freeze individually so they’ll be ready to pop into a lunchbox or toaster oven.
- 1 (1-lb) refrigerated pizza dough
- ½ cup pizza sauce
- 2 cups chopped or shredded meat, vegetables, and/or cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp milk
- Roll pizza dough into a 16" x 18" rectangle on a flour-dusted cutting board or counter.
- Cut dough into 10 equal strips.
- Working with 1 strip at a time, stretch the dough to about 3 or 4 inches wide. Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce on half of the dough. Top with about 3 tablespoons of meat, vegetables, and/or cheese.
- Fold over half of dough to cover toppings. Pinch the sides to seal the pockets.
- Whisk together egg and milk until blended. Brush each pocket with egg wash. Repinch any seams that have opened and use egg wash as "glue" to close. Discard any leftover egg wash.
- Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet or baking mat at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
I think next time I make these, I’m going to play around with a barbecue chicken variety as well as a dessert option. How good would Nutella, marshmallows and pistachios be? Or maybe caramel sauce and apples…the options are endless!
Definitely give these a try and let me know what you think! I would love to hear what other flavor combos you would put together! Make sure to pin these healthy, homemade hot pockets and then check out the other freezer meals listed below by my fellow Recipe Reduxers. And, of course, if you’re looking for lunchbox ideas, you’ve come to the right spot!