What are Turnovers?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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A turnover is any type of sweet or savory pastry made by filling dough and then folding it over to seal it. A number of foods could be considered turnovers, from pasties to calzones. Since the ingredients are neatly tucked inside the pastry in a convenient single serving size, turnovers are a popular snack and picnic food. Many stores stock fresh and frozen turnovers, and they are also very easy to make at home.

When made sweet, turnovers often use fruit fillings, although they may also include custard and sweet cheeses, or mix of custard and fruit. The fruit is seasoned with spices and sugar, and typically blended with flour or cornstarch to keep it from getting too runny. Pie or puff pastry dough is used for the exterior or the turnover, and it may be brushed with an egg wash to help seal it and to give it a uniform color.

Savory turnovers often include ingredients like meats, although they can also be vegetarian. A savory pie dough can be used, but some cooks prefer to use a yeast dough, which will be more rich and hearty. The end result can be a formidable food, especially if the turnover is large. Chicken and beef are two common ingredients for savory turnovers, and things like roasted vegetables and cheeses may be used as well as or in addition to meat.


In some cases, a turnover is designed to taste best when it is hot, preferably fresh out of the oven rather than reheated. In other instances, a turnover can be eaten cold, almost like a sandwich. In both instances, the use of dressings and garnishes are acceptable, ranging from ice cream on sweet turnovers to gravy on savories. In the case of a savory turnover, the food may be designed to act like an entire meal, served on a large plate with or without garnish.

When making turnovers at home, the imagination is the only limit on fillings. Cooks should, however, be careful to thicken the filling, as a watery filling can leak out of the turnover while it cooks. This is obviously not desired. When purchasing turnovers in the store, be aware that fresh turnovers will last several days under refrigeration, although they may not taste as fabulous as they would otherwise. Frozen turnovers can be kept until their expiration date, although the flavor may be less than optimal towards the end of this window of time.


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