Travel the World With Savory Meat Pies — A Global Comfort Food
These hearty, comforting meat pies with flavors from across the globe are a pleasure to make and a cozy way to feed your loved ones.
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Where would you like to go? This curated collection of meat pies will transport your mouth on an edible journey through America, Vietnam, Morocco, Europe, and China. Or perhaps you'd like to take a jaunt to Nigeria or India? Look no further than your own kitchen to start your travels: These recipes from around the world work with ingredients from your local store (or well-stocked pantry). It’s global gastronomy in the comfort of your home —and it’s delicious.
These transporting pies, large and small, have a variety of shielding crusts that keep the filling warm and safe while adding flavor and textural contrast. And while the ingredients and crusts vary, most freeze well; feel free to make a double batch and stock your freezer for any chilly nights to come.
It all starts with the dough
If you’ve never made a homemade crust, fear not. Food writer Mark Bittman once noted that rolling out a pie crust only calls for the skills kids develop rolling out Play-Doh. Anyone can do it! The more you practice, the more fun you’ll have as your pies progress towards flavorful, flaky golden crusts.
A quick primer on common pastry types
Shortcrust pastry makes a traditional pie crust and generally contains only flour, butter (or sometimes lard), water, and a little salt.
Phyllo dough comes from the Greek word for “leaf.” This delicate pastry forms many layers of crisp crust that are about as thick as tissue paper. It's a labor of love with impressive results.
Puff pastry is composed of hundreds of layers of dough and butter. Cubes of cold butter are rolled out between sheets of pastry dough, folded into thirds, rested, and repeated. A point of pride for any baker to create from scratch.
Hot water crust pastry is an old English recipe that's way easier to handle than many other crusts. The rich dough usually contains butter, lard, and eggs, as well as a few spices, and is sturdy enough to contain a very hearty filling.
A few crust-making tips before you start
It’s worth spending a little more on quality flour and butter since many crusts only call for a few ingredients.
A food processor makes quick work of cutting butter into flour, but it only takes a little longer to pinch the butter and flour between your thumb and first two fingers — as though you were gesturing about money — until it resembles a coarse meal. (You still want to see tiny bits of butter in the dough, so don’t overwork it into a paste.)
After you’ve prepared the dough, let it briefly chill in the fridge. This helps the gluten relax, which makes a more tender crust and firms up the fat so it's easier to roll out.
Flour your work surface liberally before rolling the dough out, then roll it from the middle of the ball towards the edges in a sunburst pattern, using an even pressure to achieve consistent thickness.
To transfer the dough to your pie pan, half-roll and drape it over the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the pan. Be sure to gently press the dough into the tin, leaving no air pockets.
And now… a meat pie bonanza!
New Zealand-Style Beef & Cheddar Pies
Frodo never had it so good. This elegant beef pie is a favorite at checkout stands in gas stations across New Zealand — a far cry from the hot dogs on metal rollers here. The beef, cheddar, and Worcestershire add layers of umami flavors, and these pies come together quickly thanks to purchased puff pastry.
These festive handheld pies use a shortcrust pastry that’s easy to put together in a food processor. “When we were kids, a birthday party was never complete without a platter of party pies and sausage rolls," says Ria Szeredi, a native Australian and former data scientist at Yummly. "I remember we would often draw smiley faces on our party pies with tomato sauce (ketchup).” Note: While the recipe calls for golden shallots, any variety of shallot will be delicious in these pies.
Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeehas)
These versatile, savory pies can be made large to be enjoyed as an architectural main course, or in little triangles to be enjoyed as a starter. The hearty yeasted dough takes an hour to rise; if you make the spiced filling during the rise time, you get the complex flavor of a yeasted dough while using time efficiently. Plus the pies contain pomegranate molasses, the sexiest syrup in the pantry.
New England Tourtière (Meat Pie)
This Christmas Eve specialty originated in Canada, but journeyed south into New England with the French-Canadians who sought work at logging camps and mills there in the 19th century. Today, tourtières are popular throughout the region; this hearty, flavorful pie tastes celebratory, but is delicious any day of the year.
Beef and Guinness Pie
The authentic recipe for this classic Irish dish provides a tasty excuse to bring home some Guinness. This pie is essentially a beef and Guinness stew with a cozy protective layer of puff pastry on top. Like much of Irish cuisine, it’s about embracing simplicity at its finest. If you’re extra hungry, enjoy it with some buttery mashed potatoes.
These pies hail from Cornwall, England, and were originally stuffed with enough beef and turnips to last several meals. Miners had their initials etched into one end to ensure no one walked off with their pasty, which they carried deep into the mines to sustain them in the darkness. We’re pleased to report that they taste great above ground, too.
Argentine Beef Empanadas
Empanadas are beloved in many countries, but what makes these Argentinian pick-up pies hearty and especially flavorful are cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes. If you can find La Sulteña empanada wrappers this is a quick recipe, but the from-scratch dough comes out flaky and delicate — and is well worth the effort.
Classic Creamy Chicken Pot Pie
By using a store-bought pie crust and rotisserie chicken, this dish comes together with very little prep time. A combination of fresh and frozen vegetables ensures it tastes lively and homemade, but you can whip it up using pantry staples at a moment’s notice.
Nigerian Chicken Pie
In Nigeria, chicken is a special-occasion meat that costs a little more, so these individual pies are quite a treat. The recipe calls for an entire habanero pepper — they’re extremely spicy, so feel free to use less to suit your taste. Consider wearing gloves while chopping it, too.
The Best Beef Samosas
These samosas are unusual because they contain beef, which is not a popular meat in Indian cuisine; however, the ground beef fits right into these crispy, aromatic pyramids (they also freeze well for later). This recipe includes traditional Indian spices, but also adds a teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder, for an additional layer of complexity.
Kreatopita — Greek Phyllo Meat Pie
While this preparation of the popular Greek dish only calls for meat, in Greece, it’s often prepared with leeks or rice as well. This recipe imbues as much flavor as possible into the meat by reducing the ground beef in a mixture of two different liquids. When working with frozen phyllo, remember to keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel and work quickly — the delicate layers dry out fast.
Vietnamese Meat Pies
These pies, known as Pâté Chaud or Bánh Patê Sô, were inspired by French cooking, but have been transformed into a dish entirely unto its own. Dried vermicelli noodles add an interesting contrast to the texture of the puff pastry, and the cilantro, carrot, and fish sauce ensure the dish’s character is authentic.
Homemade Scottish Sausage Rolls
To prepare these pretty rolls, the recipe calls for making a homemade beef sausage mixture, which is way simpler than one might expect: The puff pastry essentially functions as the casing, so they’re easy as pie to make, fun to eat, and easy to freeze and reheat.
This Slavic pastry is so popular it can be found across many regions, including the Balkans, South Caucasus, and North Africa. It can be shaped into a coil, a triangle, or a cigar shape, and is traditionally filled with beef or cheese — plain yogurt on the side makes for an easy dip. Be sure to keep the phyllo dough from drying out as you fold it.
Meat Pirozhki With Cheese
The gentle, barely sweet yeasted dough surrounding these Russian pirozhki is filled with a customizable filling of two types of cheese along with your choice of meat. They are delicious whether deep-fried or baked — but either way, they taste like a babushka’s love.
“Some popular fillings are cabbage, potatoes, and meat,” says Max Orkis, Yummly’s Russian-born writer. “Pirozhki with ground beef are my favorite because my grandma used to make them. I really loved them, so she got some mileage out of her manual cast iron food processor.”
Morocco has been a spice-trading hub for centuries, and it shows in the generous seasoning of this tender North African chicken pie. The phyllo dough on top is shaped into delicate rosettes before baking to create a dramatic showstopper of a main course, whether prepared in a pie dish or skillet.
Simple Salmon Pie
Fresh dill and basil along with lemon juice and whole grain mustard make this pie sing with flavors of spring. While the final dish looks quite sophisticated, it's essentially two fillets of salmon sandwiched around herb butter, wrapped in pastry, and baked. Simplicity as promised.
Chicken Cabbage Savory Pirog
This giant Ukrainian dish has its roots in Uzbeki cuisine and is a bit like a giant pirozhok for the whole family. The delicate yeasted dough has both milk and mayonnaise in it, and the shredded cabbage makes for a delicate savory filling, which you can leave with a little crunch if you prefer.
Slow-Cooked Lamb Shank Pie
This juicy lamb pie uses two kinds of dough: a shortcrust on the bottom and puff pastry for a flaky, multilayered effect on the top crust. You can prep the lamb shank in the slow cooker with little effort (but great flavor) the day before. Tomato paste, olive oil, and garlic cloves are combined with beef stock and red wine to create a rich sauce, resulting in a dish that’s decadent and satisfying.
Natchitoches Meat Pies
These savory meat pies are the pride of Louisiana and are even an official state food! Named for the town that invented them (say nack-a-tish), they’re filled with a mixture of beef and pork, seasoned with paprika, thyme, and oregano, and fried in a shallow pot of oil until they’re a warm golden brown.
Jamaican Meat Pie
These handheld pies, commonly known as Jamaican Beef Patties, have a buttery golden crust that gets its sunny color from turmeric, which makes it fragrant as well. The spicy meat filling gets its heat from the optional Scotch bonnet pepper and is seasoned with an array of spices and aromatics.
Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen (German Onion & Bacon Pie)
It’s a German tradition to serve this savory meat pie to welcome autumn, but the dish is delicious all year-round. It has a custard-style base that's almost a quiche hybrid and will help hone your knife skills (and perhaps have a good cry) while you’re chopping the yellow onions into a fine dice. The traditional yeasted dough can be swapped out for purchased pie crust if time is of the essence, and all-purpose flour and kosher salt works if that’s what you have on hand. Add some black pepper for a little kick.
Pan-Fried Chinese Pork Pie (Xian Bing)
The thin chewy dough for these little pork pies (sometimes called cakes) requires only three ingredients and can be made in a food processor, followed by a little kneading. For the fragrant meat filling, ground pork or dark chicken are both delicious mixed with aromatic ginger, scallions, and sesame oil. The pies are pan-fried on both sides, and juicy when you take the first bite.
English Pork Pie
This English pie has been enjoyed since Medieval times; centuries later its preparation has barely changed. The majority of the filling is simply different cuts of pork with a dash of spices, to let the porky flavor shine through. The rich hot water crust crisps up after it’s cooked. The recipe also calls for savory gelatin to be poured into the pie’s central vent after cooking; originally it helped preserve the masterpiece, but the layer of flavor and texture it adds is timeless.