Cornish Pasty

Cornish Pasty

by Cat, Nov 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Includes: 1. Dough for Pasties; 2. Traditional Cornish Pasty Filling (2 versions)

See also: 1. Traditional Pasty Filling; 2. Yogurt Pie Crust I or II; 3. American Pie Crust (Wheat or Spelt); 4. My Dad’s Beef Stew with Root Veggies; 5. Mincemeat filling

When I was 13, a family from Butte Montana, moved to my neighborhood. They had a daughter my age, Lindy, and we became friends. One day when we were playing at her house, Lindy’s Mom was making pasties and invited me to dinner. I’d never heard of these but I watched her rolling out pie crust so figured they must be good. Then I saw what was in the filling – meat and potatoes! I’d never heard of such a thing, and my childish stomach turned over at the thought of meat in a pie.

“No thankyou,” I said. “Dad is expecting me to dinner at home.” But Lindy raved over her Mom’s pasties and explained they are a mining tradition, well loved in Butte. So the next time her Mom made pasties, I decided to give them a try – one tiny bite at a time. The buttery crust was so tasty and the filling was as good as Dad’s stew – maybe better (but I’d never tell him that).

The other day I was going through my cookbook collection, to thin it out and make room for the ones I brought from Portland storage, and came across a pasty recipe. I’ll definitely have to try making them, tho I doubt I could ever duplicate those rich, delicate sauces from Kells or the flaky pastry of Lindy’s Mom.

To get a visual idea of how to make pasties, here’s a pictorial recipe: (2). Unfortunately, they use ground meat instead of cubed meat.

Pasty filling suggestions

In Portland, there’s an Irish restaurant called Kell’s (1) that opened not far from my office, so I went there some times for lunch.  Every day they had a special pasty on the menu so of course I had to give them a try – delicious! Here’s the list of pasties currently on their Seattle menu, to give you some ideas:

  • Chicken Pasty Delicate chicken and mushroom topped with a tarragon sauce.
  • Corned Beef Pasty Small pieces of delicate corned beef and shredded cabbage with Swiss cheese, topped with a stone ground mustard sauce.
  • Vegetarian Pasty Light pastry filled with garden vegetables, three cheeses and served in a mornay sauce.
  • Seafood PastyLocal crab and shrimp with cream cheese and herbs in a delicate puff pastry.

Other filling options:

  • Traditional Cornish Pasty filling (recipe below)
  • My Dad’s Beef Stew with Root Veggies; dice meat into ⅜” dice and prepare as in recipe, but prepare root veggies as in Traditional Cornish Pasty filling (below). Save sauce from meat to serve with the pasties.
  • Mincemeat Pie filling (made with real meat and suet) for a sweet-savory meaty pasty.

Dough for Pasties

This is basically a simple pie crust: flour, butter or lard, salt and water, with optional celery seed added for flavor. So if you have a favorite pie crust recipe, you could use that – but don’t add any sugar.

Consider my Yogurt Pie Crust I or II (because they go well with savory fillings, and the yogurt pre-soak improves their nutritional value).

The following recipe is adapted from Joy of Eating Natural Foods, by Agnes Toms, reprinted 1971 and Michigan Tech Humanities Department (4). See also their article: Cultural Context of the Pasty (4).

For the flour, I recommend using unbleached white flour the first time you make these. Then try using half whole grain, half white. Or try one of my Yogurt presoak versions (see link above).


Ingredients for 4 pasties:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp celery seed (optional)
  • ½ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • ½ cup butter or lard (or 6 Tbsp butter, 2 Tbsp lard)
  • ice water
  • milk (optional)

Ingredients for 6 pasties:

  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp celery seed (optional)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup butter or lard (or mix)
  • 6 Tbsp cold water
  • milk (optional)


  • Bowl
  • Pastry fork or cutter
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper


  1. Sift flour and salt and mix in celery seeds with a whisk. Cut in butter or lard until well combined – texture of oatmeal. Then add ice water a bit at a time (by tsp for 4 pasties, by Tbsp for 6 pasties version.
  2. Quickly work into a ball, wrap tightly in waxed paper, dust with flour, and let rest in a cool place 30 minutes.
  3. Unwrap dough and divide into 4 or 6 portions. Roll one into a 10” circle on a floured board, place portion of filling (about 1 ½ cups) on one half of the circle (leaving an edge of exposed pastry). Moisten all around the edge, fold the empty half over, and pinch the edges together tightly, making a half-moon shape. Cut 1 or 2 slits into crust. Crimp edge with a fork if desired. Brush tops with milk if desired.
  4. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake as instructed for desired filling.

Traditional Filling

This recipe is adapted from Michigan Tech (4) and All (5), and makes 6 pasties. If you only want 4 pasties, use ½ pound of meat, 1 cup diced potato, 1 small turnip (diced), ¾ cup minced onion, and 1 small cooked carrot, sliced.

Round steak is not recommended for this recipe because it is too dry. But just about any other cut can be used. Pork shoulder steak can also be used, mixed with beef. A mix of ground beef and pork can also be used, but brown it lightly in butter before mixing with the veggies.

If you like lamb, use shoulder steak (with round bone) or leg steak (with round bone).

In my research of recipes, the baking instructions vary greatly, so do feel free to experiment. Here are some options:

  • Bake in preheated 400° F oven for 45 – 60 minutes
  • Bake in preheated 375° F oven for 50 – 60 minutes
  • Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 30 minutes, cut a slit in the pastry and slip in a bit of butter and bake 30 minutes more.
  • Bake 10 minutes at 400° F, then lower oven to 350° F and bake an additional 35 minutes.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 2 small carrots, lightly cooked and sliced (optional)
  • 1 lb flank steak, or rump roast, cubed; or mix of beef and pork
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • butter
  • 1 small turnip or rutabaga, shredded or diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin or chopped fine
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • sprigs of parsley (optional)
  • saucepan
  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper



This version is from Michigan Tech (4).

  1. Preheat oven (see temperature options, above).
  2. If using carrots, simmer about 10 minutes in boiling water until just done. Drain and slice about ⅛” thick.
  3. Cut the steak and potatoes into ⅜” dice (smaller than ½”). Thinly slice onion and grate the turnip.
  4. On each pastry, first make a thin layer of turnip on the crust, followed by a heavier layer of potatoes. Then evenly distribute portion of meat, placing a few pieces at the ends for the corners. Then a layer of onion. Top with a few dots of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a few sprigs of parsley.
  5. Form the half-moons with crimped edges (see pastry photo, above). Place on baking sheet lined with parchment and bake til tender and crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes covered with a clean towel before serving.

Alternate Method:

This Cornish version is from All (5).

  1. Preheat oven (see temperature options, above).
  2. Cook and slice carrots, if using. Dice steak, potatoes, and turnip. Chop onion finely. Combine meat and veggies in a bowl and season to taste. Place portion of mixture on half a circle of pastry, dot with butter, fold over and crimp edges.
  3. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake til tender and crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes covered with a clean towel before serving.


  1. Kell’s: (
  2. visual recipe (
  3. Joy of Eating Natural Foods, by Agnes Toms, reprinted 1971
  4. Michigan Tech Department of Humanities, recipe (; and related article: Cultural Context of the Pasty (
  5. All (

About Cat

See my 'About' page
This entry was posted in Baked, Beef, Buffalo, Dairy, Fat or oil, Flour, Game, Herbs, Lamb, Onion family, Pork, Poultry, Root Veggie, Shellfish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.