Inspired by Cornish Pasties, this savory herbed beef pasty recipe features meat and vegetables in a flaky, buttery crust. It’s the perfect hand-held portable meal, and is surprisingly easy to make!
There are some TV shows that I just don’t expect to get into.
Gotham was like that for me (Batman really isn’t my thing, but oddly enough I felt compelled to not miss an episode), and Downton Abbey was as well.
A couple years ago, a friend first recommended Downton Abbey to me. She summed it up as a glimpse into the life of people living and working on an estate in the English countryside in the first half of the 1900’s. She laughed as she assured me that it was a lot more interesting than it sounds.
And she was completely right.
It’s hard to put into words what it is about Downton Abbey, but that show is seriously addictive. Maybe it’s the costumes that were à la mode back in the day. Or maybe it’s the setting. (Who wouldn’t want the chance to snoop around a huge manor and visually take in the breathtaking English countryside?) Or it could be the fancy accents, the complex character development, or even the food. (Mrs. Patmore looks to be one heck of a cook!)
Whatever it is, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hooked by the end of the first episode you watch. With the 5th season airing on Sunday, I had to make some British fare to celebrate!
What is a Cornish Pasty?
Cornish Pasties are basically hand-held meat pies.
The typical meat and vegetable filling usually contains beef, potato, swede (aka rutabaga), and onion. It’s seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked in a shortcrust pastry. The raw filling (yes, raw meat!) is placed in the center of a raw pastry circle. The dough is folded over, wrapping the filling, and the edge is crimped to seal the pasty.
As the story goes, they were a hearty, portable, and cheap lunch for mine workers in Cornwall, England. Pasties were eaten by the poor working class, so they’re something you’d find in the servants’ hall downstairs rather than the family’s dining room on Downton Abbey. But they are absolutely delicious and pretty perfect for munching on while watching TV. (You can read more about pasties on Wikipedia.)
The European Union awarded the Cornish Pasty “protected geographical indication” status. Meaning, only pasties prepared in Cornwall using the traditional recipe can be called Cornish Pasties. Read more about authentic Cornish Pasties here.
That’s why I don’t call this beef pasty recipe Cornish Pasties. But perhaps one day I’ll day to Cornwall and make this pasty recipe there!
Traditional Cornish Pasties and a Few Non-Traditional Pasty Fillings
The first time I had pasties was in London, so I was lucky to get to enjoy authentic Cornish Pasties.
I sampled a traditional pasty with beef, potato, and onion simply seasoned with salt and pepper in a gorgeously golden pastry.
I also tried a couple modern flavors: a Chicken Tikka Masala Pasty, as well as a bite of my friend’s Philly Cheesesteak Pasty, and a bite of another friend’s Potato Leek Pasty.
As you can imagine, no matter the filling, pasties are wonderful comfort food.
What Type of Pastry Are Pasties Traditionally Made From?
According to the Cornish Pasty Association, traditional Cornish Pasties have a shortcrust pastry that’s made with a combination of lard and butter.
For this pasty pastry recipe, we use all-butter for rich flavor.
The Simple Beef Pasty Recipe You Will Want to Make on Repeat
I’m not saying that this beef pasty recipe is authentic. For starters, we aren’t making our pasties in Cornwall! But it sure is delicious, and easier to make than you might think.
I don’t eat pork products, so I skipped the lard in the shortcrust and made an all-butter pastry crust. The flaky golden butter shortcrust encompassing the savory filling is absolute perfection!
For the filling in this beef pasty recipe, in addition to beef and onion, I added carrot, parsnip, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and Worcestershire sauce for seasoning. (I love the flavor of Worcestershire in beef pasties!)
As long as you keep the amounts the same, you can swap out the carrot and parsnip for any veggies you like, such as turnip or potato. I find that root vegetables work particularly well here.
Ingredients in Meat Pasties
All-Butter Shortcrust Pasty Dough Ingredients:
- All-purpose flour – this flour is the perfect base for pasty pastry dough
- Salt – to season the shortcrust dough
- Unsalted butter – adds rich flavor and flaky texture to pastry dough
- Ice water – the water needs to be very cold so it doesn’t melt the bits of butter; the small pieces of cold butter create steam when the pasties are baked, and the steam creates flaky layers in the crust
Ingredients in Vegetable Beef Pasty Filling:
- Raw beef steak – I like to use a tender steak that doesn’t need a low and slow cooking process, and I find that sirloin works well; trim off the fat and cut the steak into 1/4-inch cubes because that’s the perfect size for meat pasty filling
- Carrot and parsnip – these root vegetables work well as a filling for savory pasties; you can swap out the same amount for potato and/or rutabaga if you prefer
- Onion – don’t skip the onion here, it adds great savory flavor and aroma
- Fresh rosemary and thyme – fresh herbs elevate the flavors of this rich savory meat pie
- Worcestershire sauce – for complexity and depth of flavor
- Salt and black pepper – to season the pasties
- Egg beaten with water – this creates an eggwash to brush on top of the pastries, which helps make them a gorgeous golden color
How to Make Pasties with Beef
Step 1: Make the Pasty Dough:
Pulse together the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until it looks like coarse meal (the pieces of butter should be about the size of small peas). Alternatively, you can make the dough without a food processor. To do so, whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until it looks like coarse meal.
Transfer the dough from the food processor to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon water at a time, working the dough together with your fingertips just until it comes together, and only adding enough water so the dough comes together when you squeeze it.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and place them in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Step 2: Make the Filling:
While the pastry dough chills, stir together all filling ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.
Note that the beef steak is raw!
Step 3: Assemble the Pasties:
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Use a plate as a guide to trim the edges so you have a perfect circle.
Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling into the center of the dough; lightly brush the edge of the dough with eggwash. Fold both sides of dough up over the filling and crimp the edges together in the center of to form a tight seal.
Assemble 8 pasties this way. If you have leftover filling, re-roll the dough scraps and continue making pasties until you run out of filling or dough. (I usually get 9 pasties out of this recipe.)
Arrange the pasties onto the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush each with eggwash.
Step 4: Bake the Pasties:
Bake the savory pasties at 400F for 15 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through.
Reduce the heat to 350F and bake until the crusts are golden brown, about 30 minutes more, rotating the trays once halfway through.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy a culinary trip to Cornwall, England with each bite of these delicious pasties!
What to Serve with Beef Pasties
Well, technically a pasty is a portable full meal in itself! However, if you want to serve something with them, here are a few ideas:
- Beer and Cheese Cauliflower Soup
- Cream of Celery Soup
- Simple Spinach Salad
- Creamy Coleslaw with Tart Cherries, Blue Cheese, and Toasted Walnuts
- Apple Walnut Rainbow Swiss Chard Salad
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Beef Pasty Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter chilled and diced
- 5-7 tablespoons ice-cold water
- 3/4 pound raw beef steak I used sirloin, trimmed of fat and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 cup carrot diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 medium or 1 very large carrot)
- 1 cup parsnip diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 medium or 1 very large parsnip)
- 1 small onion diced small
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for eggwash)
- Pulse together the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until it looks like coarse meal (the pieces of butter should be about the size of small peas). (Alternatively, this can be done by hand; whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until it looks like coarse meal.)
- Transfer the dough from the food processor to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon water at a time, working the dough together with your fingertips just until it comes together, and only adding enough water so the dough comes together when you squeeze it.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and place them in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
- While the pastry dough chills, stir together all filling ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.
To Assemble the Pasties:
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
- Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Use a plate as a guide to trim the edges so you have a perfect circle.
- Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling into the center of the dough; lightly brush the edge of the dough with eggwash. Fold both sides of dough up over the filling and crimp the edges together in the center of to form a tight seal.
- Continue this way until 8 pasties are assembled, then if there is filling leftover, re-roll the dough scraps and continue making pasties until you run out of filling or dough (I usually get 9 pasties out of this recipe).
- Arrange the pasties onto the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush each with eggwash.
To Bake the Pasties:
- Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through.
- Reduce the heat to 350F and bake until the crusts are golden brown, about 30 minutes more, rotating the trays once halfway through.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Serving Tip: You can serve pasties warm or at room temperature.
- Storage and Reheating: Store leftover pasties covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, place them on a baking tray and heat in a 350F oven until warm throughout, about 10 to 15 minutes.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on January 1, 2015. It was updated with more information on March 19, 2023.
While the oven is at 400 make sure your oven rack in center of over or higher. Mine burnt on the bottom 😢
The pastry worked beautifully!
Cherie Westover says
Hello from Nashville! Born in Cornwall, and came over many years ago. My Mum born and raised in Cornwall as well. We just made pastys last week and have passed on the art of making them to my daughter and daughter in law! My Mum is almost 87 and also passes on the story of the Cornish pasty to the girls! They are delicious and a tradition that needs to be passed on to the next generation!
I can’t personally have beef (makes me ill, sadly), but I have a freezer full of ground pork and was looking for a tasty pasty recipe to sub ground pork into. This sounds delicious.
I did have a question though! Did you fill the pasties with the meat raw before baking? And would you do the same were you using ground pork? I was considering at least browning it before baking in hopes of keeping it from making the pastry soggy.
Cade, I cubed the beef into 1/4-inch pieces and left it raw and it worked well, no liquid seepage or soggy crust. I don’t eat pork, so unfortunately I don’t have any experience with it. But I would say if it was frozen it will likely have a higher water content and I would go ahead and brown it first. I hope you enjoy this recipe if you give it a try!
Followed this link from Add Some Butter. These pies look delicious!
Betty Kimball says
To me, it looks like there is a sauce on the side; mustard? Could you share information about that sauce. When I was in the UP, they would offer gravy (beef or poultry, depending on the meat they served), sour cream and ketchup. But I am interested in what you pictures. Thank you for the modern interpretation!
Betty, Thank you for your comment! The sauce on the side is just Dijon mustard, which is definitely my modern interpretation. I love mustard with beef, so I served a little bit on the side. :)
Pasties are pretty much a staple in northern Michigan. And you can find little pasty shops everywhere once you cross the bridge to the Upper Peninsula. For the same reason…the miners. I’m glad you brought this delicious meal to the masses. I never tried making them myself and I can’t wait to try your recipe.
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
These look gorgeous! Just look at that pastry…
Amanda Paa says
oh, these look like amazing comfort food! sadly, i have never watched this show, but i know people loooovee it. happy new year!
Nora (A Clean Bake) says
You have a way of using food to be verrrry convincing. I had all but given up on Downton Abbey but now I feel like I should give it another shot – all because of these endearing meat pies!
Christina @ but i'm hungry says
Um, heck yeah I watch Downton! I think I might have to make these and re-watch some past seasons while the rest of the world watches the beginning of the next. (There are serious downsides to not having cable!)
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I love Downton Abbey, this would be the perfect dinner to enjoy while watching the season premiere!
Fabulous pasties! What a great way to start the year.