Whether you are looking for a traditional Irish meal to serve on St. Patrick’s Day, or just looking for a fun new way to serve your family meat and potatoes, this recipe is for you. They are easy, delicious, and can even be frozen for a quick meal on a busy day.
Pasties in my neck of the woods are generally of the Cornish variety. Cornish pasties usually call for cuts of beef and rutabaga. In my opinion, they also tend to be a bit dry and require a large amount of ketchup to make them good.
I hope I don’t offend anyone, as this traditional meal is pretty deep in some family’s roots!
When I came across the Irish version of pasties, common in Northern Ireland, I knew this would be a better fit for our family. Ground meat – pork, beef, or both. Veggies that I actually had on hand. And deep fried! Need I say more?
It also seemed quite fitting with my Irish ancestry, but really it was probably the hand-held pie filled with a savory meat filling that got me. Oh, and the deep-fried part.
While this is my take on the recipe according to all of the information I could find on traditional Irish pasties, know that the beauty in this meal is its versatility. There are so many different ways to make these pasties! Don’t have ground pork? Use ground beef! Don’t like carrots? Leave them out.
I hope this recipe gives you a solid basis for learning to make Irish pasties and then go ahead and let your imagination run wild and enjoy!
This recipe makes 9 large pasties, but feel free to adjust the amount as needed.
What ingredients do you need to make traditional Irish pasties?
Prep bin (I set these items aside so that they are ready to go)
- 6 yellow or russet potatoes (6 chops chopped)
- 2 medium onions (3 cups diced)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground pork or sausage
Pull out same day:
- 3 carrots (1 cup diced)
- 3 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. garlic powder or favorite meat seasoning (add more seasonings, such as some sage or fresh thyme if using plain ground pork)
- your preferred deep fry oil (we use avocado oil but olive oil works too)
- 6 T butter
For the pasty crust:
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup lard or shortening
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. salt
How to make traditional Irish pasties from scratch
Don’t let this recipe intimidate you! It’s easy, versatile, and can be made ahead if that works better for you schedule!
I prefer to make the crust the night before so it is chilled and ready to make the next morning. I then prep the pasties up to the point of baking and refrigerate them (requires some fridge room). You may also prep the dough in the morning and assemble the pasties just before baking. Do what works for you!
Looking for a shortcut? You can use premade pie crusts. Even better, I like to keep homemade pie crust dough made and in the freezer for added meal-prepping convenience. The dough balls can then just be defrosted and rolled out!
You can also substitute your own pastry or pie dough.
- Dice the butter and measure out the lard. Set aside.
- To a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer, (my fave) add 2 cups of boiling water.
- Quickly add the diced butter and large and mix until they are both melted and mixed into the water.
- Turn the mixer on low and slowly add 5 1/2 cups of a.p. flour. Add up to another 1/2 cup just until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides. Wrap the ball of pie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours or overnight.
- Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and set aside.
- Line a large baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper (if baking immediately) OR line a container that will fit in your fridge with a piece of parchment paper and keep more handy.
- Get a cup of water and set it near where you will be assembling pasties.
- Dice the onion.
- Brown the ground beef and pork in a large skillet over medium heat until almost cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.
- Add 1 T butter and the diced onion to the hot skillet. Saute onion until it begins to soften and caramelize. Transfer the cooked onion to the bowl with the meat.
- Dice the potatoes, and carrots into 1/2″ cubes or slices. Dicing into small pieces is important so that your veggies cook through.
- Add the diced veggies to the bowl with the onions and meat. Season to taste with a pinch of salt, pepper, and any additional favorite seasonings that pair well with beef. Mix well to combine.
- Divide dough into 9 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough using a rolling pin on a floured work surface into an 8-inch circle, or until the dough is about 1/4″ thick. Mine aren’t always perfect circles, but if you are looking for perfection, you may want to invest in a pastry circle.
- To one side of the circle, add about 1 1/2 cups of the meat and potato mixture. You want enough filling to make it a hardy meal, but not so much that the hand pies are bursting at the seams. Add 2 tsp. of butter chunks to the top of the mixture.
- Dip a pastry brush or your fingers in the cup of water and moisten the edges of the dough circle. Then fold over the empty side of the dough on top of the meat mixture to form a half circle. Use a fork to crimp the edges together. You can also get a little fancier with the edges, but I generally only do this for pictures.
- Carefully move the pasty either to the lined or greased baking sheet or the lined container you prepped earlier if prepping ahead.
- Continue this process for each ball of dough. If placing in a container, place pieces of parchment paper between each layer so that they don’t stick together.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
How to cook the traditional Irish pasties
About 1.5 hours before you plan to serve dinner, it’s time to do the final cooking. If you are making these in one swoop, just carry on!
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the prepared pasties from the refrigerator if you prepped them earlier and let them come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes. If they were in a container, transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Use a knife to make a few small slits on the top of each pasty to release steam.
- Bake the pasties in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
- Towards the end of the baking time, pour about 3/4 inch of avocado oil into a deep skillet or cast iron pan and heat it to 375 degrees F.
- After the baking time is up, remove the pasties from the oven. One by one, fry the pasties in the oil until golden brown on each side. Then, remove them to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. The paper towels are optional but help remove excess grease.
- Repeat with the remaining pasties and serve hot.
Can I use other meat in place of the ground pork and sausage?
Absolutely! You could substitute all ground sausage or all ground beef. You could also use shredded beef, diced sausage meat, skirt steak, stew meat, leftover roast beef, or whatever you have on hand. This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers!
Can I skip deep frying the pasties?
Yes! If you’d like to not deep fry the pasties, I recommend removing them from the oven after 30 minutes. Brush the top of the pies with a mixture of beaten egg whisked together with a little milk or cream.
Can I make vegetarian or vegan Irish pasties?
Sure, I’m sure a vegetable pie would be great too! You can adjust the filling ingredients to serve your family’s preferences. Add more veggies to make sure you have plenty of filling.
What sides should I serve with Irish pasties?
The traditional side served alongside Irish pasties is chips, also known as french fries here in the United States.
What is the difference between a Cornish pasty and an Irish pasty?
Cornish pasties are traditionally made with rutabaga, cubed beef, and no carrots. Irish pasties often include pork, and potatoes, and are deep-fried.
Can I use mashed potatoes in my Irish pasties?
Yes, I have seen some variations that call for mashed potatoes in place of diced. You would simply boil the potatoes until fork tender. Then, mash the boiled potatoes and mix with a little milk and butter to make them smooth. I would recommend adding them as a layer when you are filling the pasties instead of mixing them with the meat and veggies. This is a personal preference, however!