How to make spicy meat pies

It is an exotic European snack that doubles up as a full meal

In Summary

• They are tasty snacks for all the carnivores and great appetizers for parties, potlucks

• The crust takes only about 10 minutes to put together and the filling 15-20 minutes

A plate of oven baked spicy meat pies.
A plate of oven baked spicy meat pies.
Image: Hannie Petra

Meat pies are exotic snacks that are made up of a pastry case with beef and vegetable fillings according to one's preference.

They are tasty snacks convenient for all carnivores and great appetizers/starters for parties and potlucks as well.

You can try different types of meat for your filling, depending on which pie you want. One can use ground pork, chicken, turkey or beef meat. You can also mix meats or add favourites like bacon for a more creative taste.

The pies are a European invention. New Zealand largely regards the meat pie as part of its cuisine as it forms part of the country's national identity.

Preparation takes about two hours for the whole process, including rising time for the dough and cooking the meat.

image of pie crusts rolled out and filled with the meat stuffing.
image of pie crusts rolled out and filled with the meat stuffing.
Image: Hannie Petra



  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/3 cup shortening or butter

  • 4 tbsp cold water


  • 1 cup chopped potato

  • ½ cup chopped onion

  • 3 tbs margarine or butter

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ tsp dried thyme or sage, crushed

  • 1 ¼ cup beef broth

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • 1 ½ of crushed garlic, parsley and pepper

  • 2 cups ground beef


a) For the crust

Mix flour and salt into a large mixing bowl then add cold water. Pouring cold water one tablespoon at a time into your flour will help you integrate the water gently, allowing the dough to form loosely. The mixture should just barely come together and form a loose ball, and shouldn't be damp or wet looking.

  • Be very gentle. The key to a flaky crust is to make sure you don't overwork the dough. If you overwork the dough, the crust will become tough and difficult to handle.
  • Your mixture will form soft lumps. These lumps should be moist enough that they will hold together if you gently press them between your fingers.

Use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Very gently, pull the flour into a ball and then split the ball into two equal portions.

  • It's usually a good idea to chill the dough in the refrigerator until you're ready to roll it out and bake with it. If you've already got the oven pre-heated and you're anxious to get started, putting it in the freezer can be a good way to get the temperature down quickly.
  • If you want to save the dough for a longer period of time, freeze it in a self-sealing freezer bag. When you're ready to use it, let it defrost in the fridge overnight and roll it out normally.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough with your hands and roll from the centre to the edges with a rolling pin dusted with flour and cut it into six even pieces (or more, depending on the desired size,) about 5 ounces each.

Roll the pieces into six individual balls

  • Dust your workstation with flour to prevent dough from sticking

Roll your pieces into about 8-inch flat circles. If your dough is very warm, it may be difficult to handle, cool it in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes if necessary.

b) For the filling

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 cups ground beef and 1/2 cup chopped onions. Season with thyme, cloves, chopped garlic (if desired) and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring to crumble the meat and mix in the spices until the meat is evenly browned.

  • If you'd like a more flavourful pie, you can also use a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg as seasoning.

  • Once your meat is cooked through, use a wooden spoon or spatula to push your meat to one side of the pan and tilt the pan away, letting the grease pool on the other side. Spoon the grease out or carefully tilt your pan over a grease safe container to dispose of it.

meat pie pockets rolled, brushed and ready to be oven baked.
meat pie pockets rolled, brushed and ready to be oven baked.
Image: Hannie Petra

Make sure your meat is fully cooked before placing it in your crust.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Fill your individual pies. Evenly divide your filling into about 3/4 cup per individual pie and scoop it onto half of each dough circle. Carefully fold the dough over to cover the filling and use your fingers or a fork to press the edges together.

Slice slits into the tops of each pocket. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits into the top of your pies. This allows steam to escape when baking and helps to prevent the pie from cracking or bursting in the oven.

Brush the top of your pockets with egg or melted butter to keep the top moist.

Bake your pies on a lightly oiled or non-stick baking sheet in the oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown and flaky.

Remove from oven and enjoy with a side of ketchup or any other preferred sauce.

These pies have a rich, nutty flavour and are irresistibly delicious, with a rich and tender crust.

They also go well with milk.