The Perfect Traditional Cornish Pasty

Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe

The Spruce

  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Resting Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 3 to 4 cups
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
372 Calories
21g Fat
21g Carbs
24g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4 cups
Amount per serving
Calories 372
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 10g 51%
Cholesterol 137mg 46%
Sodium 487mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 24g
Calcium 78mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Cornish pasty is known and loved throughout Great Britain and has long been part of the country's culinary heritage. It is believed the pasty originated with Cornish tin miners who, unable to return to the surface at lunchtime, could still enjoy a hearty meal. With their hands often dirty from a morning's work, the pasty could be held easily by the thick pastry crust without contaminating the contents. When laborers immigrated to the United States, they brought the pasty with them; Michigan's Upper Penninsula is also well-known for pasties.

A pasty is a handheld meat pie. To be considered authentic, according to the Cornish Pasty Association, it must use diced beef, potato, rutabaga (swede in the U.K.), and onion. Rump steak—a sirloin in the U.S.—is most common, though many people enjoy it with skirt steak. They're also very particular about the pastry that encases the filling and the manner in which it's crimped on the side.

This recipe uses a shortcrust pastry made by hand or in a food processor, but if you are short on time, a ready-made pastry will do fine. Even if your pasties are not perfect, this is a fun recipe to make, and cooking Cornish pasty in the oven is straightforward. Perfect for a lunch box, a traditional Cornish pasty also makes a great main course when served with fresh vegetables.

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Ingredients

  • For the Pastry:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 ounces butter (or half lard and half butter; cubed)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water (cold)
  • For the Filling:
  • 1/2 cup rump steak (sirloin; cubed small)
  • 1/2 cup potato (1/4-inch diced)
  • 1/2 cup swede (rutabaga; 1/4-inch diced)
  • 1/4 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this Cornish pasty recipe, the dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Shortcrust Pastry

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Traditional Cornish pasty shortcrust ingredients.
    The Spruce
  2. Place the flour, salt, and butter into a large bowl.

    Add salt, flour, and butter to bowl.
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  3. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Work as quickly as possible to prevent the dough from becoming warm.

    Rub mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.
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  4. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water to the mixture and, using a cold knife, stir until the dough binds together. Add more cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the mixture is too dry.

    Add cold water to mixture and mix with cold knife.
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  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

    Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill.
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Make the Filling and Form the Pasties

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Traditional Cornish pasty filling ingredients.
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  2. Heat the oven to 425 F (220 C/Gas Mark 7).

  3. Divide the pastry into four equal pieces and roll each piece into rounds the size of a tea plate—approximately 6 to 7 inches in diameter.

    Divide pastry and roll.
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  4. Place the steak, potato, swede, and onion into a large mixing bowl and mix. Season well with salt and pepper.

    Place the onion, potato, swede, and meat into a large mixing bowl and combine.
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  5. Divide the meat mixture evenly among each pastry circle and place it to one side. Brush the edges with beaten egg.

    Divide meat mixture evenly and add to pastry.
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  6. Fold the circle in half over the filling so the two edges meet. Crimp the two edges together to create a tight seal. Brush each pasty all over with the remaining beaten egg.

    Fold pastry in half, crimp edges, and brush with egg.
    The Spruce
  7. Place the pasties on a greased baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.

    Bake pasties in oven.
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  8. Serve hot or cooled and enjoy.

Tips

  • The dough can also be made in a food processor: Pulse the flour, butter, and salt until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly add the water through the funnel until the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill.
  • There is no need to cook the filling ingredients beforehand as they will cook within the pasty.
  • Choose a waxy potato that will hold its shape in the pasty. New potatoes, Red Bliss, and fingerlings are good choices.
  • A traditional pasty is crimped on the side—not across the top—so it lays flat. Crimp it however you feel comfortable because it will taste just as good either way.

How Is Pasty Pronounced?

Pasty is not pronounced "paste-y" (as in a pale complexion or glue). Instead, it sounds more like "fast." Whether you're in the U.K. or Michigan, remembering that to say "pass-tee" can save a bit of embarrassment.

Recipe Variations

The traditional Cornish pasty uses very particular ingredients. Though it won't be authentic, you can make a pasty with a variety of fillings.

  • Designed to be an economical meal, use the meats and vegetables that you have in the kitchen. Pork, chicken, carrots, leeks, peas, and sweet potatoes are just a few options.
  • Cheese, onion, and potato pasties are popular in the U.K.
  • The Welsh oggie is a giant pasty with lamb, leeks, and potatoes.
  • Fish is a good choice too, and salmon is often found in pasties. This salmon puff pastry recipe is a full-flavored variation with an Asian influence.
  • Skip the meat and create a vegetarian pasty.