The Perfect Traditional Cornish Pasty

Traditional Cornish beef and vegetable pasty on a wooden cutting board

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Rest Time: 15 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yields: 4 pasties
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
329 Calories
16g Fat
32g Carbs
13g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 329
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 448mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 7mg 35%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 311mg 7%
*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 pressed for 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 lunchbox, 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 cubed rump steak (sirloin)

  • 1/2 cup 1/4-inch-diced potato

  • 1/2 cup 1/4-inch-diced swede (rutabaga)

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

  • 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. 

    Ingredients for making traditional Cornish pasty shortcrust ingredients.
    The Spruce
  2. Place the flour, salt, and butter into a large bowl.

    Salt, flour, and butter are added to a 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.

    Butter is rubbed into flour and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
    The Spruce
  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.

    Stirring the flour mixture with a cold knife until the dough binds
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  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

    The dough is formed into a ball, covered in plastic wrap, and chilled
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Make the Filling and Form the Pasties

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Ingredients for making the traditional Cornish pasty filling
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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.

    The pastry dough is divided into four equal parts and rolled thin
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  4. Place the onion, potato, swede, and steak into a large mixing bowl and mix. Season well with salt and pepper.

    Onion, potato, swede, and meat are combined in a large mixing bowl before the salt and pepper are added
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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.

    The meat mixture is divided evenly on the rolled dough, and the dough edges are brushed with beaten egg
    The Spruce
  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.

    Each round of dough is folded in half, edges crimped, and tops brushed with beaten egg
    The Spruce
  7. Place the pasties on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F (177 C/Gas Mark 4) and bake another 20 minutes until golden brown.

    Baked pasties straight from the oven are a golden brown
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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 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.