Scotch pie, a savory hand pie made with hot water pastry crust and ground (minced) meat, is a great favorite in Scotland and in my home in Arizona, as well. Originating in England and “perfected by the Scottish,” the Scotch pie is a national icon made in homes and bakeries across the country.
People stand in long and chilly lines at football (soccer) games just to get their hands and teeth on one. In fact, the way some people talk about Scotch pie makes you wonder: Do they go to the football games for the pie or the game itself? I doubt anyone would stand out in the damp grass staring at an empty field just to eat a hand pie, no matter how yummy it is. So, it seems the Scotch pie and the football game are a matched set – like hot dogs and baseball.
Please note: This Scotch Pie recipe is the first in a TIMK series featuring “Hand Pies Around the World.”Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss a recipe.
Many Ways to Make a Scotch Pie
A few simple ingredients make up a Scotch pie. Ground or minced meat, traditionally mutton, but now more commonly ground beef, mixed with spices, and sometimes onions, all baked in a hot water pastry shell made of water, lard, salt, and flour. Yet, despite the list of ingredients being so basic, there are myriad ways in which the pie is made.
Some people shape their hot water crust over a jar or glass and let it sit overnight, or a couple of days, to dry. Once hard, they fill it with the meat mixture, add the wet lid (top crust), and bake it. This makes for a very crispy shell. Other’s like to cook the meat and add a little gravy to it. Then, they put the cooked meat and dab of gravy in the raw shell and bake it. I like to mold my hot water pastry into mini cheesecake pans. Then, I fill them with the raw meat mixed with sautéed onions and spices, put on the lid, and bake for about 40 minutes.
In my house, we eat the pies hot, not long after they come out of the oven. Smothered in gravy and eaten alongside a baked potato and steamed broccoli they make a super satisfying meal. But, this isn’t the only way to eat Scotch pies. Leftover pies are very portable and can be eaten cold or reheated. It’s the simplicity and versatility of the Scotch pie that makes it so easy to fall in love with. You can take them with you for a bite on the go, a picnic, a tailgate party, or to pack into a lunch box.
Characteristics of a Scotch Pie
Even though, a Scotch pie can be made in many different ways, there are some common characteristics I’ve noticed that make a Scotch pie a Scotch pie.
- Each pie is a serving that fits in one hand.
- The hot water pastry is usually shaped, by whatever means, into a straight-sided bowl.
- The filling is made with ground meat, (usually beef, mutton, or a mixture), spices, and sometimes onions.
- The pie has a thin top crust with a hole in it to allow steam to escape while baking. (Some bakeries will put two holes in the top crust to indicate the pie contains onions.)
- The top crust sits about 1/4 inch below the top of the side crust making a shallow bowl on top of the pie. This allows for the addition of gravy, baked beans, ketchup, or whatever suits your fancy, and keeps it from running off the sides and making a mess. Important if you’re eating your pie in the wild and not at home at your kitchen table.
About the Spices
Spice blends used in Scotch pie recipes are often closely guarded secrets. They make one’s own pie recipe different from everybody else’s. There are some commonalities, though. Those include salt, pepper, mace, and/or nutmeg. Anything else, or anything less, is on you. Experiment! You never know. You could be the next world champion Scotch pie baker. Although, I believe you need to have a bakery to enter. But, who cares? Give yourself an award!
Equipment Needed to Make this Recipe
- Four 4-inch springform cake pans (or equivalent)
- Rolling pin
- Small skillet
- Knife to cut onion
- Measuring cups, spoons
- Kitchen scale (optional)
- Mixing Bowls and spoons
- Pastry Brush (for egg wash)
- Stove and Oven (obviously)
Like hand pies? Try my Easy Cheesy Calzone Recipe, as well!
Nutrition information is approximated based on online calculators.
I had a lot of issues with this recipe. Some of it i’m sure is my own ignorance. I found the pastry was too dry and didn’t stick together well. Also the ground beef juices leaked out all over the top of the pies and that was at the 35 minute mark when I checked them, not close at all to being done. (at 350degrees as instructed). So I’m not sure what went wrong or how I could have problem solved better.
I’m sorry you had trouble with the recipe. The only suggestions I can make are one, weigh your flour instead of just scooping it up. Different people will get different amounts of flour in a “cup,” because they all scoop differently. Secondly, if the pastry is still too dry or you don’t have a kitchen scale, just add a little more hot water. Go easy, adding just a tiny bit extra at a time. It should be really moist and pliant. (Not sticky or falling apart.) Some of the meat juices will bubble up through the air hole. It shouldn’t be a whole lot, though. If you’re getting a lot of juice (fat) coming through the hole, maybe try a lower fat ground beef. Lastly, make sure you preheat your oven before putting in the pies. All ovens are different, as well. Some run hotter than the temperature on the dial and some run cooler. You can check this with an oven thermometer inside the oven, but if you don’t want to go that far, just cook your pies a little longer.
Hope this helps! Let me know, if you have any further questions.
A traditional Scotch pie is made with mutton, rather than beef. Both are delicious though! Scotch pies are eaten hot, while pork pies, which originate in England rather than Scotland, are generally eaten cold.
Thanks for the info, Garry. 🙂
Cooking at 160 F?
No, not cooking at 160° F. That’s what the final internal temperature should be, at least, to ensure the meat is fully cooked. The pies are baked at 350° F.
Have a great day and let me know, if you have any further questions. 🙂
Ah, they also call these pork pies! I’ve read that these pies also lend their name and shape to the eponymous pork pie hats.
(Thank you for following The Monching’s Guide, by the way! Couldn’t comment on your About section, so I’ll just put it here.)
Yes, the pastry in pork pie and Scotch pie are the same. They’re both hot water pastry. Just love it! I haven’t tried a pork pie, yet, but will very soon. 🙂 Thanks for your feedback and your blog looks very interesting. Happy to follow!