Updated date:

How to Make Scotch Pies

Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.

A homemade Scotch pie topped with baked beans in tomato sauce, a poached egg and some freshly chopped chives

A homemade Scotch pie topped with baked beans in tomato sauce, a poached egg and some freshly chopped chives

What Are Scotch Pies?

Scotch pies are one of the most popular fast foods in Scotland. You will find them on sale throughout the land, in supermarkets, butchers' shops, bakers' shops and even in small local corner shops. They are traditionally made from mutton or lamb, encased in hot water pastry, though very often in present times, they will instead be made with beef. Scotch pies (or simply pies, as they are more often referred to in Scotland) were also at one time—and to a certain extent remain—a huge tradition with supporters at football (soccer) matches, where a pie and a Bovril was very much a part of the matchday tradition.

A Scotch pie is very commonly served in Scotland simply with chips and baked beans in tomato sauce

A Scotch pie is very commonly served in Scotland simply with chips and baked beans in tomato sauce

How to Make Traditional Scotch Pies

Traditional lamb and hot water pastry Scotch pies

Traditional lamb and hot water pastry Scotch pies

Tips for Making Hot Water Pastry

Hot water pastry is a notoriously difficult pastry to work with. This is due to the fact that if you allow it to cool too much when it is prepared, it will become almost impossible to roll and shape without it cracking. The magnitude of this problem clearly increases with the number of pies you intend making. For this reason, you should always preheat the bowl in which you are making the pastry but an additional tactic has been employed in this instance to help keep the pastry warm and pliable.

When the pastry has been mixed and divided in to portions, it is left in the bowl over a pot of recently boiled water (heat switched off) until needed. This simple idea really did work.

Measuring small foil pie moulds to find suitable templates for cutting the pastry

Measuring small foil pie moulds to find suitable templates for cutting the pastry

How to Shape Hot Water Pastry for Scotch Pies

The traditional way of making Scotch pie cases is to mould the pastry around the base of a cylindrical object such as a jam jar. Here, however, small foil cases were bought very cheaply from the supermarket. This makes the process much easier and cleaner, eliminating the risk of a pie collapsing in the oven. In order to find suitable pastry cutting templates, simply measure the cases and add twice the depth to the diameter. This will give you the required diameter of the implement you need to cut the base and sides of the pie. The diameter alone will give you the measurements for the lid. Two different sized kitchen bowls were found to be perfect for the purpose in this instance.

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ready in: 1 hour

Yields: 4 Scotch pies

Ingredients*

  • ½ lb minced (ground) lamb
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary, ground to powder in pestle and mortar
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ lb plain/all purpose flour
  • 3oz lard
  • 3 fl oz water
  • 4 tbsp lamb stock (or gravy)
  • Butter to grease pie cases
  • A little bit of milk to glaze

*The traditional ingredients for Scotch pies would include a spice such as nutmeg or mace instead of the rosemary and gravy instead of the lamb stock. Hopefully, you will enjoy this slight variation from the normal, as rosemary of course goes very well with lamb.

Step-By-Step Guide to Making Scotch Pies

  1. Get your oven preheating to 375F/190C.
  2. Put the minced lamb in to a bowl and add the rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. The easiest way to mix it to ensure even distribution of the seasonings is with your hand.
  3. Put the water and the roughly cut lard in to a small saucepan and gently heat until the lard is melted.
  4. Lightly grease your foil cases with butter.
  5. Add the flour to a warmed bowl with about half a teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine and form a well in the centre, in to which the water and melted lard should be poured.
  6. Stir with a wooden spoon to form a dough and divide in to four equal portions. Sit the bowl on top of a pot of very hot water to keep the pastry warm and pliable.
  7. Clingfilm has been used to cover the board on which the pastry is going to be rolled. It makes it much easier to lift the pastry once it's rolled. Take the first piece of dough and pull off a quarter of it. Roll the two pieces in to balls.
  8. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the larger ball until it is big enough to cut a circle with your larger template.
  9. Carefully lay the pastry in a foil dish and press it gently in to place. Trim off the excess around the edges with a sharp knife.
  10. Fill the pie two-thirds of the way up with the lamb, pressing down but not compacting it too firmly. Add a tablespoon of lamb stock.
  11. Roll out the smaller ball until you can cut the lid with the smaller template. Press it lightly in place.
  12. Repeat with the next three pies.
  13. Sit the pies on a baking tray and glaze with milk. Cut a small steam vent in the centre.
  14. Put the pies in to the oven for 30 minutes.
  15. Take the pies from the oven and use a spatula to lift them to a wire rack. Rest for fifteen minutes before lifting carefully from the foil cases.
Rested Scotch pies lift easily and cleanly from their foil cases

Rested Scotch pies lift easily and cleanly from their foil cases

Serving Suggestions for Scotch Pies

The recipes and serving suggestions below include cooking/preparation times and instructions for the accompaniments to the pies only. They assume the pies have already been made as described immediately above. If you have made the pies perhaps the day before, simply reheat them in the oven, on a baking tray, preheated to 190C/375F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cold Scotch Pie With Cheese and Pickles

A cold Scotch Pie served with cheese and a selection of pickles

A cold Scotch Pie served with cheese and a selection of pickles

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: n/a

Ready in: 5 min

Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • 1 cold Scotch pie
  • 1 tbsp Branston pickle
  • 2 small, whole pickled baby beets
  • 3 slices of cheddar cheese
  • 3 chip shop style pickled onions

Instructions

Note that the pie has simply been allowed to cool completely. It has not been in the fridge.

  1. Lay the pie on a plate and spoon the Branston pickle on the top.
  2. Arrange the cheese, beets and pickled onions alongside, tuck in and enjoy.
Tucking in to a cold Scotch pie and mixed pickles

Tucking in to a cold Scotch pie and mixed pickles

Scotch Pie With Baked Beans and a Poached Egg

A reheated Scotch pie is topped with heated baked beans in tomato sauce and a freshly poached egg

A reheated Scotch pie is topped with heated baked beans in tomato sauce and a freshly poached egg

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 15 min

Ready in: 30 min

Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • 1 Scotch pie
  • 2 tbsp baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Chopped chives to garnish

Egg Poaching Video Instructions and Plating Up

How to Reheat a Scotch Pie

This pie had been stored in the fridge overnight, so it's required to be reheated in the oven.

  1. Put your oven to preheat to 375F/190C and sit the pie on a baking tray. Heat for 15 minutes.
  2. The beans should be gently heated in a small saucepan.
  3. For poaching the egg, bring a large pot of water (about 3" deep) to the gentlest of simmers and stir in the white wine vinegar.
  4. Break the egg in to a small cup or bowl, careful not to break the yolk.
  5. Stir the water to form a whirlpool and gently pour in the egg. Cook on the gentlest of possible simmers for three or four minutes, depending upon how soft you like the egg yolk to be.
  6. Spoon the beans on to the pie and when the egg is ready, lift it from the water with a slotted spoon and sit it on top of the beans.
  7. Scatter the chopped chives to garnish.
Cutting in to a Scotch pie, beans and egg

Cutting in to a Scotch pie, beans and egg

How to Make Scotch Pie Alternatives With Puff Pastry

As touched upon earlier, hot water pastry can be difficult to work with but although it is essential to a truly authentic Scotch pie, you can make a very tasty alternative pie using puff pastry. In the following pie recipe, the lamb is also substituted for beef.

Alternative Scotch Pies Recipe With Puff Pastry and Beef

An alternative version of the Scotch Pie, made with puff pastry and beef

An alternative version of the Scotch Pie, made with puff pastry and beef

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

30 min

1 hour

Two pies

Ingredients

  • ¼ lb minced/ground beef
  • ¼ small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ¾ lb pre-rolled puff pastry, removed from fridge half hour in advance
  • Little bit of melted butter, for greasing pie cases and glazing
  • 2 tbsp fresh beef stock or gravy

Step-By-Step Guide to Making Scotch Pies With Puff Pastry

  1. Get your oven on to preheat to 190C/375F. Put the beef, onion and thyme in to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use your hand to mix it so that everything is fully and evenly combined.
  2. Unroll the puff pastry. Use your larger template to cut two circles, one from the extreme top right and the other from the extreme bottom left. This is to allow enough room to cut two smaller templates from what remains, though you should check in advance of cutting that this arrangement will work.
  3. Lightly butter two cases and carefully fit in the larger circles, pressing down only lightly to shape. Trim around the top edge of each casing with a sharp knife.
  4. Add enough beef to fill the cases two-thirds of the way up. You may have a little extra beef left but don't be tempted to overfill. Add a tablespoon of stock/gravy to the top of the meat in each case.
  5. Cut the lids from the remaining pastry and gently press them in place over the meat. Be careful to press too hard and squeeze out the stock.
  6. Glaze the lid and edges of the pies with more melted butter and cut a small steam vent in the centre of each with the point of a very sharp knife.
  7. Sit the pies on a baking tray and bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes, until the pastry is a beautiful golden colour.
  8. Transfer the pies to a wire rack with a spatula and leave to rest for at least fifteen minutes before attempting to remove them from the foil cases.

Alternative Scotch Pie With Garlic and Chive Potato Cakes

Puff pastry Scotch pie served with garlic and onion potato cakes and tenderstem broccoli

Puff pastry Scotch pie served with garlic and onion potato cakes and tenderstem broccoli

Cook Time

Prep time: 1 hour 15 min (includes refrigeration time)

Cook time: 45 min

Ready in: 2 hours

Yields: Two servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium baking suitable potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped chives
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 2 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 4 tbsp golden breadcrumbs (supermarket bought)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4oz tenderstem broccoli
  • 2 alternative Scotch pies

How to Make Garlic and Chive Potato Cakes

  1. Bring the potatoes in a pot of salted water to a medium simmer for 20 minutes or until softened. Drain, return to the pot and leave to steam for five minutes. This helps get rid of the excess moisture and prevent soggy mash.
  2. Add some butter, white pepper and a little more salt to the potatoes before mashing with a hand-masher. Only after mashing should you add the chives and garlic and stir through well to combine.
  3. Line a large plastic dish with clingfilm/plastic wrap—this really does make life much easier later on! Split the potato mix in to four equal portions, roll in to balls and flatten like burger patties between the palms of your hands to around three-quarters of an inch. Wetting or flouring your hands beforehand helps a little but it's not really necessary. Lay separately in the dish and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Put the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in three small bowls or deep bottomed plates. Gently heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan.
  5. Pat each potato cake firstly in the flour on both sides and around the edges. Dip in the beaten egg and pat in the breadcrumbs to ensure an even and complete coating. Fry on a medium heat for five minutes each side.
  6. Add the tenderstem broccoli to a pot of simmering, salted water for eight to ten minutes before draining through a colander or sieve.

Alternative Scotch Pie With Fried Potato Discs and Peas

Beef puff pastry Scotch pie served with deep fried potato discs and peas

Beef puff pastry Scotch pie served with deep fried potato discs and peas

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 10 min

Ready in: 25 min

Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • 1 medium baking potato, sliced to ¼" thickness
  • 2 to 3 tbsp frozen peas
  • Salt, black pepper and malt vinegar
  • 1 alternative Scotch pie

How to Make Deep Fried Potato Slices

  1. Trim the end off the potato before slicing. Add the slices to a bowl of cold water for ten minutes to get rid of some of the starch. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Deep fry the potato slices for three to four minutes. Remove to kitchen paper to cool and drain. After five minutes, fry again for another three or four minutes until golden and crisp.
  3. When the potatoes are started frying for the second time, add the peas to a pot of boiling water to simmer for three minutes.
  4. Drain the potatoes again on kitchen paper. Season with salt and vinegar.
  5. Drain the peas through a sieve and season with black pepper and malt vinegar.
  6. Plate the potatoes and the peas with your hot pie and serve.

Thanks for Visiting - Will You be Giving Scotch Pies a Try?

Comments

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 13, 2018:

Hi, Scott. Thanks very much for your extensive comment and I'm glad you like the pies. Re your questions: yes, steak and gravy would work equally well. Similar pies are now made here using this precise combination. There would be no need to blind bake or prepare the pastry any other way. The lard question is a bit more difficult. Can you get what Americans call shortening? This should work similarly well. Butter is another option though the pastry would turn out slightly different. Hope this helps and that you get to enjoy your own homemade pies very soon!

Scott from Thailand on April 08, 2018:

Hi George

Thanks for the recipe and will surely try it as have been searching hi & low for that authentic crunchy hard crisp shell of a Jock pie. I never even heard of hot water pastry but i think I can get that covered even though seems a little tricky as you say.

I live in Asia and the only pies we get over here worth any merit is there attempt at Aussie pies, not quite the same. When I visit back home to see family I normally go see the butcher and get a tray of Jock pies meant to do a week they rarely last that long.

Ok so a couple of questions if I may.Traditional is lamb and mutton but substitutes like good beef mince or even shredded stewing steak and some gravy would work?. I want the beef mince be of dry consistence same as a normal pie and maybe stew steak just a little wet. Would I have to blind bake in that case?

Lastly lard is not an easy come by ingredient in Asia, is there some substitute I can use?.Anyway thanks for the site hope receive a reply and look forward to my pie, chips and beans.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 03, 2018:

Hi, George. Yes, I used fairly fatty lamb to ensure the pies are moist but I find the minced lamb I buy tends to be fairly fatty anyway. Freezing is just not something I tend to do with them but I'm glad it works for you. Thanks for your visit and comment.

George M. on December 18, 2017:

Gordon, are the pies made with lamb not quite "dry"? I made some with lamb a while ago and they were like sawdust. Is the lamb you use quite fatty?

BTW, in response to "tperry" about freezing--he was talking about freezing uncooked pies. If he could cook the pies first, he could then freeze them. I usually zap them in the microwave (from frozen) for a minute to a minute and a half, then put them in the oven to "crisp up" the pastry.

Thank you for all your recipes! Great stuff. :-)

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on March 15, 2014:

Hi, tperry. I don't personally freeze Scotch pies but my family did when I was a child. They freeze very well but do have to be completely defrosted before being subsequently reheated at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 for 15 to 20 minutes. Good luck with your pie making and thanks for visiting and commenting.

tperry on March 15, 2014:

Is it possible to prepare the Scotch pies in advance and then freeze them for later consumption. If so, what oven temperature and for how long would you suggest? And would they need to be defrosted first or could you take them directly from the freezer to the oven. My concern would be that the pastry would burn before the filling is cooked through.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on January 11, 2014:

Great recipes, definitely going to try some of these! Voted up and useful.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 31, 2013:

Hi, Kathryn and thank you very much for letting me know. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 30, 2013:

Gordon, when I saw your "Pizza Omelette" recipe, it didn't occur to me that you were also the writer of this fascinating recipe, which I visited and commented on only 2 weeks ago. I just came back to let you know I tried making scotch pies yesterday (the kind with the ground beef), and they were delicious. Thanks again.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 15, 2013:

Hello, Kathryn. Thanks for your visit and comment. It never actually occurred to me that people may think they were getting a dessert option - but I can now understand why. I hope you enjoy whichever option you try.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 15, 2013:

Thanks, My Cook Book. Glad to be able to add to your collection :)

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 15, 2013:

Wow, this is a fantastic recipe hub! I have never heard of Scotch Pies (I thought it would be a dessert dish), but now I want to try them out. I like that you provided several different recipes and options, and provided so many pictures. Voted up and sharing!

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 15, 2013:

Hi, Carly. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad the egg poaching technique will prove useful to you.

Dil Vil from India on May 14, 2013:

Wow mouth watering. Good recipe, thanks for the share. Great work!

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on May 13, 2013:

This looks sensational. I was just telling my husband yesterday that I do not know how to poach an egg, and now I found the instructions. Everything looks so delicious.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 13, 2013:

Hi, randomcreative. Yes, you are certainly right about learning something every day. Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 13, 2013:

Hello, Ceres Schwarz. Yes, these are fairly quick to make in comparison with many other types of pie, which is a further significant benefit. I'm glad you like the pictures and hope you also enjoy the pies. Thanks for stopping by.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 13, 2013:

Thank you, BOGOBabies. If your mother-in-law has ever visitied her family in Scotland, there is a very good chance she will have tasted a Sctoch pie and will certainly at least be familiar with them. I hope you and she both enjoy trying these out.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 13, 2013:

Thank you, Prasetio and glad you like the idea.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 13, 2013:

Hi, Natasha and thank you. I hope you can remember what Scotch pies taste like :) Re the Secrets of the Deep soup mix: I'm afraid I have never heard of it before and can't find it on Google UK. When I went to the supermarket tonight, I went to the customer services desk and asked if they stocked it. The lady had never heard of it either and couldn't find it on the product database. Can only think it must have been a very localised product to the part of Scotland you lived in. Sorry to disappoint you.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 13, 2013:

Hi, Susan. I'm glad you're familiar with and like Scotch pies. I really missed them when I lived in London. Hope you enjoy the homemade ones. Thanks for visiting.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 13, 2013:

I had never even heard of Scotch pies before. You learn something new everyday. They are adorable, and I'm sure that they are delicious, too!

Ceres Schwarz on May 13, 2013:

Very detailed and informative hub on recipes of scotch pies. Your many images are great and really help to show the process of how to make scotch pies. The scotch pies all look good and delicious. They also don't seem to take too much time to make.

Emily from Florida on May 13, 2013:

This made me so hungry! My mother in law is from England and has family in Scotland. I'm always looking for ways to incorporate her past experiences into events and food is usually the key. These look like they'd be fun to try sometime soon!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 12, 2013:

Wow....It sounds delicious. Thank you very much for writing and sharing with us. I can't wait to make soon. Voted up and YUMMY :-)

Prasetio

Natasha from Hawaii on May 12, 2013:

Great instructions! I haven't had one of these in like 20 years. I lived in Scotland for a little while when I was a kid. My favorite thing ever was some soup mix called Secrets of the Deep. Do you know if it still exists?

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 12, 2013:

Gordon, When I used to live in Montreal there was this bakery called Maine's Bakery and they made the best Scottish meat pies. My grandmother every Saturday night would serve them for dinner. I've been searching for a recipe for these meat pies for years. You know I'll be trying your recipe. Thanks so much!

Related Articles