Could we make a real scotch pie? From scratch?
When we first started Scottish Scran and we were planning what Scottish foods we wanted to make, and after our traditional Scottish Tablet recipe, the idea of an authentic Scotch pie recipe kept coming up.
You can find traditional Scottish meat pies, called Scotch pies, all over the country in bakeries and supermarkets. They’re usually inexpensive but make a tasty snack or addition to a full meal.
But of course, we wanted to see if we could make our own Scotch pie recipe at home! Like all our traditional recipes, we try to go back and find the most authentic recipe possible.
This involves checking out old recipe books and researching until we find several traditional recipes, which we then make and adapt to create our own. And it turns out Scotch pies really haven’t changed a lot over time!
The idea was also that if we could make the traditional meat pie, then we’d be able to start thinking about some other tasty fillings to make too. But more on that later…
Pin for later!
What is a Scotch pie?
First, what exactly is a “Scotch” pie, and what makes it different from any other meat pie?
The origins of the pie are actually from so long ago that no one knows quite where they came from, although it’s generally accepted that the Scotch pie has been made in Scotland for at least the last four or five hundred years. You can’t get much more traditionally Scottish than that!
The first filling was spiced mutton and sometimes you’ll still find Scotch Pies called a Mutton pie, although now minced lamb or beef is more commonly used.
While every recipe for the filling differs slightly there are some common spices used including mace and nutmeg that really make the pie a Scotch Pie.
We will admit that we ventured a little off-piste when it comes to the herbs and spices, choosing to add a small tsp of mixed herbs as well, and we think this really helps bring out the flavour.
Of course, you can choose to stick to just mace or add a little nutmeg too.
The difference between a Scotch pie to other mince pies is the pastry, called “hot water pastry”. It’s more like a crust rather than a flaky pastry, meaning it can be moulded to form the distinctive round with straight sides.
The pastry lid of the pie is placed about a centimetre below the top of the sides, allowing for the pie to easily be eaten by hand with an extra topping like sauce, mash, gravy, or baked beans filling the gap.
For that reason, Scotch pies were often associated with the working class who could easily eat them on the go on breaks, or with football stadiums where they were served to take back to the stand and continue watching the game.
We took a look at LOTS of different variations of the Scotch pie and did our own taste testing too. We’re confident we have it right! Of course, there’s always room for changing things to be how you like them, but here’s what we consider to be the perfect Scotch pie recipe…
Ingredients for the Scotch Pie Recipe
The recipe has two parts, the pastry and the filling.
Hot Water Pastry
- 250g plain flour – 2 cups
- 100g lard – 1/2 cup
- 120ml water – 1/2 cup
- 300g lamb mince
- 1 small onion
- 1 tsp mixed herbs (typically basil, marjoram, and oregano. You could use rosemary as well).
- 1/2 heaped tsp mace
- Beef stock, lamb stock, or lamb gravy – Mix up and use about 4 tbsp or until mixture is just wet.
- A liberal amount of salt and pepper throughout the recipe.
Lard isn’t exactly the nicest thing to cook with but it’s necessary to make hot water pastry. If you’re looking for a vegetarian substitute then you could use a combination of butter and vegetable shortening, or for a vegan scotch pie pastry, you’d need to purely use vegetable shortening.
We haven’t tried with either of these options yet but plan to do so in future so we can release specific recipes for them. Let us know if you do!
We stuck with lamb mince for our Scotch Pies, given the most traditional filling was mutton but that’s not really a supermarket shelf staple now. Lamb is now more common, or you can use beef if you prefer, but this will, of course, give it a different flavour.
How much stock or gravy you’ll need to use is dependent on how fresh the meat is and how much fat is in it. We’ve found when the meat is a little older you need more stock, but when it’s fresh you need less. We also used meat that was 20% fat, but if there is less fat you may need more liquid.
The aim is to give the meat flavour without making it too wet otherwise the pastry will go soggy and you can lose the taste of the herbs.
Things you’ll need to make Scotch Pies
- Small tins or something to mould the cases around (about 10cm width)
- Rolling pin
- Small pot/pan
- Large bowl
We bought specific mini tins to make scotch pies, but we appreciate that not everyone will want to do so. The tins we chose are known as pie tins, or in the US, mini cheesecake tins like these.
You could also use a large muffin tray like this, if you think that would suit you better to own in the long run, as long as the sides of the wells are fairly straight.
Using a tin means you know that you’ll be able to get the correct shape and you can always use them for any other pies or also mini cheesecakes and cakes. If you like to bake then they are worth the investment!
However, if you want to try the recipe and you’re not up for the investment then you can still hold the pastry and bake the pies in another way.
Use a large jar or something round and big enough to be able to mould the pastry around the end of so it becomes hard, like a vase, large glass, or even a tin can, although this would make smaller pies.
Once the cases are hard you can take them off and fill them as usual, then tie a strip of baking paper around the outside to help it hold its shape while baking in the oven.
How to make this Scotch Pie Recipe – Step by Step method
Start by oiling the pie tins, or whatever you intend to use to shape the pie. If you’re not using tins then you can cover the end of the jar/glass etc with cling film so it doesn’t stick too.
Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle.
Cut the lard into small cubes and add to a small pot of hot water. Use a smaller pot so that the lard is just covered by the water, (it’s only a tiny amount). You don’t want it to boil so keep an eye on it and stir until the lard has melted into the water.
Next, pour the mixture into the well in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead a little. As the hot water pastry cools it becomes harder to manage so you need to work reasonably quickly.
Although when we read that on all the recipes we thought we had hardly any time at all but we took around half an hour to make the pie cases and it was still fine.
Divide the pastry into 4 and then take a little from each ball to save for the pie lid. It will be somewhere between a quarter to a third depending on the size of your pies.
Roll out the pastry balls to about 5mm depth one by one and put them into the pie tins. We rolled to approximately 20cm width each for our 10cm tins and then used our fingers and a little gravity to mould, easing down the sides and even out the top of the pastry against the side of the pie tin.
If you’re using a jar or glass then drape the pastry over and cut around it to ensure it has a flat edge where the top of the pie casing will be. You can put cling film over the jar/glass as well to help it not stick rather than oil.
We rolled out our lids and put them on cling film on a tray. The lids will need to fit inside of the pie casing so you’ll want to make sure they are not the exact size of the tins but slightly smaller.
Put all of the pastry in the fridge to harden. You can actually make the cases well in advance if you like and just leave them in the fridge.
In the meantime, finely chop one small onion and fry in a pan. Add the mace and mixed herbs, and then put in a bowl with the minimum amount of stock/gravy.
Once cooled add to the lamb and mix through. Add more stock/gravy if you think it needs it. You don’t want there to be too much liquid as it will leak out of the pie while cooking.
Divide the mixture up into balls and put it in the pie tin, then push down with the back of your knuckles to spread the mixture and fill the pie cases. You only want them to be about 3/4 full.
Push the pie lids down into the pie casing, so they are around 1cm from the top of the pie. The pastry is usually still a little malleable and you can smooth the edges of the lid into the side of the pie to join them together.
Cut a small hole in the top of the pies to let the air escape, around a centimetre or so.
If you haven’t used pie tins then at this point you’ll want to cut some strips of baking paper and tie them around the pie cases with string, just to help the pies hold their shape while they’re cooking.
Put the pies in the oven for around 45 minutes at 180°C or 356°F. Check them at about 35-40 minutes to see how the pastry is doing. It should go a light golden-brown colour.
You can remove from the tins as soon as they’re cool enough to handle. Then you just have to decide if you’re having then with brown sauce or red sauce (HP or ketchup) or some other topping!
Different Scotch Pie Fillings
Once you get the hang of the hot water pastry then your ability to make different Scotch Pie fillings is basically endless! We plan on making some more combinations here soon, including a haggis filling (see our list of haggis recipes for more ideas!) and the classic Macaroni pie (recipe now here). Yes, that’s Macaroni cheese in a Scotch Pie!
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Authentic Scotch Pie Recipe
This classic Scotch pie recipe tastes even better than a bought one! Made with a crust-like hot water pastry and filled with seasoned lamb mince, it's the perfect addition to a winter warmer meal or to eat on the go.
Hot Water Pastry
- 250g plain flour (2 cups)
- 100g lard (1/2 cup)
- 120ml water (1/2 cup)
- 300g lamb mince
- 1 small onion
- 1 tsp mixed herbs (usually a combination of oregano, marjorum, and basil. You could also use rosemary.)
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 4tbsp lamb stock, beef stock, or gravy (minimum amount, you may need more)
- Salt and pepper
- Start by oiling the pie tins with a little vegetable oil, or put cling film over the end of the glasses/jars you intend to use.
- Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
- Cut the lard into cubes and add to a small pot of hot water, stirring until it's melted. Don't allow the water to boil.
- Pour the mixture into the flour well and mix together with a wooden spoon, until it’s mostly combined. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead a little to make sure it's fully combined. As the hot water pastry cools it becomes harder to manage so you need to work reasonably quickly.
- Divide the pastry into 4 balls and then take a little from each ball to save for the pie lid. Between a quarter to a third depending on the size of the pies you're making.
- Roll out the pastry balls to about 5mm thickness one by one and put them into the pie tins, ensuring there is a flat even edge to the top of the sides of the pie. We rolled to approximately 20cm each for our 10cm tins. If you’re using a jar or glass then drape the pastry over and cut around it to ensure it has a flat edge where the top of the pie casing will be.
- Roll out the lids and put them on cling film or baking paper on a tray. The lids will need to fit inside of the pie casing so you’ll want to make sure they are not the exact size of the tins/cases but slightly smaller.
- Put all of the pastry in the fridge to harden.
- In the meantime, finely chop one small onion and fry in a pan. Add the mace and mixed herbs, and then put in a bowl with the minimum amount of stock/gravy.
- Once cooled add to the lamb and mix through. Add additional stock/gravy if the mixture isn't too wet. You don’t want there to be too much liquid as it will leak out of the pie while cooking and make the pastry soggy.
- Divide the lamb mixture up and fill the pie cases about 3/4 full.
- Push the pie lids down into the pie casing, so they are around 1cm from the top of the pie.
- Cut a small hole in the top of the pies to let the air escape.
- Put the pies in the oven for around 45 minutes at 180°C or 356°F. Check at 35/40 minutes as you want the pastry to be just golden-brown.
- You can remove from the tins as soon as they’re cool enough to handle.
The easiest way to make the pies is with small individual tins. You can use mini cheesecake/cake tins, or a large muffin tin if the sides are straight.
If you don't have or want to purchase these then you can use the bottom of large glasses, vases, bottles, or even tin cans (although these are slightly smaller) to shape the cases and let them harden and then tie them with baking paper and string while they're cooking to help them hold their shape.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 837Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 427mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 39g
The nutritional data in this recipe is provided by a third party and these values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed.
75 thoughts on “Easy & Authentic Scotch Pie Recipe”
Wow these look awesome and delicious! You make them sound easy enough and fun to make with your instructions. They look so professional too, but home made are always better 🙂 thanks for the recipe.
Loving these recipes!
Ahhhhh Mary, you’re making us blush!
Would I be able to use butter in place of lard? How much hot water would i put in pot for pastry? Would love to make these for my scottish husband.
Hi Megan, sorry for the delay in replying. Butter could be used as a replacement, but it needs to be handled very carefully as it melts quickly and can make the pastry very chewy. Also, because butter contains slightly less fat than lard, you may need to use a bit more to achieve the same results. To be perfectly honest, we would recommend it. Hope that helps, Phil & Sonja
I just made this tonight! I had to use a beef/veal mix since I couldn’t find minced lamb but, WOW! It was delicious and even my husband (who usually only eats chicken and fish), love it. I added roasted rutabaga to the meat mix. It was the perfect comfort food! Thank you so much for this yummy recipe.
What a lovely comment, thank you very much for letting us know you’ve used our recipe! 😊 😊 😊
I grew up in the U.S. eating mutton pies. My father’s parents were from Glasgow. There was a good sized Scottish community in our part of Brooklyn, New York. We had a fish & chips shop and a Scottish butcher/baker shop nearby. In our house, we always ate the pies with “Lea & Perkins.” I didn’t know there were other brands of Worcestershire Sauce until I was an adult and was shopping for some.
Adding a little Lea and Perrins perks up many dishes! Your area of Brooklyn sounds very Scottish, what a great place to grow up.
Was that bakery called “Watson’s Home Bakery” on 5th Avenue between 68-69 Street?
OMG that’s where we used to got our pies for New Years Eve when I was a child!
Am I reading this right….you don’t cook the lamb before filling the pastry??
Yes, that’s right! It will cook along with the pastry 🙂
Hi Sonja-I’d advise checking final temperature with a proper meat thermometer in that case! Seriously-a U.K. chef received 8 months suspended prison sentence recently for killing someone with under-cooked lamb mince in a Shepherd’s pie. At least 74 degrees final temp. Nice recipe!
If you have one to hand then a meat temp is a fantastic tip.
Thanks for the recipe – I tried making them using beef instead of mutton and they were delicious! I was wondering – do you have a recommendation for what kind of gravy you think would work best to serve them with?
We would just use a standard thick beef gravy, keep it simple! We tend to have them with ketchup or brown sauce though.
I like them plain, but, my father used HP sauce. My mother and her parents were from near Edinburgh and my dad was from Coventry, so meat pies were always something we had throughout the year, but we got them from a Scottish shop. I’m looking forward to making this recipe.
Everyone seems to like them just a little different! Hope you like the recipe 🙂
Do some folks use a blend of minced lamb and beef and if so what would be a good ratio.
Thanks. Great website!
I use 75% beef and 25% lamb.
Can you use premade pie crust instead of making your own crust?
I’m not actually aware of anywhere you can buy hot water pastry because of the way it hardens once it’s made and then shaped! It is possible to buy pre-made hot water pastry pie cases but that depends on where you live (some places in the UK sell online). This isn’t a complicated pastry though, it literally takes 5 minutes to make and then you just need to shape it, which you’d have to do with store-bought pastry anyhow. Of course, you can use store-bought shortcrust or puff pastry but then it’s not really a scotch pie as it’s quite different!
180 Celsius or Fahrenheit?
Sorry Steve, that’s 180°C or 356°F
Made these tonight but vegetarian and I’m absolutely amazed out how good these taste!
Made with quorn mince, grated raw onion in and 10 tbsp of water as the quorn absorbed a lot, 3 veg stock cubes and loads of black pepper. About 50g of veg shortening grated into the meat mix.
Veg shortening used for the pastry. Found the pastry really easy to work with and the first time I had ever made hot crust do was in a bit of a panic making the pastry but no need!
I will add more onion next time and maybe less water.
I made 12 mini ones in a silicone muffin tray. Cooking time was spot on but I took them out of the muffin tray and gave them another 10 minutes on the tray.
Some amazing tips to help make this dish veggie! We really pleased you enjoyed them.
Very helpful site with lots of tips
Thank you very much!!
so looking forward to this recipe also going to try making apple shell pies, a childhood memory of holidays spent in Anstruther Fife, Scotland
there was a wee shop that sold both meat and apple shell pies, If
you didnt arrive early at the bakers too bad! you missed out, so going to try making them this weekend at home
Thanks for the great recipe. I will be making these for my family tonight and if goes well for my Scottish grandfather on my next batch. I can tell already by the pastry I’ve premade and ingredient list this is spot on to what I was looking for.
Really appreciate that the info is kept to what is important and unlike many other sites that include a 30 page precursor with their life history included..
I will definitely be returning to your site for other great recipes! Thanks again!
We try to keep our life stories to a minimum! We really hope the pies go well for you and really appreciate the feedback!
Thank you guys, I have been hunting for this recipe for a while. Now I need to click the link for the pie cases to see if they will deliver to Thailand. I will keep in touch.
Very good and enjoying results. Anyone got good recipes for Scottish / Glasgow morning rolls and Lorn sausages?
So pleased you’re enjoying our wee site. You can find our Lorne Sausage recipe here – https://scottishscran.com/lorne-sausage-recipe/
I am going to try this with mincemeat, I love how easy this recipe is to make.Being a bloody American I tried chicken in my recipe. It was good, I liked it.
I have a question regarding the spices. Is that 1 tsp each or a total of 1 tsp (in which case, how much of each?)
1 of each is perfect
I just made my families recipe for Scottish Meat Pie and I struggled with the crust being crumbly and dry. It’s the same recipe as yours. I was wondering what I did wrong. Any suggestions? Morrison family recipe.
Hi! There are a couple of reasons – the water may have got too hot, you don’t want it to boil just to melt the fat, and the pastry may have been overworked. Only knead a tiny bit to bring it together and then work quickly, handling the pastry as little as possible! Good luck with the next batch!
I grew up in Thurso, and remember calling into Budges bakers at 3 o-clock in the morning, on the way home from the pub or a party and getting some of these pies (we called them mutton pies) piping hot, straight from the oven. We used to eat them on the way home with the grease running down our arms and dripping off our elbows – lovely. In 1985, I moved to Germany where pies don’t exist. I have been searching for a decent recipie for these since then. This is the best I have found. Thanks guys. I hope to have the grease running down my arms again soon.
Love this story thanks for sharing!!! Hopefully you like the recipe 🙂
Hello! I made these once for my husband and myself and they were absolutely perfect! I want to make them for Christmas dinner for the family. Do you suggest I double the recipe? Or should I just make one recipe, start over and then make the second? Also, can these be made one day ahead and reheated? Thanks in advance!
Hi Maria, that’s amazing you’d like to make them for Christmas dinner! We haven’t tried to double the recipe but so no reason why it wouldn’t work. The only thing would be to ensure you have the time to mould the cases before the pastry starts to harden and of course with double the cases to mould you’ll need to be a little speedier. But since you’ve made it before you’ll probably find you know what you’re doing! And yes they can be reheated just like any other pie. We would suggest approximately 15 minutes (less for fan oven) in the middle of the oven so that the contents are piping hot. Merry Christmas!
For the herbs, are you using dried herbs exclusively or can you do fresh herbs? If mixing in fresh herbs like marjoram and basil, how do the proportions change? I love marjoram especially for poultry. Or should I just stick with dried only for purity of the recipe?
The herbs are a bit of an extra addition, as you’ll find most Scotch pies traditionally use nutmeg, mace, etc. You’re more than welcome to try using fresh herbs though of course! Generally the rule when you use fresh herbs instead of dried is 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs is equal to one teaspoon of dried. Hope that helps!
Can these be made ahead of time and frozen?
You can, once they’ve cooled pop them in the freezer in a freezer bag.
Wow! I grew up in Scotland and love a scotch pie – one of the things I really miss living in Wiltshire! I actually asked for tins specially for Christmas just so I could have a go at this recipe, and I wasn’t disappointed! Actually really easy to make and almost as good as my favourite pies from Fisher & Donaldson bakers in Fife! Absolutely banging pies with beans for lunch today – thank you!
What an awesome comment, thank you! Phil & Sonja
The lard makes a world of difference. Most pre made shells nowadays do not use lard but rather butter or, worse, margarine.
These pies are a staple at football here in Scotland, so I have had my share over the years. I followed your recipe to the letter and have to say, without a doubt it produced the best scotch pie ever. There’s a bit of work involved but it’s worth every bit. Thank you for sharing this. Can’t wait to try the macaroni pies.
This comment made our day, thanks, Danny! We hope you like the Macaroni Pies as much – Phil
Macaroni pies were great and I have now taken matters on to a different level with a pie made from the leftovers of a Beef Rendang. Thanks again for the recipe.
I followed the recipe to a T but I found the meat inside the pie to be very solid. What causes this, what did I do wrong.
It’s hard to tell without having seen them. But if it helps the meat inside a Scotch pie is quite compact so possibly it was pressed in a little too hard?
Found this recipe and would like to make these but don’t eat lamb, so was wondering if pork would be a good substitute or maybe a pork/beef combo?
Hi Diana, it would be a different pie but just as tasty so we always suggest giving it a go!
I fancy trying to make a “haggis, tatties and neeps” pie … haggis in the bottom, then well buttered and peppers neeps, and finally a layer of mashed potatoes … probably pass on the pie top to let the mash perhaps crisp up on top!
Maybe add a little cheese to the top?
Was wondering if pre-baking the shells a bit before filling would prevent “soggy bottom” … or is that not an issue with this kind of pastry?
We haven’t found it too much of an issue, plus it would be a fine line to making sure both the pastry and the filling is fully cooked before they dried out too much.
I found if you take them out of the tins and let them cool on a rack the bottoms won’t be as soggy.
Made these over the weekend – as we didn’t get to go to the Scottish Highland Games at Old Westbury Gardens, NY this year, we were jonesing for this particular delicacy!
Firstly, LOVED this recipe. The crust was exactly right (I’ve also had these pies in Scotland, as I’ve been lucky enough to go there three times – my favorite place on earth!) and the filling was perfection.
There are some helpful hints that I would like to add, for those of us living in the US.
1. Because the availability of small baking tins is not size-standard worldwide, *double the crust recipe*. I did not, and I ended up with lids that did not reach the edges, and one of the pies was half size because I didn’t have enough for it to reach all the way to the top of the tin. Everything was still delicious, but it’s better to end up with a little extra dough at the end than not be able to completely cover the pies.
2. Before you make the pastry, cut out a small stack of parchment paper squares that you can put your pastry lids on for refrigeration. Once you have your hands full of flour and pastry, it’s a lot harder to wield scissors and deal with the parchment. If you have them ready-cut, you can just stack paper, lid, paper, lid, etc. on a small plate and pop them right in the fridge. Takes up a lot less space than putting them all spread out on a baking pan.
3. My grocery store does not stock lard. I bought Crisco shortening (handily sold in sticks) and it really worked great. The pastry was just a *bit* on the dry side, so next time I make this recipe I plan to up the water content a bit, and add another dollop of shortening. But the flavor was really good and the pastry held up well in baking.
4. The handle end of a large bamboo chop stick makes the absolute perfect size/shape hole for the middle of the pastry lid, and it’s super easy to clean.
5. Since my grocery store does not offer custom minced lamb orders, I had to buy more than what the recipe called for. I went ahead and put the onion and spices in it anyway, used what I needed for the meat pies, and with the leftover, I made a “lamburger”. Ate it on ciabatta bread with a healthy slathering of HP sauce, and it was SO GOOD!
Thanks so much for these recipes… next up I’m going to try the Forfar Bridies!!
A Scottish recipe site from an Englishman and a Kiwi…whatever next! Think I might start a website telling Cockneys how to make jellied eels😂😂😂😂
Haha, well, if you know how to, then why not?! :D. We have both lived here for over 10 years each and have two kids born here, so we’re claiming it haha.
I always saw the cup at the top filled with salt and vinegar growing up, tons of salt and just enough vinegar to make it a paste consistency.
Just made these still hotter than the surface of the sun. Burnt tongue as a result of the aromas and haste to taste.
On the money. Thank you. Labour of love but so worth the effort.
I did a test cook of the filling and tweeted it to my liking. I used a Knorr lamb stock pot but followed suggested herbs – great balance. I could have got away with more white pepper but not everyone likes as much in or on their food as I do!! 1st attempt at hot water pastry I scored probably seven out of ten didn’t look that great but tasted awesome and had a great crust. I used 20% fat lamb. I blitzed the mixed filling with my hand blender to get a more dense yet still very, very juicy result.
Great stuff guys – I’ll be trying the cheese and marmite scones next I think
I’ve tried a few of your recipes, Love the Lorne sausage, and will try this one too. Living in the USA I can’t get a decent pie, I’m originally from Dundee so that should be Peh. The traditional ones are best, but you can put any filling you want in them. I really love rhubarb, but i’ve seen haggis, steak, steak and kidney, mac and cheese, beans and mash. In fact just put your favorite food in it. I’m so glad I found your site, The recipes are fantastic, Thanks for all you do.
Such a kind comment, John. Thank you!
Hello, Fantastic recipe! Followed it perfectly and they turned out delicious. Even bought the tins. My only comment is I think the crust needs a pinch of salt. I’ll do that next time. Thanks so much. You used to be able to buy these in the market. Haven’t had them since I was a kid.
We’re so pleased you liked them. A pinch of salt is rarely a bad