Recipe for Cornish Pasties

Cornish pasties are one of the most distinctive regional foods in the UK – and a must for anyone on a culinary tour of Cornwall. They’re a sort of pastry parcel, usually filled with a rich meat and vegetable mix. Although you might see Cornish pasties sold at railway stations and in supermarkets across the UK, it’s in Cornwall that you’ll find the real thing. There’s nothing like tucking into a piping hot pasty while sitting beside the sea, watching the waves crash onto the shore – the Cornish coast has a wonderfully dramatic quality.

Tin Mines on the Cornish Coast

Cornish pasties were originally a convenient meal for the tin miners, who worked deep underground in mines all over Cornwall. The pasties were traditionally divided into sweet and savoury halves; at one end of the pastry parcel would be the tinners’ main course of meat, while at the other end would be something like sweet cooked apples. Cornish pasties are deeply rooted in the life and landscape of Cornwall. Tin mining was an extremely arduous and dangerous occupation, and the superstitious tinners would always leave a little piece of their lunchtime pasty for the ‘knockers’, the otherworldly spirits of the mines. Not to do so, was to invite a potentially fatal roof fall.

These days, pasties are no longer double-ended – and are usually filled with meat. However, in tourist areas such as Padstow, you will find shops selling contemporary, as well as traditional pasties. These may be made with vegetables – great for vegetarians, or may even be sweet. We spotted a chocolate and banana pasty once – a version that would horrify traditionalists.

If you’d like to try making your own Cornish pasties, try this recipe, which comes from Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food (with Mark Sargeant, pub. Harper Collins, £20). It appears here with permission. Note that Gordon Ramsay’s recipe contains meat, swede and potatoes – but no carrots. Most Cornish people will assert that a traditional pasty should never contain carrots.

Cornish Pasties

Ingredients (makes 4 large pasties, serves 8)

900g shortcrust pastry (see below)

400g waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte or Desiree

½ swede, about 400g

1 large sweet onion

400g rump or sirloin of beef

Sea salt

2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

20g butter, diced

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

For the shortcrust pastry (this makes about 350g, so make a triple quantity for the Cornish pasties):

200g plain flour

¼ tsp fine sea salt

100g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

3-4 tbsp ice-cold water


To make the pastry:

Put the flour and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and whiz for 10 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Tip into a bowl.

Add 3 tbsp water and mix with a butter knife until the dough just comes together. If it seems too dry, add a little extra water, but try not to make the dough too wet.

Lightly knead the dough into a smooth ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

To make the pasties:

Peel the potatoes, swede and onion and cut into 1cm dice. Cut the beef into similar-sized pieces and season with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a wide frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, sear the beef in batches for 1-2 minutes, turning to brown all over. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining butter to the pan and fry the diced vegetables for 5-7 minutes until they start to soften and take on a little colour. Tip any juices from the resting beef into the pan and cook until absorbed and the vegetables are tender. Add to the beef and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/Gas 7. Divide the pastry into four portions. Roll out each one on a lightly floured surface to a large circle, 3-4mm thick, and trim to a neat round, 25cm in diameter, using a dinner plate as a guide. Divide the filling evenly between the rounds, sprinkling each portion with a little more salt and a generous pinch of pepper.

Brush the pastry edges with a little beaten egg, then fold one half over the meat to create a semi-circle. With your fingers, pinch and turn the edges to seal each pasty and stop the filling leaking during baking.

Transfer the pasties to a large baking sheet (preferably non-stick) and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 180˚C/Gas 4 and cook for a further 20-25 minutes. If the pastry appears to be over-browning, cover with greaseproof paper. Allow to cool slightly. The pasties are best eaten warm, though they can also be served at room temperature.

Now go from this Cornish Pasties recipe to our Hotels in Cornwall pages.