By Popular Demand: My Mother’s Pasty Recipe (with Lard)

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I was pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful comments I got for my blog entry about lard. It seems that lard is underappreciated in these modern times—maybe it’s due for a comeback. Anyway, lots of people asked for my mother’s pasty recipe, and here it is, just in time for the July 4th weekend. While traditionally pasties were made as lunches for miners or other workers, in our family they were always served at a summer picnic—with Heinz 57 ketchup, which now comes in an organic version. Our traditional accompaniment was pickled cabbage, but unfortunately I don’t have a good recipe for that…yet.

Ardie’s Pasties (Ardie is my mother—don’t try calling her anything else)


The dough:

2½ cups flour (white or King Arthur White Whole Wheat)
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup, plus a dab, cold lard
1/3 cup (by feel) cold water (or more, maybe a lot more; your mileage may vary)

The innards:

1 pound ground beef
4 peeled and cubed potatoes
½ onion, chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons butter
A few dabs of milk


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Mix all the dough ingredients together in a bowl, adding the water in small amounts until you have a nice, soft, and fully moisturized wad of dough. It should hold together well. No need to refrigerate.

3. Separate the dough into 4 balls (or however many you want—fewer if you want big pasties, more if you prefer them smaller).

4. On a floured surface roll out each dough ball. Add the ground beef, potatoes, onions, salt, pepper, and a generous dab of butter. Pull the dough up around the stuffing and crimp together (the final shape should look kind of like a football). Dab a little milk on the top and poke some holes with a fork. Repeat until all pasties are assembled.

5. Place the pasties on a baking sheet (one that has raised sides, so dripping lard doesn’t leak all over the oven). Bake for 15 minutes at 425°, then turn down the oven to 375° and bake for another 40 minutes or until done (usually sooner).

6. Enjoy!

Once I had all my nieces and nephews over, and we all made our own pasties. When that happens, write your name on the top with fork holes to remember which one belongs to which person. There is no real right or wrong with this recipe, so feel free to adapt it to your preferences. But lard definitely makes the best crust…and the crust is the best part!

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32 Responses to By Popular Demand: My Mother’s Pasty Recipe (with Lard)

  1. Terri in VA July 3, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Lard is rendered pig fat, for those who don’t know.

  2. Diane in Canada July 3, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    What are you trying to do clog our arteries. ???????

  3. marti from Eurkeka July 3, 2009 at 10:47 am #

    Diana, you need to do some homework when it comes to using fats in our diet. A little here and there is not bad for you. “Crisco” is NASTY stuff!

  4. CA in Canada July 3, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    Is the filling precooked at all before putting it into the dough?

  5. nancy in wa July 3, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    Never is the filling precooked in pasties. donot worry cooking time is plenty to insure doneness. enjoy

  6. Claude July 3, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    My mom had the same recipe. My frugal Irish Mom…she was an organic
    gardener in the 50’s. We had pasties for dinner in the fall and winter.
    We ate 80% vegetables…very little beef..very little sugar.
    EVERYTHING in moderation. I bake pies at thanksgiving, when the fall apples come in and maybe once with spring berries. And I do enjoy them!

  7. Bonnie in IL July 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    For the filling, I use cubed ground round rather than ground beef. It gives a nicer texture. These are wonderful heated up as leftovers.
    In fact, we love them so much, and want leftovers, that I now make them as a big meat pie. Less crust, more filling.

  8. Bonnie in IL July 3, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    I just read what I wrote, and I have a mistake. I use cubed round steak, rather than ground beef. The texture of the cubed steak is much nicer than the ground beef, we think. It gets very tender.

  9. Nita in OH July 4, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    LARD! My Mother in Law used to use lard in her pastries. She always had the best pie crusts! Whenever we would butcher a hog we would have the fat rendered and lard was a very useful byproduct.

  10. Richard Redd July 4, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Tell Ardie “Thanks” I put Swedes in mine like they do in Cornwall.
    Maria, I sent Ardie your self portrait done in my class in art at Lehigh when you were 18, of course years later when i was cleaning out getting ready to retire. She replied “That”s my Maria.” You were looking very intense in your portrait.
    Richard Redd
    Prof. Emeritus
    Art Lehigh U
    Artist and cook

  11. Janice in Alaska July 4, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    Lard does makes the very best crust! Thanks for passing along your Mother’s recipe.

  12. pat in Texas July 5, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    What is a “Swede”? Thanks.

  13. Maria (farm country kitchen) July 5, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    That’s what I want to know, too! What is a “swede?” Hopefully it’s not a tall blonde person of Scandanavian descent!

  14. Joan Weed July 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    A Swede is a rutabaga. old fashioned name.

  15. PastryChefRD July 6, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    It would seem that several of you responders are victims of the media and its “nutritional advice”. I have been working with food for over 20 years both as a chef and scientist, and am still amazed at the knee jerk, harsh criticism of a traditional recipe.
    To marti from “Eurkeka” why is Crisco “NASTY stuff”? How is it different from lard in terms of fat?
    To Diane in Canada: since you seem to feel that slightly more that 1/3 c of lard will clog your arteties, what would you suggest as a replacement to provide the same function in the dough recipe. Or are you saying that by eating the entire recipe your arteries will clog? Do you not understand the concept of portion size and moderation? I do hope this opens up a can of worms and you will do some research, talk to the experts such as your local dietitian, get information from food scientists or even the manufacturer if you would write to their QA department.

  16. Lisa July 7, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    Unless we plan to eat pasties every day, I think we’ll all survive. The recipe sounds delicious! Thanks!

  17. Scotty July 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    I used to have these when I was driving through the UP of Michigan. I’ve made them with cubed meat, carrots, potatoes, peas, and turnips and they are delicious.

  18. Janie Dyer July 7, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    My mom always put carrots and onion and potatoes with hamburger, but the ones with rutabaga is a nice change also. If you put enough butter inside (help the clogging of arteries along), they can be eaten cold. Yum!

  19. ellen July 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    love the “fat” debate. it’s the hydrogenated stuff that’s really bad for you that’s what i don’t want in my food! (isn’t Crisco hydrogenated?) read the labels… thanks for the “swede” explanation and the great recipe – this is the kind of stuff my husband will eat!

  20. bebe July 14, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    Instead of freaking out about the lard, try Spectrum’s Organic Shortening. It’s vegan. :-)

  21. Canadian Pie Baker August 8, 2009 at 2:20 am #

    It’s funny how people don’t think anything of putting a huge chunk of butter in a recipe, yet absolutely freak out over lard. Both products are animal fats. However, even worse than butter or lard is shortening because of the hydrogenation process. It is a trans-fat which we all know is very unhealthy. Look at what NYC has done — banning unhealthy trans fats, and other cities are following suit! Yes, we all know to reduce our consumption of fats, but moderation is key and if you are going to indulge, use the good stuff. In Canada, we can find non-hydrogenated Tenderflake lard in all the grocery stores. If consumers start asking for it, the product will become available.

    Read up and become informed…

  22. Eric K March 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Fats 101: While fats like Lard and coconut oil (and butter) have gotten a bad rap, the real problem is “trans-fatty acids” which you find in shortening and in margerine. Before the use of these types of altered “fats” there was remarkably little heart disease. Today, where we use little, heart disease is a huge problem. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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  24. AR Jones March 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Being Welch and eating pasties since I was old enough to chew, I would like to suggest two items for you to consider. First, my grandma Jones always painted the inside of the crust with egg whites. She said it helped to stop leak through. Second, she used beef suite in th recipie. Those who have a problem with butter and lard will flip at this, but before folding it together add a small handful of suite. The flavor is unbeatable and you won’t die of clogged veins from one…or in my 76 years, a life time of useage.

  25. DD May 29, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    Thanks for posting this! My Grandma was a Finnish U.P. pastie maker. =) This recipe is exactly like hers. We always put our initials on top of the pastie too. Great memories! I’ll be making this tonight.

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  31. Craig February 6, 2015 at 3:44 am #

    I grew up in Ontonagon Michigan where pasties became my favorite food. My Aunt Lucille made them for me and they were fantastic. I always loved them with carrots and swedes.
    My wife eventually found them to tedious to make so I took over the task. I make the dough the night before so the chore is divided. I freeze them on pastry pans. One book that I love is Pie by Angela Boggiano .You can review it on Amazon.
    I once bought pasties in the U.P. and when I got home and warmed them up and cut one in half I was amazed that the ingredients were all sliced and that from the side it resembled a stacked deck of cards. They were spiced on the warm side but one bite invited another. The lady that sold them made them in her converted garage and as you walked in the service door you stepped up to a counter. My wife says I have to make by pasties smaller. They fill the diameter of a standard plate and I rope the seal on the dough.

  32. Craig February 6, 2015 at 3:50 am #

    I forgot to mention that I when I made a batch in the fall I would cook them and wrap them to keep warm. We would find a picturesque spot in the sun and sit on a log pile for a picnic of pasties and cartons of milk. Three young boys and Dad enjoying the moment.

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