Jamaican Beef Patties

Too bad they're not filled with Jamaican sunshine for those cold Canadian winter days.

Turmeric gives the dough that lovely yellow colour.

The missus and I got married about a year ago in Jamaica.

To get to the resort, we had to take a bus across the island, about an hour and a half drive. Due to complications in Toronto, our flight was delayed a few hours. It was a charter so there was nothing to eat. There was a pee break halfway through the trip at some place where the bus driver was clearly in cahoots with the proprietor. I didn’t care, I was starving. There was the random assortment of snack foods and then these yellow pockets being kept warm under a heat lamp.

The missus and I bought some. Inside was this pleasantly spicy meat filling. I’m pretty sure they were just reheated from a box, bought at the local grocery store, but still, they totally hit the spot. We then proceeded to the resort and stuffed our faces with some really good food that I guess was fairly authentic.

I made these, in addition to other things (about which more later), this weekend for our anniversary. Turns out they couldn’t be easier.


A bowl gives the perfect patty size.

These really are hand pies. The dough, for those astute readers, is a 3-2-1 pie dough. I chose half lard, half butter for the fat part of the ratio just because I wanted to try lard, something modern cooks eschew out of fear of heart disease (unfounded as it turns out). Feel free to use all butter. Or all lard; I won’t judge. You could even try coconut oil if you’re feeling really adventurous. Make sure it’s chilled though; I find coconut oil to be very soft at room temperature.

The filling should be spicy. I didn’t have access to scotch bonnet peppers, so I used jalapenos instead; trust me: go with the scotch bonnet. Jalapenos just aren’t hot enough.

Crimp with a fork. Push lightly, you don't want to go right through the dough.

Makes 10 patties

For the dough

  • 12 oz flour
  • 4 oz (1 stick) butter, salted
  • 4 oz lard
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • couple pinches salt
  • 4 oz cold water

For the filling:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • generous 1/2 lb ground beef, lean or medium
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup stock (chicken or beef)

To make your dough, in a food processor, put the flour, butter, lard, turmeric and salt. Mix until you have fine granules, like sand. Add the water. Pulse until combined into something dough-like – then stop! Tip onto a work surface, bunch together until your dough is a nice ball, wrap in plastic, place in the fridge for a half hour to rest.

While the dough rests, make the filling. In a hot pan, cook the onions until soft. Add the beef, cook until brown. Add the pepper, thyme, salt and pepper. Once the liquid from the onions and beef has reduced to half, add the bread crumbs and the stock. Cook until the moisture is gone, but the filling is still wet. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Take your dough out of the fridge. On a floured surface, roll out to desired thickness, about 1/4 inch. Using your inverted bowl as dough cutter, cut out as many shells as will fit. Bunch up the dough, re-flour your surface and re-roll the dough and make more shells. You should get 10 easy, with some dough left over.

For each patty, place a couple of spoonfuls of filling in the middle of the dough. Bring one end over the other to form a pocket. Crimp the edges with a fork. Once they’re all complete, you have the option of freezing some. Place on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen, place in a zip top bag. You can store them for, say, 3 months.

If you’re cooking them, place on a cookie sheet and cook in a 400F oven for 15 – 20 minutes until golden.

Crisp, flaky dough; spicy meat filling. A great treat.

Jason Kemp is a geek trapped in a cool guy's body. He hand crafts software for the web and mobile devices. He excels at user interface design, the deadlift and barbecue. He is @ageektrapped across the internet.

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