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.

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.


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  • Servings: 4
  • Yield: 4 pies

Ingredients – Hot Water Pastry

  • 250g plain flour – 2 cups
  • 100g lard – 1/2 cup
  • 120ml water – 1/2 cup

Ingredients – Pie Filling

  • 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.

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.


  • Oil the pie tins
  • 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. 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.
  • 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!


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