jamaican beef patty in all its golden glory

Jamaican beef patty

You might call them Empanadas, hand pies, or turnovers but Jamaicans call them Patties, Jamaican beef patty.

 I had just arrived our small rented apartment in downtown Toronto, hungry and tired. Daughter no. 1 and I decided to scout for something to eat. Of course there was an array of eateries on every street, but we wanted something close to home. We saw this Jamaican restaurant and went in straight away. Jamaican cuisine is quite close to Nigerian cuisine in that we both love our hot peppers.

jamaican beef patty-1


As we were hungrily ordering our goat meat curry with rice and beans, fried plantain, jerk chicken (you know when you are hungry you feel you can eat a whole cow) etc, I saw these ‘meat pies’, but unlike Nigerian meat pie, they were golden. I mean golden like sunrise, like egg yolk, golden like marigold. Needless to say, I kept going back for more.

Jamaican beef patty is brazenly spicey, it is a golden dough pocket filled with succulent, spicy beef. Different types of peppers are used both for flavour and heat.  You can control the heat by reducing or eliminating some of the peppers.

spice mix for jamaican beef patty-1

The golden colour of the dough is from the addition of curry powder and turmeric.

The dough needs to be rolled really thin, about 1/8 inch thick. It is usually rolled into large discs, but i prefer the cute little ones.

Crispy and hot Jamaican beef patty is mostly eaten sandwiched between soft and sweet Jamaican Coco bread which is like a sweetened hamburger bun. The sweetness kind of offsets some of the spiciness.

To make Jamaican Beef Patty:

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 curry powder 
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup margarine
1/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1/4 cup finely chopped onions 
4 stalks spring onions 
3 teaspoons dry thyme 
1 scotch bonnet, chopped (fresh pepper) 
2 teaspoons curry powder 
4 cloves garlic (1 teaspoon garlic powder) 
2 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons chilli 
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 
3 teaspoons paprika 
2 teaspoons nutmeg 
2 seasoning cubes 
2 cups (400g) minced beef 
1/2 cup bread crumbs 
1 cup water


In a bowl, sift flour, salt, curry powder and turmeric, mix well.

Cut in margarine.


Rub in the margarine to resemble breadcrumbs.

butter-flour crumb-1

Add ice water and form into a firm dough. Wrap in cling film, plastic bag, wax paper or damp cloth.

curry dough-1

Leave to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Make your breadcrumbs (if using home made).

homemade breadcrumbs-1

Finely chop onions, spring onions, and scotch bonnet. Mince garlic and set aside.

In a frying pan, put vegetable oil, and place over medium heat.

Fry onions and spring onions till soft without adding colour.

frying onions-1

Add thyme, scotch bonnet, curry powder, garlic, salt, chilli, sugar, paprika, nutmeg and seasoning cubes.

spice mixjamaican beef patty-1

Stir well, add minced beef. Stir and fry till mince is browned and mixture is dry.

mince jamaican beef patty-1

Drain off excess fat, if any.

Sprinkle and stir in bread crumbs.

bread crumbs on mince jamaican beef patty-1

Add water and cook till it is thick but not dry.

mince jamaican beef patty-1-2

Take off the heat and leave to cool.

Preheat oven to 200 deg. centigrade. Take out the dough and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness (really thin) on lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin.

dough jamaican beef patty-1

Use your desired size of a pie cutter/press and cut out circles.

pie cutter-1

Place on the press, put filling in the centre, do not over fill, close and press hard,

pie cutter-1-2 pie cutter-1-3

sealing your patty.

pie cutter-1-4

Place beef patty on the baking sheet. Repeat till you have used up the dough.

If you don’t have a pie press, use any circular object to cut out your circles, then seal by either pressing down or going round the object with a knife.

dough jamaican beef patty-1-3

Put filling in the centre of the circle.

doughmince jamaican beef patty-1

Rub water along the edges, then fold over to cover. Press edges with the tines of a fork to seal.

jamaican beef patty raw-1

Place on baking sheet.

raw jamaican beef patty-1-2

Break egg into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of water and beat to mix well.

Brush the pies with egg. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

jamaican beef patty-1-2



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