Introduction: How to Make Traditional English Pork Pies

Picture of How to Make Traditional English Pork Pies

A classic English pork pie has a hand-formed hot water crust pastry, a minced or chopped pork filling, seasoned simply with salt and pepper and topped up with meat jelly, added after baking. It is intended to be eaten cold, the jelly acting as a protective layer that keeps out airborn nasties and which also stabilises the pie for carrying about without it breaking.

The most famous English pork pie is the Melton Mowbary pork pie, which became common in Leicestershire England in the 18th century due to local pig farming. The Melton Mowbray pork pie used uncured pork and was hand raised (without a mould). This receipe uses uncured shoulder pork, but does use a muffin tray to give a more event shape to the pies.

These are simple to make and really delicious, especially with a good mustard. They are perfect for picnics as they keep well and travel well. 

For the history of the famous (and protected) Melton Mowbary pork pie, visit the website of the (yes, really)
Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association. I am so pleased such an organisation exists :)

Step 1: Making the Minced Pork Filling

Picture of Making the Minced Pork Filling

The filing for a pork pie is very simple. It is just minced or chopped pork, seasoned with salt and pepper. The type of pork can be chosen to suit your taste. Belly pork is fatty and tasty, but may be too rich for some people. In these pies, a simple shoulder joint was used.

You should prepare the filling before you make the pastry, as the pastry need to be worked whilst warm.

The skin was cut off, but the fat under the skin was left in. If you use only lean meat, it can be a bit dry, although it is not a big problem with this type of pie as jelly is added later anyway. The meat was choped into chunks and these passed into my favourite hand grinder - the Spong 'National', truly a prince of grinders. This model was probably made in the 1950s or so.

If you don't have a mincer, you can just chop the meat by hand with a big chefs knife. Using a food processor is not recommended as it is quite easy to produce a homogenous mush instead of an even chunk size.

Finally a generous amount of ground salt and black pepper was added.

Step 2: Making the Hot Water Crust

Picture of Making the Hot Water Crust

The pastry in a traditional pork pie is unusual in that it is made with hot water, not cold. This is known as a hot water crust.

About 3 oz lard (hard white pork fat, although you can use beef suet too)
About 8 fl oz water
About 8 oz plain flour (but may vary. Add until a thick dougy paste is formed)
About 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 crushed garlic clove (optional, but gives it an extra warmth and richness)

The water, garlic, salt and lard are added to a pan on a low heat until the fat has melted. The water should not be boiling. It just needs to be hot enough to melt the fat. The flour is then stirred in to form a paste. The paste is fairly easy to work mould into the pie moulds. Because the flour is well worked, there is a higher gluten content than normal for pastry, and the cases are less crumbly and therefore less prone to breaking. This makes hot crust pastry ideal for making cold pies intended to be carried as a snack.

However, the paste only stays easy to work, when it is hot. It gets harder to handle as it cools, so making the pie cases shoul dbe done quickly after mixing the paste.

Step 3: Forming the Pies in the Mould

Picture of Forming the Pies in the Mould

Press the warm hot water crust paste into a greased muffin or pie mould. It is easy to work in. Try to press it into and even thickness. In each paste-lined moulding, add a generou blob of the meat filling, then quickly roll out a small ball of paste into a circle to top the pie. Pinch it onto the lining paste to form a good seal.

Because jelly will be added later, a central hole is cut out from each of the uncooked pies. This also allows some moisture out which helps the pie become nice and crusty as it cooks and not soggy. This is most easily done with an apple corer

Step 4: Baking the Pies

Picture of Baking the Pies

Before baking, preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 (180C/350F/).

Glaze the pies with plenty of beaten egg, which has been well seasoned with salt.

The pies can then simply be cooked in the oven. They take about 35-45 minutes. I normally turn the tray round after about 25 minutes to get an even bake, but I use a gas oven, so it may not be worth doing in an electric oven especially a fan oven.

When cooked, you can remove from the mould if you like quite crunchy pastry on the bottom, but I prefer to leave them in the mould to cool. They are usually still crisp, but not so hard. Cooling in the mould takes a lot longer.

Step 5: Finishing the Pies by Adding the Jelly

Picture of Finishing the Pies by Adding the Jelly

Finally, when the pies are cold, they can be topped up with jelly. This is easiest with packet gelatin, although you can boild up pig's trotters if you prefer the authentic touch. The jelly here was simply a fairly rich stock (from cubes), with slightly more jelly than the packet recommends, to make sure it is set firmly. I use about half as much again as the packet says.

The jelly is poured through the holes in the pies using a jug. Each pie should be topped up until you can see jelly puddling in the hole. Leave to set. This will take several hours.

Once the pies are completely cold and the jelly set, ease them out of the mould with a flexible small pallette knife and store in an airtight box in teh refridgerator. They keep for several days.

Step 6: Eating Pies

Picture of Eating Pies

This needs no explanation, but in keeping with the tradition of pork pies, it is recommended that they be eaten as part of a picnic. This beauty is about to be scoffed in the forest in West Berkshire, England with a good hearty English mustard.

Alternatively, they look rather fetching plated up too :)


AdrianaG (author)2017-08-04

A few questions:

1. Are thosemjumbo ormTexas size muffin tins? What is the diameter?

2. Approximately how much meat by weight do you grind/chop for the 6 muffin batch shown?

3. A couple of recipes I have seen add chopped bacon to the mix, no way can I leave it out!

piks (author)2013-09-27

Have you heard about how pork pies are eaten in Yorkshire? Hot, so the jelly goes liquid! Believe it or not it's true,disgusting.

sandybrit (author)piks2016-05-27

I am from Yorkshire, and I have never eaten a pork pie hot. It's just not done! Ugh.

oatman (author)sandybrit2016-11-06

I used to eat Pork Farms pork pies fresh from the factory in Npttingham which were still warm.

tamtheram (author)oatman2016-11-13

Oh yeah I've done this in Skipton... juice running down chin with nice pint of fine Yorkshire ale.. Heaven. :)

rosemarybeetle (author)oatman2016-11-07

Sounds good, but possibly messy!

For most pies, hot is best.

This type of pork pie is a picnic pie and intended to be eaten cold. The jelly needs to cool to set

rosemarybeetle (author)piks2013-09-27

not heard of that, but interesting, thanks

RogerB60 (author)2016-02-17

Hi, gelatin isn't here in china, i have the option of potato starch, or cornstarch, or i could get pigs trotters, what do you suggest i use.

omnistructable (author)RogerB602016-06-20

Use the pig trotters the starch wont do the same thing.

philynan made it! (author)2016-03-16

Pork pies are now being made in China,Requested by friends as they could not buy in China. I can be contacted on WeChat: ID philynan

sandybrit (author)2016-01-18

I made the jelly with chicken broth and gelatin. 1/2 cup stock, 2tsp plain gelatin. Yummy!

dragondeathlord (author)2015-10-11

garlic clove? no anchovy ? Not a Traditional Pork Pie...

ArmentsP (author)2015-03-17

A great take on a traditional English recipe. Take it from someone who knows their pies, you can't go wrong with pie. Here at Arments Pie and Mash Shop we know the importance of a great tasting pie. If you dont have the time to make a pie from scratch check out Arments Pie And Mash Shop in the Walworth area.

SUSUANDMO (author)2014-12-02

Made these this morning and must say it was easier than I thought and quite quick once I had the meat chopped and seasoned. I had to leave them in the oven for much longer than suggested but they have come out a nice golden brown. Just waiting for them to cool and have my jelly ready. Feeling excited.... hope they taste as good as they look.

rosemarybeetle (author)SUSUANDMO2014-12-02

Fantastic. Glad it was of help. If you have any pictures online. Send a link :)

Interested in feedback. One thing that i have experimented with is making the jelly with cider. Pretty good!

PriscillaB1 (author)2014-08-27

Its nice to see a recipe for Pork Pie that actually chops or minces the meat instead of ground pork that is like hamburger. I like to leave slightly larger chunks by chopping by hand.

I do like to season the pork and the aspic with herbs. An apple liquor goes great, but I also like other non-traditional flavors like grand mariner or sherry.

I also like to add vegetables, occasionally, such as fresh peas or corn kernals.

A nice variation is a break from the traditional pastry coffin and top with buttermilk biscuits. This is particularly good when making individual pork pies.


jrfrank (author)2013-09-30

pig's trotters-This Michigander had to Google that to find out they're pigs feet! I've only had them pickled.

rosemarybeetle (author)jrfrank2013-09-30

Trotters is what they're called here in UK. I hadn't really thought it was a local name. It's quite a good name, but I can see it is not immediately obvious for anyone not familiar with the term!
They are traditionally used to make jelly from, for meat dishes. Meat jelly is also called aspic. Using trotters is maybe for advanced pie enthusiasts who want a challenge :)

rosemarybeetle (author)jrfrank2013-09-30

Trotters is what they're called here in UK. I hadn't really thought it was a local name. It's quite a good name, but I can see it is not immediately obvious for anyone not familiar with the term!
They are traditionally used to make jelly from, for meat dishes. Meat jelly is also called aspic. Using trotters is maybe for advanced pie enthusiasts who want a challenge :)

LET-CA (author)2013-09-29

Wonderful article! I lived in England 40 years ago and loved these. I visited again this past May and made a special point of getting a pork pie. Living in California, I had pretty much given up on finding them here. Your recipe looks easy enough to make it worth the effort to make my own. Thanks for sharing!

rosemarybeetle (author)LET-CA2013-09-29

Thanks - it comes out pretty well and quite easy. Someone suggested using crab apple jelly for this, which sounds a pretty good idea!

Even with a standard jelly, it's great for picniccing

ModlrMike (author)2013-09-28

I think your flour/water ratio is way off! I made these today and the dough was terrible. I would use 4 oz water for that much flour. That our double the flour for the existing recipe.

mcheng5 (author)ModlrMike2013-09-29

Maybe the problem was that you used 8 oz volume instead of 8oz weight for the flour. This isn't an american recipe, where it is usually volume measurements.

rosemarybeetle (author)ModlrMike2013-09-29

Sorry to hear that.

it is a very wet paste, so does feel weird. I'm not sure what happened there. it can vary a bit depending on flour, but shouldn't be that much. They can cope with longer cooking if needed

rjvkshl (author)2013-09-28

Looks good. I'll try it.

rosemarybeetle (author)rjvkshl2013-09-28

go for it. It is good and it's quite easy

Kevanf1 (author)2013-09-24

I love a 'good' pork pie :) This looks to be a very easy and delicious sounding recipe. I must try it. I did try a recipe years ago but it did not turn out very well at all :( I am very much a fan of the grey, uncured meat filling. I don't like the homegenous mush that some commercial pork pie makers seem to offer :(

Thank you and well done.

rosemarybeetle (author)Kevanf12013-09-24

yes try it. It is quite easy. A bit like bread-making. Simple, but a few steps to do, so allow time. I love pies and these work and can be varied. The jelly is a big deal in keeping them fresh and moist

Kevanf1 (author)rosemarybeetle2013-09-26

I had some thoughts after I had sent in my first reply; well, my taste buds had been awakened :) I may try adding a few chunks of bramley apple into the meat. Then I thought, hang on, the jelly is usually a bit bland in a pork pie (commercial ones anyway). How about making the jelly with apple juice? Now my mouth really is watering :)

Thank you and take care.


ps. bread making :) I used to do it every single day but the arthritis I now have in my hands and fingers has put paid to that :( You cannot beat home made bread though.

octochan (author)Kevanf12013-09-26

Re: bread making - you should try this recipe, then. http://

Kevanf1 (author)octochan2013-09-27

Now that looks interesting, thank you 'octochan' :) It's bookmarked so I shall give it go. The thought of home made bread once again... mmmmmm :)

rosemarybeetle (author)Kevanf12013-09-26

Yum. That all sounds great!

rosemarybeetle (author)Kevanf12013-09-26

Yum. That all sounds great!

rosemarybeetle (author)Kevanf12013-09-26

Yum. That all sounds great!

spark master (author)2013-09-25

I like the technique, but it deserves herbs, and a wee dram of booze... or....alas poor piggy, he died in vain ;-(

I will give this a whirl, it definitely needs herbs booze and mayhaps some apple chunks! Then bring on the mustards!!!

thanks for a great instructable

ooh nice. Yes according to Delia Smith it is not unknown to even put anchovy essence in to, but I prefer your boozy idea. Maybe Calvados and apples.

Ok Ok the gloves come off....chuckle , the gloves(rubber) go on.

toss meat in flour or better corn starch, paranoid about corn use tapioca flour, Add some sweet marjoram, or thyme calvados touch of cream (in uk you can use a double cream, it is thicker).Make the jelly with heavy cream and fresh herbs (apple juice concentrate can be added as well)

mmmmmmmmy fat cells are screaming...more more more.....

I like your style. That sounds like an awesome pie

Actually that is Medallions of Pork Tenderloin in Calvados and Cream .

If you have "Texas" sized muff tins
you could lard and flour the wells, take a bit'o'mash (cold) whip in an egg, shredded cheddar, sprinkle of flour, some herb or just onion /garlic powder(better roasted garlic). Pack that in to make walls(the thing must be well lined with fat/or use homemade foil liners that are well larded and floured (for release)fill the cups then pipe on a cap.

But while that may work nicely it won't be portable unless you leave the liners/cupcake papers on them

marciocattini (author)2013-09-24

Imagine that with mashed potato top!

oh yes.I love mash. Some dark gravy too, perhaps?

Of course! The possibilities are endless ill see if I can get this recipe done and post some pictures, I was thinking about perhaps marinating the pork a little more with garlic, lemon juice, and some worcestershire sauce (not much though).
Pork tastes a little different in Countries like New Zealand (where I used to live) and Brazil, pork in Brazil is a little more subtle in taste, in New Zealand I would put lemon zest to get rid of the stench, I think it has to do with them not being neutered or something.

I think it has to do with them not being neutered or something

yep, it is the taste of testosterone laden piggys ! A whole milk soak helps as well!

Interesting. Yes pork does vary in taste, but never considered that. Diet probably affects it too. I put garlic in the pastry and that is good. Lemon is interesting too, thanks. I can see lots of ideas for the next batch :)

HollyHarken (author)2013-09-24

Nicely done with great photos for each step. I'm wondering how the jelly is made. Do you make a pork stock and then add clear Knox gelatin? What are the porportions of stock to gelatin? It isn't clear. I'm not sure if it is something that is only available in the UK. Here in the US we have tablespooned sized packets of Knox gelatin that is designed to be disolved in a liquid.

You're right. I missed that bit off a bit. I made stock, but used stock cubes, and added powdered gelatine, but slightly more than the packet suggests to get a good firm jelly. I used chicken stock here, as I prefer it to pork stock, which is blander I find, but that's just personal taste.
Of course this is slightly cheaty! The traditional way would be to slow boil a pig trotter with salt, pepper and herbs to taste, skim off fat and use the juice. That would be full of jelly and flavour, but trotters are harder to find in a hurry these days, and need more prep

craftyv (author)2013-09-24

To eat a pork pie you must have Cross and Blackwells Picallilli It's the only one. Of. course HP Sauce (brown) would do it too. Enjoy this very British dish.

rosemarybeetle (author)craftyv2013-09-24

yum, or just some mustard :)

paul_nicholls (author)2013-09-24

That looks delicious! :)

thanks - it is :)

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