New Zealand-Style Beef & Cheddar Pies Recipe on Food52

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New Zealand-Style Beef & Cheddar Pies

January  6, 2021
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

The moment we arrived in New Zealand, the long line at the car rental station made it clear to me that most visitors prefer to view the country by driving through it. Sure, you could easily take a short flight to go from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, but you would miss the ever-changing, mind-blowingly beautiful landscape that New Zealand has on offer. You’d also miss the opportunity to grab some of the best pies you’ll ever eat—from any gas station along the road.

Every gas station I went to in New Zealand carried a wide range of warm hand pies ready to be picked up and eaten on the go, no utensils required. You’ll find them in hot cases near the checkout counters. Flavors are a-plenty, ranging from bacon and egg to steak and cheese, butter chicken, chicken and mushroom, smoked fish, and my all-time favorite—mince and cheese (beef and cheese).

These mince and cheese pies feature ground beef encased in a thick, dark, beefy gravy interspersed with pockets of melted white cheddar cheese. No flaky, buttery pastry shell I tasted was soggy or leaked any filling. We tried pies from coffee shops and restaurants, but they didn’t stack up to the gas station pies. According to my cousin, it’s not a matter of ingredients; she told me that even the beef used in the gas station pies is grass-fed, due to the warm climate and endless abundance of fresh green grass all year round.

As soon as I got back home, I wanted to figure out how to recreate NZ pies in my own kitchen. There are a lot of varying recipes out there, and what most had in common was puff pastry. I started there, using puff pastry as the base for the pies. I needed a pastry that was flaky enough to bite into but strong enough to avoid getting a soggy bottom, while holding lots of beefy gravy. I found the key was making sure both the filling and the pastry were totally chilled before being filled and baked. (It helps to make the filling the day before.)

I also avoided adding any extra vegetables for nutrition because, well, mince and cheese pies don’t need them. That’s why I opted to make these in a muffin pan, instead of in a larger individual pie size, which is what you would find in New Zealand. Two, plus a salad, can be lunch; one is a tasty snack.

Now that I have a stash in my freezer, if I feel like eating one in the car, I can heat one up and eat it on the go. The only caveat is that I’ll just have to settle for city views instead of breathtaking landscapes around every bend.

Note: You can save the puff pastry scraps and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar or Parmesan cheese & fresh thyme to make a tasty snack. —Miranda Keyes

Watch This Recipe
New Zealand-Style Beef & Cheddar Pies
  • Prep time 3 hours
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes 12
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 450-gram packages pre-rolled butter puff-pastry, thawed in the fridge
  • 3/4 cup (100g) aged white cheddar cheese, finely diced
  • 1 egg
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, cook, stirring often until tender and starting to brown on the edges, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add ground beef to pan and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains, about 5-6 minutes.
  2. Stir in salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Sprinkle flour over beef and cook, 1 minute. Pour in beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until gravy has reduced and thickened, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Scrape beef mixture into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, this will take at least 1-2 hours. The filling can easily be made the day before.
  4. Remove puff pastry from fridge. Roll sheets to 1/8-inch thick. Cut puff pastry into twelve 4-inch rounds and twelve 3-inch rounds. Pre-mark where you will cut each round as you will have just enough dough for all the rounds. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Place larger puff pastry rounds in the base of each muffin tin, pressing along the sides so they are flush with the bottom and sides of the tin. The dough should slightly overlap the rims, stretch dough slightly if needed.
  6. Remove the chilled beef mixture from the fridge. Stir in the diced cheese. Evenly divide filling between each pie, packing them right to the top.
  7. Whisk the egg in a bowl. Brush the edges of the pastry overlap with the egg mixture and top with smaller pastry rounds. Press around the edges of the pies using the tines of a fork to create a seal. Cut a small slit into the top of each pie. Use the remaining egg to brush the tops of each pie. Place the tray in the freezer to chill for 15 mins before baking.
  8. While the pies are chilling preheat the oven to 425° F. Bake pies for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Devon Williams
    Devon Williams
  • Danielle Jeannette Draper
    Danielle Jeannette Draper
  • Tui Marie Te Tai
    Tui Marie Te Tai
  • Nida Haris
    Nida Haris
  • Christine DeNoon Weston
    Christine DeNoon Weston

    58 Reviews

    Pete D. January 6, 2021
    Made this tonight for dinner, and it was a big hit. My son spent an exchange year in New Zealand, and he said the filling was spot on to what he remembers. The use of the puff pastry was good, but I think I’ll have an easier time with an all butter crust, just easier than fooling with thawing and rolling the folded dough. The recipe was spot on for the twelve pies. The filling is super easy to throw together. It’s now in the rotation.
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. January 11, 2021
    So glad to hear you enjoyed and it reminded you son of the pies in NZ. Let me know how the all butter crust goes as well.
     
    Devon W. January 6, 2021
    I just made these for my kiwi fiancé and he LOVED them. He’s been dying for a mince and cheese pie for years in America. Thanks so much for this recipe! Can’t wait to make them again soon.
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. January 11, 2021
    So nice to hear they are Kiwi approved! A perfect winter meal and they freeze well too!
     
    Danielle J. December 6, 2020
    Just made these for the family and they were an absolute hit! My partner and I were in NZ for most of 2020 but had to leave for visa reasons...needless to say we’re both missing NZ very much! These were an awesome trip down memory lane so thank you very much!
    I do have one question. If I make a batch of these and freeze them, what’s the reheat process? Thank you so much!
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. December 7, 2020
    NZ is such a magical place! So glad you enjoyed them. You can bake from frozen at 425F, they make take closer to 30-35 minutes, just check them after 30 minutes!
     
    Emily R. November 3, 2020
    I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this recipe. My Kiwi husband and I moved to Canada (my homeland) a year and a half ago for a few years. He misses pies more than his family, and these have made his year! I didn’t have beef stock, so used vegetable instead (I used a teaspoon of powdered gravy with two teaspoons of flour to compensate). Used a large muffin tin, so was able to make 6 big pies and he ate two immediately. Big love, will be making again soon!!!
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. December 7, 2020
    That's amazing, it's wonderful how food can connect us to our home! I loved eating these pies in NZ. I'm also from Canada! Thanks for posting and so glad you enjoyed! :)
     
    PattiG October 1, 2020
    Wow, tried the meat pies tonight and they were absolutely delicious. I brought a couple over to my neighbor and she loved them as well.
    Thanks so much
    Patti G
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. December 7, 2020
    Fab to hear! Perfect for sharing! :)
     
    Tui M. June 27, 2020
    I live in Hawaii and am about to attempt making this. I've been craving a good pie for years 😭 im going to change it up and make a cheese sauce will update with how i go.
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. July 7, 2020
    How did it go with the cheese sauce? :)
     
    Tui M. July 11, 2020
    Turned out great :) i used cream which made it super thick and took me down memory lane!
     
    Nida H. April 11, 2020
    Kia Ora from New Zealand,
    Made this today, it was a hit..
    I'm definitely gonna keep making from this recipe. Thanks.
    Just did a small change instead of mince I used steak & next time I will add shredded cheese in the mixture. Thanks

    Loved it.
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. December 7, 2020
    Only saw your comment now, so wonderful to hear they were a hit! The filling possibilities are endless! :)
     
    QoDNE;) March 3, 2020
    I would like to make this with pieces of steak, do you have any recommendations on what the best way to that would be?
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. March 4, 2020
    Yes! I would cut your steak into small bite-sized pieces and cook in pan (after onions) until golden brown on all sides. Continue with recipe as above. I'm sure it will be delicious!
     
    QoDNE;) March 4, 2020
    Awesome! Thanks so much!
     
    saunflower January 3, 2020
    Could you make these as one giant pie instead of individual ones? What would be the recommended oven temperature and cook time? Thanks!
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. January 7, 2020
    Hi Saunflower! You definitely could make this into one large pie. I would suggest cooking it at 400F for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
     
    saunflower January 7, 2020
    I ended up making this last night and it was delicious! I wanted to point out that you forgot to mention when to add the Worcestershire sauce in your directions (but I figured it was the same time you add the stock). I doubled the amount, added a tablespoon of butter, and tsp of dried parsley for more flavor. So good! Thanks so much for sharing!
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. January 13, 2020
    Thanks for pointing that out, I've adjusted the recipe so it's in there now. Great idea to make a whole pie and sounds like the adjustments worked perfectly! :)
     
    DC's P. February 21, 2019
    Made these tonight after wanting to try them for months. These are really good and easy to put together. Made the filling (didn't change a thing and used Dubliner cheddar) yesterday and put them together tonight letting them rest in the freezer while oven heated. Everyone loved them. Served with roasted rutabaga and a mixed salad with lemon vinaigrette - a nice homey dinner that I will be making again.
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. February 22, 2019
    So glad you liked them - Dubliner cheddar would be perfect for these! :)
     
    G.L. J. February 19, 2019
    My pillsbury puff pastry made MUCH puffier pies than the ones pictured. What comes next is a major shift in procedure. I had looked up how to make turkey taste like beef and one recipe suggestion for turkey burgers said to use 2 T steak sauce per 1 lb gr. turkey + 1 pkg dry onion soup mix. I mixed it thoroughly before heating the meat until the pink disappeared as it says above. I decided all the other ingredients made somewhat of a gravy. I used 1/2 a can of "Ranch Style Beans", my fav chili bean brand, and blended or mashed them. I stirred them in the meat instead all the ingredients above. It was delicious. Next time I'm going to cut some polygons is pastry and put the meat in and wrap it around the meat. It will be faster. It puffs great and tastes delicious. I had a cup of the meat mixture left, not enough pastry.
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. February 22, 2019
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe!
     
    Ashley October 20, 2018
    Hello
    Just a quick question
    I’m currently making these for a party I have to go to and the recipe calls for Worcestershire sauce but no where in the directions does it say to use it???!!
    I’m just wondering if it should/needs to be added?
    Thanks
     
    Tory C. December 4, 2018
    I added mine with the broth. It was the only place that made sense to me.
     
    Christine D. October 6, 2018
    Made these tonight for my kiwi husband and my two step kids. There were an overwhelming hit! Definitely will be a new staple for us and we're excited to experiment with it (not that it needs any adjustment at all!)
     
    Mia July 1, 2018
    Thank you for this! I just returned from my trip to NZ and I'm already craving mince pies lol what brand of puff pastry do you use? I've never used it before.
     
    Lyn April 17, 2018
    http://www.foodtolove.co.nz/6-of-the-best-pies-in-auckland-and-where-to-find-them-37088
     
    Farina M. April 14, 2018
    I am married to New Zealander and have tried so many pie recipes! Finally one that nail it! He loved these and they were so easy!!! 5 stars!
     
    Lyn April 14, 2018
    Lucky husband. Now you need some relatives to send you New Zealand individual pie sized baking tins!

     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. April 16, 2018
    So happy to hear you enjoyed the pies Farina - lucky husband indeed, Lyndy! :)
     
    Lyn April 3, 2018
    From the Otago Peninsula, in the deep south of Aotearoa (New Zealand) I loved finding this in my emails this evening. We certainly do have 'hand held' hot pies at our petrol stations and every dairy (corner grocery store) & bakery. If you are lucky enough to be travelling in our slice of paradise, Otago you must try Jimmy's pies made in Roxburgh & 'Who ate the pies?' made in Dunedin
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. April 3, 2018
    Hi Lyndy! How lovely to read your note here in Canada! I hope to come back and visit your slice of paradise again, it is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I will try to eat many more pies if I get there, thanks for the names of spots to try out!
     
    Jessica V. March 23, 2018
    Questions: Since you chill in the freezer prior to baking anyway, would this freeze well uncooked for a longer period, perhaps in freezer bags? How much would you thaw prior to baking if at all? I'd love to make a huge batch and freeze some for later. Thanks!
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. April 3, 2018
    These freeze well both baked and unbaked. I've had baked pies in my freezer for well over a month and they heat up beautifully. I wouldn't thaw them at all prior to baking if you freeze them raw. Pop them right in the oven, they may just need a bit longer baking time. Let me know how it goes!
     
    Beth100 March 20, 2018
    Dufour’s
     
    Timildeepson March 19, 2018
    Oh my goodness!! These sound amazing!! As well as the chicken and mushroom... I’d guess that would be pretty simple to adapt this recipe to other flavors? Definitely trying it this week, albeit with some rough puff (lazy/simplifies homemade puff pastry lol)
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. April 3, 2018
    Oh yes, definitely easy to adapt the fillings, chicken and mushroom would be delicious! Hope they went well with the rough puff!
     
    Lyn April 14, 2018
    There are so many varieties of a pie here its become an art form. Each year there is a national competition for the best commercial savoury pie. Fillings can be anything that you like; mince, mince & cheese, venison, rosemary & red wine, chicken, camenbert & cranberry jelly, chicken & mushroom....theres are just a random few...there are endless variations. When we make them at home we always precook our filling. It's important that they are not a stodgy too firm filling but have a creamy or savoury gravy type sauce. Miranda has this off pat by including the beef stock
     
    Author Comment
    Miranda K. April 16, 2018
    There's a pie competition? How cool is that!
     
    pieman January 26, 2020
    Hi, try this link https://www.pieawards.nz/ it's been going for many years and quite the award to win NZ.