Monday, June 14th, 2010

Jamaican Beef Patties

jamaican beef patties

My childhood evokes memories so clear to me, it’s as if they occurred yesterday. I can still remember the first time I picked up a book to read. I was four years-old. I remember sitting alone near the door of my bedroom, attempting to read Judy Blume’s, Freckle Juice. My mom had taught me how to sound out letters from the alphabet a few weeks prior and since then, I was eager to read. After a few minutes of difficulty, without the help of my mom, the sounds from each letter on the pages of the book began to form into words. Words that inspired me to read more. Words that inspired me to appreciate literature.

beef patties

Nowadays, whenever I pick up a book, I cannot help but remember my first ever moments of reading, and how sophisticated my taste in literature has become. I am still puzzled as to how I went from reading books by Judy Blume, to books by William Faulkner!

Anyway, you may be wondering what my first memory of reading has to do with the recipe I am sharing with you today. Well, this recipe is one of those recipes that captures a memory from my past- a memory of the first time I attempted to bake something- one of the first dishes I had ever baked.

Yes, the first dish!

Why Jamaican beef patties? Well, besides the fact that the homemade kind always tastes amazing, and besides the fact that my aunt G and I wanted to make beef patties (did I mention she’s Jamaican?), I wanted to make something that challenged me to cook and bake at the same time. And damn, my six year-old self was freakin’ good at it!

beef patties

My aunt G- has one rule about Jamaican beef patties- season the meat however you’d like! I recently asked her about what she put in the beef patties we made over 12 years ago (because I wanted to keep the recipe as authentic as possible_. Her reply was something along the lines of, “You can cook the filling however you’d like- there’s no set guideline as to what spices to use; and if anyone says that it’s not Jamaican enough- how would they know? The flavors of beef patties vary from store-to-store in Jamaica and as long as the stuff tastes good- that’s all that matters!”

beef patties

Gosh, I love that woman!

Anyway… Beef patties.

beef patties

My version of these amazing meat pastries is to die for. The pastry itself is very flaky and doesn’t get soggy, even after you re-heat the pastries in the microwave as a midnight snack. Yes, that’s a big A+ in my book- if the pastry can withstand the torture of a microwave, I’m a very happy camper!

So, what’s the secret to the very flaky pastry? Fraisage! It’s a technique used to create alternating layers of butter and dough in pastry, simply by just smearing a shaggy mess of dough and butter, with the heel of your hand (I have seen people use dough scrapers and spatulas to perform this step, but I prefer the traditional method- the method that saves me from washing another dish!).

In addition to amazing flaky pastry, the filling is just as amazing and has a small kick of spice to it (it’s not that bad- I really promise!), which you will also appreciate!

So, what was the first dish that you every cooked / baked?

Jamaican Beef Patties
Makes 6 – 10


Pastry Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 heaping teaspoon of fine grain sea salt
¾ cup butter (12 tablespoons or 1 ½ sticks), chilled and cubed
½ cup ice water

¼ teaspoon dried thyme or ¾ teaspoons fresh, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon dried rosemary or ½ tablespoon fresh, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons hot sauce (can use less)
½ pound ground beef
1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or olive oil
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup diced onion
~ ½ cup water (enough just to cover the meat)
Salt to taste


Make the Pastry Dough:
– Combine the flour, turmeric powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter.
– Using your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together. When the butter is the size of chickpeas, add the ice water just until the dough comes together.
– Drop the dough (it will be a shaggy mess with many large chunks of butter coated in flour) onto a floured work surface.
Using the palm of your hand, smear the butter and flour from one end of the pile of dough to the opposite end. Repeat this step until a structured dough forms (shouldn’t have chunks of butter showing, and it should not be a shaggy mess).
– Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate, while you make the filling (procedure follows).

Make the Filling:
– Mix thyme, chili powder, rosemary and hot sauce in a small bowl. Add to the ground beef and mix.
– Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.
– Add bell pepper and onions.
– Cook, stirring until softened, but not browned.
– Add beef, breaking up any clumps.
– Add enough water just to cover the meat (kamran note: I used ½ cup).
– Mix in salt.
– Simmer for 24 minutes to ½ hour, until the meat is soft and the water has reduced to a sauce.
– Set meat mixture aside and cool.

Assemble the Patties:
– Preheat oven to 375ºF.
– Remove the disk of dough from the refrigerator, and divide it in half. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until there is enough space for 6 circles to be cut (each about 5 inches across). You may need to re-roll the scraps to make all 6 patties.
– Once the filling has cooled completely, have a bowl of water and a fork on hand. Place about 1 ½ tablespoons of filling on the lower half of each circle of dough. Dip a finger into the water, and moisten the edge of the dough. Fold the top half over, pulling the dough gently. Crimp the edge with a fork, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Brush each pastry (optional) with an egg wash. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until top crust is firm and golden. Serve warm.

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  • Cynthia
    June 14th, 2010

    This is one of my favorite posts from you! I love your writing style and everything about your photos! Keep up the great work!

  • Belinda @zomppa
    June 14th, 2010

    What a wonderful recipe memory. Judy Blume! Woohoo!

  • Lauren
    June 14th, 2010

    I’m amazed you remember your first book – I only remember teaching my brother to read. I spent hours with him, helping him sound out those words. Your first food memory – I love it. What a fun thing to do with your aunt (my aunt taught me how to make pastry – pie crusts – too!), learning something as lovely as these :). My first food memory was chocolate chip cookies, standing on a chair helping mom stir and measure out the ingredients :).

  • kamran
    June 14th, 2010

    Belinda – one of my childhood favs! :)
    Lauren – it was my favorite book, that’s why. :) I still have it. It is currently lost between other books on my bookshelf.

  • shauna
    June 14th, 2010

    I am SO making these soon. You’re amazing. The photographs are gorgeous. (And Lauren, bless her, sent me this link, so it will go up in tonight’s post.)

  • Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }
    June 15th, 2010

    These look and sound amazing! I am intrigued by the flaky crust – this is a must make!

  • Jenn
    June 15th, 2010

    They look great!! A bit like a Jamaican empanada :) I love your composition choice in the top photo – I always have such a hard time with square pics, and it’s so simple and clean and bright.

  • Jennie
    June 15th, 2010

    I’m already thinking about everything else I can do with that pastry dough—so light and flaky looking. That’s the hardest part of focusing in the kitchen—thinking of all the other recipes yet to come.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    June 15th, 2010

    I have some clients that absolutely love these. I’d love to try my hand at them.

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  • Angela@spinachtiger
    June 15th, 2010

    Your childhood is like yesterday? I laughed because it was yesterday. Just kidding. What I appreciate about this post is not just the good writing, but a comfort food recipe that still seems light enough to eat in this sweltering heat. I love food that you can pick up with your hands, and these flaky little pies seem irresistible.

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  • Prerna
    June 15th, 2010

    There’s an Indian dessert just like these beef patties called gujhiya. Just the filling is different, its sweet.
    But this one here looks even better!
    And btw I’ve recently started following you and love the way you write :-)

  • s. stockwell
    June 15th, 2010

    We always love to read a page from your diary. This is so sweet. We will give the “smear” technique a go! best from Santa Barbara. S

  • kamran
    June 15th, 2010

    Emily S – It’s a good thing that you asked that! I am making these again with 1/2 tspn of curry powder in the dough mixture, to see how they come out. If you’re looking for color, I wouldn’t sub the full amount of turmeric with curry powder, as curry powder has strong flavor and I think that the amount of turmeric in curry powder isn’t really enough to give the dough that signature yellow color. So, if you’re not looking for color, I’d leave the turmeric out and add in the curry powder for the flavor, just so you have something to compensate for the color loss. Hope I answered your question!

    Oh, and yumm to the cookie dough!!

    Angela – Thanks for the kind comment and the good laugh! These babies are absolutely irresistible!

    Prerna– I absolutely LOVE gujhiya! And thanks for the kind comment and the follow! :)

  • Tweets that mention jamaican beef patties | the sophisticated gourmet --
    June 15th, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kamran Siddiqi and Kamran Siddiqi, Baahar Y.. Baahar Y. said: RT @ksiddiqi92: Latest Post: Memories from my childhood & Jamaican Beef Patties […]

  • maybelles mom
    June 15th, 2010

    i love this post. i usaully read your blog but don’t comment; but this post was so lovely i decided to commetnt. My children are multicultural (i am indian-american my husband italian/irish american) and i love hearing about your multicultural life.

  • Shree
    June 15th, 2010

    wow, these look so wonderful! great post

  • Angela
    June 15th, 2010

    I’m from Australia and was wondering what hot sauce is.
    Thanks for sharing so much with the world…your life…your fabulous recipes…it is truly appreciated.
    Regards from the land down-under.

  • kamran
    June 15th, 2010

    Angela– thanks to the help of one of my foodie friends in Australia, I found out what you all call hot sauce “pepper sauce.” She told me that it’s only really found at imported stores (she says) and she also said that there isn’t really an equivalent in Australia! So, if you want a bit of heat, I think I would just chop up a little bit of pepper, and add it to the recipe… Hope that helps!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    June 15th, 2010

    I love her attitude to seasoning-so easygoing and it’s true, how would anyone know if they all taste different but good? :D

  • Daisy
    June 15th, 2010

    Hi Kamran, this is my first comment on your site! I felt like I needed to comment on this post because I loved it alot! I have to say to you, as a Jamaican, how much I appreciate the authenticity of your recipe and how much I love what your aunty said about how to season the filler of the pastry.

    Also, I would like to add that one thing that we use (I particularly prefer butter) in the pastry, instead of the butter is called beef suet. Some people prefer to use suet, vegetable shortening, or just butter. It’s everyone’s preference, but I just thought I’d mention the alternatives. :)

  • Cookin' Canuck
    June 15th, 2010

    Wonderful post, Kamran! My mum grew up in Jamaica, so these beef patties also hold a special place in my heart. Her grandparents grew allspice on their property, so we are always sure to season ours with plenty of it. I love your aunt’s advice about seasoning however you want to suit your tastes.

  • Kristen
    June 15th, 2010

    I’m with Cynthia… this is a fantastic post.
    And, my kids would actually love this recipe. You can bet I’m trying it out ASAP!

    I love your vivid memory of your first time reading, Kamran. A great head full of memories is a wonderful thing to have!

  • bunkycooks
    June 15th, 2010

    Very nice post. My stepson used to have me buy these frozen for him. I know he would much have preferred these!

  • Lauren @ Healthy Delicious
    June 15th, 2010

    My husband loves Jamaican beef patties! He always buys those freaky frozen ones that are horrible for you. He would die of happiness if i made these for him.

  • A&N
    June 15th, 2010

    You are amazing to have done this. And by hand at that. Like they say, when you make something with your own hands and with love, it tastes all the more better :)

    Great post, K

  • Ssteppe
    June 15th, 2010

    I had these in Grand Cayman, served with Pickapeppa sauce. Standard bar fare around lunch time. Goes great with a Red Stripe.

  • penny aka jeroxie
    June 15th, 2010

    Looks like curry puffs! YUM!

  • polwig
    June 15th, 2010

    These look so good. I love beef patties sometimes when I am lazy I just buy puff pastry and put the meat in them. I am sure you can sprinkle some tumeric on it to make it taste more authentic.

  • polwig
    June 15th, 2010

    Nevermind the puff pastry.. I just read the about page and I guess No puff pastry for you. Is it really 50$? It is much much cheaper here in Virginia ;)

  • denise @ quickies on the dinner table
    June 15th, 2010

    Lovely post! And that first photo just grabs me!

  • jenn (Bread + Butter)
    June 16th, 2010

    Nicely done Kamran!! I love trying different versions of beef patties. I’m saving this one. I remember seeing these on a show once. Got me tempted. :)

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  • Memoria
    June 16th, 2010

    Your photos and writing style are exquisite! These patties looks scrumptious, and the pie crust looks amazing. I am definitely bookmarking this recipe. Thank you for sharing this recipe and your childhood memories.

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  • Sarah
    June 16th, 2010

    I like your Aunt G, she’s a smart practical women.
    I also would love to try your Jamaican patties, they look fantastic.

  • kamran
    June 16th, 2010

    Powling– people pay $50 for some really expensive puff pastry! I have recently been making my own puff pastry because it’s fun, and because it tastes better. As for sprinkling on the turmeric, it’s not going to really do much because it’s in there for the color- not really the taste.

  • Zorana
    June 16th, 2010

    Very nice! Thanks for the detailed recipe. I love Jamaican food.

  • Magic of Spice
    June 16th, 2010

    They look great!

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    June 16th, 2010

    These look great! Love the memories behind the dish, too. I’m sure this is a recipe I’d love… I’m a huge fan of Jamaican food. I just ate dinner, but I’m starting to feel hungry again.

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  • Rachel J
    June 17th, 2010

    These patties look to die for! When I was a teenager I had a job and I had to make hundreds of empanadas at a times, so I love that the Jamaican version is baked. Cheers!

  • Wizzythestick
    June 17th, 2010

    First time to your site and it’s great. I love that show it’s possible to take stunning pictures without any sophisticated camera gear.

  • Robyn
    June 18th, 2010

    Wow! Just found your site and your photographs are so beautiful! I just subscribed :) cant wait to see and read more!

  • N-
    June 18th, 2010

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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  • Joanne
    June 18th, 2010

    My first and only experience with Jamaican beef patties was as school lunch that left my stomach…less than happy. And so I’ve avoided them like the plague since second grade. But I think it’s time they made a comeback in my life. These look delicious!

  • Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef
    June 18th, 2010

    These look awesome! And, yes, I loved Freckle Juice, too!

  • Tokyo Terrace
    June 19th, 2010

    Isn’t it amazing how much we remember about those pivotal moments in our lives? I have so many memories like the ones you described here that have greatly influenced my cooking. Beautiful post and great recipe, Kamran!

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  • Denise @ Creative Kitchen
    June 20th, 2010

    These sound and look like my mother in law’s meat pies. We made them one Christmas when I was visiting, but I can’t remember what seasonings we put in with the meat. Thanks for sharing!! I’m bookmarking and can’t wait to make these. My hubby will love them!!

  • Paulina S.
    June 22nd, 2010

    Everytime I am in Kensington market I pick up one of these delicious pastries from the patty king. But I have to say that they are probably not made fresh. I always wanted to try to make them myself and now I am ready. Thanks for the recipe :-)

  • Food Advokat
    July 12th, 2010

    I am so happy to have found this recipe!! I love Jamaican patty’s and always feel so guilty buying the ones on the street so I have been looking to make my own. Will definitely try this recipe! Maybe will even try my hand at a jerk or curry chicken too!

  • Gabriela
    July 27th, 2010

    These look amazing! Better than Golden Krust I’m sure!

  • Bernadette
    July 29th, 2010

    great post, i’m just making these for a picnic. I tried your spice blend, and I think next time I’ll do cumin curry & cayenne with caribbean hot pepper sauce, a little bit closer to what my nose remembers! it’s true that they are always different though :)

  • Gemma
    July 30th, 2010

    Firstly I LOVE this site. I’m a part time stay at home mum and when the housework seems to much and everyone is down for their lunch time nap – I love nothing more than getting a recipe from here and having a go. Plus when Daddy comes home there is always something yummy ready. These are one of our favourite. I know this is cheating a bit BUT we used the Reggae Reggae sauce that was featured on dragon’s den (we are in the UK) and it is AMAZING. You get such a yummy taste out of it mixed with some tabasco and marmite as well!! Yum Yum.

    But most of all, thanks for showing me that “I CAN COOK!” as my kids would say. :)

  • Lisa
    August 9th, 2010

    I am so glad I came across this website. A childhood memory of making beef patties with my father(he was Jamaican) came to me. I googled Jamaican beef patties to see if my childhood memory of the recipe was right and it was! We made ours a little different but as you said,what does it matter if it taste good! Thanks for sharing!!

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  • patricia
    December 18th, 2010

    Loved your recipe! My boyfriend and I tried it tonight, it was delicious. My family wants me to make it for our Christmas party. Thank you for the deliciously easy recipe :)

    Here’s what we did with the extra dough:

  • Angie
    December 31st, 2010

    Happy to fine this recipe really love jamacain beef patties.

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  • em
    February 3rd, 2011

    i just made an 8x batch of this last night, they were very popular! it was my first time making pastry dough too, and it came out great :D

  • chefandsteward
    February 27th, 2011

    As Jamaicans abroad, we recognize the need to start making our own Jamaican patties! This is a lovely post and really inspires us to really go for it! We should keep in touch! Will bookmark. Is there anything better than having a Jamaican aunty who cooks well?!?!?

  • jeri
    November 15th, 2011

    Except for the turmeric this is how I make my pie crust.They make and sell pies similar to these in Louisiana and I love them.The spices used are different of course.
    My first thing to cook alone was pot roasted chicken.I was 9 and parents were gone,we 4 kids were hungry and there was a thawed chicken.I just started doing what I had seen my gramma do and I knew it better be good because I was going to be in trouble anyway for My parents were amazed at what I had done.I was lectured but was asked to make this dish once a week for dinner.I found what I was good at and loved it.I owe it to both my gramma’s in heaven.

  • Lynette Kleve
    February 5th, 2012

    Hello there!

    I made these last night and they were delicious! I did add to the recipe some tomato paste, garlic clove and cummin. I did find the salt in the dough to be a bit strong though and will lessen that ingredient next time. I have posted about this recipe on my family website and gave you credit as the source. I hope that’s okay? I love your website, thank you!


    Lynette Kleve

    kamran replied:

    Hi Lynette, love those additions! Also, for the salt in the dough- were you using fine grain sea salt or ordinary table salt? If you were using the latter, that explains why… Any who, thanks for the link love and for the lovely comments! :)

  • Lynette Kleve
    February 5th, 2012

    Oh yes, the reason I found your website in the first place is because my neighbor asked me to do a search for a Jamaican beef pattie recipe for him.


  • Lynette Kleve
    March 3rd, 2012

    Hej Kamran!

    You’re welcome! Yes, I only had regular table salt….I do have some flake salt as well but I think I’ll stick to the table salt, but not add so much in next time. My neighbor made Johnny Cakes the other day and, oh my goodness they were good! :-) Have you heard of patties being made with chicken?

    Have a wonderful day!


  • Sam Y
    November 28th, 2012

    Hi, THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this pastry recipe. I lived in Ja for a few years and was addicted to
    Tastee patties. I could never duplicate the flakiness of the crust although they came out very well and delicious. I have been trying for years to find the perfect crust and I think I just did. Just finished making a triple batch and the pastry was SO satisfyingly crispy and flaky and messy that I nearly burst into song. My hubby and kids are suitably awed.
    Can’t wait to show these off. Will be giving you tons of cred.
    A grateful patty maker.

  • Renee
    December 30th, 2012

    Thanks for this great recipe. I lived in Jamaica for a year and, like one of the previous commenters, I absolutely loved Tastee patties. I always thought you couldn’t make a proper pastry without shortening/lard. I was so wrong. I love that your recipe uses real butter. The only thing I did differently was I ran the cooked meat mixture through the food processor for a couple of seconds. It gave the meat filling that smooth consistency found in authentic Jamaican beef patties (and helps it distribute evenly when you assemble the patties for a neat and even look).
    Great recipe!! A+!!!

  • celine
    February 13th, 2013

    I find it very hard to find the PERFECT patty. I used your pastry and my filling WOW what a combo. Even my Jamaican boyfriend loves them,went off to work with 4 of them this morning. All I can sat is perfect perfect perfect pastry.THANKS

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  • Joy
    December 19th, 2013

    This is probably a green question, but, when you mix the ground beef with the spices, before the 24 minute sauté, should it be raw or already browned at that point?

  • plasterer bristol
    November 17th, 2015

    lovely recipe. Really tasty, thanks for sharing this.


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