Pasties, Patties and Puffs – Tasty Stuffing in Delicious Dough

Most regions across the world have their own version of a food item that is essentially a casing of dough with stuffing inside that is either baked, steamed or fried. Pasties, patties and puffs are some of these delights and they are most definitely food for the soul! The terms ‘pasty,’ ‘patty’ and ‘puff’ are often used interchangeably as they are very similar in ingredients and construction.


Pasties became popular in Cornwall (England) and were consequently named Cornish pasties. The singular term ‘pasty’ is a version of ‘pastry’ as the casing used is similar to pastry. The English pasties are akin to American turnover mince meat pies. Even though traditionally the pasty is baked, the casing still has a delicious crunch due to the presence of lard in the flour dough. The dough, made with flour, salt, lard and water, is rolled out into thick circles on which a mix of small pieces of meat, potatoes, onions, herbs and spices is placed, and then folded over into a semi-circle with the edges sealed in a crimping style to hold in the juices when it bakes. Hot pasties are mini-meals in themselves and easy to eat on the go. Over the years, variations of the pasty have emerged with diced beef being replaced with minced beef, chicken and other meats, including vegetarian options with mushrooms and vegetables.

patties, pasties

Spanish empanadas are also like English pasties, but the ingredients will of course vary. The Fried empanadas are often flavoured with cumin and may contain raisins as well. The Russian Piroshki is also comparable but uses yeasted dough rather than pastry dough.


In culinary terms, the term ‘patty,’ is derived from the French word pâté which commonly refers to rounds of ground meat (like a burger patty). Over time ground meat began to be encased in pastry dough like a pie or pasty and was referred to as a patty. The casing for patties varies depending on the origin. A Jamaican patty has flaky dough with a hint of turmeric. In India, patties are clearly remnants of British culture and are made from flaky pastry, folded into a triangle highlighting the distinct crispy layers. Stuffing for patties ranges from meat, fish and poultry to a mix of vegetables and potatoes. Both Caribbean and Indian patties have a mix of spices that make the flavours more earthy and a little spicy. However, these can be toned down and adapted for different palates. Various shapes and sizes are prepared and range from round, semi-circular, triangular, or to an envelope fold depending upon the creativity of the chef.



Puffs are essentially patties made from puff pastry, which is made up of layers of butter and dough. Due to the layers, it is extremely flaky and ‘puffs’ up when baked. The fillings for puffs can be the same as those for patties and pasties. The interesting factor here is how the puff pastry is made. It’s a laborious process that involves a block of cold butter being encased in dough and rolled out. Then more butter is added, and the dough is folded over and rolled out again. This process of adding butter and rolling out is done several times to give alternate layers of dough and butter. Once the dough is baked in the oven, the water content from the dough and butter evaporates, making the dough puff up due to the buttery layers. The dough by itself has no leavening agents. Due to the time-consuming process (and becoming aghast at the amount of butter used), it’s often easier to purchase pre-made puff pastry ready to be filled with whatever you fancy. Although filo is like puff pastry, for savoury stuffed puffs it is better to avoid filo as it tends to be lighter and may not be suitable for holding heavy fillings. Indian curry puffs made with meat, vegetables and potatoes (or a purely vegetable one) are popular and contain all the flavours of curry in a snack. Another variation is the Malaysian curry puff using Malaysian/Singaporean spices.


Pasties, patties, or puffs, whatever your preference and availability are the perfect mid-day, after-school and pre-dinner snack!

One Comment

  1. I am bias when it comes to patties. I think Jamaica patties are by far the best in the world. But I am open to try any kind of patty from across the globe.

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