Who Invented Meat Pies & Their Origin

Who Invented Meat Pies

Did you know that the history of meat pies dates back to the Neolithic period, around 6000 BC? That’s right, meat pies have been satisfying hungry appetites for thousands of years. From ancient Egypt to medieval Europe, meat pies have evolved and become a beloved dish in cuisines worldwide.

Ancient Egyptian tomb walls and Greek and Roman texts depict variations of what are now known as pies. In ancient Egypt, pies were made from basic ingredients like oat, wheat, rye, and barley, filled with honey and baked over hot coals. The Greeks used a flour-water paste resembling pie pastry and filled it with meat. The Romans adopted Greek creations, using a variety of meats, seafood, and fish as fillings. These early pies laid the foundation for the delicious meat pies we know and love today.

Over time, meat pies spread to different regions, each adding its own unique flavors and fillings. Whether you’re indulging in a classic Australian meat pie, savoring the taste of a New Zealand mince pie, or enjoying Latin American empanadas, meat pies have become a cultural symbol of tradition and innovation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Meat pies have been around since the Neolithic period, over 8000 years ago.
  • Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all had their variations of meat pies.
  • Meat pies have become a cultural symbol in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America.
  • Meat pies continue to evolve with new flavors and fillings to cater to changing tastes.
  • Despite the passage of time, meat pies remain a beloved and timeless food choice.

The Journey of the Meat Pie into New Zealand Hearts and Stomachs

The meat pie has been a part of New Zealand’s culinary landscape since the arrival of the British. In fact, the first mention of the meat pie in New Zealand dates back to an 1863 newspaper advertisement. Initially, these savory pies were sold in bakeries and street carts, catering to workers who sought a quick and convenient takeaway meal.

Over time, the meat pie has become more than just a convenient meal option in New Zealand. It has evolved into a beloved culinary symbol that reflects the country’s multiculturalism. Kiwi meat pies are known for their unique flavors like steak and cheese, mince, butter chicken, and curry. With each bite, you can taste the diverse influences that have shaped New Zealand’s culinary identity.

The popularity of meat pies in New Zealand is further evidenced by the Bakels Supreme Pie Awards, held in the country since 1996. These awards recognize and celebrate the best pies in New Zealand, showcasing the creativity and skill of pie makers across the nation. The meat pie has truly become a cherished part of New Zealand’s food culture.

Even with the arrival of American fast food chains in the 1970s, the meat pie remained a favorite among New Zealanders. Ready-made pies were introduced, providing a convenient option for those seeking a quick meal on the go. In addition, Georgie Pie, a New Zealand fast food chain, emerged to compete with international giants, offering a range of meat pies and other fast food options.

Today, Kiwi-style pie shops are making their way to the United States, bringing the flavors and traditions of New Zealand meat pies to American palates. These pie shops introduce Americans to the diverse range of flavors and the etiquette associated with enjoying a Kiwi meat pie. It’s an opportunity for food enthusiasts in the United States to experience a taste of New Zealand’s culinary heritage.

The European Origins of Meat Pies

European meat pies

Meat pies have a rich history that can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. In fact, the Greeks were the first to use a pastry made of flour-water paste and fill it with meat. The Romans then adopted this concept and began using a variety of meats, seafood, and fish as fillings for their pies.

During medieval times in Europe, meat pies became a popular street food and a convenient option for take-away meals. The pastry used in these pies was thick and served as a container to preserve the meat inside for extended periods. To enhance the flavor, spices like nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon were added to the pies. Additionally, the pie pastry was also used as a thickening agent for soups and stews.

The introduction of pie pastry to England by the Romans laid the foundation for the development of savory pies throughout Europe. This culinary innovation not only allowed for the preservation of meat but also contributed to the evolution of pie-making techniques and the creation of new flavors and fillings that have been enjoyed for centuries.

Whether you’re indulging in an ancient Greek pie, relishing a medieval European meat pie, or savoring a modern-day creation, the history of meat pies is a testament to their enduring appeal and the culinary artistry that has shaped them over time.

The Rise of Meat Pies in Australia

Australian meat pies have a rich history that dates back to their European origins. These savory pastries quickly gained popularity in Australia, thanks to the abundance of wheat and dairy products that allowed for a variety of delicious fillings. The early meat pies, known as “coffins” or “coffyns,” were tall and straight-sided, designed to preserve the meat inside. The pastry acted as a container, ensuring the meat stayed fresh.

As meat pies became more popular, different flavors and fillings emerged. The iconic steak and cheese pie became a crowd favorite, with its tender steak chunks and melted cheese creating a mouthwatering combination. Today, meat pies are a common convenience food in Australia, available in a wide range of flavors to suit every palate. Whether you’re craving a classic minced beef pie, a flavorful chunky steak pie, or a unique creation like kangaroo and red wine, you’ll find it in petrol stations, pubs, restaurants, supermarkets, and convenience stores across the country.

Australian meat pie culture has even transcended borders and made its way to the United States. Kiwi-style pie shops have opened, introducing Americans to the flavors and traditions of Australian meat pies. Now, you don’t have to travel all the way to Australia to experience the deliciousness of a meat pie. With each bite, you’ll discover why these handheld delights have captured the hearts and taste buds of people around the world.

So, whether you’re in Australia or the United States, indulge in the culinary delight that is an Australian meat pie. Explore the various flavors, savor the flaky pastry, and enjoy the rich fillings that make this iconic dish a beloved favorite.

The Preservation and Evolution of Pie Pastry

Role of pastry in preserving meat

In medieval Europe, the role of pastry in preserving meat was essential. The pastry acted as a cooking container and preserver, helping to prolong the shelf life of the meat inside the pie. Made with hard rye flour up to seven inches thick, the sturdy pastry could preserve meat for up to a year.

However, this rock-hard pastry was not meant to be eaten and was often given to the poor or repurposed to thicken soups and stews. Over time, the evolution of pie pastry brought about a lighter and more edible crust. The French and Italians played a significant role in redefining pie pastry, making it flakier and more flavorful.

The evolution of pie pastry continued, and it began to resemble the modern-day crust in the 15th century, thanks to advancements in rolling and folding the dough. Today, pie crusts are made with butter or shortening, resulting in a delicate and delicious pastry that can be enjoyed as part of the pie or used in other culinary creations.

Uses for pie crusts go beyond the traditional meat pie. Pie crusts provide a versatile base for sweet and savory dishes alike. They can be filled with fruits and custards for delectable desserts or used to encase vegetables, cheeses, and other flavorful ingredients for savory tarts.

The preservation and evolution of pie pastry highlight the ingenuity and creativity of bakers throughout history. From its humble origins as a meat preserver to becoming a culinary staple, pie pastry continues to play an essential role in the world of baking and adds a delightful touch to our favorite pies and pastries.

Regional Variations of Meat Pies

Meat pies have become a global favorite, with different regions putting their unique twist on this delicious dish. Here are some regional variations of meat pies that have gained popularity:

  • Latin American empanadas: Countries like Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Peru have their own version of meat pies called empanadas. These tasty treats can be baked or fried and are filled with a variety of ingredients such as ground beef, olives, fried eggs, pulled pork, diced steak, cheese, or salami.
  • Middle Eastern sfiha: Middle Eastern countries have their version of meat pies called sfiha. These savory pastries are usually made with ground beef, olive oil, plain yogurt, tahini, allspice, onion, tomatoes, and pine nuts, creating a delightful combination of flavors.
  • Chinese meat pies: China has its own variations of meat pies, with one notable example being the Xianghe meat pie. These pies are often filled with minced meat, vegetables, and aromatic spices, resulting in a flavorful and satisfying snack.
  • Australian steak and Guinness pie: Down under in Australia, the steak and Guinness pie has become an iconic dish. Made with tender round steak, Guinness Stout Beer, bacon, and onions, this meat pie is renowned for its rich, hearty flavor.

These regional variations highlight the adaptability and popularity of meat pies around the world. Each version brings its own unique flavors and cultural influences, making meat pies a truly versatile and enjoyable dish.

The Modern Meat Pie Industry

The meat pie industry has undergone significant transformations to meet the growing demand for convenient and delicious pies. In the United States, the popularity of meat pies has risen, and Kiwi-style pie shops have emerged, introducing Americans to the flavors and traditions of these savory treats.

Commercially produced meat pies can now be found in bakeries and petrol stations, making them readily available for on-the-go consumption. These convenient options have captured the attention of busy Americans looking for a quick and satisfying meal. Moreover, frozen meat pies have become a popular choice, with supermarkets offering a wide range of options in their frozen food aisles. This allows individuals to enjoy a meat pie whenever the craving strikes, without the need for extensive preparation.

While meat pies have a strong following in the United States, they continue to be a beloved food choice in countries like New Zealand and Australia. Pies are ingrained in the culture and have high consumption rates, with the average person in New Zealand devouring around 15 pies per year. This remarkable love for meat pies highlights their timeless appeal and the enjoyment they bring to people’s lives.

The Cultural Significance of Meat Pies in New Zealand

Meat pies hold a significant cultural significance in New Zealand, serving as a symbol of the nation’s culinary identity. The love for meat pies runs deep in the hearts and stomachs of New Zealanders, making it an integral part of their food culture.

New Zealanders take their meat pies seriously, as exemplified by the esteemed Bakels Supreme Pie Awards. This annual event celebrates the best pies in the country, recognizing the dedication and craftsmanship of pie makers who have perfected their recipes and techniques. The Bakels Supreme Pie Awards have become a testament to the artistry and creativity involved in creating the perfect meat pie.

Meat pies are not just a local delicacy; they are also a popular takeaway option for both locals and visitors. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch on the go or a comforting meal to enjoy at home, a meat pie is always a satisfying choice. The convenience of a handheld pie filled with flavorful meat and surrounded by a flaky crust makes it a beloved staple in New Zealand’s culinary landscape.

The Global Influence of New Zealand Meat Pies

New Zealand’s meat pies have made a mark on the international culinary scene, captivating taste buds around the world. The unique flavors and exceptional quality of New Zealand meat pies have led to their export to various countries, including the United States.

American interpretation of meat pies has been influenced by the flavors and traditions of New Zealand. Kiwi-style pie shops have emerged in the United States, introducing locals to the delectable taste of New Zealand meat pies. The international appreciation for New Zealand meat pies is a testament to their quality and the global recognition they have garnered.

  • New Zealand-style pies have become sought-after culinary experiences around the world
  • The export of New Zealand meat pies has expanded their reach beyond the borders of New Zealand
  • American consumers have embraced the flavors and traditions of New Zealand meat pies

Whether enjoyed as a hearty snack or a satisfying meal, the global influence of New Zealand meat pies showcases their appeal and positions them as a culinary delight to be relished worldwide.

The Enduring Popularity of Meat Pies in Modern Times

Despite the introduction of new food options and changing culinary trends, meat pies have remained a staple and a popular choice for many. Their convenience, hearty fillings, and comforting flavors have contributed to their enduring popularity.

In countries like Australia and New Zealand, where the meat pie has a strong cultural significance, consumption rates remain consistently high. The love for meat pies has stood the test of time, with people from all walks of life enjoying this delicious savory treat.

However, the flavors and fillings of meat pies have evolved over the years to cater to changing preferences and dietary needs. Today, you can find a variety of meat pie options that reflect the diverse tastes and cultural influences of different regions.

  • Vegetarian and vegan meat pies have gained popularity as more people embrace plant-based diets.
  • Exciting new flavors and innovative fillings, such as butter chicken, curry, and other unique combinations, have been introduced to cater to adventurous eaters.
  • Traditional flavors like mince and steak and cheese continue to be beloved classics that stand the test of time.

Meat Pies as a Symbol of Tradition and Innovation

Meat pies are not only a delicious and comforting dish but also a representation of tradition and innovation in the culinary world. While the traditional meat pie recipes, such as mince and steak and cheese, continue to be beloved classics, there is also a constant exploration of new flavors and fillings to bring innovation to this timeless dish.

With a focus on balancing tradition and innovation, meat pie makers strive to preserve the authentic flavors and recipes that have been passed down through generations. These traditional meat pies serve as a comforting reminder of the past, evoking a sense of nostalgia and familiarity.

At the same time, there is an exciting wave of innovation happening in the world of meat pies. Chefs and cooks are experimenting with unique combinations of ingredients, creating new and exciting flavors that cater to evolving tastes. From exotic spices to unexpected fillings, these innovative meat pies add a modern twist to the traditional dish, surprising and delighting the taste buds of food enthusiasts.

By embracing both tradition and innovation, meat pie makers strike a balance that satisfies the cravings for classic flavors while also offering exciting new options. This approach ensures that meat pies continue to have a timeless appeal, appealing to those who seek comfort in traditional recipes as well as those who crave the thrill of culinary exploration.

  • Traditional meat pie recipe: The classic meat pie recipe typically includes a combination of seasoned meat, such as beef or chicken, encased in a flaky pastry crust. The filling is often complemented with aromatic herbs and spices, creating a rich and flavorful experience.
  • Innovation in meat pie flavors: With innovative meat pie flavors, the possibilities are endless. From unique fillings like curry chicken or shrimp to unconventional pastry crusts made with herbs or even cheese, these innovative flavors add excitement and variety to the traditional meat pie repertoire.
  • Balancing tradition and innovation in meat pie making: The key to maintaining the balance between tradition and innovation in meat pie making is to respect and honor the traditional recipes while also embracing new culinary trends and ingredients. This delicate balance ensures that meat pies continue to evolve and remain a beloved dish for generations to come.

Famous Meat Pie Makers and Brands

When it comes to delicious meat pies, several famous meat pie makers and brands have earned a well-deserved reputation for their exceptional creations. In New Zealand, one such brand is Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses, known for its award-winning range of meat pies that are a favorite among locals. With flavors like beef, country chicken, beef curry, cracked pepper steak, and steak and mushroom, Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has perfected their recipes over 115 years, ensuring top-notch quality and unforgettable taste.

Another notable meat pie maker in New Zealand and Australia is Bakels, the organizer of the prestigious Supreme Pie Awards. Bakels celebrates excellence in pie-making, recognizing the best pies in the region. Their dedication to quality has made them a trusted name in the meat pie industry.

In the past, Georgie Pie was a beloved fast food chain in New Zealand that offered a range of delectable meat pies. Though no longer in operation, Georgie Pie remains a nostalgic favorite among many, highlighting its lasting impact on the meat pie culture in New Zealand.

  • Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses – Well-known brand in New Zealand with a range of award-winning meat pies.
  • Bakels – Organizer of the Supreme Pie Awards, recognizing excellence in pie-making.
  • Georgie Pie – Former fast food chain in New Zealand that offered a variety of delicious meat pies (no longer in operation).

These famous meat pie makers and brands contribute to the vibrant and diverse meat pie industry in New Zealand and Australia, showcasing the culinary excellence and innovation that has made meat pies a beloved food choice for many.

The Timelessness of the Meat Pie

The meat pie has a special place in the hearts and stomachs of people around the world. Its enduring appeal can be attributed to its status as both comfort food and a nostalgic treat.

One bite of a meat pie is enough to transport you back to cherished memories of family gatherings, cozy nights by the fireplace, or enjoying a game of football with friends. The warm, savory filling nestled within a flaky crust evokes a sense of comfort and familiarity, providing a satisfying eating experience that brings a smile to your face.

Meat pies have a unique way of connecting us to our past and evoking a warm sense of nostalgia. Whether it’s the aroma that fills the kitchen as the pie bakes in the oven or the memories of enjoying a homemade pie at a special occasion, these delightful treats carry a sense of tradition and heritage that is hard to replicate.

  • Meat pies are not just a satisfying meal; they are also known as comfort food. The combination of rich, hearty fillings and a golden crust creates a sense of warmth and coziness, especially when enjoyed on a chilly day.
  • Whether you’re biting into a classic steak and kidney pie, a chicken pot pie, or a unique flavor combination, meat pies have a way of transporting you to a place of comfort and contentment.
  • Meat pies also have the power to evoke fond memories of childhood and simpler times. They remind us of homemade meals lovingly prepared by our parents or grandparents, or delightful lunch breaks at school with friends.

The enduring appeal of meat pies lies not only in their delicious taste but also in the nostalgic and comforting emotions they evoke. So the next time you indulge in a meat pie, take a moment to savor the flavors and appreciate the enduring tradition and joy that this humble pastry brings.

The Future of Meat Pies

The future of meat pies holds exciting possibilities for innovation and experimentation. As evolving consumer preferences and dietary choices continue to shape the food industry, meat pie makers are expected to explore new flavors, fillings, and ingredients to meet the changing demands.

  • Consumer preferences for healthier options have paved the way for the development of vegetarian and vegan meat pies. These plant-based alternatives not only cater to dietary choices but also provide innovative and delicious options for those seeking meat-free alternatives.
  • Innovative flavors and spices can add a new dimension to traditional meat pies, providing a unique and exciting culinary experience. From fusion flavors to ethnic seasonings, the possibilities for creating innovative meat pie flavors are virtually limitless.
  • Advancements in food technology and production methods may further revolutionize the meat pie industry. From alternative meats to sustainable packaging solutions, future developments in the industry can enhance the quality, taste, and accessibility of meat pies.

The future of meat pies looks promising as culinary innovation continues to drive the evolution of this beloved dish. Whether it’s exploring new flavors, catering to evolving dietary preferences, or leveraging advancements in food technology, meat pies are set to remain a cherished and ever-evolving food choice for years to come.


Meat pies have a long and storied history, dating back to ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome. Throughout the centuries, these savory pies have evolved and adapted to different cultures, becoming a beloved culinary tradition in countries like New Zealand and Australia. The enduring appeal of meat pies lies in their convenience and satisfying flavors, making them a popular choice for people of all ages.

While traditional flavors like mince and steak and cheese continue to be cherished, meat pie makers have also embraced innovation, constantly introducing new flavors and fillings. This evolution reflects changing taste preferences and the desire to cater to diverse culinary experiences. From vegetarian and vegan options to bold and exotic combinations, there is a meat pie for every palate.

Beyond their culinary appeal, meat pies also hold cultural significance. They represent a taste of tradition and serve as a reflection of multicultural influences. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack on the go or as a hearty home-cooked meal, meat pies bring people together and evoke feelings of comfort and nostalgia.

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