How to make a Jamaican Patty


A patty is to Jamaicans what hamburger is to Americans, or pizza to Italians. The crusty, crescent-shaped pastry filled with meat or vegetables is a national obsession eaten at lunch, for Sunday brunch, and as late morning or mid-afternoon snacks. Thought to have originated during English colonization of the island, Jamaican patty started with beef filling but now runs the gamut from chicken, vegetables, beans, fish and lobster. Whatever the filling, patty connoisseurs swear that the secret to a true Jamaican patty lies in a flaky crust.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. ground, dried turmeric or annatto or chicken or fish
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3 tbsp. cold water
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil or yellow cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh hot peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs chives, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. prime ground beef (substitute chicken)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric or annatto
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground all spice (pimento)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • Salt and pepper to taster
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. brown (optional)
  • For the glaze
  • 2 egg yolks, well beaten
  • Make the pastry by sifting the flour, turmeric and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and mix well with fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in enough of the water to form a dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for two hours. Remove 15 minutes before ready to use.

  • Heat the oil for the filling in a large saucepan. Saute the onion, garlic, hot pepper, thyme, chives, parsley and tomatoes until soft. Add the meat and all other spices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add water and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes until all liquid has evaporated and the meat is browned. Add rum, if using, just before removing the saucepan from the stove. Let cool.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the dough and cut into 8-inch circles about 1/8-inch thick. Place 3 tbsp. of the cooled meat mixture on one side of each circle, fold the other half over so that the edges meet. Moisten the edges with water and crimp together with a fork until sealed. Place the patties on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with the beaten egg yolks and bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, and serve hot. This recipe makes 18 patties.

  • Skip the butter and use beef suet instead to make a flakier and true Jamaican patty crust. Use 12 oz. of suet instead of the cup of softened butter.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use suet at room temperature for best results and ensure that the oven is preheated to the correct temperature.
  • Talk to your butcher if you have problems finding suet. You can substitute beef drippings, chicken or pork fat for suet.

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