Forfar Birdies (Scottish Hand Pies)

The concept of a hand pie is popular all around the world, from British pasties to Latin American empanadas to Haitian beef patties. Each one has the same core concept: a filling (often of meat) is wrapped in dough and then baked. In that same vein these Scottish hand pies, called forfar birdies locally, have a filling of beef and onions and a simple, homemade flavor that will have you reaching for a second or even a third pie. The lore of the unusual name isn’t fully known, but they hail from Forfar in Angus, a couple hours north of Edinburgh.

To make these little pies the best dough wrappers are the empanada discs that are sold in the freezer section of the grocery. And, for the best taste and texture make sure to get the ones that are made specifically for baking.

The discs made for frying aren’t as delicate and will end up slightly tough if you bake them since they are really different in texture. You can also use our shortcrust pastry recipe if you want to make the entire recipe from scratch.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons beef or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 (16 oz) package puff pastry or 1 (14 oz) package empanada baking discs, thawed
  • 1 egg white

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  1. Preheat oven to 440˚F. Combine beef, onion, mustard, salt, pepper, and stock in a large bowl. Fold in butter.
  2. If using puff pastry cut into 6-8 equal circles about 6″ across. Add filling to circles and wet one half of the perimeter. Fold over and press with a fork to seal the edges. Brush with beaten egg white and cut a couple slits in the top of each one for steam to come out.
  3. Bake for 32-35 minutes or until golden brown on outside, covering with foil about halfway through baking. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy !

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