10 of the best British pies, from the Scotch to the Stargazy

Pies are a great British culinary tradition – but what they consist of varies enormously depending on where you are. Flora Watkins picks out 10 of the best.


Stargazy pie, with pilchard heads protruding through the pastry, commemorates the heroic efforts of Tom Bawcock. This 16th-century resident of Mousehole set out to fish in severe winter storms, saving the villagers from starvation. Stargazy pie is eaten on the festival of Tom Bawcock’s Eve. Other crucial elements are potato and hard-boiled egg.

Stargazy pie, a West Country classic that’s not for the squeamish.


A recipe for Cheshire pork-and-apple pie appears in one of the earliest mass-produced cookbooks, Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747). It’s a raised pie that can be eaten hot or cold.


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A West Country curio, the Devonshire squab is a hot pie with mutton, not pigeon, and apples. It dates from the 1700s, when pigeon pie was the preserve of the rich. Perhaps the name was a joke on the part of the peasantry?

A pie stall at Exeter farmer's market, Devon

A pie stall at Exeter farmer’s market, Devon


Beef, potato and seasoning comprise the filling of the famous Lancashire pie, which is always sold hot – and Lancashire cheese and onion pie is equally renowned.

Lancashire cheese and onion pie.


Melton Mowbray pork pies were first made to be carried by the huntsmen of the Shire packs. The meat was encased in a strong hot-water pastry, in order to withstand the rigours of jumping hedges. Yorkshire and Norfolk are also proud centres of pork-pie production, but their wares don’t have the same protected status.

Nothing says ‘love’ like a Dickinson & Morris Melton Mowbray pork pie with a heart on it. Seriously. Try it out next Valentine’s Day. (Let us know how that goes.)


Now in decline, the East End’s pie-and-mash shops have been serving beef pies (mutton was once common) with mash and ‘liquor’ since the 19th century. Liquor in this context isn’t alcohol, but instead a parsley sauce made with the broth of stewed eels – never ask for the ‘g-word’ (gravy).

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PIE & MASH ???? Double pie, double mash, double liquor is the only way to go! ? @harringtonspieandmash is a South London institution. Same family and same recipe since 1908 ??It's always great when you see a fresh tray of pies come out of the kitchen and watch Jackie apply that perfect mash to the plate ?️ @thecutlerychronicles is a local and can't resist popping regularly ? The traditional way to eat pie, mash and liquor is to give it a good amount of vinegar on top! There are over 280 others for £8 or less, on ? londoncheapeats.com ? If you eat at one of our recommendations, don't forget to let us know using the #londoncheapeats hashtag or tagging @ldncheapeats, either on Instagram or Twitter. We may well share it! ? #LondonCheapEats #toplondonrestaurants #foodporn #tryitordiet #london #spoonfeed #eater #noleftovers #feedyoursoull #foodilysm #dailyfoodfeed # #eatfamous #forkyeah #cheatmeal #devourpower #topcitybites #eeeeeats #hungrybetches #satisfeed #noBSfood #buzzfeedfood #foodpornshare #pie #pieandmash #mashpotato #tooting

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This pie-rich region also gave us the fidget pie. There are Shropshire, Huntingdon and Market Harborough variations, but the key ingredients are bacon and apples. It’s served hot.

Fidget pie made with gammon and apple

Fidget pie made with gammon and apple

West Midlands

A football-ground staple, chicken-balti pie, with chicken breast marinated in orange curry sauce, was created by Shire Foods in 1997 for Walsall and Aston Villa. And here’s how to make one for yourself:


As popular as fish and chips north of the border, Scotch pies, made of minced mutton or beef, are served hot – often at half-time during football matches. The raised rim leaves space on top of the pastry that can be filled with baked beans, gravy or mash.


The classic pie combination of chicken and leek, the Welsh national emblem, may date from the Middle Ages.


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