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The Spicy Honey loves Jamaican patties.  They’re spicy (like him!) and just a quick, full-flavored bite, that’s perfect for lunch or a snack or dinner or breakfast.  In other words, good any time, any place.  Those patties you get in the frozen section of the supermarket, just don’t cut it.  We used to get great patties at Pepper’s Jamaican Bakery, in the Hartford, Connecticut area.  They have a real variety of patties, plus other Jamaican delights.  A chocolate cake that is to die for.  And, you could order cocktail-size patties, which always graced out Christmas table.  They were a must have, or Christmas couldn’t happen!  But, we’re are in North Carolina now, and I haven’t been able to locate good patties.  So The Goddess, in her infinite wisdom, pondered the situation and decided to make some.  That whole mountain and Mohamed thing, you know.  So she checked her books, went on line, and this is what she came up with. 

I will tell you, I love this dough.  It is very, very soft dough, which I made in the food processor.

I don’t normally do dough in the FP, but I decided to give it a whirl!  I think it worked well, and perhaps I could have added a little extra flour, but after it’s thoroughly chilled, and the blobs are rolled in flour, they rolled out beautifully.  They were a bit difficult to handle, but it was manageable.  This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_3040.jpgThere was this one, which I dropped on the counter, when I was rearranging them, but I decided, that would be the cook’s tasting patty!  The Goddess is willing to sacrifice her dignity for a good patty…Mmmmm!

I also discovered that by combining the meat and water, then stirring it around with a fork, the meat broke apart and became more or less a slurry.  This is fine, as you want the meat separated, and the water will cook off.  You can brown the meat, if you wish and add about 1/2 cup of water, before continuing with the recipe.  This is a soft filling, too.  Since I used beef both powder, I didn’t need to add additional salt.  When I tasted the filling, it was salty enough, but just a bit flat, so I added the vinegar and that fixed it.  Dry thyme is the norm, but it can have an overpowering taste.  So, I use fresh thyme, but you can add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of dry, if you really enjoy the flavor of thyme.  I don’t use Scotch bonnet chiles, though that is generally what is used.  The problem for me, is their heat level can vary significantly, so I prefer to use a sweet baby bell, or other thin-skinned small pepper.  Then for heat, I used a combination of Aleppo pepper flakes and cayenne, about 3/4 teaspoon, in total.  The heat level was perfect.  When adding the breadcrumbs, don’t over thicken…remember they will absorb more liquid as the filling sits.  And I do you the MSG.  It does make a difference in the flavor and my guess is that most Jamaican patty places use it, too.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in a Jamaican kitchen that doesn’t have a container of Accent™ in the cupboard.

I found that making both the dough and the filling the day before, and chilling both worked very well.  I did bring the filling to room temp, but not the dough.  The dough needs to be cold.  I rolled the blobs out relatively thinly and in more of an oval, rather than a circle…this isn’t important, but I think maybe they fit on the cookie sheet better, but that could be a figment of my imagination.

Next up, I’m going to try my hand at making a veggie filling, for the love-of-the-life of our progeny.

Jamaican Patties

  • Servings: Makes 12 patties
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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  • Dough:
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cold vegetable shortening or lard, cubed
  • 1 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ice cold water, minus 2 tablespoons
  • Filling:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, finely minced
  • 3 scallions, finely minced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons very finely minced Scotch bonnet pepper (see NOTE)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons beef base powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme (about 2 teaspoons–see NOTE)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (or as needed)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cider vinegar (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (taste before adding-I didn’t need it)

To make pastry–In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and turmeric powder.  Pulse 3 or 4 times to combine.  Randomly drop the shortening cubes over the flour mixture.  Pulse 5 or 6 times to combine and break up the shortening.  Combine the vinegar and iced water.  With the motor running, pour the water through the feed tube and process just until it comes together, about 8-10 seconds. Remove the dough, form into a round and wrap in plastic.  Chill for 30 minutes; an hour or two is even better.  This is a relatively soft dough.

To make the filling–Set a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat; add the ground beef and water.  Stir the meat and water together; the water will help the meat break up. The meat should be just barely submerged in water.  Bear in mind that the meat will release some water as it cooks.  Add the bay leaves, pushing them down into the meat.  Bring to the simmer and cook the meat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point, about half the amount of liquid your started with, should remain.  Add in the onion, scallions, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper, Worcestershire sauce, beef base powder, paprika, black pepper, thyme, curry powder, allspice and MSG, if using.  Stir until well combined.  Cover and simmer over low heat, for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The meat should be very juicy, but not too soupy.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the breadcrumbs, adding them slowly, but stirring until thoroughly combined.  Again, make certain that the mixture remains moist.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.  Remove and discard the bay leaves; set aside to cool.

To assemble and bake the patties: Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove chilled dough from refrigerator.  The dough will still be very soft, but it is manageable.  Divide it into 12 equally sized balls and flatten slightly.  Sprinkle flour on the rolling surface, and using a rolling pin, roll to about 1/8-inch thickness.  Place about 3 tablespoons of filling just off the center of the pastry dough.  Fold the dough over into a half-moon crescent; seal the edge with water and using a fork, seal the outer edge.

Place the filled patties on a parchment-lined baking, leaving about 1/2-inch between patties.  Because the dough is soft, them may be a bit difficult to handle.  Bake in the middle rack for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden browned.  Remove to a cooling rack; let cool for at least 15 minutes before enjoying.  Patties can be reheated in a 300°F oven for 10 minutes.  Patties freeze well; thaw on the counter for 10 minutes before reheating in the oven.


  • Instead of a Scotch bonnet pepper, I use 3 tablespoons of finely minced sweet baby bell pepper and 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes, plus 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.  The flavor is different, but still delicious.
  • I use fresh thyme, which gives you a less thyme-y flavor, but if you love thyme, use the fresh, but add 1/2 teaspoon of dried with the other spices.
  • Both the pastry and the filling can be made the day before; bring the filling to room temperature, then proceed as instructed. I prefer to do this.
  • If you wish to make smaller patties, divide the dough into 24 equal parts, and use 3-4 teaspoons of filling and prepare as directed for larger patties. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Jamaican Patties Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020.  All rights reserved.