Venison hand pies (or pasties) are the perfect handheld meal. These delicious little treats are made of flavorful venison and mushroom filling with stout beer gravy wrapped in a flaky Irish cheddar crust. Give them a try today!
Why This Recipe Works:
Venison pot pie (or meat pie) is a classic recipe for ground or shredded venison. But, the ratio of crust to filling is often not ideal. Enter venison hand pies! Hand pies (or pasties) have almost an equal ratio of filling to crust which is what makes them so delicious (and fun to eat)!
The flavors of ground venison, dried mushrooms, thyme, and stout beer come together for a deliciously rich and earthy filling. The flaky crust is packed with pieces of Irish cheddar that add a cheese cracker-like flavor and texture to the crust. Together, the filling and crust are almost too delicious to believe!
Since hand pies are much smaller than traditional meat pies, they bake quickly too. As an added bonus, they're even freezer friendly! You can make a big batch of hand pies, par-bake them, and freeze them for easy meals down the road. Full freezing instructions can be found in the recipe card below.
- Ground Venison: You can use any ground meat in place of ground venison. Elk, moose, antelope, beef, turkey, etc. will all work.
- Dried Mushrooms: You can use any dried mushrooms you'd like for this recipe. If you want to use fresh mushrooms, use about ¾ cup chopped fresh mushrooms instead of dried mushrooms.
- Stout Beer: This recipe uses a very smooth stout beer. If you choose a beer with a lot of hoppy flavor, your filling might be more bitter. Also if you want to add more beer flavor, you can omit the stock and double the amount of beer.
- Homemade Pie Crust: This recipe calls for a homemade Irish cheddar pie crust. You can use store-bought pie dough instead. When you roll out the dough circles, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese over each circle and use your rolling pin to press the cheese into the dough. It won't be quite the same as having the cheese in the dough, but it will still add that cheesy flavor!
- Irish Cheddar: You can use sharp white cheddar or aged cheddar in place of Irish cheddar. Irish cheddar has a lower moisture content than other cheddar cheeses due to aging. If you use a traditional cheddar in your crust, the texture may turn out a little different.
Step by Step Instructions:
How To Make Venison Hand Pie Filling:
This venison pie filling has a very rich and earthy flavor. The dried mushrooms add a lot of umami flavor and the stout beer adds a deep richness to the gravy. Check out the steps below to make this delicious hand pie filling!
Pro Tip: The key to making this filling so delicious is the perfect gravy-to-meat/mushroom ratio. Too much gravy leads to a soggy crust and too little gravy makes for a dry filling. Follow the recipe below for the perfect ratio!
How To Make Cheddar Pie Crust:
Homemade pie crust can't be beat. Now add some tangy Irish cheddar to it? Now we're really talking. The flavor of the cheddar adds a cheese cracker-like flavor and texture to the crust that pairs perfectly with the rich venison filling. See the steps below on how to make it!
Pro Tip: Don't overwork the dough or it will become tough. Gently fold the ingredients together until a dough is formed. Add more water as needed if your dough is dry.
How To Make Venison Hand Pies:
You have your filling and dough, now all that's left is assembly, baking, and eating! See below for a few tips and tricks for assembling your hand pies.
Pro Tip: Hand pies make great freezer meals. These venison pies freeze beautifully and make for an easy dinner down the road. Check out the freezing instructions in the recipe card below!
What do I serve with Venison Hand Pies?
These little pies are packed with flavor and are a bit on the rich side. A fresh green salad with honey mustard dressing or roasted vegetables work great as a side dish. These hand pies can also be served as an appetizer or as part of a "snack dinner" with cheese boards, fresh fruit, etc. However you choose to serve them, you're definitely going to want seconds!
Pasties are handheld pies typically filled with meat and vegetables. Traditional pasties originated in England but cultures all over the world have a version of these meat-filled hand pies.
Meat pies are typically enclosed in crust (top and bottom) while pot pies typically only have a top crust. Pasties (or hand pies) are miniature meat pies.
The secret to a good pie crust is to not overwork the dough. Gently folding the ingredients together helps keep the crust flaky and not tough. Adding aged cheese to pie crust for savory pies also helps make them flaky.
Other Recipes to Try:
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Venison and Wild Mushroom Hand Pies with Stout Beer
- large cast iron skillet
- large sheet pan
- Rolling Pin
- ½ lb ground venison (or elk, moose, antelope, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon lard (or other cooking fat)
- 1 oz dried wild mushrooms (about 1 cup)
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- ½ cup shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon salted butter
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup stout beer
- ½ cup stock (wild game, beef, etc.)
- 2 tablespoon half and half
- 1 cup Irish cheddar, grated (about 3.5 oz)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold salted butter, cut into ½" pieces
- 1 cup Irish cheddar, grated (about 3.5 oz)
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon ice water
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Add in butter. Squish pieces of butter between your fingers to flatten them.
- Once all butter pieces are flattened, add in shredded cheese and use a pastry blender to blend the butter and cheese into the flour mixture. Blend until all butter and cheese pieces are pea-size or smaller.
- Drizzle ice water over flour mixture and incorporate water into crust using your hands. Start with ½ cup water and add more as needed. The amount of water needed will depend on the type of flour used, humidity, etc.
- Add water until you can form the dough into a ball. Dough should stick together and be pliable but not sticky.
- Form dough into 2 discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- While dough is chilling, prepare filling.
- Place dried mushrooms in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add boiling water. Let sit for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Once mushrooms are done rehydrating, drain and finely chop the mushrooms.
- Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add lard and swirl to coat the pan.
- Add chopped mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to pan. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly softened and fragrant.
- Add in ground venison. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the meat. Break the meat up into small pieces and mix into the mushroom/shallot mixture. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until meat is browned. Remove mixture to a bowl and set aside.
- Add butter to the pan. Once butter is melted, add flour. Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.
- Add in stout beer, stock, and half and half. Stir to combine and cook for 3-5 minutes or until thickened.
- Add meat and mushroom mixture back to the pan and stir to combine. Remove filling to a bowl and let cool slightly before assembling hand pies.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, divide each dough disc into 8 equal parts. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. You should have 16 balls total.
- Roll each ball into a 6" rough circle. Place 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese on half of the dough circle. Add 2 ½ tablespoons of filling on top of the cheese. Wet the edges of the circle slightly and fold dough over filling to make a half circle.
- Seal the edges of each pie by folding the bottom edge over the top edge and crimping with your fingers. Alternatively, you can seal the edges with a fork.
- Place pies on parchment paper-lined sheet pans. Cut 3 lines in the top of each pie to vent.
- Note: You can roll out each ball into a circle before filling or work in batches of a few at a time.
- Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon cold water. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each pie with the egg wash.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbly.
- Follow all steps above through hand pie assembly.
- Place hand pies on parchment paper-lined sheet pan and cut slits in the tops to vent but don't brush with egg wash.
- Bake at 425°F for 8-10 minutes or until crust is set but not browned.
- Let pies cool slightly then place entire sheet pan in the freezer. Freeze until solid.
- Place frozen hand pies in zippered bags or vacuum seal bags. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw pies on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan overnight in the fridge. Brush with egg wash and bake at 425°F for 20-22 minutes.
- If using fresh mushrooms instead of dried, replace the 1 oz of dried mushrooms with ¾ cup chopped fresh mushrooms.
- If you want to add more beer flavor to the filling, omit the stock and double the amount of beer.
- You can use premade pie dough instead of making your own. When you roll out the dough circles, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese over each circle and use your rolling pin to press the cheese into the dough. It won't be quite the same as having the cheese in the dough, but it will still add that cheesy flavor!
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