These Jamaican Beef Patties are similar to baked empanadas, but are classically Jamaican in flavor. The hearty beef filling isn't overly spicy, making this a family-friendly treat. Curry powder-laced dough yields a lovely color and flavor, as well as a beautifully flaky texture.
(This recipe was originally published in February 2018, but was updated with new photos and content in 2022).
Jamaican patties are half moon shaped flaky pastries with bright yellow-hued dough and a spiced savory filling. They are considerably easy to make, are baked and not fried, and are excellent as a snack, light lunch, or party food (particularly for an Olympic party!).
Historically the concept of Jamaican patties was inspired by Cornish pasties which were brought to the island by immigrants. Curry and chiles were introduced by Indian laborers and African slaves. The combination has become a true Jamaican revelation.
These delicious Caribbean snacks can feature various fillings including chicken or curry vegetables. Perhaps the most popular are the Jamaican beef patties which feature a combination of ground beef, spices, and a bit of breadcrumbs to bind.
The filling has a warm hint of spice but isn't too spicy for the average eater. Making the dough is similar to making pie crust with curry powder, which gives the flaky dough a golden hue.
A good friend of mine is Jamaican and gave these classic beef patties an enthusiastic two thumbs up!
- Curry Powder: Curry powder is actually a blend of spices. The exact recipe for each blend varies depending on many factors. For example, Jamaican curry powder is usually a bit more mild than its Indian counterpart, and often contains more turmeric. Ideally, use a Caribbean or Jamaican curry powder for this recipe if you have one. If you'd like your dough to be an even brighter yellow color, add a little ground turmeric in addition to the curry powder.
- Scotch Bonnet or Habanero Chile: Scotch bonnet chiles are most authentic to Jamaican cuisine, however Habaneros are a good substitution and are easier to find in most supermarkets. Make sure you wear gloves when stemming, seeding, and chopping these peppers. They are extremely spicy. With that said, once you seed and finely chop the pepper, they impart flavor to these Jamaican beef patties but not too much spice. These patties are actually somewhat mild in flavor. If you want a spicier filling, you can leave in the seeds, or use more chiles.
- Ground Allspice: Allspice is another super Jamaican ingredient (it’s actually also known as Jamaica pepper). Contrary to popular belief, allspice is NOT a spice blend. It derives from the dried unripe berry of the Pimenta dioica tree. Purchase it as whole dried allspice berries and grind it yourself in a spice grinder, or buy ground allspice for maximum convenience.
- Ground Beef: I use lean ground beef for these Jamaican beef patties and the results are excellent. The filling is juicy and not greasy.
How to make it
First make the filling. Start by sautéing chopped onion, garlic, minced Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, garlic powder, salt, thyme, and allspice in oil until softened.
Add ground beef, breaking it up into pieces, and cook until cooked through. Next, add breadcrumbs to help bind the filling. Then add broth or water to absorb into the crumbs. Cool the filling until ready to use.
Mix flour with curry powder and salt, and then cut in cold pieces of butter until you have pea-sized crumbs (PHOTOS 1-2).
Then add cold water until the mixture forms a mass (PHOTO 3). Divide the dough into 16 pieces, and roll each ball between your palms to smooth it out. Arrange the balls on a small tray or large plate and refrigerate for about 10 to 15 minutes so they aren't too soft for rolling out (PHOTO 4).
One at a time, place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, press your palm into a ball of dough to begin to flatten it, then use a rolling pin to roll it out evenly into circle about 5-inches in diameter (dust with more flour as needed). They may not be perfect circles, but that’s ok.
Add a packed ¼ cup of filling to the dough circle, offset so it covers about one half of the circle with about ½ inch border around the edge. It will seem like a lot of filling, but you can press and compact the filling a bit to make sure you fill it generously.
Fold over the dough and pinch the edges to enclose the filling. Use the tines of a fork to press along the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Place the sealed beef patties onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, then chill the sheets in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to help set the dough.
Brush with egg wash and bake until crisp and flaky. Serve the Jamaican beef patties hot or warm.
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe (in a printable recipe card) including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
Expert tips and FAQs
Store leftover Jamaican beef patties in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat them in the oven or toaster oven before serving to freshen them up by re-crisping the crust, and heating the filling through.
To make ahead, freeze patties in a single layer and then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until crispy and heated through.
If you make the filling in a not nonstick skillet, initially the spices may stick and cook onto the pan. Once you start cooking the beef, its natural juices will release them from the pan.
A lot of Jamaican beef patty recipes have you roll out all the dough and cut out circles. This is wasting much of the dough. Instead, divide up the dough into balls, and roll each ball out into circles. No, the circles aren't as perfectly round as they would be if you cut them out with a round cutter.
Many cultures make empanadas using this same method, rolling out balls of dough instead of cutting out circles. The results are delicious and only slightly more rustic than the alternative. If you want cleaner looking edges to your beef patties, after folding and before crimping you may use a knife or pastry wheel to carefully trim the edges to smooth them out.
Traditionally Jamaican beef patties are served plain without condiments or dipping sauces.
Other recipes you may like
- Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
- Rasta Pasta with Jerk Chicken
- Jamaican Rice and Peas
- Trinidad Macaroni Pie
- Karipap Pusing (Malaysian Spiral Curry Puffs)
- Ham and Cheese Empanadas
- Hand-Cut Beef, Egg, and Green Onion Empanadas (Empanadas Tucumanas)
- Schinkengipfeli (Swiss Ham Croissants)
- Saucijzenbroodjes (Dutch Sausage Rolls)
Tried this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. You can also follow me on social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Jamaican Beef Patties
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile stemmed, seeded, and minced (wear gloves!)
- 2 tablespoons curry powder (preferably Jamaican)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- ¾ teaspoon ground allspice (preferably Jamaican)
- 1 ½ pounds (680 grams) ground beef
- ¾ cup (100 grams) dried breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup beef broth or water
- 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (preferably Jamaican)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 ounces (1 ½ sticks / 170 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons cold water or as needed
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- To make the filling: heat the oil in a large, preferably nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, chile, curry powder, salt, thyme, and allspice, and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
- Add the ground beef and use the edge of a wooden spoon to break it into pieces. Continue to cook until all the beef is cooked through, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn or stick, another 5 minutes or so.
- Add the breadcrumbs, stirring to combine, then add the broth or water and mix until absorbed. Remove the filling from the heat and let it cool completely.
- To make the dough: stir together the flour, curry powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the cold butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture. Using your fingers, or a pastry blender if you have one, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend). If using your fingers, just rub the mixture together, but don’t overwork the mixture or the butter will get too warm and soften too much.
- Sprinkle in about ½ cup of the cold water and gently mix it into the flour with your fingers or a plastic bowl scraper or spatula. Do not overwork the dough. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water, or more as needed until the dough just comes together into a ball, but isn't too wet or sticky.
- Divide the dough into 16 pieces, each weighing approximately 1 ½ ounces or 43 grams. Roll each ball between your palms to smooth it out. Arrange the balls on a small tray or large plate and refrigerate for about 10 to 15 minutes so they aren't too soft for rolling out.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
- One at a time, place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, press your palm into a ball of dough to begin to flatten it, then use a rolling pin to roll it out evenly into circle about 5-inches in diameter. They may not be perfect circles, but that’s ok.
- Add a packed ¼ cup of filling to the dough circle, offset so it covers about one half of the circle with about ½ inch border around the edge. It will seem like a lot of filling, but you can press and compact the filling a bit to make sure you fill it generously. Fold over the dough and pinch the edges to enclose the filling. Use the tines of a fork to press along the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Place the sealed beef patties onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, then chill the sheets in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to help set the dough (it will bake up flakier if you don’t skip this step).
- Evenly brush the tops of the patties with the egg wash, and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
- Store leftover Jamaican beef patties in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat them in the oven or toaster oven before serving to freshen them up by re-crisping the crust, and heating the filling through.
- Freeze patties in a single layer and then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until crispy and heated through.
- If you'd like your dough to be an even brighter yellow color, add a little ground turmeric in addition to the curry powder.
- If you want cleaner looking edges to your beef patties, after folding and before crimping you may use a knife or pastry wheel to carefully trim the edges to smooth them out. I like the rustic look with its imperfections so I typically don't do this.
- Traditionally Jamaican beef patties are served plain without condiments or dipping sauces.
- This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US), preferably Diamond Crystal brand. If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! I have also reduced the amount of salt from the original recipe for the filling, from 1 tablespoon to 2 teaspoons.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*
Filling was perfect but dough was a firm when baked. Followed recipe exactly but baked a bit firm. Any suggestions? Maybe more liquid than as per recipe?
There may be a couple different factors at play here. As you mentioned, it's possible your dough needed a little extra water. Was it dry and difficult to bring together into a cohesive mixture when you made it? If it was a bit dry and crumbly, you may have needed another tablespoon or two of water to saturate the flour properly (ambient humidity plays a big role in baking and how much water you need to properly hydrate your flour). Alternatively, it's possible you overworked and overmixed your dough, making it a bit tough. In that scenario, you may have overdeveloped the gluten and made a more dense and firm dough which wouldn't bake up flaky and light. Do either of these sound possible?
Made these… wow just awesome. I used 1/2 of a Scotch Bonnet chile, next time I’ll use a whole one. I don’t mind a little heat, but 1/2 of the Scotch Bonnet just wasn’t enough heat. Definitely will make these again.
This recipe was a hit at my last party!
Personally, I added the full pepper (used habenero) and could have added another for the kick - but I do like spice. and I've always only put about half to three quarters of the suggested salt.
The second time I made these - I substituted half of the ground beef for 50/50 mushrooms and tofu (Stange I know but it's all I had!) added some butter to replace the fat content - left it in the fridge overnight to marinate and they still turned out great!
I took the task of keeping the dough refrigerated quite seriously as I have a very warm kitchen and never had a problem with the dough!
Next time I may try not rolling the dough quite as thin however to try and get a breadier texture!
Overall an awesome recipe!