Island Recipes: Caribbean Patties

Meat Patties Get the Recipe Return to Main PageLori Barbely

Makes 12

Meat patties, or particularly beef patties, are largely credited to Jamaica, but they are made in most of the English-speaking Caribbean, using whatever particular mix of local spices is most liked. Annatto, locally called ruku, gives the pastry its deep yellow color. In Trinidad, for example, the version below features green seasoning with curry to gives these patties a totally Trini taste. They can be made with ground chicken, turkey, or beef.


– 2 tablespoons canola oil
– 1 teaspoon annatto seeds
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 3/4-cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, diced
– pinch of coarse or kosher salt
– ice water, as needed


– 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, ripped into large pieces
– 1/4-cup whole milk
– 1 tablespoon canola oil
– 1 small onion, minced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef
– 1 fresh hot red chili pepper (preferably Scotch bonnet), minced
– 1/2 tomato, finely chopped
– 2 teaspoons West Indian curry powder
– 1 tablespoon green seasoning (get the recipe)
– coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
– 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water


1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the annatto seeds. Stand back well away from the pot or use a spatter screen, as the seeds may pop. Swirl the oil in the pot and fry the seeds for 1 to 2 minutes, until all their color is released into the oil. Strain out the seeds and pour the oil into a heatproof bowl. Cool completely, then aside.
2. Place the flour in a bowl with the salt and cut in the butter pieces with a pastry blender, until it reaches the consistency of coarse meal with pea-size pieces. (Alternatively, place the flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade and pulse quickly.) Do not overwork the dough. If using a food processor, remove the dough from the machine at this point and place in a mixing bowl. Using a spoon, stir the dough while adding drops of ice water, until the dough just comes together in a ball.
3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten to form a disk. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight. The dough may be frozen and then thawed in the refrigerator for later use.


**** 1. In a bowl, soak the bread pieces in the milk. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet and add the onion. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the ground meat and sauté until golden brown, breaking up chunks of the meat with a fork, as needed. Add the hot pepper and mix well. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato, mix well and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the green seasoning, mixing well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove the meat mixture from the heat and place in a bowl to cool.
3. Once the meat mixture is cool, squeeze the excess liquid from the milk-soaked bread and add it to the meat mixture. Mix very well.****

Assemble Patties

1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch thick, sprinkling with additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Use a pastry brush to dust away any excess flour. Cut circles from the dough using a 5-inch round pastry cutter.
2. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture on the center of each round. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and fold over the filling. Use a fork to crimp the edges of each patty closed.
3. Brush the top of each patty with the annatto oil mixture and then with the remaining egg. Using your fork, poke a few air vents in the top of each patty.
4. Place the patties on an ungreased baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes so that the butter in the crust becomes firm. Once baked the butter will melt and release steam to create a flaky crust. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bake the patties until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.****


The patties may be frozen, uncooked, in a well-sealed container or zip-top plastic bags, for up to 3 months. To cook, place the frozen patties in a preheated 425ºF oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.