British Steak and Ale Pie is a  classic dish found in most pubs around England, just like mum used to make. Tender pieces of steak are cooked with vegetables and English ale, then wrapped in the best flaky buttery pie crust. This true British, stick to your ribs food. Best served with real British chips and peas.

A steak and ale pie with a piece cut showing the chunky filling

Being British means loving a good savory meat pie, and nothing is better than this British Steak and Ale Pie.  

English meat pies are popular pub grub and perfect comfort food. The filling for this pie only uses onions and carrots, but you can fill meat pies with anything you like, root vegetables, mushrooms or peas, whatever is in season.

The pie fresh out of the oven with perfectly browned pastry

The ale in Steak and Ale Pie

What gives British steak and ale pie its rich, characteristic richness is the use of ale. Good, dark brown English ale is a must to get a deeply infused flavor. If you can’t find it, Guinness will also work. 

Braising the beef in the ale and other ingredients makes it beautifully moist and tender that comes together to make a delicious, saucy filling. Cooking the meat is a little combination cooking of braising stewing the meat and similar steps to beef stew.

The importance of good pastry

The pastry is just as important as the pie filling so they come together as the perfect marriage. This easy shortcrust pastry recipe is my go-to for all my pies, like this minced beef and onion pie, as well as homemade sausage rolls.

A slice of steak and ale pie on a plate with peas

Steak and Ale Pie FAQ’s

How to make the best flaky crust

Keeping the butter cold from beginning until it goes into the oven is the key to flaky pastry.  Another point I’d like to make, I do not like a soggy crust. There’s nothing worse than lifting a slice of pie from the pan and the bottom falls out, but I have a fix for this. It’s called blind baking the crust. See below.

What is blind baking the crust?

Blind baking is a ‘pre bake’ of the bottom crust in the pan without filling. It is weighted down with dried beans to keep it from puffing and it baked until crispy, this way, you are not putting the filling on top of raw dough which doesn’t have a chance to bake and crisp up.

Can you use puff pastry for the base of a pie?

Yes, if you’re not comfortable making your own pie dough, you can use frozen puff pastry. Be sure to blind bake the crust before filling (instructions below) so it doesn’t puff up and be too doughy.

How do I stop my pastry from going soggy on the bottom?

My number one rule when making a pie, is blind baking. I cannot stand when a slice of pie, being savory or sweet where the dough is soggy and almost raw on the bottom.

Pie Crust in the Food Processor

An easy alternative to hand mixing the dough is making it in the food processor. This serves two purposes. It’s quick and easy (we love that), and by not using my hands, it prevents the cold butter from warming up.

As an alternative to using dried beans, if you place a sheet of foil over the crust and weight it with an oven-proof dish that would it in the center (picture example below).

Foil covering pie crust ready to bake

This pie is by no means diet-friendly, but everything is good in moderation because this is British comfort food at it’s best. But it doesn’t stop there; this pie is just a delicious warmed up the next day. Just put the leftovers in a 350°F/175°C degree oven, uncovered for 20 minutes and this will heat it through and get the crust nice and crispy.

Using leftover roast beef (Sunday roast)

I have been asked a few times about using beef leftover from Sunday roast or roast beef dinner. This will also tenderize any overcooked beef. Start the recipe at step 6 (cooking the vegetables) and then go on to step 7.

On step 8, cook the vegetables in the beef stock (without the beef) for about 10- 15 minutes or so until the carrots are tender. Remove from the heat, then stir in the beef right before you add the filling to the pie and continue per the rest of the recipe.

If you’ve tried this British Steak and Ale pie  or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out in the comments below. I love to hear from my readers!

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Yield: 8

British Steak and Ale Pie

A piece of pie missing showing the chunks of beef and carrots inside

Tender pieces of steak are cooked with vegetables and English ale, then wrapped in a flaky buttery crust. Serve it with pea and chips for a perfectly comforting meal.

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the pastry:
  • 3 cups (375 grams) plain/all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks/1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold until ready to use
  • ½ cup (118 ml) cold water
  • 1 large egg beaten to brush on pastry
  • For the filling:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds (907 grams) beef chuck roast or shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch/1¾ cm cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cups
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks 1 cups (133 grams)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) dark English ale
  • ½ cup (118 ml) beef stock (low sodium if possible) * see note
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 pound (453 grams) dried beans, to weigh down the pie dough base

Instructions

  1. To make the pastry in a food processor: Add the flour and salt and butter. Pulse until you get the texture of fine breadcrumbs. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in cold water until it forms a ball. You may need more or less water depending on the dough.
    To make the pastry by hand: Add the flour, salt and butter to a large bowl. Using your fingertips (or a pastry cutter) rub the butter and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Drizzle in the water and mix using a fork until the it starts to come together and holds together when pressed in your hand. You may not need all of the water. Remove and shape into a ball on a floured board. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  2. For the filling:
    Add the vegetable oil to a large, heavy, ovenproof saucepan or braising pan over medium high heat. Add the beef (don’t overcrowd the pan, work in batches) and cook, turning the pieces until brown on all sides, adjust heat as needed if the bits on the bottom are getting too brown. Also add more oil as needed. When all pieces are browned, remove and set aside.
  3. To the same pan, add the onion and carrots and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to mix well and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well until all the flour is well mixed. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the ale and stir until it starts to thicken. Stir in the beef stock, thyme, rosemary, salt and cover with a lid and allow to come to a low simmer for 1 hour (time will depend on the size of the beef pieces). Remove the lid and simmer for 15 more minutes to thicken the liquid if needed . You do not want the liquid too runny, it should be thick. The meat should be quite tender, but will also continue cooking in the oven.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C with rack in the center of the oven. Lightly butter a 9 or 10-inch (23 or 25.5 cm) pie dish.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Wrap one half back in the plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  6. Roll out the other half onto a floured surface to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch. Cut a circle from the dough 1/2 inch larger than your pan and place into the pie dish allowing the edge to hang over.
  7. Cut a large circle of parchment paper or foil larger than the pan or and place on top of the pastry in the pie dish. Pour the dried beans to the center to weigh down the dough. Or, place a piece of foil on top of the dough and weigh down with an oven-proof dish that will fit inside.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes until you start to see the edges get a little golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven, grab the corners of the paper or foil and remove the beans. If it puffs, it should go down. Return the crust to the oven for 5 more minutes to cook the of the pastry.
  9. Once the crust is out of the oven, remove the beans and keep them to reuse over and over.
  10. Take the rest of the dough and roll out onto a floured surface and cut a 10-inch circle.
  11. Fill the baked crust base with the beef filling. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg. Roll top pastry circle over your rolling pin, lift and place on top of the pie with the egg washed edges down so they stick to the other dough, folding the edge of the top dough under the bottom dough and pinch to seal, or press with a fork.
  12. Brush with the entire top with egg wash and cut a couple of slits in the center of the crust. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. The time will vary depending on your oven.
    Allow to rest for 10 minutes after taking out of the oven before slicing to allow the sauce to thicken.

Notes

Taste your stock, if it is salty, you may need to adjust the amount of salt in the dish

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 201Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 63mgSodium 650mgCarbohydrates 19gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 2gSugar 6gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 6g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.