Easy tourtière, a traditional meat pie

Elie's tourtiere - her courier de bois heritage

Vinny’s tourtière – from his French Canadian voyageur heritage

Family traditions are especially important at Christmas. Tourtière is one of them. Vinny loves this savory meat pie anytime. But at Christmas, he just wouldn’t feel right without it.

History  People have been making tourtière in Canada ever since the French first settled on the Saint Lawrence river over 300 years ago. Some believe the pie is named after the passenger pigeon, which the French called “tourtes.” The meat from these birds was cooked into the original pies. Although pigeons are not related to blackbirds, the result was fit for a king.

passenger pigeon

Passenger pigeons were so popular as a food source that they were hunted to extinction by the end of the 1800s.

Recipe notes There are many ways to make a tourtière. Original recipes depended on what foods were available in the area. Pork and beef are used most often today. But family recipes passed down through the years could contain poultry and of course wild birds and other game.

Vinny’s recipe here relies on the good flavor of pork. The grated potato is essential to the thick juicy goodness of the pie. The carrot provides further nutrition and color, as well as a little sweetness. The method is fail-proof and dead easy, especially if you have an electric grater. Kids can make it themselves if they can safely grate the potato and carrot.

If you are good at making pastry and have the time, you can make your own pie shells. Vinny thinks of the pastry only as a dish for the meat filling, so the store-bought shells suit him fine. Besides, they turn out flakier than his own homemade fiascos.

Tourtiere meat pie


Vinny’s easy tourtière
A savory meat pie fit for a king
Serves 4-6

  • two frozen prepared pie shells
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 medium potato, grated
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt (sea salt is best)
  • ½ teaspoon each savory, sage, & cloves
  • ½ cup water
Elie's tourtiere filling

Easy one-pot filling.

A few simple tools

  • medium-sized pot
  • chopping knife
  • grater or food processor
  • stirring spoon
  • measuring cups
  • cookie sheet
  • oven gloves
21 jul 078_edited

Easy enough that kids can make it.

  1. Set the oven to 400°F.
  2. Set the pie shells out to thaw.
  3. Measure the ingredients and take out your equipment.
  4. In the pot mix together all the ingredients (except the pie shells).
  5. Heat the mixture on the stove on high, while stirring, until
    it sizzles.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes
    or so.
  7. Pour the mixture evenly into one of the pie shells.
  8. Gently flatten the other pie shell out on the table. Lift it on top of the pie. Pinch the edges of the crust together to seal. Trim the edge. Cut a slit in top.
  9. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
  10. Let the pie cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with ketchup, tomato salsa, or maple syrup.


Le Crystal, boutique hotel in Montreal

Give this a whirl and when you see how good tourtière is, pack a few away in your freezer to serve over the Christmas holidays.


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