Natchitoches Meat Pies

Natchitoches, Louisiana, has a history that's even richer than these legendary little pies.

Natchitoches Meat Pie
Photo: Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely; Food Stylist:Ruth Blackburn
Active Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins

I am not going to lie. It took me several years of living in New Orleans before I could wrap my tongue around the correct pronunciation of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Eventually, my fascination with the Creoles of color as portrayed in novels (like Lalita Tademy's Cane River) and texts (like Sybil Kein's Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana's Free People of Color) gave me a reason to learn how to pronounce this place's name. Say it with me: "NACK-a-tish."

The annual Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival boasts both a pie-making contest and a pie-eating one in celebration of the savory treat that has become one of the symbols of the place with the difficult-to-pronounce name.

No one knows the origin of the Natchitoches meat pie, but it has several international relatives. There are meat-stuffed empanadas in Spain and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, as well as early French references to a savory turnover known as a pâté, which is made with venison or other meats. It may be connected to England's beef, rutabaga, and potato Cornish pasty or Jamaica's meat patty with its curry-flavored filling—a traditional island snack.

One year at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, I joined the line at a meat pie stand and soon became an instant fan. A street snack that has been eaten in Natchitoches since the late 1700s, it's a fried flour turnover filled with a blend of beef and pork that's seasoned with what is simply called the culinary "trinity" in Louisiana: onion, bell pepper, and celery. It may also be flavored with one of the various Cajun spice mixtures and fired up with red chile flakes or a dash or two of hot sauce.

What's in a Natchitoches Meat Pie?

All kinds of delicious ingredients! Instead of just one meat, the Natchitoches Meat Pie features two types of ground meat, beef and pork, that are browned with Cajun spices and then tossed with a little flour. Next comes the "holy trinity" of Louisiana cooking—onion, celery, and green bell pepper—it's cooked with a little garlic until just tender, then stirred into the meat mixture.

How Do You Assemble Natchitoches Meat Pies?

This recipe calls for a homemade pie dough, which you divide into 16 equal portions before rolling into balls, then into 6-inch circles. Two tablespoons of the filling go into the center of each dough circle, and the perimeter of each one is then brushed with an egg wash. Finally, just fold over one side of the dough circle to encase the filling, then use a fork to crimp and seal the edges.

How Do You Cook Natchitoches Meat Pies?

This recipe calls for frying the chilled meat pies. Fill a Dutch oven with neutral cooking oil to a depth of about 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until an instant-read thermometer reaches 370°F. Fry the pies in batches until they're golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the oil temperature, raising or lowering the heat as needed to help the pies fry up perfectly.



  • 5 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and baking sheet

  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 ¼ tsp. baking powder

  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided, plus more for frying

  • ½ lb. 80/20 ground beef

  • ½ lb. ground pork

  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Cajun seasoning

  • ½ tsp. kosher salt

  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)

  • ¼ cup finely chopped green bell pepper (from 1 small bell pepper)

  • 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped (about 3 Tbsp.)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)


  1. Prepare the Dough: Whisk together all-purpose flour, kosher salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or 2 forks, cut in. vegetable shortening until mixture is crumbly. Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl, and stir egg mixture into flour mixture until a shaggy Dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface; knead until soft and smooth, about 1 minute. Shape into a disc; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the Filling: Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add ground beef, ground pork, Cajun seasoning, and salt; cook, stirring often, until meat is browned and crumbled, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and add flour, tossing to coat. Do not wipe skillet clean.

  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high. Add yellow onion, bell pepper, celery, and minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add onion mixture to beef mixture in bowl, stirring to combine; set aside at room temperature to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

  4. Whisk together egg and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and set aside. On lightly floured work surface, divide chilled Dough into 16 equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Working with 1 ball at a time, roll out into a 6-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Spoon 2 tablespoons Filling in center of circle. Lightly brush edges of round with egg mixture, and fold round in half over Filling. Crimp edges using a fork to seal. Place on a lightly floured parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining Dough balls and Filling. Freeze pies, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, pour vegetable oil into a large Dutch oven to a depth of 2 inches, and heat oil to 370°F over medium-high. Working in batches, fry chilled pies, turning once, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting heat as needed to maintain temperature. Drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Serve immediately.

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