the last bite: meatless yooper pasties recipe

The Michigan Yooper pasty hand pie goes vegetarian

By / Photography By | January 31, 2018
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Traditionally a meat and root vegetable hand pie eaten by miners on cold winter lunch breaks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the pasty—pronounced PASS-tee—is a Great Lakes State institution. Not to be confused with risqué attire worn by burlesque dancers, the portable dish was popularized by Cornish copper miners, who used the crust as a handle that they discarded after eating the rest of the pie. Later, Finnish immigrants adopted the pasty and introduced rutabaga as a mainstay filling.

For this version, we leave out the meat and fill them with armfuls of farmers market goodies. The dough is simple and classic, using vegetable shortening to keep it inexpensive but still flaky and crisp. The fillings are endlessly customizable: Imagine berry or peach in the summer for a sweet version of the pie. Just mix all the prepared ingredients together in a bowl and distribute evenly onto each rolled-out pasty round.


makes 8

  • 2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • Choice of filling (see options below)

Place shortening in a mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over and stir to melt. Add the salt and flour gradually and stir until well combined. Portion out into 8 equal pieces, wrapping each individually in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Prepare your choice of filling by simply tossing the ingredients together in a bowl.

Heat oven to 400°. Remove dough pieces from the fridge and flour your countertop. Roll each ball of dough out into a roughly 8-inch circle, then evenly distribute the prepared filling into each round. Fold the circle over on itself to make a half circle, and crimp the edges together. Pierce the tops with a fork and coat with egg wash of 1 egg beaten with a splash of water. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown.

Filling Options

Traditional Root Vegetable

  • 2 medium waxy gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Butternut Squash, Sage and Parmesan

  • pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces shredded Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


A sweet twist for a dessert pasty! Granny Smith or Northern Spy apples work very well for this filling.

  • 3 medium/large apples, chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon dried nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried cloves
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