Smoked cheese & onion pasties

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Some of my favourite dishes arise from using whatever is lying around and these full-flavoured pastries do just that: with the additional use of the indoor smoker for the remains of a block of cheese and some onions…

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Pasties, hand pies or whatever you want to call them are always great for a light lunch or to eat “on the go”. There are so many variations on fillings, but I love the classic combination of cheese and onion – with a kick of mustard to pep things up somewhat!

Whatever the filling is, there needs to be enough of it so that when you bite into it you are not staring into an empty chasm!

I love how filled these one are, and the fact that you can see the individual ingredients!

These pasties were thrown together pretty rapidly before being baked, using the remains of some cheese, new potatoes I had cooked a day or so earlier and a few onions. I find the potato adds more substance to the filling and given there were some needing using up it felt like a crime to let them go to waste!


Oddly, there is always pastry in my freezers, as I tend to make large batches at a time, so here I used a mustard rough-puff I made a while ago. If you want to make rough-puff, my post on making it, either plain or flavoured, is here.

Of course, good quality bought puff pastry is wonderful to use, too.

Smoking ingredients

These pasties taste divine without any smoking of the ingredient – although a properly smoked cheese really makes the flavours pop!

You can buy some good smoked cheese now: not the stuff with “smoke flavour”, but smoked traditionally.

However, I use my indoor smoker frequently for all manner of things: cheeses, meats and fish mainly, but also flour, chocolate and even butter! Ok, the butter will melt as it is smoked but when it re-sets, it is then usable as part (about a third) of the fat content in a cake or a buttercream.

Smoking tips

The trick is not to over-do the smoking, as this really can kill a dish. But sometimes a vibrantly smoked dish really wakes up the taste buds: my smoked hummus is a case in point. The recipe for this is here.

For these pasties, I smoked mature Cheddar cheese and one of the onions for about 10 minutes over oak chips before leaving them in the smoking tray, covered, until fully cool so that they take on more of the smoke flavour. It matters not one jot that the cheese has melted, as this simply gets stirred into the filling.

I always encourage tasting what you have smoked: if you find it is too smoky, such as the cheese, mix it perhaps half and half with unsmoked cheese.

Recipe: smoked cheese & onion – makes about 8 medium pasties

  • 500g all-butter puff pastry (or a quick homemade version such as rough-puff)
  • 3 large onions*, peeled and sliced
  • 200g grated or chopped cheese* of choice (mature, mild….whatever you have lying around)
  • 150g cooked new potatoes, roughly crushed (no need to peel)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard of choice (wholegrain is particularly good here)
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • a generous grinding of black pepper
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 little vegetable oil for frying

*for notes on smoking the onions and/or cheese, see above recipe.

(1) Heat the oil and fry the onions for about 10-15 minutes until soft: you can also caramelise them if you prefer or just keep them fairly pale.

(2) Mix the onions with the cheese, potatoes, mustard and seasoning. Leave to cool.

(3) Roll the pastry out thinly to a rectangle. Now either cut out large circles (the rim of a bowl is ideal) or cut out rectangles.

NB: you can cut small or large here, depending on what size you want the finished pasties to be – the method is the same.

(4) Place a mound of the filling just off the centre of each piece of pastry and brush the edge with the beaten egg. Lift the pastry over the filling and press to seal, forming a parcel.

NB: you can crimp these if you want, or just leave them as they are! Personally, I prefer them uncrimped so that the pastry is fully light throughout.

(5) Brush the tops with beaten egg and place in an oven preheated to 190C (fan) for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

NB: you can pierce them before they go in the oven, but the cheese can bubble through and result in mis-shapen pasties, so I tend to leave these pasties unpierced.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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