• Blackberry pie (Feast magazine)Source: Feast magazine
The world is comforted by pie. Now it's your turn.
3 Aug 2021 - 12:37 PM  UPDATED 27 Jul 2021 - 10:11 AM

--- The Cook Up with Adam Liaw airs weeknights on SBS Food at 7.00pm and 10.00pm, or stream it free on SBS On Demand. Catch the savoury pie episode on Thursday 5 August. ---


Right now, in every corner of the globe, someone is making a pie. It will be sweet, it will be savoury, it will be served warm or served cold. Some will have a pastry top, others proudly reveal their filling. Many pies are stuffed to the brim with ingredients, others prefer a solo star.

One thing is certain, though. Regardless of where it is baking or by whom, that pie is being made with love. It might be love packed in for a big, noisy family celebration, or it might be wrapping up some quiet comfort for a friend in need. Either way, pie brings with it a nostalgic sense of peace and safety. The perfect antidote for when life gets a little bit muddled.

One thing is certain, though. Regardless of where it is baking or by whom, that pie is being made with love.

"If the chips are really down, I would probably bake a sweet pie – rhubarb, apple and balsamic vinegar is one I go for a lot," says Julia Busuttil Nishimura, best-selling author of A Year of Simple Family Food and baker of many, many pies. "Or in summer, a peach pie really lifts the spirits."

Cooks across the centuries have agreed with Busuttil Nishimura. Every culture has it's own pie story to tell. Here's a tiny taste of what's being popped into ovens the world over.

May your pie journey bring you much comfort and joy.


Pecan pie is a true American creation that originated in the state of Texas. It's popularity started when a recipe was printed on the side of a syrup bottle, but endures because pecan pie is basically perfect.

Roasted pumpkin pie

Roasting the pumpkin intensifies its sweetness and the caramelised edges of the pumpkin add a lovely complexity to this pumpkin pie filling. The filo pastry gives a crisp but light crust. 

Pear and rhubarb cobbler

Dating back to the early British settlers of North America, cobblers are based on seasonal fruits and topped with a wet, scone-like mixture. The result is a simple pie of sorts with the topping resembling cobblestones – thought to be the reason for this homely dessert's name.


This Argentinian-style shepherd’s pie contains a corn filling, a beef filling, and a slightly sweet pastry spiked with currants, pine nuts and cinnamon. You've gotta love a layered pie.

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Where would we be without the humble meat pie? Definitely less happy at the footy, that's for sure. Some might be horrified that our multi-cuisine nation seems to have settled on a meat pie as its national dish, but surely that depends on what you put inside it...


Fancy a potato pie with snail-like tendencies? Coiling the pastry this way ups the filo-to-filling ratio in a most pleasing way.


Egg and bacon were bound to find their way into a pie fairly quickly in their relationship. Naturally, it was the Brits who put them there.

Nelly's fish pie

This English classic originated in small fishing villages as a way of using up the surplus catch. Laden with butter and cheese, this is deeply satisfying comfort food. Food Safari Water

Mary’s Cornish pasty

“Few meals have roots as deep as the Cornish pasty, a hand-held meat-and-vegetable pie developed as a lunch for workers in the tin mining region of Cornwall. With its semicircular shape and an insulating crust that can double-duty as a handle, then pasties helped sustain the miners through their long working days. Today, the humble Cornish pasty receives special designation, along with Champagne and Parma ham, as a protected regional food by the European Union.” Luke Nguyen


This traditional Chinese meat pie has a crispy dough outer and a savoury filling. The filling varies across the country, but generally will contain some kind of spiced meat and often noodles. 


Blackberry pie

Pita od kupina is a popular dessert with a buttery crust, crumbly top and meringue-like blackberry filling. This is pie heaven.


Naturally Finland's kalakukko features salmon and dill. The Finns favourite ingredients work a treat in a pastry shell - a reminder of just how good the perennial favourite fish pie can be.

Fish pie with mashed potato crust

It can be as simple or as complicated as you like, but a good fish pie is right at the pointy end of the comfort food pyramid for me.

Empanada gallega (galician pie)

Empanada Gallega is a large round pie from Galicia, Spain. The dough is slightly different to typical Latin American-style empanada dough. The empanada is often baked in a paella pan or in a pizza pan. The fillings of Galician and Portuguese empanadas usually include tuna, sardines or chorizo, commonly in a tomato, garlic, and onion sauce.


There may be arguments about whether an onion tart is a pie, but let's not quarrel. Squabbles just take away from eating time.

Mushroom, red onion and tarragon quiche

I love the sweetness of roasted red onion with the earthiness of mushrooms, and they both work so well with the tarragon.

Leek tart (flamishe aux poireaux)

Gabriel Gaté shows how to wow with ease with his classic French leek tart recipe. Fill a ready-made pastry base with creamy leek mixture, pop it in the oven and ... voila!


The Greeks do a number of very good pies (see below), but spanakopita is the most famous. The dish is one of the classics of Greek cuisine, however, you might want to mention to yiayia that Aussie warrigal greens and saltbush make it even better.

Hortopita (spinach and feta pie)

“This showstopper of a pie from grandmother, Christina Phillips, is full of green goodness. Christina is from Northern Greece and still cooks her treasured recipes; her protégé is her grandson, top chef Matt Germanchis, who leads the Pei Modern restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne.” Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Fire

Manitaropita (mushroom pie)

The most famous Greek pie may be the spinach-filled spanakopita, but countless varieties abound in the filo pastry pie-loving nation, from vegetarian hortopita (wild greens pie) and kolokithopita (pumpkin pie) to hearty kreatopita (meat pie). In Northern Greece, this sautéed mushroom pie is a favourite.


County Kerry in Ireland has it's own version of an essential pie. Dingle pie is a hearty meshing of a hot water pastry crust and flavoursome lamb and veggie filling. Serve it with a generous stout and you probably won't need to eat again for a week.


Pizza rustica is filled with every good Italian 'p' thing you could ever dream of. Parmesan, pecorino, parsley, Proscuitto. Fair enough, there's no pasta, Peugeot or piazza stuffed in there, but close!

Onion and olive calzone (calzone con cipolla e olive)

More like a pie than a folded pizza, this calzone hails from southern Puglia, where it's sold by the slice as a meal on-the-go.

Chocolate espresso and hazelnut tart

In Italy, Easter is in springtime and Italian food traditions use seasonal ingredients. But for dessert, there is chocolate everywhere - from Easter eggs to rich chocolate tarts and biscuits. 


It wouldn't be a pie list without empanadas. Across South America, they're the ultimate hand pies with loads of added spice.

Black bean and sweet potato empanadas

I love savoury pastries. These work as a great appetiser for a dinner party or an awesome lunchbox snack. The beans and sweet potato are so hearty you won’t even miss the meat.

Shredded jackfruit empanadas

If you’ve never used jackfruit as a meat replacement, you’re seriously missing out - especially in these fried empanadas with chipotle mayo.

Corn empanadas (empanadas de humita)

In Argentina, ‘humita’ is the name given to a creamy corn filling and it is often used to describe corn empanadas.


B'stilla is traditionally made with shredded pigeon and sprinkled with chopped toasted almonds and icing sugar. This is a vegetarian version of the original, made like a sweet dessert but very savoury in nature.

The Netherlands

Dutch appeltaart

The aforementioned appeltaart is bold with nutmeg and cinnamon. The sweet, buttery shortcrust is also filled with apples, currants and sultanas for maximum deliciousness.

Limburger cherry flan

Chef Geert Elzinga celebrated the arrival of Dutch mega star Andre Rieu in Australia with the baking of a typical Limburger flan (cherry flan). Every province has its own version and Andre's home province is known for its variety of flan made with an almost sweet bread or pizza dough.


Norway's traditional eplepai can warm the soul with one mouthful. It's often served for dessert hot from the oven with lashings of vanilla ice cream melting pleasantly on top.


The Scottish Forfar bridie is thought to be named for a mid-19th century food seller, Margaret Bridie, who travelled throughout Forfarshire (now known as the county of Angus). The history of the Forfar showcases both the portability and popularity of the endearing pie.

South Africa

The national dish of South Africa brings together all the flavours of a nation into one golden pie. Curried meat and fruit are topped with a golden egg finish. The layers are similar to moussaka, but the flavour is all South Africa's own.


This Easter favourite from Spain is all about the eggs and chorizo. The crust is surprisingly sweet in a savoury pie, but this works well to balance the spicy sausage.


Pirog is the Ukranian take on a sweet cheese pie. Based on lemon-scented bread dough, it is filled with a delicate fresh cheese and crème fraîche filling studded with raisins.

Keep travelling
Sohm al tart (chestnut tart)

A traditional Ishgardian cake made up of several stacked layers tapered to resemble Sohm Al, a peak sacred to the Dravanians. Ishgardians believe that devouring the mountain will grant them fortune in their struggle with the dragons.

Västerbotten cheese pie

This pie, made of Swedish Västerbotten cheese, nearly always crops up at midsummer and crayfish parties and at Christmas. You can substitute Västerbotten with mature cheddar cheese. 

Urti pie

This recipe is so special to us as it comes from Damien’s Nana Barb, who has since passed away. Most of Damien’s family members make this pie, which is renowned in the Flinders Ranges, home of the urti (quandong). 

Rhubarb and apple pie

Classic apple pie (served with a overly-generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream, of course) is one of the perennial delights of winter and can only be improved by the addition of rhubarb and a deliciously rich vanilla sour cream pastry. This pie just may be a little hard to beat.

Neil’s pho pie

“I met an award-winning artisan pie maker named Neil Broomfield, who was inspired by my Vietnamese pho recipe and decided to make a pie version of the traditional beef noodle soup. The result was stunning. The recipe makes more broth than you will need for these pies, but it freezes well and will never go to waste.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Cottage pies

I love great simple food with pure flavours and this pie is just that, with the best spuds you can find for your mash, decent, flavoursome beef and a layer of moist spinach. Cottage pie has a long history and one that has always been about using up leftover meat to create a new and filling meal. These ones are easy and can be made well in advance and popped in the freezer until you need them.

McSingh’s Scotch pie

There’s nothing better than a juicy, crispy, lush Scotch pie – unless of course you add spices to it. The sweet, fatty taste of the lamb mince is paired with white pepper, nutmeg, coriander, cumin and some chilli. It’s fantastic for picnics or lunches. Ideally, you need to make this a day in advance to give the pie time to set. If you have time, refrigerate the cooled pie for at least 2 hours before trying to remove it from the tin.

Aztec pie (pastel Azteca)

If I were to compare the Aztec pie with some other dish, I'd say it's like a Mexican lasagne, because the preparation is very similar, but it tastes nothing like it. It's basically a layered pie of corn tortillas, poblano chillies, corn, salsa, sour cream and Oaxaca cheese – a white cheese that can stretch like mozzarella.

Empanada gallega (galician pie)

Empanada Gallega is a large round pie from Galicia, Spain. The dough is slightly different to typical Latin American-style empanada dough. The empanada is often baked in a paella pan or in a pizza pan. The fillings of Galician and Portuguese empanadas usually include tuna, sardines or chorizo, commonly in a tomato, garlic, and onion sauce.

Lamb borek with cucumber, radish and parsley salad

Using filo pastry often means using lashings of butter which, while delicious, doesn’t do much for the waistline. Yoghurt is a great alternative and not only makes the recipe healthier, but adds another subtle flavour to the dish.

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