French Canadian Tourtiere

Saturday 19 December 2020

French Canadian Tourtiere

One tradition that my family has always enjoyed every Christmas is that of making a traditional French Canadian Tourtiere. It just would not be Christmas without it. There are actually two kinds of Tourtiere and this is the more common one which I am sharing with you today.

Traditionally it would be served for R√©veillon.  This was a Christmas supper that would be served in French Canadian homes after church on Christmas Eve.  

French Canadian Tourtiere


In my father's family they would come home from church and enjoy a feast. Santa would have come.  People would celebrate all night and then go to bed in the wee hours of the morning. 


We never actually did this in our family. (Not that we children would not have minded getting our gifts on Christmas eve or staying up all night) Instead we always enjoyed this delicious meat pie on Boxing Day.

French Canadian Tourtiere  

This year my sister and I are making two kinds of Tourtiere.  This more common one, and one from my father's childhood region of Quebec, called Tourtiere Lac St Jean. Both are delicious.

This one I am sharing today consists of ground pork. The other consists of three types of cubed meat (deer, rabbit, moose) which is soaked in salt water with potatoes and onions overnight and then slowly baked in a rich pastry all day in a low oven. 

Nowadays we use pork, beef and chicken. My father has been requesting it, so this year we are making both.

The first one we are making is the one with ground pork. We had a really difficult time finding ground pork in our local grocery stores.  We really searched to no avail.  Finally we bought a large quantity of cubed pork for stew.

I ground it using a grinding attachment for the Kitchen Aid Mixer. The Kitchen Aid was a recent gift from a friend. (Thank you Jan!) I think I have used it almost every day. When we had problems getting the ground pork, we ended up buying the grinding attachment. It worked really well!

Other than the ground meat the filling consists of a quantity of finely chopped aromatics.  Onions, celery, parsley. This is authentic.

I have seen many people make a Tourtiere and it will be filled with huge chunks of things, including potato. That is not the way we do it. There are no big chunks of anything in ours.

Everything is minced. We do add  potato, but it is used to thicken the filling and is peeled and grated.

In ours there are no discernable lumps of anything in the pie. Not so's you can pick them out. I have seen people adding tomatoes and all sorts, but that's not how we do it, and in my humble opinion its not a Tourtiere with those things in it. 

We were carefully scrutinized through the whole process by our resident judges.  That's Gary on the left and Pumpkin on the right. They are always handy in the kitchen watching and making sure we do things just right!

This meets with their approval.


The meat gets simmered on top of the stove with a quantity of stock, some herbs, the onion, celery, seasonings and a bay leaf. You simmer it for about half an hour or so.

At the end of that time you can grate in the potato and simmer it for a bit longer. the potato helps to thicken it nicely, but because it is grated it breaks down beautifully and you don't end up with any lumps.

You end up with a beautiful thick filling, that has lovely flavours.  We like to refrigerate it overnight so that it is cold when we put it into our pastry. Hot filling would start to melt the pastry and give you a soggy bottom.

There is nothing worse than a soggy bottom in a pie.  Just ask Mary Berry.  As you can see you can just barely detect the onion and celery in this filling, and you can't see any potato at all. 

French Canadian Tourtiere

We used our favourite Butter and Lard pastry for this.  It is a beautiful pastry. So tender and flaky.  I use it for all my pies now, both sweet and savoury.

It is perfect for Tourtiere. When making it for a sweet pie, you can add a bit of sugar to it, but for something like Tourtiere, you leave it just as it is. This is our favourite all purpose pastry. We use it for everything. 

French Canadian Tourtiere

We always take the filling out of the refrigerator before we begin and let it come to room temperature.  That's what seems to work best for us.  

This year we made twice the filling.  We are making two smaller (7 inch pies) and five single pies. We also doubled the pastry.

I like to glaze my pies with an egg yolk and water glaze. This gives them a nice colour and sheen.  They just look rich and lovely.  They are rich and lovely. 

We enjoy eating them hot with tomato ketchup, cranberry chutney, or tomato preserves.  A bit of salad on the side and we are in meat pie heaven. I like tomato ketchup with mine.  I lift the crust off the top of my slice and put the ketchup in between the crust and the meat. 

My favourite bit is that spot where the bottom crust meets the top crust and the two are folded together.  It is meaty and rich and a bit crusty/crispy. Yum!!

French Canadian Tourtiere

French Canadian Tourtiere

Yield: 1 9-inch pie
Author: Marie Rayner
This has been a Christmas tradition in my family for many years. To me, this is the authentic pie. No bells and whistles. Simple ingredients put together well.


For the filling:
  • 1 pound (500g) lean ground pork
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 stick celery, finely minced 
  • small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely minced
  • 1 garlic, cloved peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf, broken
  • 1/2 tsp summer savoury
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
For the pastry:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (280g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter (76g)
  • 1/3 cup lard (or white vegetable shortening) (74g)
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons of ice water


  1. To make the filling, place all the ingredients with the exception of the potato into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring to break up the meat into small pieces. Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Uncover and grate in the peeled potato. Cover and simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes until thick and cooked through. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Cool completely. (I usually make the filling the night before and refrigerate.
  2. To make the pastry, mix flour with salt, and cut in butter and lard, until you have pieces of fat in the flour about the size of peas. (Use a pastry blender or two round bladed knives.)
  3. Add ice water, one TBS at a time, tossing it in with a fork until pastry comes together. Shape into a ball and cut in two pieces. Form each piece into a round flat disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for  at least 1 hour.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the discs into a 12 inch circle. Use this to line a 9 inch pie plate.
  5. Spoon in the cooled filling.
  6. Roll the remaining pastry intoa circle large enough to cover the top. Seal, trim and flute the edge. Cut a few vent slits in top and then brush with an egg wash, consisting of 1 egg yolk beaten together with 1 tsp water.
  7. Bake in a pre-heated 200*C/400*F oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and the pastry is crisp on the bottom. Let stand 20 minutes before cutting, or allow to cool completely, wrap tightly in cling film and then foil wrap and store in the freezer until needed.
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This is my grandson Jake, all dressed up as one of Santa's Reindeer. Oh how I wish I could be in that house to feel all of the pre-Christmas excitement!  I am sure it is positively palpable! My son is probably going nuts, lol.  Grandma's get to enjoy it without going nuts! 

French Canadian Tourtiere

Hopefully this next week I will be able to share the Lac St Jean Tourtiere with you. That one is mighty tasty also!  

Just to note, today we used five pounds of home ground pork and increased the other ingredients accordingly. We got two large tourtiere and four small 5 inch Tourtiere from it. Delicious.

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  1. I had never heard of pork pie until I married my husband so his aunt in her broken Canadian English took me to the kitchen and showed me how. My mother in law had passed by then and there was no one to make pork pies for after midnight mass. Your recipe is the closet I have seen. when we are simmering the pork we put chopped potato in to cook so it gets all those good juices. then we mash it all together to make it smooth so no lumps either. We do not use summer savory we put in allspice.
    Merry Christmas

    1. Thanks so much Cathy. I like to add a pinch of cloves or allspice which is really authentic, but my family likes the summer savoury. And yes no lumps. I hate a lumpy tortiere! Merry Christmas! xoxo

  2. We had tourtiere when we traveled to Quebec several years ago. Rick and I are thinking about making this for Christmas. It looks delicious. I'll be interested to see the other recipe too. Monique also shared one. I'll let Rick pick!

    1. I think every family has their own version Jeanie! My mother only used ground beef. I like to use ground pork. Some people use a mix of veal, pork and beef. Meat Pies at Christmas. A very good thing! xoxo

  3. I love hearing about Christmas traditions from other countries and cultures. It's always so interesting. I'd not heard of this pie before but it looks fabulous.

    What a treat to be able to make this for your dad, cooking it with your sister and being so close to your children and grandchildren - a year ago, who would have guessed? A wish come true in what has otherwise been a most awful, challenging year for you.

    Enjoy the pie - you have certainly earned it.

    1. You and I are so very much alike Marie. I am the same. The first thing I like to do when I travel is to visit a grocery store and try the different foods! Ys, this is the silver lining on a truly awful, horrible year. I have to take my blessings where I find them! xoxo

  4. It's nice to hear about your Canadian traditions , not heard of this before ,looks yummy . Oh ! I have that very same table and stools in my kitchen , such a useful little table isn't it ? Beautiful puddytats too :) x

    1. It is incredibly yummy. My sister uses this table for the microwave and the cats are always sitting on it watching. Hoping for a tidbit I think! xoxo

  5. Hi Marie, I'd like to try making this but I'm wondering what cut of pork to use? Should I use a cut that's a little higher in fat such as pork shoulder?

    1. I Janet! We used Pork Sirloin, which is not as lean as the loin, or as fatty as the shoulder! I hope this helps! You want a bit of fat, but you don't want it sodden with fat. The simmering water will help to keep the filling quite moist.


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