How to Make Classic Tourtière (Québec Pork Pie Recipe)

On Christmas Eve, we almost always head to a beautiful candlelight service at our church and then drive home through the falling snow (on the years that it snows, obviously) to enjoy a late supper of Tourtière – Québec pork pie. This is a tradition fondly practiced throughout Québec, whether preceded by a religious service or not.

At our home, the tourtière is homemade, and we enjoy it throughout the holidays, not just on Christmas Eve. As I write, six wrapped pies sit in my deep freezer, waiting to be baked to golden perfection.

Essentially, tourtière is a meat pie; lightly spiced ground pork layered between flaky pastry, and served with a chunky green ketchup. It’s total comfort food, loved by all and needs nothing save a tossed salad or bowl of steamed peas to make up a complete meal. It can be enjoyed warm or cold, for brunch, lunch, or dinner – and makes a splendid midnight feast.

The Best Tourtière Recipe

Recipes for tourtière vary from region to region and kitchen to kitchen. It’s been said that the best recipe is the one your grand-mère gave you, but as my Baba is Ukrainian, I’ve sourced my recipe elsewhere!

Friend, Montrealer, and fellow food enthusiast, Ryk Edelstein, did his tourtière homework several years back. He gathered a handful of recommended recipes from various Québec regions -try about eleven- and proceeded to make them all. Twice. Ryk used as many ovens as he could convince his friends and family to allow, and twenty-two meat pies later, he narrowed down the recipes to two or three favorites.

This recipe, passed along to me from Ryk, is straightforward, appealing to all, and lends itself well to large batches. It is from Montreal Gazette food editor Julian Armstrong’s cookbook, A Taste of Québec, and apparently was one of the winners in a tourtière contest put on by the Gazette.

It’s a winning recipe in my books. Both of my boys tuck into it enthusiastically, and not just because I allow them to slather it with ketchup. It also makes scrumptious little hand pies, if you have time for that sort of thing. Wrap one of them, warmed, in a cloth napkin, tuck it into your pocket, and you have the perfect portable snack for a sledding expedition.

Classic Tourtière or Québec Pork Pie
4.6 from 12 reviews
Recipe type: Main
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: two 9-inch meat pies
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground pork, ideally organic & local
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 teaspoon dried savory
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Pastry for two double-crust, 9-inch pies
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
  1. In a large, heavy frying pan, combine pork with cold water and heat to boiling point. It should be slightly soupy.
  2. Add onion, celery, pepper, bay leaf, savory, rosemary, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 1 1/4 hours; stir often. Add more water if mixture dries out.
  3. Halfway through cooking time, season with salt to taste.
  4. Stir in rolled oats and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bay leaf and allow to cool. Setting the entire pot in the snow bank speeds up this process!
  5. Meanwhile, line two 9-inch pie plates with pastry. When meat mixture is lukewarm, divide it between two pie shells and spread it out evenly.
  6. Brush around outer edge of pastry with the beaten egg. Place top crust on the tart and press gently around the edge to seal. Trim pastry, crimp edges and cut steam vents in top crust. Decorate as desired.
  7. Bake in preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F and bake another 25 minutes or until crust is golden.



Is there any point in making just one meat pie? Not really. They freeze beautifully; whether pre-cooked or frozen with raw pastry dough, which ensures that you can get a hot, filling meal during the busy days ahead.

I also make a few extra to give away. Friends who are adapting to life with a new baby in the house, or are going through a rough patch, can expect an edible gift of tourtière from my kitchen.

Pies can be frozen directly after assembly, with the dough still raw (this is what I do). Wrap them well in plastic wrap and freeze.

To cook:

  • Remove pie from the freezer and unwrap.
  • Brush the top with a little beaten egg and place frozen meat pie in a preheated 375°F oven.
  • Bake until golden and heated through, about 50 minutes.

Pies can also be baked and cooled, then wrapped and frozen. This is convenient when you really need an instant supper fix.

To serve:

  • Remove meat pie from the freezer a few hours before serving, if possible.
  • Wrap in foil to keep it moist and warm in a low (300°F) oven until heated through.

Whether you speak French or English in the home, celebrate Christmas or not, tourtière is an essential December dish around here.

What is your traditional Christmas Eve fare?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

Subscribe For Free!

Like reading this post?
Get more delivered to your email inbox.


  1. Yum… a true Canadian classic! I’m next door here in Ontario and am very thankful to my Quebec neighbours for creating such a delicious savory pie. I can’t wait to try this recipe over the holidays. Merry Christmas!

    • Terry Carr says:

      I am a USA woman that lives in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. We have a fun filled snack tray with all kinds of goodies. Christmas Day is my Italian spaghetti and lasagna dinner. But boy how’d does your dish sound fantastic. I am going to try my best at making this. I don’t know how to make pie crest is I’ll have to buy already made crest. Thank you so very much for sharing this.

  2. This is a tradition for us also but it’s for New Year’s. My mother in law’s family is from Ontario and her recipe is equal parts onion and pork, salt to taste and pie crust.
    No spices… but served with Dijon mustard and sweet jerkins.
    We look forward to making it all year and make at least 6 pies.
    My daughter wears goggles to help with the onions. It’s a family event!!!!

  3. We always have a ham on Christmas day and appetizers on Christmas Eve.

  4. So enjoyed reading about your snowy holiday traditions… On Christmas Eve we will come home from church to a table of all kinds of appetizers, some traditional, some new finds, and a cookie buffet. Then late before bed we will walk around the neighborhood and look at all the Christmas lights! (Your pork pie looks delicious!) Merry Christmas!

  5. This is exactly what I have been looking for to serve on Christmas Eve after we come back from mass. Thank you!

  6. Thanks for sharing this!!! It’s one of my absolute favorites and I haven’t had it in years, I am an East Coast Canadian girl who has been living down south for the past 10 years! I can’t wait to try this!!!! Thank you!!!!

  7. Aha! I have been trying to come up with something different for Christmas day. We will be sharing a big turkey dinner on Christmas Eve so there is no point in a big dinner with just the family on Christmas day. After all the busyness of Christmas preparations, I like to have a complete day off. This should suit me just fine. Sipping wine, a great breakfast and this for later on in the day. Can I substitute beef? 1/2 and 1/2?

  8. Sounds very yummy! I might have to give it a try.

  9. That’s the thing I have on my list to try out! Thanks Aimée!

  10. Thanks for simplifying this whole tourtiere idea! You make it sound do-able. I will have to give it a try. How do you think lightly seasoned caribou sausage would work?

    • Hmm,so you would take it out of the casings, right? I think it would taste great, but it might be too lean. Half pork/half caribou would probably be amazing.

  11. I’ve never had this but it sounds delish! I have to ask, what does chunky green ketchup taste like?

  12. Beautiful!

  13. Jennifer Austin says:

    Yes!!! So glad to see this recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Aimee, do you remember Harold Witmer’s “puddin?” It was essentially toutiere filling without any spices except onions, salt and pepper, and served hot on toast for supper. Absolutely delicious! It was apparently a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe for using up butchering scraps. As a child, I thought it was heavenly.

    • I wish I remembered, but no, I don’t. Sounds pretty good, though.

      • nancy mercier says:

        Yes, I do remember it. I loved it. It was made with shredded pork, I think, instead of ground pork. We always have pork pie on Christmas eve. This year, I tried your recipe and I really like it. Spices are a little different and we always use cracker crumbs instead of the oatmeal. I’ll see what everyone thinks of this recipe, though.

        • Yes, Grandpa made it with shredded pork, and his secret……LARD in the crust. The best was when he had bear lard.

    • Mike Strout says:

      If im not mistaken this sounds to me like ” Poutine” or atleast thats what this frenchie up in maine has always called it. and i like to put it on toast or english muffins

      • No, NO!! Poutine is totally different – it’s french fries, topped with cheese curds, and rich gravy poured all over! SO decadent!!!

  14. On Christmas Eve we make the traditional different fish – fried clamari, smelts, cod or sole, mussels with linguini, smoked salmon platter.

    On Christmas Day, besides the traditional lasagna, turkey or veal roast, my French Canadian makes her tourtieres using her family recipe. It’s usually served with fruit ketchup.

    I will have to try to make tourtieres – my family loves them! Thanks for sharing your recipe and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  15. Do you think baking, then freezing in individual pieces would be ok?

    • Why not make smaller pies? Mini tourtieres are perfect for one or two people. When my sister and I made our meat pies (we use half beef and half pork, with a seasoning that includes allspice, cloves and cinnamon) we made a few large ones and then several small ones. The small ones you can bake without worrying about having to eat tourtiere all week when you’re alone.

  16. GORGEOUS!!

    I love the pictures of the pie…it looks almost too pretty to eat.


    What a wonderful tradition, it sounds so lovely.

  17. I remember trying Tourtière the first time at my husband’s grandmother’s house. So delicious. She made hers with a cheddar-based pastry, which was very delicious too. I am excited to try this myself!

  18. Mama Kelly aka Jia says:

    I immediately bookmarked this one and will be making it once the rest of the holidays are behind us. Looks like a great quick meal for a cold winter night.

  19. I have never had one of these pies, but I’ve heard about them from family that lives on the East Coast – so beautiful Aimee – wowie!!!

  20. A good friend gathers with all her brothers and sisters in November and they make up a huge batch of pies, all from their French mother’s recipe. She passed last year and this tradition was launched in her honour.

    As for us, being the good Ukrainian that I am we always have pyrohy, borchst,kutia, kasha, fish, cabbage rolls, and many other dishes. If it is just our little family I scale it back a little, but it is still a meatless feast.

    • What a great tradition. Have you sampled this recipe? 😉 Wow, your holiday feast sounds amazing. As you can see, I’ve adopted the local traditions…when in Rome..

  21. I had never heard of this before – sounds delish! We’ve tend to have clam chowder on Christmas Eve, but my mom dropped the meat from her diet, so we’re changing this year to halibut and risotto (can’t make clam chowder properly without bacon). As we’re the ones traveling, anything someone else wants to prepare sounds GREAT to me!

  22. I use pork and beef roasts to make my tourtiere filling. A little cheddar goes into the crust too. You’re right Aimee, it is a lovely dish to have in the freezer for those nights when you’re stuck for dinner, or when unexpected company drops by (which tends to happen a lot over the holidays). Throw a meatpie in the oven and it will stretch out any meal you’re making.

  23. I’ll be making mine for Christmas Eve this week as well. I’m curious about what recipe you use for the crust? I typically use a Pate Brise. Your photos are gorgeous and I really like the recipe too. I’ve introduced this tradition to my American in-laws and they enjoy it. I usually serve a seafood chowder (a la Nova Scotian style) on Christmas Eve to go with this as well. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  24. Tourtiere is my traditional Christmas season pie- I’ve made 8 over the last 2 nights, and probably 4 more tonight- My paternal grandparents were from Quebec and living just south of the border it was a staple on Christmas Eve after midnight mass-
    good stuff- my son ate 1/2 of one last night, before I made him supper…..

  25. Oh to be from Quebec! I have never even had Toutiere, but I imagine it couldn’t be bad…:) One day I will try it, but this Christmas Eve we will be celebrating with our own tradition, tapas. We stuff our selves with fine meats, cheeses, crackers, breads, olives and the like and await Santa’s tinkle as he alights on our roof.

    Merry Christmas Aimée!

  26. I made this just as written (minus bay leaves – not a fan) and it was FABULOUS! I had to restrain myself from having a third helping… or a big third, anyway. The scent while cooking had me a bit bemused (very strong on the cinnamon), but in the end it was just right. And now I have one in the freezer for the future. YUM. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  27. My children love tourtière . Here in Quebec we eat it with a lot of ketchup ( Heinz).

  28. Is it really true that the freezer reheat is 375 degrees for 30 minutes when the just made is 15 minutes at 425 then 25 minutes at 25 minutes. does it need to be thawed or baked longer or is it just a miracle? We ate the just made one and it was so good that I am making it for my food swap group. I have 8 pies freezing on the porch and need to include the reheat instructions in a few days. Help!

    • Wow, you rock, Tracy! 8 pies! Sounds like the kind of food swap I need to get invited to.

      You bring up a very valid point, thank you. The heat is lower to ensure that the dough doesn’t burn while the insides stay frozen, but it does take longer than 30 minutes. I’d say 50 is a safe guess. You cna also say ‘until the top is a dark golden brown.’. Remember, the meat is already cooked, so once the pastry is golden, it is ready to serve.

      So glad you enjoyed one of our favorite winter do-ahead meals!

      • Thanks for your super fast reply. It is 5:30 AM and I am printing out my instructions to finalize my dish before the little people get up. And yes our food swap group is really great. There is a group of 10 moms that swap freezer meals every 6 weeks and most of the meals are heat and serve or crockpot meals. We have an ongoing cookbook that lets us repeat our family favorites. The cookbook also allows me to have great quick-to-make recipes when I run across a sale on a certain meat or produce (or need to use something that has been in the pantry too long).

  29. Oh my gosh, meat pie! Happy childhood memories. My French-Canadian grandmother (from New Brunswick) made this whenever she visited (and it was the birthday meal I always asked her to make), but she used half ground pork, half ground turkey, and a mix of mashed potatoes and celery. No oats. No green ketchup, either! Cold for breakfast it was the perfect food. I haven’t had it in at least 15 years because it’s so unhealthy, but I’m happy to say I put away more than my fair share as a child.

  30. Each year I pick a country (I live in Texas, USA) and research the traditions and foods of Christmas. This sounds so good that I think I will pick French Canada (Qubec) for Christmas 2011. I trust I can find enough about your traditions, so if you have anything to share in that respect, please do so.
    Yes, I am male and love to cook, so any time I can have all the kids and grand kids visit, I will use it as an excuse to try new receipes. I started the Christmas think about 15 years ago, which has been continuing even after the kids grew up and left home. My grand daughter began helping me in the kitchen almost as soon as she learned to walk and continues to love cooking together (she is almost 8 now).
    Love your web site!

    • I realize that your French Canadian Christmas Supper has long passed, but if ever you do decide to try it again, be sure to make Cipate! It’s basically a chicken,pork, and beef pie with potatoes. See this recipe:
      It’s my all-time favorite meal! And for desert, sucre à la crème (brown sugar fudge) So I realize it isn’t exactly healthy food but serve it with lots of veggies to balance it out a little 🙂 Don’t forget a big glass of milk with that desert!
      Ps. not all French Canadians are in Quebec, in the states I’m always asked if 1. I’m speaking Spanish, 2. I’m from Quebec, both answers are no 😛

  31. Thank you! thank you for posting this. My Memere and my Mom always made pork pie for the holidays. I never quite got the hang of it, and now that they’re both gone, it’s my job to keep the tradition going. I’m going to stock up and make extra to freeze. Looking forward to it!

    Do you have a great recipe for gorton/creton? I’m always jonesing for that stuff. On crackers or bread with yellow mustard? Heaven!

  32. Eff Bélanger says:

    Thank you for posting thing. I’m a French Canadian expat living in Arizona and I was looking for something to soothe my homesickness.

    This is perfect! =D

  33. Noreen Hardwick says:

    Is chunky green ketchup also known as chow chow?

  34. Aimee, I noticed this link was reposted in the cookie exchange story, so I’m hoping you will come and check comments.

    How would you change the shaping and baking and/or freezing directions if one were to make “hand pies” (I’m imagining something like a medium pasty)? This is definitely the best recipe I’ve gotten online – would love to make them single-serving size, though.

    • Sure, Anita! So I used my rich pastry dough – it holds up super well. You can add a bit of lard too if you want.

      I cut them in large circles 4-inches in diameter, brushed the edges with a bit of beaten egg and tried not to put too much filling in! Pinch it shut. I then froze them raw until the day of the party – super convenient!

      I baked them at 375F directly from frozen. Since the filling is already cooked, you really just have to brown the pastry. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how long they baked as there was a lot going on! Id say about 20 minutes, though.

      If you don’t freeze then, give them a brief chill in the fridge after you shape them, before they go in the oven.

      Any more questions? Ask away. Thanks for reading!

  35. Mom always made this at Christmas but since we live a few provinces away I get to do the Christmas cooking and enjoy it. Luckly we have a few inches of snow today so I can put the pot out to cool (camp cooking). Already have had samples of the pot scrapings and its very tastey.

  36. Aimee,what great pictures and a yummie recipe.I don’t remember the celery or oats but I grew up on these. I still make these as an expat for 40 years. Love them. Freeze them. Share with my children.Like Pam,I eat it with mustard and sweet jerkins.Love finding a hidden one in my freezer, six months later. God-sent.I’m always looking for the recipe but I have my own in my collection.Thanks for a nice one.

  37. I *do* have my grandmother’s technique for meat pies, and feel quite fortunate. Ours has less of the filler items than yours, and we start with a pork butt and grind it ourselves. It’s our traditional New Year’s Day meal, for luck. BTW, my family heritage is French Canadian, but we are now fourth generation US/Minnesota, carrying on the tradition.

  38. Losangeles says:

    I was born and raised in “la belle province” however my mom (from Nova Scotia), god rest her soul, made the best tourtiere ever. However, I tried this recipe and the only thing that made mom’s better was the love she put in hers and the mustard pickles on the side.
    This recipe is a keeper and for anyone who really wants to try a great pie, follow this recipe and your guests will think you have been making tourtieres forever.
    Thank you and I love your website.

  39. Jan Scheel says:

    Tourtiere has been a New Year tradition in my home for decades – I learned how to make it from my mother, whose mother was a native a Quebec. Two minor differences from your recipe: she used clove instead of cinnamon, and potatoes, rice or breadcrumbs (depending on what she had available) instead of oatmeal. For dessert, sweet dumplings simmered in maple syrup and drizzled with cream.

  40. Sounds traditional. I,myself am Polish/French Canadian heritage. Tourtiere never has beef in it. The spices are regional,but should always contain savouy. Carb. addition is optional,only there to soak up fat. Try our beloved. Madame Jehane Benoit,s recipe for Tourtiere Dough, a hot water lard pastry. I,am 66 yrs. old and have never had a Christmas everyone without Tourtiere.

  41. nightsmusic says:

    I came across this from Google Reader today though I know you posted it originally a couple years ago. But I had a question. Can I use steel cut oats in this? I use McCann’s for almost everything, but sometimes have to change the recipe a bit so thought I’d ask. Because it looks amazing and I’d really like to try it.

    • No, please don’t! I think it could be bad. The oatmeal is just to help the filling bind together and steel cut oats would not have the same affect.

  42. THANK YOU for this – we are travelling on Xmas day this year, arriving home at 5 pm – obviously I am not going to be making turkey, but a tourtiere from freezer to oven will be just what we need! Thanks again for this recipe, I have always wanted to try freezing it but have been a bit hesitant, now I won’t be! Joyeux Noel!

  43. Aimee, should the filling be soupy even at the end? I’m wondering if I will need to drain it before putting it into the pie crust. I can’t wait to try – even the kids are excited to taste it.

  44. Making my Tourtieres as I write this from Minnesota. So thankful my mother insisted we have a traditional French Canadian holiday meal. We always had oyster stew with this. Don’t know if that was traditional or not though. All my seven of my siblings and I now make this for our families at Christmas across the US. This year I will add the seasonings from this recipe and maybe a little brandy the the meat sauce.

Speak Your Mind


Rate this recipe: