When you hear the word pie, what comes to mind? A sweet dessert? A savory snack? Family? A certain holiday? A special meal with loved ones?
Most people have positive feelings regarding pie. The smell and taste associated with it often helps bring back fond memories. Maybe your grandmother used to make pies for a holiday or maybe you would sit around the table laughing with loved ones while eating it. Many of us consider it a comfort food.
Pie is also a pretty universal food. It can be found in countries on every inhabited continent. But, that doesn’t mean everyone prepares the same type of pie or that there’s one proper way to make pie. There are hundreds of types of pies.
In this article, we’ll look at 15 kinds of pies found in 15 different countries around the world. This is not a comprehensive list but will give you a good idea on the variety that exists. If you like to cook or bake, you should try making some of them to experience food from around the globe.
Did you know that most pies around the world are savory, not sweet? Check out the list below to learn more.
1. Pumpkin Pie (United States)
There are many unique pies that can be found in the United States, but pumpkin pie is one of the most popular and most unique. How come?
Pumpkin pie is one of the most well-known because of it being associated with Thanksgiving, which is a holiday virtually everyone in the U.S. celebrates. For those of you not from the USA, Thanksgiving is celebrated in November to remember and be thankful for the blessings from the last year. Families often get together and eat a huge feast culminating in pumpkin pie for dessert. It’s thought that a version of pumpkin pie was eaten as early as the 1670s, but some argue it was later.
Pumpkin pie is one of the most unique pies because most people around the world would never think to make pumpkin sweet. I remember serving to it to some friends from Australia, and they thought it was very strange. The recipe has evolved over the years and nowadays includes cinnamon, evaporated milk, cloves, and canned pumpkin. And don’t forget to top it off with some fluffy whipped cream.
You’ll find these pies everywhere between September and November. If you’re interested in trying it, here’s one pumpkin pie recipe that shouldn’t be too difficult to make.
2. Meat Pie (Australia and New Zealand)
Unlike the pumpkin pie, which is a sweet pie served in a specific part of the year, the meat pie is a savory pie that is served year-round. It’s estimated that Australians eat approximately 270 million of them every year! They also have a fierce competition where hundreds of bakers are fighting to see who can make the best meat pie.
The meat pie is a very important part of Australian culture. They are thought to have started in the late 18th century when Australia was colonized.
Australian meat pies are often eaten as a snack food or at lunch time and can be found almost anywhere. They are also sold in food trucks, and you can find them at sporting events. Most businesses even will have a pie warmer to reheat the pies.
The key to a successful meat pie is a perfect pastry on the outside with a juicy, flavorful inside. The pies are typically made with a shortcrust pastry base and a puff pastry lid. The filling usually includes minced beef, onions, and a gravy. If you want, you can add some ketchup or tomato sauce on top to give it some extra flavor.
Here’s a recipe from a native Australian.
3. Saskatoon Berry Pie (Canada)
The next pie is a sweet pie made from a berry called saskatoon. They are found in Canada and the northern United States but are particularly known in western Canada. There’s even a city named after them.
The season for saskatoon berries is incredibly short, typically being harvested in mid to late July. They resemble blueberries but are a little plumper. Like other berries, saskatoon berries have many health benefits including vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and antioxidants.
These berries have been a staple for the locals for many years. They are also wonderful in other recipes like muffins, tarts, and more!
If you can get your hands on some saskatoon berries (frozen is good too), then try this simple pie recipe. It has been passed down for four generations. Once you’re finished making it, don’t forget to serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious!
4. Sfiha (Middle East, specifically Lebanon)
Sfiha (also called Lahmajun) is a Lebanese dish that is similar to a pizza or a pie. It’s found in several countries throughout the Middle East. But, you can also find this dish in Brazil and Argentina because of Lebanese immigrants. Sfiha is considered street food in those South American countries because they are cheap and easy to make.
Sfihas consist of dough and a meaty topping. The dough is similar to pizza dough. The topping can be made with either ground beef or ground lamb. You also can include finely chopped onion, tomato, bell pepper, and spices. Finally, you can top it off with olive oil and either yogurt or cheese.
This recipe does a great job of explaining each of the steps in making Sfiha. You can also make variations of the dish by mixing up the spices and type of meat being used.
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5. Shepherd’s Pie (United Kingdom)
This is one pie with which you may be more familiar. It’s a fairly common dish in the United States. However, shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb instead of ground beef (actually called Cottage Pie).
Shepherd’s pie was probably first made in the late 1700s as a way to get rid of leftovers. People would throw their leftover meat, veggies, and potatoes together to form this dish. They were originally made in pastry crusts by people in Scotland, but the Irish typically make them with mashed potatoes.
A typical shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, ground vegetables, gravy, spices, and a thick layer of mashed potatoes. The dish is not difficult to make, but it sure tastes delicious. It’s considered a comfort food by many.
One of the beautiful things about shepherd’s pie is the different ways it can be made. Here is one recipe we recommend, but feel free to put your own spin on it. You can even make a vegetarian version with lentils, sweet potatoes, or plant-based meat!
6. Buko Pie (The Philippines)
Buko pie is a traditional Filipino pie with a creamy coconut filling and a flaky pastry crust. It may remind you of a coconut cream pie.
Buko means young coconut, and it comes from the Laguna province on Luzon. The recipe is only about 70 years old. It is said to have been started by a Filipino woman who learned how to make apple pie, but she didn’t have access to many apples, so she tried coconut instead.
You can find the pie being sold in street stalls, walking vendors, or restaurants. But, be careful where you buy it because some vendors save money by using less coconut and more corn starch. It’s worth it to pay a little extra to get the real deal.
Buko pie is not complicated, but the key ingredient is fresh, young coconut. Other ingredients include condensed milk, sugar, and a delicious crust (store bought or handmade). Check out this recipe if you want to try making it yourself.
7. Spanakopita (Greece)
Spanakopita is considered the most famous pie in Greece. It’s called a pita, but pita means pie in Greek. It’s believed that Greeks have been eating these pies for hundreds of years.
Spanakopita is often eaten as a snack or appetizer and can be found in delis, bakeries, and restaurants. It’s usually served with tzatziki sauce (yogurt, garlic, and cucumbers) for dipping.
This famous triangular-shaped pie is usually made with layers of phyllo dough brushed with butter or olive oil and filled with spinach, feta cheese, herbs, and scallions. But, people will make their own versions but using different spices or cheeses. The dish is not overly difficult to make, but you will have to steam the spinach. Check out this recipe and step-by-step instructions.
8. Quiche Lorraine (France)
Even though the quiche Lorraine is famous in France (Lorraine is on the border of France and Germany), it actually originated from Germany hundreds of years ago. It was named after the German word for cake. The first pies were open-faced and made with cream, egg, and bacon. Now, most have a puff pastry crust and other ingredients in the filling like vegetables, beef, ham, cheese, or even salmon.
There are many different kinds of quiche, and it has become a popular dish in different parts of the world. Believe it or not, there is a national Quiche Lorraine day in the United States celebrated on May 20!
Quiche Lorraine is often served in restaurants as either an appetizer or main dish. As mentioned above, there are so many different ways to make this quiche, but here’s a highly recommended recipe with clear instructions. If you don’t feel comfortable making the crust, you can always purchase one.
9. Pastel de Choclo (Chile)
Pastel de Choclo is a traditional Chilean dish that has become more popular. To better understand this dish, it helps to know that Chile has hosted many immigrants from England, Spain, and Germany over the last 200 years.
Pastel de Choclo is also called Chilean Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a layered casserole made up of a top layer of sweet corn polenta (Choclo means corn) over a layer of ground beef, onions, olives, raisins, and hard-boiled eggs. So, it really is a mix of cultures.
We recommend trying this recipe. You can also make your own version of the dish by substituting chicken or veggies for the beef or using some different spices. It’s best to cook it in a cast-iron skillet, but a regular casserole dish will do.
It really is a unique combination of flavors that will leave you wanting more!
10. Apple Pie (USA)
Apple pie is probably the most famous pie in the United States, and it’s considered the most American of all pies because of the rich history. The ironic part is that apples aren’t even native to the USA, and the first version of apple pie was thought to be made in England back in 1381. Apples were brought by colonists in the 17th century.
Apple pie is considered a comfort food and is often eaten at Independence Day celebrations but can be eaten year-round, including Thanksgiving. There is even a national Apple Pie Day in the USA on May 13th.
Most people use Granny Smith apples to make the pie a little tart so it’s not too sweet. However, some people love super sweet pies, so they prefer to use Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Jonagold, or Golden Delicious.
There are several ways to make an apple pie, but this is a good recipe. Feel free to mix up the spice and type of apples used for a different flavor. We recommend serving it with some delicious vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.
11. Zwetschgenkuchen (Germany)
In German, zwetschgen means “plum” and kuchen means “cake,” so zwetschgenkuchen is a plum cake. It’s thought to originated in Augsburg. This is probably the most popular cake in Germany, and it can be found all over the country. Depending on where you are in Germany, people may use different words for this cake, and there might be some differences in how it’s made, especially the crust.
Zwetschgenkuchen is often made in the late summer or fall when the Italian plums are in season. The key to this plum cake is a good crust, some tasty plums, and a delicious streusel on top.
12. Paifala (American Samoa)
Paifala is a sweet pie from a small island in the Pacific called American Samoa (not far from Fiji). It’s also known as a half-moon pie because of its shape. You can find it made and enjoyed across the small island.
Paifala uses two fruits found on the island, pineapple and coconut, and a few other simple ingredients. It’s a dense pie with a thick crust and heavy filling, but it’s very tasty. You’ve probably had something similar to it before.
Most of the recipes for Paifala are very similar, and the traditional recipe is not too difficult to make. Here is one recipe we recommend trying.
13. Chicken Pastilla (Morocco)
Chicken Pastilla, or Bastilla, is a traditional Moroccan chicken pie that is both savory and a little sweet. It’s incredibly popular both in the country and in the surrounding area. You’ll find it being served for celebrations, holidays, and other special events.
Chicken pastilla is a fairly challenging and time-consuming dish to make. One of the difficult parts is the thin dough called warqa. Most recipes we found use phyllo to save time and a headache, but phyllo can also be tricky to work with. If you’re going to try making this, it’s better to spend an extra couple of bucks and get a good phyllo dough.
This recipe gives some very helpful tips when making this pie for the first time. Several people prefer to use thigh or leg meat instead of breast. As you read the recipe, you’ll notice there is sugar and cinnamon along with chicken. It may seem like an unusual combination, but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
14. Bobotie Pie (South Africa)
South Africa has housed immigrants from many countries over the years including France, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Indonesia, Britain, and more. As you can imagine, this has influenced the culture, especially the food.
Bobotie is similar to shepherd’s pie but without the potato topping. It has a custardy egg topping instead. The main ingredients are spiced meat, onion, garlic, raisins, curry powder, and bread soaked in milk.
It seems like an interesting combination of flavors, but it works! Here’s a good recipe to try. An extra tip is to try eating it with a mango or other type of fruity jam!
15. Torta Pasqualina (Italy)
The final pie on our list is the savory torta pasqualina from Liguria in Italy. It’s a traditional pie often made for special occasions, especially Easter. This may be one of the only savory pies that’s served cold!
The main components are a delicious crust along with an egg, ricotta, and spinach filling. The crust was originally made with 33 very thin layers, one for each year of Jesus’ life. You can substitute phyllo dough for the crust if you want, which will result in a dish very similar to spanakopita but without the egg.
You can make a few minor substitutions like chard for the spinach, but we recommend not trying anything too crazy your first time. Here’s a step-by-step recipe if you want to make the crust by hand.
Travel the World to Experience Delicious Pies!
This is not a comprehensive list of all the pies in the world. We didn’t mention pecan, key lime, or many types of meat pies. Next time you travel overseas, make sure you ask if they have a special kind of pie unique to their country or area. If they do, try it, and let us know your favorite kind of pie!
Also, when you’re planning your next adventure, don’t forget to purchase international travel medical insurance. It’s an inexpensive way to ensure you and your loved ones are protected in the event of something unfortunate happening.
Overseas travel insurance offers you protection in the event of something as small as lost luggage up to something as serious as an emergency evacuation or serious hospitalization. The most important thing it does is it allows you to have rest and peace of mind as you travel so you can fully enjoy your journey.
Safe travels and enjoy some yummy pie!