Lamb Hand Pies with Squash and Goat Cheese

Lamb hand pies, also known as pastys are a traditional recipe found around the world (pastys specifically from Michigan and the surrounding area). This hand pie recipe, filled with spices, sweet squash, and savory lamb are a great way to use a small amount of our grass fed lamb and goat.

Lamb and squash hand pies with chevre on a plate with watercress salad.

The name hand pie is interesting as it tells something about the history of things baked in a pastry crust: hand pies were made to be portable,  something people could tuck into their pocket on their way to the mines or a long days work.

Kabocha squash cut in half on a cutting board.
Kabocha or buttercup squash are my choice for this recipe. Using butternut squash can result in a watery filling.

The crust, besides being delicious, functions as a sort of shield, protecting the contents and making them portable. In areas with cold winters, such as on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where pastys hail from, the hand pies, fresh from the oven, could also keep hands warm while the men went on their way to work in the often brutal cold of a Midwestern winter.

Lamb and squash hand pies with chevre cut in half on a plate with yogurt sauce.
Baked lamb and squash hand pies served with yogurt sauce and fresh watercress.

The fillings you can put inside a handpie are only limited by your imagination, but here I developed a nice combination of fall flavors to compliment lamb and goat: rich, creamy kabocha or buttercup squash, a touch of spicy harissa paste, and small pockets of goat cheese that melt as the pies cook. The combination of flavors here is inspired by a Moroccan lamb hand pie made with phyllo dough I ate at one of my favorite restaurants, with a few adjustments to make it easier to make at home.

How to Make Lamb Hand Pies

There’s a few steps to make the filling, but once they’re done the hand pies can be par-baked, frozen and reheated for a quick meal.

First you’ll need to make the dough. I use a homemade dough here but you can use puff pastry if you like. For the filling, you’ll cook the squash and the lamb then both are mixed with some goat cheese and herbs and the filling is ready. Finally the dough is rolled out, filled with the lamb-squash mixture, formed into pieces, brushed with beaten egg and baked. The images below describe the process.

The lamb pies are great made in advance, and, after cooking, they can be frozen, thawed and reheated for a quick dinner or lunch.

Chef Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo, The Forager Chef



This recipe is by James Beard Award-winning Chef Alan Bergo, a chef from Minnesota and author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora. Learn more about Chef Alan at 

Looking to buy lamb or goat online? Shepherd Song Farm: Grass to table. We raise lambs & goats traditionally, humanely and sustainably. 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Never Confined, no Hormones, Grains or Animal Byproducts. Born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. Good for you and good for the environment.

Lamb and squash hand pies with chevre
The hand pies are delicious eaten out of hand, but are also good with a green salad (watercress and spring beauty pictured here) and a sauce made of yogurt, garlic and fresh herbs.

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Lamb and squash hand pies with chevre
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5 from 1 vote

Lamb Hand Pies with Squash and Goat Cheese

Rich hand pies or pastys filled with mashed kabocha squash, ground lamb or goat, and goat cheese. Recipe makes about 10 pies depending on the amount of filling you put in them.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Goat cheese, Ground lamb, Squash
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 853kcal
Cost: 20


  • 1 Baking sheet
  • 1 Rolling Pin
  • 1 Circular cutter, ring mold or glass



  • 1 lb ground lamb or goat
  • 1 small kabocha or buttercup squash
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons quick harissa paste optional, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and ½ teaspoon cayenne can be substituted
  • 1 small white onion (4-5 oz) minced
  • 1 large clove garlic minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons lamb fat
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or another herb you like, such as mint
  • 4 oz fresh chevre

Pasty dough (or your favorite pie dough)

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 Tablespoons cold water
  • 2 large eggs beaten with a splash of cream for baking



  • In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, and salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then gradually pulse in the cold water until a dough forms and the mixture is nearly smooth. A little visible butter here and there is fine and will help make an airy, flaky dough. Wrap the dough in cling film until ready to use.


  • Preheat an oven to 350F. Using a heavy, large chef’s knife, cut the squash in half vertically, scoop out the seeds, then wrap in foil, putting the cut sides back together. Roast the squash for 30 minutes, remove, cool, then trim off the skin. To trim off the skin, I find it helpful to cut the halves into 1/8’s so they lay flat, then I trim the skin off with a paring knife.
  • Weigh out 8 oz of cooked squash, reserving the rest for another purpose. Take 2 oz of squash and mash it into a paste with the back of a knife on a cutting board. Coarsely chop the remaining 6 oz of the squash.


  • Sweat the lamb in the fat until cooked on medium high heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until the onion is translucent and cooked. Transfer the lamb-onion mixture to a mixing bowl, along with the harissa, salt, thyme the chopped and mashed squash, mix well, then crumble the chevre into the mixture and fold in. You are looking for small pockets of cheese here-it should not be evenly distributed.


  • Roll out the pie dough (working in batches if needed) to ¼ inch. Using a dessert plate or another round object with a diameter of 6-7 inches, cut out rounds of dough. We the edge of each dough round lightly with water, spoon on 4 oz of filling (½ cup) then fold the dough over to make small hand pies.
  • Using a fork, crimp the edges of each pie, then poke the top of each pasty once to allow air to escape, brush each pasty with the egg wash and bake in an oven preheated to 375-400 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned. Allow the pies to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Leftover pulled or braised lamb is a great substitute for ground. 


Serving: 1pie | Calories: 853kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 681mg | Potassium: 1079mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 4274IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 5mg