Jamaican patty
A plate of Jamaican patties
Place of originJamaica
Region or stateCaribbean
Serving temperatureHot
Handmade beef Jamaican patties

A Jamaican patty is a semicircular pastry that contains various fillings and spices baked inside a flaky shell, often tinted golden yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric.[1] It is made like a turnover as it is formed by folding the circular dough cutout over the chosen filling, but is more savoury and filled with ground meat.[1]

As its name suggests, it is commonly found in Jamaica, and is also eaten in other areas of the Caribbean including the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It is traditionally filled with seasoned ground beef, but fillings can include chicken, pork, lamb, vegetables, shrimp, lobster, fish, soy, ackee, mixed vegetables or cheese. It is a very spicy meal, seasoned with onions, garlic, thyme, oregano and chilli peppers, especially the Scotch bonnet. In non-Jamaican-based restaurants, to appeal to certain audiences, the patty's composition may be extended to include low-fat, whole wheat crusts or the absence of chillies.[2]

In Jamaica, the patty is often eaten as a full meal, especially when paired with coco bread. It can also be made as bite-sized portions called cocktail patties. Among the Jamaican diaspora in the United Kingdom, the pastry is more like that of a suet crust, and often made with margarine or butter, which provides the flaky pastry, and curry powder containing turmeric, which provides the yellow colour.


Coco bread stuffed with a beef patty

The beef patty is a product of the long history of Jamaica, mixing pasties introduced by Cornish immigrants, cumin, curry were introduced by Indian indentured labourers and cayenne pepper by the African slaves who were brought to the country.[3] "The firecracker taste of the Scotch bonnet, a hot pepper indigenous to Jamaica, sealed the flavour."[3]

Jamaicans brought recipes for the patties northward in the 1960s and 1970s when many immigrated to the United States as hospital orderlies, home health aides and nurses.[3] The patties were then found in restaurants in areas of the New York metropolitan area with high West Indian populations. The patties are equally popular in British cities with large West Indian populations, such as Birmingham,[4] Manchester and London. Their popularity is spreading in the United Kingdom and they are becoming available in many mainstream outlets.[5] They are also popular in Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Washington, D.C., and numerous other areas throughout the American northeast and Canadian Great Lakes regions; in many of those areas, they are available in grocery stores, delis, corner stores, and convenience stores.

In recent years, the Jamaican meat patty has been pre-made and frozen for mass selling in Britain,[5] Canada, and the United States. In many areas in the United States and Canada, Jamaican beef patties are now typically available at pizza and convenience food restaurants, as well as supermarkets.

Patty wars

In February 1985, the Canadian government attempted to ban patty vendors from using the term "beef patty" as it did not comply with the Meat Inspection Act's definition of the federally-regulated term, which was based on hamburger patties.[6][7] Patty vendors refused to rename the beef patties, and the issue was covered repeatedly by media in both Canada and Jamaica.[6] The government faced pressure to resolve the issue because of an upcoming trip to Jamaica by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. On February 19, 1985, officials from the Consumer and Corporate Affairs and representatives from the patty vendors agreed to a compromise to call the patty a "Jamaican patty", with no need to rename businesses or change signage.[8] Colin Vaughn called it "a victory for the Jamaican community".[8]

In a Toronto Star column on February 22, 2012, columnist Royson James unofficially declared February 23 as the Jamaican Patty Day in Toronto.[9] The "patty wars" controversy was the subject of a 2022 CBC documentary entitled Patty vs. Patty, featuring an interview with Michael Davidson, directed by Chris Strikes.[10][6]

Contemporary usage and commercialization

The popularity of the Jamaican patty has grown significantly with immigration from Jamaica, becoming a mainstream food item in some countries. From being a hand-made pastry in Jamaica's homes and bakeries, it has starting in the 1980s and 1990s become commercialised and commoditized, especially in North America. The patties are now often made in large numbers by industrial machinery and sold under brand names in supermarkets and in chain restaurants.[11] In the United States, patties are offered by some restaurants such as pizzerias[12] and included in public school lunches. The New York school system distributed more than three million patties in one year.[11][2]

See also


  1. ^ a b B., Cassidy, F. G. La Page, R. (2009). Dictionary of Jamaican English. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-11840-8. OCLC 759092116.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Kadet, Anne (31 January 2015). "Golden Opportunity: Building New York City's Biggest Locally Owned Restaurant Chain". Wall Street Journal.
  3. ^ a b c Garcia, Michelle (February 15, 2005). "For N.Y. Caribbean Beef Patty Co., Business Is Cooking". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  4. ^ "Island Delight - Delicious Caribbean Style Patties and Savoury Slices by Cleone Foods Ltd". Cleone.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  5. ^ a b Oduntan, Carly Lewis (January 15, 2018). "How Jamaican Patties Became a Beloved British Snack". Vice. Archived from the original on 5 December 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "The story of Toronto's bizarre 1985 'patty wars': when the government tried to rename the beef patty". CBC. Canada. February 17, 2022. Archived from the original on April 2, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  7. ^ Leitao, Ramona (23 February 2022). "Toronto filmmakers pay tribute to the Jamaican patty in new documentary". NOW Toronto. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  8. ^ a b CBC Docs (17 February 2022). "The story of Toronto's bizarre 1985 'patty wars': when the government tried to rename the beef patty". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  9. ^ James, Royson (22 February 2012). "James: A humble declaration of Jamaican Patty Day". Toronto Star. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  10. ^ Strikes, Chris (17 February 2022). "I grew up on beef patties. I was shocked to find out that the Canadian government tried to rename them in 1985". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  11. ^ a b Oliver, Rochelle (2017-05-23). "The Jamaican Beef Patty Extends Its Reach". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  12. ^ Cooper, Michael (17 December 1995). "Gimme a Slice and a Jamaican Beef Patty". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2022.