Lebanese Meat Pies

by CP on March 15, 2010

Lebanese Meat Pie Photo
My father-in-law is Lebanese and he is also a fantastic cook. When he was very young, his father ran a bakery in Fall River, Massachusetts and meat pies were definitely on the menu. The bakery was sold long ago but the love of meat pies stayed with him. When I came into the family, I was introduced to the Lebanese meat pies and I have been addicted to them ever since. The recipe below is my rendition of the meat pie.
It isn’t exactly the same as what my father-in-law makes due to the cinnamon and yogurt. He doesn’t use cinnamon but my wife claims her grandmother used cinnamon in her version so I went with my wife on that one.
The yogurt is something I picked up after eating meat pies at Sam’s Bakery in Fall River. When I was at Sam’s, you could get the meat pies with or without yogurt and I much preferred the ones with yogurt.  If you’re ever near Fall River I recommend a trip to Sam’s, you won’t regret the stop !


  • 1/2 Recipe Lebanse Pita Dough
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (optional)

Directions – Meat Pie Dough

  1. For the meat pies, a half recipe of Lebanse Pita Dough is used. I cut all the ingredients in half except for the yeast and the 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. I use a stand mixer to make the dough.
  2. To use a stand mixer for the recipe, assemble all of the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and start the mixer. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and then slowly add the water.
  3. Thumbnail image 1 for Meat Pie DoughThumbnail image 2 for Meat Pie Dough

  4. Knead the dough on a low speed for 10 minutes. Add the olive oil and continue to knead for 5 more minutes or until the dough forms a ball.
  5. Once the dough forms a ball, remove from the mixer and coat the dough ball with olive oil. Place it into a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm area to rise for 2 hours.
  6. Thumbnail image 3 for Meat Pie DoughThumbnail image 4 for Meat Pie Dough 

Directions – Meat Pie Filling

  1. Assemble all of the ingredients prior to starting the filling. To prepare the filling, place meat into a skillet over medium heat and begin to brown, stirring occasionally.
  2. Thumbnail image 1 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 2 for Meat Pies

  3. Once the meat begins to brown, add the onions and continue to stir. Cook for a minute or two and then add the pine nuts, continuing to stir.
  4. Thumbnail image 3 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 4 for Meat Pies

  5. Cook for another minute or two and then add the spices, continuing to stir until the meat is completely browned.
  6. Once the meat is browned, add the lemon juice and conitue to cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
  7. Thumbnail image 5 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 6 for Meat Pies

  8. At this point, remove the pan from the heat. if you are using the yogurt you can stir it in at this time. Place the meat mixture into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least 90 minutes prior to assembliong the meat pies.
  9. Thumbnail image 7 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 8 for Meat Pies

Directions – Assembling and Cooking Meat Pies

  1. Preheat the oven to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.   Cover the cut pieces of dough with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out while assembling the pies.
  3. Thumbnail image 11 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 12 for Meat Pies

  4. Each meat pie is rolled separately.  begin by taking one of the 16 pieces of dough and rolling it into a ball.  Flatten the ball and then roll it into a 6-7 inch circle.
  5. Place 1/8 cup of filling into the middle of the dough circle.
  6. Thumbnail image 13 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 14 for Meat Pies

  7. To fold the pie into a triangle, bring a third of the dough circle up onto the pile of meat.
  8. Bring another third of the dough up to the meet the first portion and press the seam together firmly .
  9. Thumbnail image 15 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 16 for Meat Pies

  10. The last third can now be folded up and the seams pressed together with the first two.
  11. Press all of the seams together especially at the tips and middle of the pie.  The pie must be sealed tightly or it will leak during baking.
  12. Thumbnail image 17 for Meat PiesThumbnail image 18 for Meat Pies

  13. Place 5 or 6 meat pies onto a sheet pan and cook at 550 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes.
  14. Allow pies to cool slightly before serving.  Pies can also be served cold or frozen for later use.

Makes 12-16 meat pies


  • Don’t forget to refrigerate the filling before assembling the pies.  The pies will turn out soggy if the meat mixture is too hot.
  • These meat pies would traditionally be made using lamb but our family has always used ground chuck.
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{ 2 trackbacks }

Lebanese Meat Pies recipe, Lebanese Food Recipes
June 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm
Pie fillings : Lebanese Spinach Pie Filling
July 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jake April 5, 2010 at 11:12 am

Saw this from reddit.com. I’m making this for dinner tonight. I’ll post pics of my escapades. What’s a nice side with this? I hope pine nuts aren’t expensive.

2 CP April 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Pine nuts can be expensive. Costco sometimes has them at a good price. We usually have taboulleh on the side but I haven’t posted that recipe yet :) . Any salad would make a nice side or try your favorite rice dish.

3 Jake April 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Hey my dough is rising and my stuffing is chilling. I bought cubed steak by mistake but after running it through the food processor it worked great. The pine nuts were expensive but they bring a lot to the dish, without the pine nuts this dish would be totally different. I added in two cloves of garlic, just because I’m a garlic freak.

I did use Greek yogurt and I think that it was a nice upgrade, the greek yogurt I used had a little honey in it, so another addition I made to this recipe.

4 Mary-Jo McGinnis December 12, 2010 at 9:09 am

If this is the same bakery from back in the ’70’s I remember it well. The meat pies were to die for. My mother loved the spinach pies. They also had the best pita bread around.

5 Mary-Jo McGinnis December 17, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Your link for pita bread does not work.

6 Hungry Native March 31, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Thanks for the recipe, we’ll have to check it out. Take a look at our blog post about Sam’s in Fall River, you might get a kick out of it!

7 Chris April 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

I live in Fall River, Ma. and have had Sam’s pies since I was a kid. My mother is crazy for them and always used to get them on weekends.
due to the economy and some serious (temp) health issues, we ended up losing our house in foreclosure. Now we have a small apartment and very little income, so luxury purchases are a thing of the past. I have taken to baking and cooking so as to save a few bucks when I can.
My mother was saying the other day that she was dreaming about getting some meat pies from Sam’s… I wanted to get them for her so bad, but with no car or extra money, it was tough. I had just recently made pirogies from scratch, and was excited how great they turned out (another favorite of my mom’s) so I did a search for meat pies. Turns out several sources including this one, have basically the same recipe for the most part… so i am determined now to make them.

The dough seems easy enough, and we already have most of the things needed to make a good size batch, except for the pine nuts and allspice.
I really hope these come out close to Sam’s pies… My mother will be so excited if they are. I didn’t know they used pine nuts in them, but then again I really didn’t know anything about the recipe, we just LOVE them.
If this works out, then i will experiment with the spinach pies, and the yogurt version (which was my favorite form Sam’s)…
Also, i was wondering if anyone knew how to make those other things Sam’s sold… thing they called them “Mench” or something similar? a flat, open faced dough with spices all over it baked and served sort of like a pizza (smaller and thiner) those things were AWESOME! I would love to make those as well… can’t seem to find any info about it. I know it had little tiny seeds in it, and small pieces of onions I think. The mixture on top seemed almost black on color, and tasted very “tangy” in a good way.

Any idea or info on that would be greatly appreciated. I would like to thank you though for posting this recipe. I really look forward to seeing my mothers reaction when I make them. If they are even pretty close to Sam’s bakery then she will be so thrilled!
I will post after i make them tonight and let anyone who is interested, know how it turned out.
If anyone is still reading this very “ranty” post. sorry bout that… just have a lot bottled up I guess since becoming instantly poor! lol.

8 Chris April 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Ok I made these meat pies tonight… I used a dough recipe (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Syrian-Bread/Detail.aspx) from allrecipes.com
and let that rise then form the golf ball sized pieces of dough to roll out for the pies…

The filling, from this site above,,, was very easy to follow and was ready in no time, I chilled it for 90 minutes roughly and then began forming the pies.

I ended up making 14 nice sized pies from the dough and filling with nothing left over,

Baked them at 500 degrees (oven only went that high) for around 10 minutes total in batches.

when they came out they looked JUST like Sam’s pies. smelled as good too,

I let them cool a bit, and then put them in a plastic bag like Sam’s does… I think the steam from them in the bag makes the pies a little softer when your ready to eat them.

We let them get close to room temp, with just a little warmth left and tried one….

These are AMAZING!!! You get more filling than Sam’s and they POP with that beautiful tangy goodness you know and love!

Thank you so much for this recipe. My mother was FLOORED! and wants MORE!

I will never NEED to go to any bakery again, these are so good. Follow the filling recipe exactly, and you won’t be sorry. It is so good, we are already planning on using it for other things.

Thank you again so much. I hope everyone tries these,

9 Hungry Native April 23, 2011 at 9:29 am

Glad they worked out so well for you Chris! We’ll have to try them!

10 Dollie July 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm

A neighbor from my childhood made these. We called her “Sita” (If spelled right and pronounced correctly means grandmother.) Anyway, she used pecans when she couldn’t get pine nuts. Worked well.

11 jay August 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Hungry, just wondering if you could give me the actual dough recipe you used. The link you have is gone and id rather half the recipe you used. Sincerely Fall River alumni.

12 CP August 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Sorry that the dough link is no longer working. Here is the dough recipe that I originally pulled from the linked site.


Description: (Pita Bread)

Servings: 8 loaves


1/2 ounce active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/2 cups warm water

8 cups plain flour

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons oil


Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the lukewarm water. Stir in the sugar. Set aside in a warm place. Leave it until it begins to rise up and foam. This will take about 15 minutes.

Sift the salt and flour together into a large, warm mixing bowl..

Form a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the yeast into the center. Gently mix the yeast into the flour. Mix by hand, adding small amounts of warm water if necessary.

Knead until this becomes a soft dough. Transfer the dough from the bowl to a floured pastry board and continue to knead until it is smooth and shiny. This will take about 15 minutes. Knead 2 tablespoons of oil into the dough. Roll into a large ball. Rub the remaining one tablespoon of oil over the surface of the ball. Return to the bowl. Cover with a moist cloth. Set in a warm place to rise. Leave it about 1 1/2 hours until it doubles in size.

Pre heat the oven to maximum heat at a minimum of 30 minutes before using. Punch down the dough. Pull the edges up to form another ball. Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead 2 minutes.

Divide into 8 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball. On the floured board flatten each ball and roll with a heavy rolling pin into flat round shapes approximately 1/4 inch or 6mm thick. They should be about 12 inches in diameter. Place the flattened bread rounds on a lightly floured cloth. Cover this with another floured cloth set in a warm spot to rise again to double their size. This should take about 30 minutes.

Pre heat the baking tray in the oven for 5 minutes. Carefully rub the tray with oil.

Place one round at a time on the baking tray. Cook 5 – 9 minutes. The bread should swell in the middle and become a light brown in color. Remove from the oven and wrap in a clean cloth to keep moist. The swelling will disappear when the bread is removed from the oven. Continue this procedure with the remaining rounds.

13 Manal Broeckelmann August 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Thank you so much for posting the recipe.

Chris: I hope your luck has turned around since you posted and you and your mom are doing better now. You asked about “Manakeesh”..That’s the best way I can spell it. It’s basically the same dough as the meat pies with “Zaatar” spices (it’s oregano with sesame seeds and spices). You can find Zaatar at the mediterranean grocery story. If you can’t buy it, send me a private email and I will mail you some that I brought back from Lebanon.

Roll the dough flat, mix the zaatar spices with olive oil and spread it on dough. Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes or less. Enjoy!

14 Steve August 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I am lebanese and am always looking for good meat pie recipes. This one is great. I made it the first time without making syrian bread. I used Grand Biscuits. They were really good. I am going to try this time using the bread recipe. Meat mixture has really good flavor. My wife likes to add a little mozzarella(shredded) cheese with hers.

15 Wag September 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Thanks for the work. I’ll be making this evening. In the end even if they are as just as good, a trip to Sam’s or Hartley’s pies is a must if just for the memories. …….Mother’s family lived on Pitman.

16 Charles October 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I’m confused..Which Meat pie dough recipe do i use to make the bread? The pita bread recipe? orr the one that says meat pie dough recipe with olive oil? it seems like everyone is using the pita bread one.. Im so confused..

17 Mary-Jo October 11, 2011 at 11:06 am

Do you know if the spinach pies use the same recipe? My mama loved those.

18 Celeste February 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Do you happen to know how to make the open face cheese pies that you can only get at Sam’s in Fall River? I live in Texas now and sooooo miss that taste! Can’t wait to try your Leben meat pie recipe! Thanks!

19 Julia August 1, 2012 at 8:50 am

Thank you for posting this recipe! I grew up near Fall River and started searching for meat pie recipes this morning because I had a craving for them – so nice to find a recipe that is modeled from Sam’s! I second Celeste – I’d love a recipe for the open cheeses too!

20 Anne Marie August 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Thanks for the recipe! I am going to try to make them tonight but I have one question. Did u mean 350 instead of 550? I feel like they will burn if I put the oven that high. Maybe the high temp makes them puff up? The dough looks pretty thin and I know from eating them that they are pretty thick. Also, the ones I buy from the bakery have little bits of some kind of an orange spice in the meat. Any idea what that is? I dont think its sumac because thats red… I was thinking maybe paprika but wouldnt It just blend in and not separate into little bits? Thanks :)

21 Kathy B October 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Decided to make these today because I haven’t for years. My hubby’s Greek Syrian grandmother taught me. I use biscuits from a tube, saves a lot of time and they are good. might be orange peel in the meat? That sounds good, think I’ll try it

22 Jo Dyson November 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I think the recipe Chris was lookin for is ‘m’nish’, also known as fatayer zahter:

Use the same dough as for the meat pies. Let rise then flatten out. Spread with a mixture of zahter (sumac and thyme, available online, sometimes spelled za’atat) and olive oil Mister to a paste. Bake at 350F 15 minutes, then place under broiler for a minute.

I moved away 33 years ago and can still vividly remember Sam’s goodies.

23 Clara Edman November 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I just pulled up the recipe for pita dough without any problems. My son wants to make meat pies which are bready. This recipe might just do it. I’ll make the pita dough and he will do the rest.

24 tyais November 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

So happy to have found this! Everyone I ask about these meat pies looks at me like I’m crazy! I just drove from Warwick to Fall River yesterday to buy some from Sam’s because I can’t find them anywhere and they make an amazing lunch! Thank you TONS for sharing recipe :)

25 Yvette November 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm

This recipe looks wonderful, sounds similar to how my family made it growing up, except we did use the short cut with biscuits! I do think homemade bread would be so much better or even an already made bread dough from the store. I love these things! Thank you for this recipe, it looks great, God bless you all.

26 melody December 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

If you would like the best and easiest recipe for these which I call Fati, send me an e-mail

27 TG February 15, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I think someone may be using your recipe/image http://www.listia.com/auction/8327340-mediterranean-meat-pies

28 Pat September 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm

This recipie is the closest i’ve found to Sam’s Bakery. I lived in Fall River for a year and my Sunday morning walks to Sam’s is the only thing i miss. The most amazing meat pies ever! THANK YOU so much for sharing the recipie!

29 Angel November 20, 2013 at 9:30 am

I use this recipe all the time! My Husband is Lebanese grew up in around there. He talks about Sam’s Bakery all the time!

30 Christen January 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

OMG!!!! I HAVE BEEN WAITING TO FIND A RECIPE LIKE THIS! Sams in fall river is my FAVORITE I could eat a sack of those pies to myself. I miss them so much, I am in Florida now. And living a paleo lifestyle so I have a special crust I am using but I am totally making this right now. Thank you!

31 Beth Schroeder February 9, 2014 at 6:29 am

your Lebanese pita dough recipe is missing from the website, can you send me a copy please.
Thanks, Beth Schroeder

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35 Sabrina Alty August 20, 2014 at 10:40 am

A few years back i visited Fall River, M.A. and these pies weren’t like anything i had had before. I have since made this recipe twice and it has turned out excellent, i did add a little extra all-spice and some garlic powder just because i like the taste. thank you so much for the recipe differently a favorite now!

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