Memere Rousseau’s Tourtiere (Meat Pie)

3.52 avg. rating (70% score) - 198 votes

Memere Rousseau’s Tourtiere (Meat Pie)

This traditional recipe for Tourtiere — meat pie — has a crust so light that it melts in your mouth and can be eaten piping hot from the oven or cold from the refrigerator.

Total Time: 3
Yield: 1 meat pie, about 10 servings


  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves (or more to taste)
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • Penny's Piecrust
  • 1 tablespoon milk


In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine pork, onion, salt, and water. Simmer gently, stirring often, until all liquid evaporates, about 4 hours. Stir in spices. Add potatoes and beat well to combine thoroughly. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a pie plate with one crust. Spoon in pork/potato mixture. Add top crust and flute the edges. Brush the top with milk and prick with a fork. Bake 30 minutes.

Penny's Piecrust


  • 4 cups flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-3/4 cups shortening
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ice water


In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut shortening in, until pieces are about the size of a pea. Add egg, vinegar, and ice water. Work mixture into a soft, cohesive dough ball. Divide in half, and put one half aside for another pie (or freeze). Cut other dough mass in half. On a work surface dusted with flour, roll out bottom and top crusts. Yield: 2 two-crust pies
  • Rochette’s Beans
    Lowell’s Famous Rochett’s Baked Beans

    2 lbs California pea beans or any dried white pea beans
    1 ½ teaspoons salt
    1 lb salt pork – cut in 2-inch squares
    ¼ cup ketchup

    Wash beans thoroughly. Drain and pour into 4 ½ quart
    Bean pot. Add pork, ketchup, salt and a little water.
    Stir to mix thoroughly. Add enough water to come up
    2 inches from the top of the pot. Cover pot and cook for
    5 hours at 350 degrees. Remove lid and cover beans
    with ½ inch of water. Continue baking beans uncovered
    for 2 hours more, or until the salt pork is cooked to taste

    Makes 8 to 10 servings.

  • I see you are on Facebook I don’t have an account but my husband does his name is Marshall Yamano.I’ll use his account to correspond with you I am new to Facebook. Thanks for the offer to share your family recipe l would love to have them

  • So surprised to see this! My Mom’s maiden name is Rousseau. Her family lived in Fall River, MA. Her sister, my Aunt Yvonne, made these all the time for us! Brings me back to my childhood!

  • I grew up having meat pie for Christmas breakfast, I still make it to carry on for my mom. I use her recipe that she made for more then 50+ years. She cut it with pork and hamburger, onions and diced potatoes and 1/2 c. Water, let it simmer for hours the salt, pepper, and Bells poultry seasoning.. nothing else but an egg, beat or mash. I now make it for my boss and daughter, they ask every year.

  • My Memere always said to just peal a large onion and not to cut it put put it in one piece in the meat as you cook it and not to add any spices till after the meat is cooked. Once the meat is cooked, remove the onion and add “All Spice” to taste (hate that “to taste” WHOSE TASTE? LOL ).

    She used all pork but then the pork had more fat in it and when you cooled the meat it would give you a little bit of the white pork fat that would make the Tourteire better… and we would also use the the cold meat to spread on toast or crackers – I know this is not going to be spelled right but that was called “gratons”. If you pick up a little LARD or ask the meat department if you could get some of the pork fat add it to you meat. And you will get that same flavor as you remembered your memere’s receipt has that your just can’t get it.

    Joyeux Noël et bon appitite

  • My father’s aunt was a Descoteaux she owned a supermarket in Waterbury ct.. You mentioned poutsins my memere used to make them but no one has the recipe. Just yesterday my siblings an I tried a Russian recipe for dumplings just not the same . would you be willing to share yours with us? Hope you receive this email

  • Maurice, here is the recipe my mom gave me for the green tomato relish, which we also have with our Meat Pie each year, and if we are lucky Picked or Sweet Beets.

    • 25 medium green tomatoes, chopped
    • 6 medium onions, chopped
    • 8 Medium Green Peppers
    • 3 Stocks of Celery
    • kosher salt
    • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
    • 2 1/8 cups granulated sugar
    • 5 tablespoons mixed pickling spices, tied in cheesecloth

    1. In a large bowl, alternate layers of tomatoes, peppers and onions, sprinkling each layer with salt.
    2. Let stand for at least 8 hours, better overnight.
    3. Rinse with water; drain well.
    4. In a large saucepan or stock pot, Combine vegetables with vinegar, sugar and spice bag.
    5. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 30 to 45 minutes.
    6. Stir frequently until slightly thickened.
    7. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

  • My Memere Rousselle’s recipe is a little different. No potatoes and no precooking. We just mix the pork, onions, water and spices and put it into the pie crust to bake @ 350 for one hour.
    I’ve been doing this for 65 years. These days, I have to bake up to 25. All my families, and friends, and neighbors expect one at Christmas
    We must have that for after Midnight Mass and Christmas breakfast. (And any old time someone needs a bite to eat.)

    I’ve read that there are as many recipes for Tourtiere as there are cooks in Quebec baking them.

  • Loved reading all these post. I live in South GA. But was born in Maine my Meme and Pepe every Christmas Eve served several different meat pies. Brings back lovely memories. I remember the table being covered with pies and goodies. And little bowls of nuts an ribbon candy set around. I so want to one more time have a traditional New England Christmas Eve.

  • daisy

    Help! Making this for the first time ever, have been told to use Bell’s Seasoning to make it “right” but HOW MUCH? One or Two teaspoons? No cinnamon either. Am making it for my 97 year old friend whose memere used to make it and she yearns for it! thanks

  • Use less water! Doesn’t need to boil for 4 hours. Maybe just cover meat by about 1/4 inch and cook slowly for total of 1.5 hours. I’ve seen recipes that only call for 1/2 cup of water.

  • Raymond

    I took my wife out to Chez Vachon in Manchester, NH for their tortiere today. Reminded me of my mother’s
    Pork pie. Good Canadian cooking. Her recipe was half pork and half veal with Allspice.

  • This is the way you can get a taste of 1950’s Christmas in New England,only thing missing is some of Mr Rochette’s beans my family is also from Nashua/Lowell by way of France and Canada (Cup de Medliene)Memere Boisvert would’ve loved this recipe. Anyone know how to make Mr Rochette’s High Hat beans?

  • I also use Allspice, Clove and potatoes (No cinnamon) The one time I used cinnamon years ago my family was not happy. Every year now when I start making my Pork Pies they remind me NO CINNAMON. The recipe I use is also my Memere’s.

  • I am so very confused after reading all these variations. My mother gave me my Memere’s recipe but has since passed away. It calls for beef, pork, cinnamon, Bell’s, potatoes. I called my cousin and she said our Memere only used allspice. My mother never made them & I did once 20 years ago! I think I used my mom’s & it was delicious. I’m trying to rekindle my Memere’s New Year’s Day menu of tortiere, meatball sandwiches, sheet pound cake with warm sucre creme. Can’t decide now! Anyone have a sheet pound cake recipe?

  • This Irish girl married into a French-Canadian family — but one that doesn’t make tourtiere! I was quite disappointed so I have finally taken matters into my own hands. I made this over the weekend and it was delicious. I’m curious about those who use Bell’s Seasoning, I might try that next time and compare.

    My pie was exceptionally thick. I packed the mashed potatoes pretty tightly. Initially I thought I had enough mixture for two pies, but in hindsight I do like a nice, thick piece.

    I love reading all the comments with the history and tradition.

  • Lisa,

    Would you mind sharing your recipe as my Mother also grew up in Waterville and she states that they never used cinnamon so I have not found the exact recipe? Yours may be closer to what she had growing up. Her mother passed away and I never asked for the recipe. She was a Mathieu.

  • wow! you are the first person I have seen say you used Bell Seasoning, that is what my family uses. I was take back by all the recipes i found using all the other spices. We eat our meat pie with home made cranberry sauce.

  • My Aunt,s maiden name was Rousseau, She had this recipe and our family, ate for New Years for years. After she passed on I have tried to get this recipe, to no avail. My mom made it too, but when I asked her to try to remember it, she could only remember the meat ingredient, and some spices… Now by sheer accident, I have found it. They have all passed on, but I intend to make Memere”s original recipe. Thank You, & Blessings to all for the New Year & the years to come.

  • I HAVE to ask, Penny was your Raymond a brother to F Gilbert Despres also of Nashua??? I am his Grandaughter!!

  • Hi Donna. While it’s customary to begin most recipes with pre-heating the oven, you’re right that in this case (with 4 hours of simmering before the baking), it makes sense to wait before turning it on! We’ll update the recipe to be more clear. Thanks and happy holidays!

  • Confused….but then again that is how I woke up this morning. LOL.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees, but cook ingredients in a saucepan on medium-low for 4 hours?

    I would assume that you mean cook the ingredients first, for about 4 hours, put into pie shell, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes? Just written out of order?

  • My Mama always made and served Tourtière after midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
    I tried this receipe and it is just Wonderful. I used a bit more cloves as I enjoy that taste.
    I served it as a pate, with whole cranberry sauce and sweet pickles and, of course,
    a French Baguette. Thank You Memere Rousseau. C’est Bon. Jeanne

  • I’ve made this recipe several times always with good results. I don’t preheat my oven during the entire four hour simmer though.

    Doubles easily. I use just a pinch of cloves if at all.

  • Jo-Ann i do mine exactly the way you do. I was 15 when i learned from my memere, 48 yrs of making them and have not changed a thing.

  • Also, growing up in a french canadian family in Waterville Maine, we had tourtière pie Christmas Eve as well as Christmas morning. This recipe is very close to my family’s recipe. Had to learn to make tourtière pie once we moved in NC 17 yrs ago. Over the years we have introduced this pie to native North Carolinians. Now they request them around the holidays.

  • Making my tourtiere as I type this. Such wonderful memories of my childhood Christmases spent in Stornoway and Nantes QC. Joyeux Noel!

  • Well it’s December 20th getting ready to make our meat pies and poutsins for Christmas Eve. Memere is now 94 years old and no longer able to prepare these traditional foods from Grandmere Québec Canada.

    As hard as we try we cannot cook as good as Memere.

  • My Great Aunt made this meat pie for us every Christmas Eve and served it the best gravy I have ever tasted. Don’t know how or what she used to make the gravy. My mom asked her for the recipe but she said it was a secret. She passed away never giving the recipe to anyone. My mom experimented and figured it out by trial and error. I now have the recipe and make it for my own family. We all love it!

  • As part of a Scottish family in a French-Canadian, New England town. Tourtier was primarily a treat while visiting friends. As with many comfort foods the smell is the strongest part of the memory. I find that the recipes with celery/ celery tops bring the memory out the strongest. The meat was pork/venison if the hunt had been successful that year and pork/hamburg if it had not. The long simmering reduction is essential to bring out the flavor. And I vote with potato free and the crumbly texture, to me this is Tourtiere, otherwise is just another meat pie.

  • Jeannette

    I have enjoyed reading through all the different variations of Tourtiere recipes. I am French Canadien. Parents and 2 sets of grandparents all from Canada. .Our family recipe is much like many I saw. Ground pork and hamburg 2/1 depending on number of pies. Diced onion, salt, pepper, cinnamon and clove to individual taste
    .a little water and cook down until liquid is absorbed. We do not use potato as we prefer a crumbly texture. I am now the eldest of our generation and continue to make this recipe each year at Christmas. Have passed it down to siblings, children and now grandchildren. I am the memere of the group. Tradition is important to us so we continue to share special recipes with family. Keeps us close
    thank you

  • Memere is what I called my grandmother.. My Mom was a Memere now I carry on that wonderful name with my grandchildren. i carry on the meat pie tradition in my family for my children and siblings. We never put cloves or other spices other than Bells Seasoning and summer savory along with salt and pepper to taste. Ground pork with mashed potatoes to bind it is our family recipe served with dill pickles. It’s not Christmas morning without a piece of meat pie!

  • I make my mother in law recipe. She was Irish but married French Canadian She used hamburger and pork and mash potatoes cloves,allspice. She was a wonderful cook. Crusty was yummy. I make it every Christmas eve. My kids all grown now still love it. I make for all of them and grand kids too.

  • I learned from my husbands Memere, Aurore Proulx, from 3 Rivers Canada, I still make them for the holidays, I know they used to have them at New Years eve. But I make a whole bunch at once , freeze them and they are great to pull out and heat up during the busy holiday season. Not to mention that my two adult children come begging for them this time of year. And yes I always make sure we have at least one for the new year.

  • Celeste Marie would love to have your Picalli recipe, My mother use to make one many years ago whichI haven’t been able to duplicate, her was made with green tomatoes, onions and spices. If you don’t mind sharing that would be great. Thanks

  • Love this recipe. It is almost exactly the way my mom made her pies. She used just ground pork and saltines to bind it together…onions-celery-salt & pepper-herbes de province. I am 80 yrs. young and even though I am alone I make them every Thanksgiving and Christmas for my siblings and nieces. I hope some of them will carry on this tradition. Ma Mere made the best…

  • We grew up with mother making the Tourtiere pies but with dad, the Frenchman, overseeing and tasting. You see mother was Irish-German, but her family too came from Canada.
    Our pies, which my sister and I make every year for Christmas Eve, are all finely ground pork, onion, cinnamon, cloves and maybe some allspice, salt and pepper. Enough water to cover meat and simmer till enough water has evaporated then we add fresh bread crumbs to bind all together. Our families love this recipe and I (we) have never tried anything different. Happy holidays and happy baking to you all.

  • My family has been making this ever since i’ve been born over 28 years ago and I figured I would see how other families make it. Our is very similiar with a couple differences. My father and I make them as below:

    2lb’s ground beef
    1lb ground pork
    1 onion chopped

    Onion goes in first, shortly after is all the meat which is then browned and water is used to help loosen up the mixture. The spices are clove, allspice, cinnamon and sage. Of course salt and pepper, all done to taste. Depending on the year, we’ll use mashed potatoes or instant to make it thicken up. This year we used mashed and I think it’s my favorite so far. What a tradition!

  • Danielle

    Stumbled upon this recipe while looking for measurement ratios for pork/potato. This is very similar to how I learned to make pie from my mother who my memere passed it down to. We use allspice instead of cinnamon and clove.

  • I don’t use mashed potatoes.i use cubed potatoes small cubes in the meat simmering..for last 15 mins…love it that way…

  • My memere and mere made these when I grew up in Lewiston Maine. I am now 73 and I make them and give them for gifts at Christmas..very authentic recipe

  • Thank you, Amy. I am definitely going to try this recipe this coming holiday season!

  • I was thrilled to see this receipe. My mother-in-law was French from the Maine area, Sanford, Maine. She always made Meat Pie for Christmas Eve and after the midnight Mass we would all go to her house (now this would be about 1:00am) to have the traditional meat pie dish. This had made a tradition in her family and when I began dating my husband I joined in (as the lonely Irish person). This was a very special evening of the year. The whole family gathered together until we all began to have our children, then it got a little harder. But she still made the pies and we had the on Christmas afternoon when we visited her home.

    I fear that this tradition is dying out, but I still pray that it doesn’t. It was a special time of year for many reasons!

  • Hi Cheryl. The long simmering time is what makes the meat exceptionally tender. It takes awhile, but we think it’s worth it!

  • Just curious, what is the purpose of simmering the ground pork in water for 4 hours? Does this improve the taste/texture?? Thanks

  • Elizabeth

    I am so delighted to see someone use the name “memere”. That’s what we called my grandmother but I didn’t know anyone else did.

    I have been looking for this recipe for years. Can’t wait to try it.


  • Brenda

    Hi Pauline,
    It does take about four hours for the liquid to evaporate. When you find your mother’s recipes, we’d love to hear how it differs from this one.

  • Pauline

    Hi, we used to have it on New Years as we are French Canadian.I can’t find my Mother”s recipe right now. Do you really simmer the pork 4 hrs? As an aside we called our Grandparents Meme and Pepe With fond memories…..

  • I have tried all kinds of French meat pie recipes over the years, but this is the best! Very light with the potatoes mixed in. I love the taste of cloves better than the Bell’s seasoning. And the crust is so flaky and tender. Have made it each year since Yankee ran it. Always comes out great.

  • I make mine using my husbands aunts recipe which calls for Bell’s Seasoning, Mashed Rutabaga, and walnuts as well as the mashed potatoes, onions and a blend of beef, pork and veal. He likes to eat it with dill pickles and I like it with cranberry sauce. I also carry on my families tradition by making black-eyed peas and greens to complete the meal.

  • My Memere & mom made Tourtiere a traditional pie but varied from this recipe. Mom used hamburg, Memere used a combination of hamburg & pork but I think more times with ground deer meat. Also used nutmeg. No water, sauted the meat & onions & spices adding to the mashed potatoes. Always loved it & served with cole slaw.

  • Suzanne

    My grandmother,mother and now I am the maker of our Christmas tourtiere for my children and grandchildren. We are from Quebec and our recipe is made with lean pork and veal, no cinnamon only cloves, onions,celery tops, salt, bay leaf, herb de provence, rosemary,pepper, mushrooms and mushroom soup. I glaze the crust with whipped egg. It is to die for and a much anticipated tradition. Yum.

  • My memere and my mom, made these without potatoes and only pork. I have continued the tradition but not all years. I even made them when we lived in Australia; in high summer heat! They are part of what makes Christmas. As I am now the memere of the family (no one else has grandkids yet) it is up to me to preserve the family history. Choice of sides are sweet gherkin mini pickles, mustard, cranberry sauce and piccalli( a homemade green tomatoes relish that I make). Bon appetit! and Joyuex Noel!

  • Christine

    This is pretty spot on the way I learned the recipe from my mom and she learned it from her mom. We always have this for breakfast Thanksgiving morning and Christmas morning. Hope my kids make it some day as well!

  • My sisters and I and all of my cousins have been using my memere’s recipe, which uses ground beef and pork, but we use Allspice, not cinnamon and we also put mashed potatoes in ours.

  • Katherine

    I carry on the tradition of cooking, every year i have to make them to serve on Christmas Eve., as did my mother and her mother (Grandma), she was French-Candian. Our recipe varied a little, as we did not use potatoes in our recipe, and we used more cinnamin, i did not add cloves, but am thinking i will try this next year. It is so yummy, and is such a nice gift to give to anyone! i let them cool with foil on top, then freeze over night, put into gallon zip lock bag, and put a gift sticker on it, listing the date and my name with love! :} I personally make up 11-12 pies each year, and give as a gift!


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