A history lesson in the famous Aussie meat pie (and why they’re always a hit).

Few things are more Australian than the meat pie. It belongs with the likes of the snag, the sausage roll, and the ‘prawn-barbie’ combo. Kids grow up having pies at school canteens and frequenting bakeries with families on weekends. And this habit is enjoyed well into adulthood – where the menu of meat pie and chocolate donut is hard to say no to. 

Meat pies are perfect in every season. On a wintery day, the steam rising from a pie is a warm welcome. In the summertime, they’re the ultimate ‘traveller’ on the way to the beach snack, as well as a barbeque favourite (usually in the form of mini party pies and sausage rolls). And you can’t have a sports game without meat pies in the kiosk pie-warmer, regardless of the weather. 

There’s no doubt about it. Meat pies are an Aussie icon. But where did they come from? Did we invent the recipe or just put our ‘down under’ spin on a British culinary pastime? 

Get ready for your tummy to grumble. 

The history of the meat pie, “Australia’s national dish” 

An Australian meat pie was produced in 1947 and the rest is history. However, Australia’s love affair with meat pies was sparked in the early 1800’s, when the first, steam-powered commercial wheat mill opened in Sydney. 

But pie manufacturers pre-date this, as records show the humble pie was first imagined as far back as the second century AD, as a way to hold cooked meat. The container being the pastry. 

Freshly Baked Chicken Pies at Glenroy Bakery

Today, the average Aussie eats 12 meat pies a year. And, wait for it, about 90,000 are sold at AFL final matches alone. 

Here, ‘meat pie’ and ‘pie’ are interchangeable. If you ask for a pie, the standard steak version is the default. There aren’t really any other fancy names for it, which is interesting given Aussie’s love putting slang on just about every word (like ‘snag’). The only question is, ‘would you like tomato sauce with that?’

So, why is Australia considered to have the best meat pies in the world? 

While Australia certainly claimed ownership of this gastronomic alchemy of meat, gravy and pastry, meat pies have roots to ancient Greece and Rome. 

There’s something to be said about the way our country embraces the meat pie. It’s not just a food; it’s part of the culture and you can’t have one without the other. The Aussie meat pie is worlds apart from Latin America’s version, the empanada. It’s also a whole different experience than the UK’s Shepherd’s Pie. 

Because the Aussie meat pie is ingrained in the lifestyle, it’s smaller than British variations – making them a perfect snack at the footy, community events, road trips, and backyard parties. They’re often dubbed ‘pocket warmers’ for this very reason. 

Melbourne’s Favourite: Freshly Made Meat Pies From Glenroy Bakery

Here, we take pride in the beef pie. Delicious, convenient and nostalgic, Aussie meat pies are just so bloody good. There’s really no need to get fancy with it. We all know (and love) the experience of hoisting the meat pie up, scraping just the right amount of tomato sauce off the side of the paper bag, for each enviable bite. 

Every meat pie maker will have their own spin on this famous recipe. And that’s the beauty of it. You’ll forever be surprised where this simple snack will take your tastebuds. But meat pie fanatics, there’s one variation you must try. Ours, at Glenroy Bakery. 

Wholesale pies supplier Melbourne 

For fresh, flavourful meat pies (that won bronze at the 2020 Great Aussie Pie Competition), buy straight from our bakery. And you simply have to try our meat pie recipe. As a wholesale pies supplier in Melbourne, we feed schools and business canteens, hospitals, aged care facilities, sports clubs and stadiums, bakeries, convenience stores, and caterers. 

Order Pies Online at shop.glenroybakery.com.au

You can use our general public sales shop to buy pies online or speak with our team for a larger wholesale order. We make the famous beef pie and a wide variety of flavoured alternatives, as well as mini party options. 

If you’d like to speak with one of our friendly staff about your specific needs, call us on (03) 9312 8600. To enquire, you can also email info@glenroybakery.com.au or use this contact form

Got the tomato sauce, mate? On ya!