Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie (Vleis Pastei)

Slice of Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie with pie tray in back

This Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie recipe is inspired by the delicious and comforting beef pie (vleis pastei) and chicken pies (hoender pastei) of my childhood. Steak Pie, Steak and Kidney Pie and Chicken and Mushroom Pie were essential at our family feast days, whether it was Eid at our home or Christmas at one of my aunt’s homes.

My mum and her sister Josephine each had their own way of making steak filling for pies and both were equally mouthwatering and tender. After I moved to Dubai, Aunty Josie often sent a care package of her Steak and Kidney pie for me with my mum when she visited.

Aunty Josie used this easy 3 ingredient hot water Flaky Butter Pastry, that required chilling but no additional rolling, and added both beef kidneys and Bisto gravy granules to her steak pie filling recipe. On the last occasion that I ate Aunty Josie’s Steak pie she mentioned that she no longer added the beef kidney at the request of one of her granddaughters, who did not like the flavor or texture.

During my childhood my mum always used sago for a thickener in her pepper steak pie filling recipe and used home made puff pastry for the base and lid. In later years my mother often made a steak and mushroom pie recipe without sago, using the same hot water pastry that Aunty Josie used. However, she recommended that I allow the pastry to chill before doing a few rolls and turns, because of how it gave the pastry some lightness.

Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie

How to make Steak Pies

I remember the taste of my mum and Aunty Josie’s steak pies and it is very different to the Worcestershire sauce infused British meat pie recipes.

  • The steak and mushroom pie with shortcrust pastry recipe does not include any potatoes, carrots or celery and is pure meltingly tender steak and kidney or mushrooms.
  • To add flavor to the slow cooked steak it is simmered with onion, garlic, fresh thyme, bay leaves, allspice and cloves. Alternately, the steak filling can be pressure cooked and then the gravy reduced before cooling.
  • The trick to getting a deep rich gravy is caramelizing the onions until it is a rich caramel brown. That will take anything from 30-40 minutes on the stove. You could make a slow cooker steak pie, but I could never wait that long 🙂
  • If you have been put off making your own homemade halaal Pepper Steak Pie because you think it is too difficult, think again. The best thing about this recipe for steak pie is that it doesn’t require fancy beef stock or any other ingredients that would not normally be found in a pantry. My mother only ever used good old tap water if she felt a stew or savory pie filling needed it to stop from catching on the bottom of the pot.
  • I recommend using the easy 3 ingredient home made Hot Water Flaky Butter Pastry for this Pepper Steak pie recipe. However, in a pinch store bought commercial pastry will do; but I can guarantee it won’t be quite as good 🙂

Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie without pastry lid

Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie

Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie dinner

If South African beef and mushroom pies are not to your taste then check out these other recipes:

Slice of Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie with pie tray in back

Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie

Razena Schroeder
This home made Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie is flavorful tender steak cubes in a rich onion and mushroom gravy between layers of buttery flaky pastry.
4.43 from 35 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cape Malay
Servings 16
Calories 531 kcal


Pie Filling

  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • 600 grams onion chopped finely, approximately 2 large onions
  • 1.2 kg braising steak cubed
  • 24 grams fresh garlic finely grated, approximately 3 large peeled cloves
  • 220 grams mushrooms, caps only sliced
  • 15 ml fresh thyme approximately 1 tablespoon or 2 sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves dried and whole
  • 4 allspice berries dried and whole
  • 4 cloves dried and whole
  • 5 ml salt adjust to personal taste
  • 750 ml water or beef stock if you want to be a bit fancy
  • 30 ml crushed black peppercorns adjust to personal taste

Optional filling ingredients

  • 30 grams bisto granules approximately 4 heaped teaspoons
  • 187 ml cooking liquid from the steak filling approximately 2/3 cup
  • 6 large eggs hard boiled

Base and lid


Filling - Cooked in a pressure cooker

  • Peel and chop the onions and set aside until required.
  • If the steak is not cubed, cut it into 3 cm cubes. Cut any larger pieces so that all the pieces are approximately the same size. 
  • Heat a medium sized pot on the stove to high heat. When the pot is hot, add one tablespoon of the oil and brown the steak in three or four batches, adding more oil as needed and taking care not to crowd the pot so that it boils instead of browns. 
  • Don't cook each batch for longer than a minute or it will become tough. Remove each batch of browned steak to a clean bowl and set aside until required.
  • Add the remaining oil to the pot then add the onions, bay leaves, all spice berries and cloves and cook on medium low for 30 minutes. 
  • When the onions are a caramel color add the grated garlic and thyme and cook together for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms caps and cook another 8 minutes. By this time the onions will be a deep brown and the mushrooms will be releasing some of their liquid.
  • Add the browned steak cubes, salt, crushed pepper corns and water to the pressure cooker or pot. 
  • Lock the lid and cook on high for 3 minutes then reduce the heat back down to medium low. The residual heat will pressurize the cooker and when the pressure valve rises start counting the cooking time for 25 minutes only. 
  • After 25 minutes remove the pot from the heat and allow the pressure cooker to depressurize according to the manufacturers instructions. 
  • Check whether the meat is tender and whether the gravy needs to be reduced further. If it looks too watery put it back on the stove without the lid and allow to reduce on medium high until the gravy is like thick cream or follow the optional step.

Filling - Cooked in a pot with a lid

  • If cooking long and slow follow the first 8 steps but simmer, partially covered, on low for 75-90 minutes until the meat is tender.
  • If the liquid is reducing too much then add another 1/2 to 1 cup of water to maintain the gravy. If the gravy is too watery then allow to reduce further or follow the optional step.
  • For both methods, remove the filling from the heat when done and allow to cool completely before filling the pie.

Optional - for both methods

  • When the meat is tender and you are at the stage of reducing the gravy, add the bisto gravy powder mixed with 1/2 or 2/3 cup of the hot cooking liquid. 
  • Cook on medium low for another 20 minutes until the gravy is shiny and no longer watery. Check the seasoning as the bisto also adds saltiness.
  • Let the cooked filling cool completely before using or the pastry will melt. 

Assembling the pie

  • Roll out the pastry for the base of the pie and line the pie dish or baking tin with the pastry.
  • Add the cooled pepper steak filling and top with the sliced hard boiled eggs.
  • Roll out the lid of the pie and cover the filling. Crimp the edges of the pie for a decorative finish. 
  • Cut a few holes in the lid to let the steam escape during baking and decorate with pastry leaves. 
  • Place the pie into the freezer for 20 minutes before baking.
  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius or 180 degrees in a thermofan oven / Gas mark 5 / 390 F. Bake the pie for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 180 degrees celcius, fan 160 / Gas mark 4 / 350 F for a further 50-55 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through. 


This made one large pie using a baking tin 30 cm long, 23 cm wide and 4 cm high.
Use the mushroom caps only and freeze the stems for soups or stocks.
The pressure cooker method is quicker and the meat gets tender but not as soft and melting as the longer slower cooking. 
Check the seasoning before adding the bisto as it adds saltiness as well as thickening the gravy.


Calories: 531kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 19gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 166mgSodium: 391mgPotassium: 454mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 185IUVitamin C: 4.8mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 2.4mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.

Keyword easy holiday baking, winter
Tried this recipe?Let us know or tag @TantaliseMyTasteBuds on Instagram if you loved our recipes and remember to subscribe to our mailing list.


If you liked the recipe above please consider rating the recipe and leaving a comment below. Also keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for more updates.

Don’t forget to share the recipe with your family and friends and #tantalisemytastebuds if you share one of my recipes that you made on Instagram!

Want more? To get new recipes delivered straight to your inbox, join our club and subscribe to Tantalise My Taste Buds.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Leigh Phelan
    June 10, 2022 at 9:21 am

    Hi Razena, just read your pepper pie receipt. Sounds wonderful. I live in Australia so wondering what would the same as Bisto.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 22, 2022 at 2:02 pm

      Hi Leigh

      My relative in Melbourne has made this and I will check with her she used instead of Bisto.

      Update: Apparently Bisto is now stocked at Woolworths in Australia. She previously used a similar gravy product called Gravox (also at Woolworths)

  • Reply
    Katie Marthinussen
    May 20, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    I tried this recipe today and it was delicious.
    Easy Pie filling with loads of flavour at the outcome. Will definitely be keeping this in my personal collection.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 20, 2021 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks for the photos, I will see if I can add it later 🙂

  • Reply
    April 18, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Razena,
    I wanted to try this. I’m a bit confused about the hot water pastry. Is one recipe for both top and bottom of pie or do I make two? Also, you say additional steps are the rolling out. Does that mean i don’t have to roll? I just put the dough in the container I’m going to bake in? Never worked with homemade pastry. Thank you so much.
    S African living in America who never made this and just dreaming about it!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 22, 2021 at 1:30 pm

      Hi Carmen

      The hot water pastry recipe makes about 1.2 kg of pastry. I used 1 kg of pastry (and used the rest for small tarts) and made one large pie with base and top using a baking tin 30 cm long, 23 cm wide and 4 cm high.

      When my aunt made the pastry she didn’t bother with the extra rolls and turns. That was one of my mother’s additions and why it’s optional because the pastry is good as is, but I think the rolls and turns makes it a bit more flaky.

      The pastry is very soft right after making it so it needs to be chilled before use. After it is chilled it is ready and easier to use but remember to work fast because all that butter gets really melty very quickly.

      I hope you love it as much as our family does 🙂

  • Reply
    April 28, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    So I made a mistake whilst fasting and half asleep and cooking. I added the bisto before allowing the meat to become tender in the pan…any ideas on how to rectify this? Don’t want to keep cooking as they gravy will just burn.
    Scoop out the meat and boil separately?

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 28, 2020 at 8:30 pm

      I’ve never done that before but I suspect you have the right idea. Remove from the bisto and cook on low until soft so that it gets tender. Make sure there is enough liquid or stock so that the meat doesn’t dry out, it shouldn’t be too watery though.

  • Reply
    Jackie Henrick
    April 15, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Could I make the pie and then freeze it and bake it 2 days later? Or should I make the meat mixture and refrigerate till the day I bake the pie?

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 15, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Jackie. You can make the pastry and freeze it and make the filling and freeze it separately too. We make the pie and freeze it and then bake it days or even weeks later, so you shouldn’t have an issue. Remember to defrost it in the fridge so the pastry doesn’t get all mushy.

      What I’ve noticed over the years is that when you freeze pies already filled and then bake them they often turn out a bit doughy or wet on the underside because the filling defrosts and releases more liquid while it bakes.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth O
    January 4, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    The chicken and mushroom pie looks so tasty. So tempting!

  • Reply
    Jasmine Vargas
    January 2, 2019 at 5:43 am

    I’m not a huge fan of savory pies BUT I know my family will love it. I’ll have to share this recipe with them.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2019 at 10:59 am

    I love savoury pies! Thanks for sharing your recipe. With bonus nutrition facts too!

  • Reply
    Bindu Thomas
    January 1, 2019 at 10:51 am

    OMG..It looks damn delicious! I would like to try this in this today if possible. My husband would definitely love it.

    • Reply
      Jade Follentine
      September 24, 2021 at 9:54 pm


      Im making this recipe now however I cannot seem to find when to add the thyme?

      • Reply
        Razena Schroeder
        September 24, 2021 at 10:03 pm

        Thanks for bringing that to my attention. You can add the thyme when you add the garlic. If you are already past that step then while the meat is cooking.

  • Reply
    Anna Horvath
    December 31, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Oh my Godness this look so yummy!
    I do like these pie kind of dishes, meat and pastries are so delicious together and very filling as well!

  • Reply
    Courteney Noonan
    December 30, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    This looks so yummy! Pie is the ultimate comfort food for winter.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Wow, this recipe looks yummmmmy! I’d love to make it for when guests come over.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    It looks so hearty and satisfying. Perfect for cold weather months!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2018 at 5:36 am

    This looks so good. I love recipes like this that you can bake & enjoy later

  • Reply
    December 30, 2018 at 12:45 am

    My husband will pretty much eat anything that has the word steak in it. I will have to pass this along to him and see what he thinks.

  • Reply
    December 29, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    I’m adding this to my new recipes.

  • Reply
    December 29, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    The pie looks super tempting! i wouldn’t mind eating it now!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 29, 2018 at 10:28 pm

      I reheated the last two slices for dinner tonight and it was yum!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    That pepper steak pie 😍 These are some great food recipe.

  • Reply
    Stephanie S
    December 29, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Yum, found my dinner for tonight!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 29, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      It will be mine too :). I saved two pieces when I made one on Christmas Day just for when I had to work late.

  • Reply
    Gladys Nava
    December 29, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Oh my goodness! This is tempting and it really looks so tasty! Mouth watering!!!

  • Reply
    Czjai Reyes-Ocampo
    December 29, 2018 at 7:30 am

    OMG that looks amazing! I am drooling from the crust alone! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jackline A
    December 29, 2018 at 4:41 am

    Wow that looks delicious! Definitely something to shake me out of cooking the same dozen things over.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 29, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Haha it seems many of us find ourselves in that same boat 😂

  • Reply
    December 29, 2018 at 4:00 am

    This pie looks soooooo delicious and very easy to prepare. I am gonna try to make it next week, will let you know how it goes.


  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    I definitely fall into a rut of cooking the same 10 or so things I know I can pull off. Time to mix things up and try this!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 28, 2018 at 10:11 pm

      I think with our hectic lives we all tend to do that. This is definitely something delicious and different to make in winter.

  • Reply
    Amanda Yorton
    December 28, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    This looks AMAZING and so delicious! I would eat the whole thing!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 28, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      Haha Amanda! The kitchen smelled wonderful while it was baking and I couldn’t wait to get done photographing so I could have a piece. It tasted fantastic 😍

  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Ohmygosh. This just looks GLORIOUS!!!

  • Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.