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A Holiday Tradition: Christmas Tourtiere Recipe

The tourtière dates back to when Quebec was a French settlement. Its first appearance in a cookbook is in La cuisinière canadienne of 1840, which is often considered to be one of the first French language cookbooks published in Canada. The meaty dish is an iconic French-Canadian meal, especially around the holidays, and has become ingrained in Canadian culture.

As such, it is a seasonal favorite of our Personal Lines Manager, Nancy Roy and her French-Canadian family. She shared the tourtière recipe and tradition with us. As it turns out, the decadent dish carries more than just a flavorful experience. For French Canadians it’s a recipe often only made a couple of times a year when family comes together to celebrate the holidays, laugh, and well…share a hearty tourtière! It’s a warm memory.

There isn’t one “right way” to make a tourtière. There are variations and the recipe gets tweaked as it is passed down from generation to generation. So here’s a traditional tourtière recipe to start with. Maybe it will become a holiday ritual for you and your loved ones, too!

Many thanks to Nancy, for sharing this heartwarming, belly-filling, true French-Canadian tradition.

holiday tourtiere recipe food image

Tourtiere Ingredients


  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 to 8 tablespoons ice water (added to make dough cohesive)


  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 pounds ground pork OR a combination of ground pork and ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt, to taste
The key is just enough clove. Too much and you’ve ruined the dish!

-Nancy Roy

Filling Instructions

  1. Using a medium saucepan, bring salt, water, and potatoes to a boil over medium heat. 
  2. After boiling for about five to six minutes, the potatoes should be fork-tender. Drain the potatoes and save the water. In a bowl, mash half of the potatoes and leave the other half chunky. 
  3. Brown the meat in a large skillet, draining off any excess fat.
  4. Then add the spices, salt, onion, garlic cloves, and reserved potato water to the meat. Stir to combine.
  5. The mixture should be brought to a boil, then lowered to a simmer. Continue simmering for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onions are transparent.
  6. Add the mashed potatoes to the meat mixture and combine. Gently stir in the diced potatoes. Set the mixture aside to cool.

Crust Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix the butter thoroughly into the mixture. There shouldn’t be any chunks of butter remaining; this is a “short crust” and should look like breadcrumbs.
  2. Add water, tossing as you go, until the dough is cohesive and you are able to squeeze it together. If it doesn’t hold together, add more water.
  3. Separate the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. In this case, the larger piece will be the bottom crust, and the smaller piece will be the top crust. Shape each piece into a ball then flatten so they look like large hockey pucks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Roll the larger piece of dough into a 12″ circle and let rest for 10 minutes. Then, gently place the dough into a 9″ pie pan that is at least 1 1/2″ inches deep.
  3. Spoon the filling in the crust and pat it flat.
  4. Roll the smaller dough puck into a 10″ circle and lay it on top of the filling. Tuck the excess crust from the bottom over the edge of the top crust; pinching and crimping to seal. 
  5. Cut a circle or slashes into the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. 

Adaptation of original recipe found here