How to make pies more heart-healthy (2024)

Pies are a popular, though rarely heart-healthy, comfort food. But with a few changes even those with heart disease can enjoy them, says Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor.

How to make pies more heart-healthy (1)

Whether it’s chicken and leek pie or a pasty, traditional pastry treats are a popular choice. Sadly, they’re not great as a regular part of your diet.

An average individual meat pie provides around 450kcal, but the biggest problem is the 12g of saturated fat inside it – that’s more than half the daily guideline. If you have buttery mashed potato or chips on the side, the fat content of your meal is even higher.

It’s best to keep pies as an occasional treat. And if you cook them at home, a few simple changes will make them more heart-healthy.

Perfect pastry

The pastry in the traditional pie is usually the biggest issue for your heart health. A simple way to reduce this is to put pastry on top, but not underneath. This reduces saturated fat per portion by 40 per cent and calories by a quarter. If you make your own pastry, use an unsaturated fat spread rather than butter or lard. This can halve the saturated fat content of your pastry. Most spreads based on vegetable oils will be suitable, but don’t use a low-fat spread (less than 38 per cent fat or 38g fat per 100g) as the higher water content will leave you with tough pastry.

Even better, switch your pastry from shortcrust or puff to filo. This is the lowest-fat pastry by far, with 2.9g fat per 100g. This compares with 26.2g for puff or 31.4g for shortcrust. Filo is the lowest-calorie option too, and it’s easy to use. You can buy it fresh or frozen (defrost first if it’s frozen). Just scrunch up the sheets and place on top of the pie and it crisps up nicely. If you’re comfortable working with filo, you could use it for handheld pastries or samosas, either in a triangle or roll shape. Just make sure the ends are well tucked in so the filling doesn’t leak out.

  • For a healthier alternative to sausage rolls, follow our recipe for pork and apple filo rolls(pictured below)

How to make pies more heart-healthy (2)

Did you know?

How to make pies more heart-healthy (3)

Many regions of Britain boast their own special pie:

  • Melton Mowbray is the home of the pork pie.
  • The Cornish stargazy pie has fish heads poking out.
  • A squab pie originates from Gloucestershire and usually contains lamb or mutton.

Tasty toppings

Crumble toppings are common for sweet dishes but work for savoury pies too. To make your own, use unsaturated spread instead of butter, and try using a bit less of it to reduce the calories (crumble topping tends to be more flexible than pastry). Oats are a nice addition to sweet or savoury crumble toppings. For a savoury crumble, add dried herbs for extra flavour, and if you want to add cheese, choose a reduced-fat version – using a mature or full-flavoured cheese will mean you don’t need as much.

Sliced potatoes are another good savoury topping. Or try a cobbler, which has a sweet or savoury scone topping. Choose your recipe carefully – if it is high in butter you can usually swap for an unsaturated spread.

Mashed vegetables make a great pie topping. Use mashed potato or mix with other veg like parsnip, swede, carrot or cauliflower. These are as comforting and filling as a pastry pie, but with less fat. Mash your veg with milk and unsaturated spread, rather than butter. Do the same if you’re having mash as a side dish.

  • Try our sweetpotato and callaloo (or spinach) pie.
  • Check out ourpork and bean cobbleror try ourmango and pear cobbler

How to make pies more heart-healthy (4)

Did you know?

Banquets in the 16th and 17th centuries sometimes featured live animals or birds springing out or flying from a pie when it was cut.

Slimmer fillings

Your pie filling can have a makeover too. If you’re making a meat pie, use lean cuts or extra-lean mince and include plenty of veg. To make your meat go further, mix in tinned lentils or beans. Replacing some of the meat with pulses lowers the meal’s saturated fat content and adds protein and fibre.

If you are making a fruit pie, taste your fruit before adding sugar. Generally, the riper it is, the less you need. You can also add dried fruit to the filling to sweeten it without adding as much sugar. Ground cinnamon adds natural sweetness – it’s particularly good with apples, bananas, blackberries, peaches and pears.

  • For a fruity dessert, try our apple and blackberry oat crumble(pictured below)

How to make pies more heart-healthy (5)

Did you know?

In the United States, savoury pies are almost unknown. Pies tend to have sweet fillings such as key lime, cherry, peach, pumpkin...or even sweet potatoes.

Sensible sides

Pies are high in energy, so keep an eye on your portion size, as you can consume a lot of calories in only a few mouthfuls. Eating it as part of a meal with vegetables on the side can make a smaller portion go further. Having a pie or pasty as a snack is not such a good idea – it is high in calories and you may still eat a normal meal later.

With sweet pies, skip ice cream or cream and go for custard made with low-fat milk (or low-fat no-added-sugar instant custard) or low-fat yoghurt (low-fat Greek yoghurt or skyr are the creamiest options).

Pies to try:

  • Fisherman's pie
  • Cottage pie
  • Vegetarian shepherd's pie with champ topping
  • For more healthy pie recipes, visit ourrecipe finder.

What to read next...

5 cholesterol-lowering foods

Read the article

How to make pies more heart-healthy (6)

How to make pies more heart-healthy (2024)


What is the healthiest pie you can eat? ›

But the apple pie takes the cake when it comes to fiber and potassium, and it has less added sugar. So what's a pie aficionado to do? Well, if you want to consume fewer calories, go for the pumpkin—it almost always has fewer because of the single crust. You could also take a sliver of both pies.

Are pies healthy for you? ›

Pies are a popular, though rarely heart-healthy, comfort food. But with a few changes even those with heart disease can enjoy them, says Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor. Whether it's chicken and leek pie or a pasty, traditional pastry treats are a popular choice.

How do you make pies better? ›

Here's your step-by-step guide:
  1. Plan ahead. ...
  2. Start with great pie dough. ...
  3. Choose between butter and lard. ...
  4. Make sure your chunks of butter are big and cold. ...
  5. Use cold water. ...
  6. Don't overmix. ...
  7. Let the dough rest. ...
  8. Roll out the dough with confidence and SPEED.
Nov 17, 2020

What is the healthiest pastry? ›

Puff or flaky pastries, used in meat pies, have double that quantity of fat – and it's not usually heart-friendly fat. Filo pastry has a huge health advantage because there is no fat in the mix.

Are pies bad for cholesterol? ›

Sugary Foods and Desserts

The fruit has a lot of natural sugar, and this is the good sugar – but cakes, pies, cookies, and high-sugar candies can contribute to high levels of LDL cholesterol. Lowering your sugar intake will decrease the level of cholesterol in your bloodstream.

Is it OK to eat pie everyday? ›

No food is off limits/banned in a balanced, healthy diet. Most people, when told they can never have a particular food ever again, crave it more – this is not good. Pies can be included in a healthy, balanced diet. If I saw a client who ate pies regularly, I might ask them if they could consider changing that.

What is a good substitute for pastry in pies? ›

A layer of mashed vegetables works well, like in a shepherd's pie. Try kumara instead of mashed potato, or add carrots like in this golden shepherd's pie. Bread makes a good alternative to pastry when using a pie maker or muffin tins. You can also make pie crusts out of rice, or tortillas.

What does egg do to pies? ›

But let's not underestimate the egg wash, a small but important step that gives the crust its shine. Lending countless baked goods (pie crust, pastries, breads, and more) a glistening golden shell, an egg wash also helps seal the dough, providing a protective barrier from the heat of the oven.

What is the best thing for pie? ›

How Can You Treat Post-Inflammatory Erythema?
  • Tretinoin. Tretinoin is a prescription-only ingredient that can tackle a range of skin concerns, including PIE. ...
  • Niacinamide. Niacinamide is another all-round hero ingredient that can be helpful if you're dealing with PIE. ...
  • Clindamycin. ...
  • Metronizadole. ...
  • Azelaic Acid.
May 5, 2023

What is the healthiest bakery item? ›

Wholegrain & Wholemeal Breads

Since wholemeal bread is baked with whole or nearly whole wheat grains, it contains much more flavour and nutrition. Wholemeal is also a great source of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, as well as being low in fat.

What type of donut is healthiest? ›

Sugared Donut

The classic sugared donut is also the most nutritious donut on the menu. It has 240 calories, 11g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 33g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 13g sugars, and 270mg sodium.

Are meat pies unhealthy? ›

Why are pies unhealthy? It is true pies have fat in them and therefore we always recommend that pies should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. The fat is primarily found in the pastry and is a critical ingredient.

What kind of pie has the least sugar? ›

Pumpkin, unlike pecan, only has 15 grams of added sugar, only half of pecan's added 30! The pie with the next least amount of sugar is apple pie.

Which pie is healthier pumpkin or sweet potato? ›

Between the two pies, most of the other ingredients are the same. Pumpkin pie has slightly lower calories, while sweet potato pie has more nutrients.

Is apple pie or pumpkin pie healthier? ›

Winner: Pumpkin Pie

The single crust keeps calories light, while the star of the show, pumpkin, pushes the nutrition of this pie way beyond apple.

Which is healthier, pecan pie or apple pie? ›

At around 300 calories per slice, pumpkin pie is a good bet for an indulgent dessert. It's a calorie bargain compared with other fall pies —apple pie weighs in at around 400 calories, and pecan pie at about 500 calories per slice. The type of crust used can make a big calorie difference.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Barbera Armstrong

Last Updated:

Views: 6060

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Barbera Armstrong

Birthday: 1992-09-12

Address: Suite 993 99852 Daugherty Causeway, Ritchiehaven, VT 49630

Phone: +5026838435397

Job: National Engineer

Hobby: Listening to music, Board games, Photography, Ice skating, LARPing, Kite flying, Rugby

Introduction: My name is Barbera Armstrong, I am a lovely, delightful, cooperative, funny, enchanting, vivacious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.