A hot chicken pie is the perfect comfort food whether you’re cooking for a family or batch-cooking for your weekday lunches. Use up your leftovers from Sunday’s roast chicken, or cook from fresh — there are countless ways to make a chicken pie that fits into your meal plan.
What is chicken pie?
Chicken pie is any kind of pastry crust or pie shell filled with a tasty chicken filling. You can make your own chicken pie very easily - all you need is pastry, a suitable pie dish, chicken and any flavourings and vegetables floating around your fridge.
You may have also heard of “chicken pot pie”. This is a term that comes out of the United States and refers to a chicken pie without a bottom crust. Pot pie is a handy shortcut if you can’t be bothered blind-baking a pie shell.
7 great reasons to make your own chicken pie
You’ve probably had a good chicken pie or two in your lifetime, but have you tried cooking your own for a weekday meal? Here are just a few reasons why you should try making chicken pie at home:
- Make it the way you like it — you get more control over flavour than when you buy a premade pie.
- Use up leftovers from a roast chicken, or even from a curry, to make your filling.
- Switch up your flavours week to week with endless possibilities for fillings, from different spices to vegetables and cheeses.
- Cook up a big pie and allow it to cool before separating slices into microwave-safe containers to take to work for a cheap weekday lunch.
- Keep the kids happy and healthy with the familiar taste of chicken and veggies wrapped in the exciting, crunchy taste of pastry.
- Bake smaller, individual pies for grab-and-go handheld lunches in a busy week. They can be eaten hot or cold.
- Reduce your food waste by reusing leftovers and save on water by using fewer dishes when making dinner.
Making a chicken pie from scratch
Not only is chicken pie delicious, it’s a convenient way to use up leftover chicken, feed a crowd and pull dinner together in no time at all. You can make your own chicken pie without a recipe — it’s that easy! You just need pastry, a pie dish and any fillings you like, including chicken, of course.
Here’s a basic run-down of everything you need to know to make chicken pie.
Should I use raw or cooked chicken?
Should you use cooked or raw chicken to make a chicken pie? Ultimately, your chicken is going to be cooked before you put it in the pie, so you can use either.
If you’re opting to use raw chicken, such as diced chicken thighs, you’ll need to cook the chicken before it goes into the pie. That’s because chicken will take longer to cook than your pastry. So, if you leave the pie with raw chicken in the oven long enough to cook the chicken, you’ll burn your pastry. On the flipside, if you take the pie out too soon, the chicken will still be raw.
Precook your chicken by roasting it whole in the oven, or as part of your filling. With diced chicken pieces, you can sauté the chicken in a pan with onions or leeks, and then add your liquids like chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce or white wine.
If you’re using precooked chicken, such as Sunday roast leftovers or shredded chicken from your PAK’nSAVE deli, you don’t need to do anything to the chicken - just tear it up and throw it in.
How long do I cook chicken pie in the oven?
Cook your chicken pie in the oven for 25-35 minutes at 220°C. Remember that your filling is already cooked, so all you have to worry about is whether or not the puff pastry is fully baked. If you’re using filo pastry for your pie, reduce the cooking time to 10-15 minutes and the temperature to 200°C.
When it’s finished, the top of your pie should be crispy and golden. Keep an eye on the pastry during baking, and if the edges seem to be getting too dark, wrap them in tin foil to prevent scorching.
Lastly, don’t forget to let the pie stand for at least five minutes before serving. A little time to rest after it’s been in the oven allows your filling to thicken up again, so it doesn’t all come spilling out when you cut into the pie.
Pass the spoon test
Your filling should be reduced and thick enough to pass the “spoon test”. Simply dip a spoon into the sauce and then run your finger down the back of the spoon (being careful to not burn yourself). If the sauce holds a clear line where you run your finger down the spoon, it’s good to go.
Popular chicken pie fillings
Your chicken pie filling will usually be made of more than just chicken. You can create a traditional creamy chicken pie filling using leftover chicken and any vegetables you have that need to be used up — leeks, pumpkin, mushroom, onions, the choice is yours.
If you’re trying to keep prep time to a minimum, use diced carrots, peas and corn kernels from the freezer. Just remember that frozen vegetables tend to give off more water when cooked, so you may need to use slightly less liquid in the rest of the filling.
Don’t forget the gravy
You’ll want to ensure there is some kind of gravy or sauce in your pie. Use real chicken stock for a full, true chicken flavour. For a rich leek and chicken combo, add a splash of cream. On the other hand, you may want to step away from traditional flavours completely. A butter chicken pie is an easy way to spice up your weeknights, using Wattie’s Just Add Butter Chicken Simmer Sauce.
However you flavour your pie, make sure the filling isn’t too wet before you put it in the pie shell. If the filling is too loose or wet, it can soak through the pastry and stop you from achieving a crispy crust. Remember - no one likes a soggy bottom!
Best pastry for chicken pie
As with any pie, good pastry is a must-have. The wonderful thing about savoury pies is that you can use just about any pastry you love.
Flaky puff pastry is rich, full of texture and is an all-around favourite for most Kiwis. This pastry is made by incorporating large bits of butter into the dough. When cooked, the butter melts and evaporates, creating pockets of steam throughout that lead to flaky, crispy pastry.
You can buy flaky puff pastry from the freezer section at your nearest PAK’nSAVE. Pre-rolled pastry sheets are the best for making individual mini-pies, or you can get your pastry in a block and roll it out once thawed to suit any size of pie dish.
How to make rough puff pastry from scratch
Traditional puff pastry can be very time consuming to make. It typically requires creating a large square of butter, encasing that in dough and repeatedly folding and rolling the dough until countless layers are created. Fortunately, there’s no need to go to all that effort. You can make a rough puff pastry with flour, salt, ice cold water and butter or vegetable shortening.
- Cut your butter into thin slices, roughly half a centimetre thick. Then, toss the slices in flour until coated.
- Slowly mix into ice cold water until the dough forms a ball with large chunks of butter.
- Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it with cling film and let it chill in the fridge for about an hour to allow the butter to harden up again.
- Once your dough is formed and chilled, dust your benchtop with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle.
- Fold the dough into thirds as if it’s a letter. To do this, take one of the short edges and fold it in towards the middle of the dough, so that its length is reduced by one third. Then, fold the opposite end inwards, so it lies over the edge you first folded in.
- Rotate the dough 90 degrees, roll it out again and repeat the process 4-6 times until you’ve built lots of layers in the dough.
- Chill the dough one last time, then roll it out and use it as normal.
Tips for making the perfect chicken pie puff pastry
- The exact proportions of flour and water you’ll need depend on how much pastry you’re making. Edmonds recommends 170 grams of butter for every 225 grams of flour.
- You can adjust the volume of water to your needs by adding it to the dough gradually until you reach the consistency you’re after.
- Some people add a little bit of an acid like white vinegar or lemon juice to their dough. This helps to relax the gluten in the flour, making it easier to roll out.
- If you’re using unsalted butter, add a little bit of table salt to your dough for flavour.
- All-purpose or plain flour is perfectly suitable for making rough puff pastry. However, high-grade flour will also do the trick — just don’t go for self-raising.
- For gluten-free rough puff pastry, follow the same steps above using gluten free flour. Just be sure to keep other sources of gluten away from your work surfaces.
How to cook a chicken pie with flaky puff pastry
Puff pastry is super easy to work with, but there are a few tips and tricks to follow to ensure you get perfect pie crust every time.
Can you put puff pastry at the bottom of a chicken pie?
Yes, there’s no reason you can’t use the same puff pastry as you’ll use for the chicken pie lid, for the bottom of the shell. However, you don’t want the base of your pie to puff up in quite the same way as the top, or it will be a challenge to serve. Fortunately, puff pastry won’t expand much with a filling on top of it. That said, baking your pie with a raw shell can lead to soft pastry, instead of a moreish, crunchy base. To ensure a crisp pie bottom, scroll down to read more about blind baking your crust.
Filo pastry is another popular option, for a pie lid. Because filo pastry is very thin, it’s best used in many layers, each brushed with oil or melted butter. The result is extra crunchy, airy pastry — perfect if you don’t want your pie to be too heavy.
That said, filo isn’t suitable for the bottom of the pie. The best pastry for the base of the chicken pie is puff pastry shell (or go for a baseless pot pie). Or, you could scoop spoonfuls of an extra thick chicken pie filling onto strips of filo and fold them up into handheld chicken filo parcels.
How to use filo pastry for chicken pie
1. For a large pie:
a. Spread your chicken filling in a casserole dish.
b. Brush 3-4 sheets of filo pastry with melted butter or oil.
c. Loosely scrunch up the filo and place on top of the filling.
d. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200°C or until golden and crispy.
2. For smaller filo parcels:
a. Cut a single filo sheet into three long strings. Keep the rest of your filo sheets covered with a damp paper towel
c. Continue folding in a triangle pattern down the length of the strip until you have a single fully wrapped triangular pastry.
d. Brush with melted butter or oil and bake for 10-15 minutes at 200°C or until golden and crispy.
Get a golden, glossy pie crust every time
The trick to a perfect pie crust is in the wash you use on top. Most pie recipes ask you to brush the lid of the pie with a beaten egg, sometimes thinned with water, milk or cream before baking.
The purpose of the egg wash is to promote browning and create a glossy finish. With a little know-how, you can control the appearance of your top crust by the way you prepare your egg wash. Simply put, the yolk of your eggs is mostly fat, which means it helps to produce a shiny pastry. Meanwhile, the white is protein and contributes to browning. You can adjust your egg wash to create a darker or shinier finish by adding an extra egg yolk or white to your wash.
You can also thin your egg wash with one or two teaspoons of water to prevent the egg from pooling on top and turning into scrambled egg. This also helps to spread the egg and ensure you get a golden crust all over.
Another way to adjust the fat or protein of your egg wash is to dilute with milk or cream instead. Milk, being mostly protein, helps to create browning when added to egg yolk but won’t make much difference to a whole egg, as the protein content is already quite high. That said, fresh cream should help to improve the shine of your crust because of its high fat content.
Do I need to blind bake a chicken pie base?
One of the best ways around a soft or soggy pie bottom is to blind bake your crust. This simply means cooking the bottom crust before you add the filling, to ensure it’s nicely cooked and dried out. It’s not always necessary to blind bake your crust for a chicken pie, but it can really add that extra mark of craftsmanship when you’re aiming to impress.
Some recipes call for the use of baking beans, ball bearings or dried pulses as weights for blind baking. This isn’t always a good idea for puff pastry, because the weights can prevent the crust from puffing nicely.
To blind bake the base of your chicken pie
- Roll out your puff pastry and gently use it to line your pie dish.
- Prick the surface with a fork in a few different places. This creates holes to allow some steam to escape so you don’t end up with over-puffed pastry.
- Loosely line the inside and edges of the pastry with tin foil. The foil conducts heat evenly, ensuring you don’t get any burned or undercooked patches.
- Once the crust is ready for the oven, bake it for about 10 minutes at 220°C, or until lightly puffed and golden.
What goes well with chicken pie?
Being such a versatile meat, chicken can take on all sorts of flavours. So there are lots of fantastic sides you can serve up alongside your chicken pie for tea.
Mashed potatoes are a staple alongside pie of any variety and are a good way to soak up any of that delicious sauce that comes out of the pie.
During summer months, plate up a simple salad of your choice from the prepacked salads found in your local PAK’nSAVE’s produce section. From a classic garden salad, to a sweet mango number, there’s something to suit any filling or flavour.
When it’s chilly out, throw some hardy green vegetables into a frying pan with a little bit of oil and some salt and pepper. Whether that’s green beans, broccoli or asparagus, this is a super easy way to tick off your 5+ A Day and serve up something scrumptious.
Why not try our recipe for green beans with butter, lemon and garlic to go alongside your next chicken pie?
How long does chicken pie stay fresh?
Being a chicken dish, it’s important you’re careful with how you store your leftover chicken pie. Always make sure to allow your chicken pie to cool, and then pop it in the fridge as soon as possible.
Placing hot pie in the fridge is likely to affect your fridge’s temperature, so it is important to allow it cool first. Once chilled, your pie should last 3 to 5 days in the fridge. However, if you’re cooking with leftover chicken, try to be mindful of how old your leftovers were prior to making your pie and eat accordingly.
You can also freeze your chicken pie very easily. Simply cut your pie into portions and place them each in freezer-safe containers. Let them cool for no more than two hours, then pop them in the freezer for up to six months. For the best results, freeze the filling separately and prepare the shell fresh when you want to serve, as reheated pastry tends to lose its crispness.
Chicken pie is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to put a new spin on your leftovers. For more tips, tricks and inspiration, be sure to check out the rest of our chicken recipes here.