If you don’t know what a Cornish pasty is, it’s a turnover made with shortcrust pastry and traditionally filled with meat and vegetables. Today you can find Cornish pasties filled with all kinds of ingredients, including curry and vegan pasties. The first documented mention of the Cornish pasty was in the 13th century, but they’ve likely been around for longer than that. They were originally made by Cornish housewives for their husbands to eat at lunch in the tin mines and while out fishing.
The sturdy shortcrust pastry made them a robust lunch to be carried around while working. The edges are thick rolled-over baked pastry that you can grab with one hand and eat while on the go. The thick edge of the pasty was designed to be held by the men’s dirty fingers and then thrown away, although today we wouldn’t dream of discarding any bit of these delectable pasties.
Although you can eat a Cornish pasty anywhere in the UK now, there’s nothing quite like eating one in Cornwall, where they were first invented. In no particular order, here are my 9 favorite places for a Cornish pasty in Cornwall.
Lavenders is a family-owned bakery and deli in Penzance that bakes and sells traditional Cornish pasties alongside many modern takes on the original. Everything here is made by hand, something that is evident when you taste the pasties. The pasty menu includes steak and stilton pasties, cheese and mushroom, and a vegan wholemeal pasty.
There’s also a café onsite, so you can have a pasty for lunch in the café, buy some from the deli counter, or take your pasty away and eat it where you like. They even deliver their pasties around the UK, so you don’t have to go to Cornwall to eat one, though you should. Lavenders have been baking and selling their pasties in Penzance since 1978, and the deli and bakery are still run by the same Lavender family today.
2. Malcolm Barnecutt
Baked fresh on the premises every day, the pasties at Malcolm Barnecutt are so good they now have 12 pasty shops across Cornwall — and even one over the border in Devon. Barnecutts is now run by James Barnecutt, the fourth generation of the Barnecutt family to take over the reins. I can only speak about the branch in Newquay, as that’s the one I’ve been to, but I’m sure all the other branches of this bakery are just as good. They also sell sandwiches and cakes, but it’s the pasties most people go for. The steak and stilton pasty is especially good.
3. The Count House Café
Geevor Tin Mine Museum, Pendeen
There are many reasons to visit Geevor Tin Mine Museum. It’s a great chance to explore and learn about the history of tin mining in Cornwall, the industry that once made this area rich. The mine was closed in 1990 and some areas of the site have been left exactly as they were on that day.
But once you’ve been around the mine and learned about tin mining, you’re in for a treat in The Count House Café. Though the café menu features an excellent vegan section, they keep it traditional here when it comes to pasties. The pasties are freshly made every day, and if you buy nine to take away you get one free!
Pro Tip: The traditional Cornish pasties of steak and vegetables are very popular in this café, and as the museum gets a lot of visitors, they sell out fast. If you want to buy some to take away with you, you need to order them at least 24 hours in advance or the café can’t guarantee you’ll get one.
4. St Agnes Bakery
First opened in 1905, St Agnes Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in the UK that still works from its original site. A family business that’s been passed down the generations, St Agnes Bakery still makes their traditional Cornish pasties to the same recipe as their great grandparents. They also offer a range of other fillings in their pasties, including vegetarian and vegan options, along with scones and other cakes and pastries. There is a great choice at this bakery, but the traditional Cornish pasties are so good here; you shouldn’t miss out on trying one while you’re visiting.
Philps is a bit of an institution in Hayle. The bakery has a lovely family story behind it that everyone in the area really responds to. The founder of the bakery, Sammy Philp, began his own fruit and vegetable hand cart at the age of just 15. He was a clever businessman — even at such a young age — and with his cousin, Everett, the baker, the Philps family was soon branching out into baked goods.
Everett began making Cornish pasties in the 1950s, and Sammy took them to the local pubs, who loved them and began selling them to their visitors. The Cornish Arms was the first pub to sell Cornish pasties, and they were Philps pasties. Today the bakery is run by Sammy’s grandchildren, and they still make their Cornish pasties with the same Philps family recipe. The chicken pasty is especially good here. Philps is dedicated to sourcing the best quality ingredients, and it really shows in their pasties.
6. Etherington’s Farm Shop
When you first walk into Etherington’s Farm Shop, you’ll notice the emphasis on the meat counter. The butchery counter at Etherington’s is certainly predominant; they have such an impressive supply of meats it’s hard to not be drawn in by it. It’s a great butcher counter, but in addition to this and shelves full of preserves, spices, teas, and a mini bottle shop, they also sell the most amazing Cornish pasties.
A good Cornish pasty relies on a mixture of things. The filling, of course, but also the pastry. Shortcrust pastry should be crumbly, but some Cornish pasties don’t quite have that crumble a good pasty needs. At Etherington’s the pastry is the thing that really sets their pasties apart. The crumble on the pastry is perfect! Their pasties are made with a hundred-year-old recipe that they keep secret to this day.
7. The Little Bay Café
When you first enter The Little Bay Café, your eyes will most likely be drawn to the array of incredible cakes. The cakes are prominent and displayed so that you can’t help but linger over them. And the cakes are what this cute little café is known best for, you might even say they are famous for their cakes, in Cornwall at least. The cakes are amazing, and you should definitely try some while you’re there, but don’t overlook the Cornish pasties in this seaside café.
Everything here is handmade by the owner, who’s very friendly and will go to any lengths necessary to make sure her visitors are happy. The pastries, sandwiches, and cakes do vary depending on what’s been freshly made that day, but I’d recommend a pasty of your choice and a slice of cheesecake.
Pro Tip: The café is dog friendly. Visitors can take their dogs in at any time and the staff will fuss over them — they clearly love dogs. But if you do have a dog with you, be aware from March onwards, for the summer season, dogs are not allowed on Pentewan beach.
8. Morris Pasties
Morris Pasties began its life as a butcher back in the 1970s. I love the story of how the business altered when they began selling pasties that were handmade by an old lady in nearby St Columb. I couldn’t find the name of this old lady — it might be lost to time — but she is certainly remembered through these pasties. She made them to a secret recipe, which was thankfully passed onto the family.
The original owner, Peter Morris, passed away in the 2000s, and his son, David, took over. It’s David’s wife, Emma, who makes the pasties today. The newest addition to the pasty line-up at Morris Pasties is the breakfast pasty. This unusual take on the traditional pasty contains sausage, bacon, scrambled egg, tomato, and baked beans. Definitely worth a try!
9. St Buryan Farm Shop
If you love fresh produce straight from the ground it was grown in, you’ll love St Buryan Farm Shop. They have an impressive display of fruit and vegetables that are either grown on-site or locally sourced. The butcher’s counter is also crammed full of fresh meats either from the farm or from local suppliers. I love a good farm shop, but a farm shop with a café is even better.
At St Buryan you can buy some local produce and then have lunch in the café. So, you can buy your pasties to go or relax and eat them while you rest in the café. The pasties are all freshly made on-site by hand. The menu is short, but what they lack in choice they make up for in taste. I’d recommend the mince pasty. Simple, traditional, and really good!