The pasty (pronounced as ‘PASS-tee’) is very much loved in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). Originally from Cornwall, it is a turnover stuffed with ground beef, diced potatoes, onions, carrots, and rutabaga. Pasty is almost always associated with miners since Cornwall is known for its tin mines, and the meat pie is very much handy and contains all the nourishment that a miner needed.
As mining in Cornwall started to decline in the mid-19th century, the miners and their families sought better opportunities abroad, venturing to places like South Africa, Australia, and the US. As the Upper Peninsula is rich in copper deposits, Cornish miners soon settled there and started up Michigan’s mining industry. Waves of immigrants from Italy and Finland soon followed, picking up the pastry tradition as they slowly adapted and assimilated into the local culture. The Finnish, in particular, swapped the rutabaga for carrots.
Mining in the region declined after World War II, but the pasty stayed on, becoming a part and parcel of Michigan’s culture. As a matter of fact, George W. Romney, the 43rd Governor of Michigan, declared May 24 as the first statewide Pasty Day, making the dish an unofficial state symbol.
The Best Places for Pasties in Michigan
Since opening in 1991, Superior Pasties has been baking its pies using local ingredients whenever possible. Its menu has expanded past the usual varieties to other interesting options like Polish, Italian, vegetable cheddar, chicken broccoli cheese, and shepherd’s pie.
34379 Plymouth Rd, Livonia
Amy J’s Pasty in Hancock churns out Finnish-style pasties (more carrots), as well as vegetarian pies. Its sweet bread and cinnamon rolls are noteworthy mentions, too.
1000 N Lincoln Dr, Hancock
One of the oldest pasty shops in the state, Lehto’s Pasties opened in 1947 and is still family-operated. It is well-known for the traditional beef variety, although vegetarian and chicken versions are also available.
1983 US-2, St. Ignace
Dale and Sally Beckwith opened Muldoon’s Pasties & Gifts in 1989 and has been continuing to bake the same family recipe that locals and visitors love. Chicken, vegetable, and dessert variants are also available.
1246 M-28, Munising
Pasty Central makes both UP-style and traditional Cornish pasties, although breakfast and vegetable options are also available. Located in Kearsarge, just north of Calumet, the pasty kitchen is included in USA Today’s 10Best (link: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-pasty-in-michigan/).
58542 Wolverine St., Calumet