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Bobotie: A Savory South African Meat Pie

Bobotie: A Savory South African Meat Pie
Home » Recipes by Ingredients » Beef » Cranberry chutney on Bobotie

Pairing chutneys with cheese around the holidays is a classic, but they are also wonderful with savory dinner dishes. The recipe below pairs a cranberry chutney with a South African meat pie recipe known as bobotie. Traditional bobotie might use an apricot jam rather than a chutney, but bobotie is flexible enough to be made with a range of different fruit based preserves.

Slice of savory meat pie called bobotie topped with cranberry chutney.
Bobotie topped with cranberry chutney

Jump to: RECIPE | What is bobotie? | Key Ingredients | Step by Step Photos | Why add Chutney? | What to Serve with?

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What is Bobotie?

Many regions claim Bobotie as their own, and there are strong opinions on its origins, as well as what ingredients and techniques make it the most “authentic” bobotie.

Bobotie was declared the national dish of South Africa by the United Nations women’s organization in 1954, but some maintain that its origins are Indonesian or Dutch.  It seems that the Dutch are credited with introducing the ground meat part of the dish to South Africa, and the Indonesian are given credit for the chutney and spice ingredients.

Acknowledging that there is debate on origins, I’m sticking with the United Nations and calling it South African.

Key Ingredients to Traditional Bobotie

I first made this recipe at the beginning of my cooking/ blogging adventures. I tried several different recipes, ranging from a pastry encrusted meat pie with ground lamb to a ground beef casserole with a very thin layer of custard on top; all of them delicious.

The common ingredients of Bobotie recipes include: 

  • ground meat (either lamb or beef),
  • a topping of either custard or dough,
  • fruit (either apricots, cranberries, apples – mostly fall fruit),
  • spices (usually curry),
  • bread soaked in milk.

Just stay true to the meat, bread and custard  proportions to get a successful recipe.  Mix and match the spices and fruits at will, and it will be delicious.

Step by Step Preparation:

Step #1: Prepare the meat filling and the custard separately as detailed in the recipe

North African bobotie dish in the first step before adding custard.
Step #1: Before adding custard

Step #2: Pour the custard over the meat filling and bake at 350 F for 50 minutes

Bobotie in round casserole dish after adding custard but before going into oven.
Bobotie with added custard but before cooked.

What Bobotie looks like after baking:

Bobotie in casserole dish after coming out of oven.
Bobotie after baking in oven

Bobotie Version with Puff Pastry Crust

South African meat pie (bobotie) with puff pastry crust
Bobotie with puff pastry crust

Why Add Chutney?

After testing several recipes I got from online sources ( was one), I gleaned what I thought was the best of these recipes and developed a recipe that I feel showcases the uniqueness of adding a chutney to a dish. 

I am really happy with this recipe and it got five stars from the “discerning husband”, so I hope you enjoy it also.  Of course, after serving his role as the official taste tester of each version of bobotie, the husband started to get a little overwhelmed with the thought of another version!

Can Bobotie be Frozen?

Most recipes I looked at compared bobotie to a lasagna or moussaka. Both of these dishes freeze well, and bobotie would be a similar freezing method. I have not tried freezing the bobotie yet, but if you are freezing it you will want to let it thaw before reheating and then reheat it at 300°F.

What Is Bobotie Served with?

The traditional accompaniment for Bobotie is yellow rice, cooked with turmeric, raisins and a cinnamon stick.  I don’t care for raisins (which many of the Bobotie recipes called for also) so here are some other options to serve alongside the bobotie:

  • Tomato/ onion salad (otherwise known as sambal salad)
  • any fresh green salad
  • Boereboontjies- a more traditional South African dish consisting of green beans and potatoes
  • Although not a traditional accoutrement to bobotie, I think pickled onions give the bobotie a crisp zing
  • A variety of chutneys and jams or a blatjang (a mix between a chutney and a jam)
  • Savory sauces or pastes like harissa chimichurri or romesco sauce

In the recipe below, I used a cranberry chutney for a Winter version. I have also tried it with red bell pepper chutney and with an apricot jam. Any fruit based chutney or low sugar jam will work though.

Similar Recipes You’ll Love

Bobotie Topped with Custard

Slice of bobotie with cranberry chutney topping
This South African dish is a robust meat pie filled with sour dough bread, African spices, chutney and apricot jam and topped with a creamy custard
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 764



Ingredients for filling

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 ½ lb ground chuck or sirloin many recipes use ground lamb
  • 2 slices sourdough bread soaked in milk and squeezed out before using
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • dash pepper
  • 1 granny smith apple peeled and grated (I used box grater)
  • 2 Tbsp apricot jam
  • 4 Tbsp chutney of your choice

Ingredients for custard

  • 1 cup milk I used 1/2 cup 2% and 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs room temp
  • 1 Tbsp brandy
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves for garnish


  • Soak the bread in a bowl of milk
  • Heat oil in large skillet and add onions. Saute onions until golden brown over low heat, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic for last minute of saute, so as not to burn garlic
    2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic
  • Add meat to the skillet and sauté until nicely browned and no longer pink. Turn off burner and drain any excess grease after it is browned.
    1 1/2 lb ground chuck or sirloin
  • Remove pan from the burner, add remaining ingredients, including soaked bread (before adding bread, use your hands to wring out the milk from the bread). Stir everything together until well-combined and place mixture in greased pie pan or ovenware dish.
    2 slices sourdough bread, 1 Tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, dash pepper, 1 granny smith apple, 2 Tbsp apricot jam, 4 Tbsp chutney of your choice
  • Make the custard: Whisk alll custard ingredients together with wire whisk, except bay leaves, and pour over the beef mixture. Arrange the bay leaves in the center of the meat pie.
    1 cup milk, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, 3 large eggs, 1 Tbsp brandy, 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, 2 bay leaves for garnish
  • Bake at 350 F for approximately 50 minutes. Cool five minutes or so before cutting and serve with additional chutney on the side.


FREEZING: Most recipes compare bobotie to a lasagna or moussaka. Both of these dishes freeze well, and bobotie would be a similar freezing method (cool, tightly wrap in airtight container and freeze for 2-3 months).  Let it thaw before reheating and then reheat it at 300°F.


Calories: 764kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 40gFat: 48gSaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 250mgSodium: 1490mgPotassium: 751mgFiber: 3gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 736IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 151mgIron: 6mg
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  1. Paula says:

    Very nice post. I’m not a big chutney fan, but I am intrigued by this dish.

  2. Cindy says:

    Hi Dorothy,

    The babotie recipe looks very good – and interesting! I’m writing my grocery list to make this after Thanksgiving. Double checking that the 4 tbsp. chutney gets added after the meat is browned or is it just for garnish?

    • Cindy says:

      @dorothy stainbrook, I made two meat pies yesterday and they turned out great! It reminded me of a tasty meatloaf…I suppose the bread in it is like bread crumbs used in meatloaf.

      • I’m so glad to hear this Cindy! I made so many of these years ago when testing the recipe that it is a standing joke in our house. Maybe my family will be ready to give it another try now!

    • Cindy says:

      @dorothy stainbrook,

      Will do! I’m making it tomorrow. A double batch so there’s enough to freeze for my parents.

    • Hi Cindy. I made this recipe a longgg time ago but in re-reading it I remember just adding the chutney at the end more like a topping or garnish. Let me know how it turns out for you ok?

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