Brianna's Bridies from Outlander book Drums of Autumn

Brianna's Bridies from Drums of Autumn

Yon fellow wi' the cast in one eye," he said in a subdued bellow, indicating the gentleman in question by pointing with his chin.  "What d'ye say to him, Brianna?"

"I'd say he looks like the Boston Strangler," she muttered, then louder, shouting into her cousin's ear, "He looks like an ox!  No!"

"He's strong, and he looks honest!"

Brianna thought the gentleman in question looked too stupid to be dishonest, but refrained from saying so, merely shaking her head emphatically.

Young Jamie shrugged philosophically and resumed his scrutiny of the would-be bondsmen, walking around those who took his particular interest and peering at them closely, in a way she might have thought exceedingly rude had a number of other potential employers not been doing likewise.

“Bridies!  Hot bridies!”  A high-pitched screech cut through the rumble and racket of the hall, and Brianna turned to see an old woman elbowing her way robustly through the crowd, a steaming tray hung round her neck and a wooden spatula in hand.

The heavenly scent of fresh hot dough and spiced meat cut through the other pungencies in the hall, noticeable as the old woman’s calling.  It had been a long time since breakfast, and Brianna dug in her pocket, feeling saliva fill her mouth.

Drums of Autumn, chapter 35, "Bon Voyage"

Brianna Randall has some cojones. After first travelling back 200 years through the stones at Craigh na Dun, Brianna makes a brief stop at Lallybroch to check-in with the family of the 18th Century Highlander father she's never met, in order to determine if her mother managed to hook back up with him when she hurled herself through the stones a couple of years before.

Reassured that Claire did indeed reconnect with Jamie Fraser, Brianna, after enjoying her last meal on solid land for at least a couple of months, embarks on a dangerous journey by ship from Inverness to America to find her parents and show them a notice of their death by fire in just over 7 years time -- a notice she found amongst a library`s collection of historical records in 1970.

Confused?  Then you haven't read the Drums of Autumn, the 4th installment in the wildly popular Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  And I, along with millions of other fans, really think you should.

The itinerary of our lastest vacation in England, Scotland and Wales was no less ambitious than Brianna's, if just slightly less dangerous.  We  landed in London, had a short visit with Howard's dad as well as his aunt & uncle, had some dinner, caught a show, then drove north to Anglesey, Wales (home to Howard's mom, step dad, brothers and grandma).

With family and friends spread across a couple of countries, visits back to the UK are always hectic.  After the first couple of times, when we arrived back home exhausted and in need of another holiday, we're now always sure to plan a quiet week on our own somewhere along the way. This time, we decided to go big -- and so from Anglesey we drove north to Inverness, where we picked up the boat we hired to cruise the Caledonian Canal, including Loch Ness.


Here we are, ready to set off from Inverness on our very own Highland adventure.  This being the 21st century instead of the 18th, we decided against procuring a bondsman, and instead comfortably settled into our historical on-board occupations -- he as Captain Howard, and me as Chief Cook, bottle-washer and occasional deck hand.

Sound unfair?  My younger, l iberated self would have thought so.  However, as a somewhat older woman who has been married a number of years, I have acquired a little wisdom -- enough to appreciate the understated and underrated position of power that the person in charge of the food can wield -- especially if that someone can dish it out when, and if, she has to.  Think Aloysius O'Shaughnessy Murphy -- he was no dogsbody, now, was he?


The photos say it all -- we had just about the best weather 2 voyagers could ask for.  For a couple who prefer to travel during the off-peak times of the year, we generally have pretty good weather karma.  But the spectacular late-April weather we had while cruising from Inverness to Fort William and back had even the knarliest, most dour-looking lock keeper carelessly taking the bow line from me while he kept his face turned to the shining warmth of the sun.

After what seemed like quite a long while, he turned to face me, lazily handed me back the rope, and with a face-splitting, toothless grin delivered something along the lines of  "Aye, ye've got fine looks set t' stay for the week"... (long pause) ..."an' ye'll ha' missed the midges too."

No more glorious words have ever been croaked.


Of the 7 days & nights we had on the boat, night 3 and morning 4, which we spent moored beside Invergarry Castle on Loch Oich, will go down as our favourites.

Invergarry Castle was the seat of the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry.  Overlooking Loch Oich on Creagan an Fhithich - the Raven's Rock - the castle occupied a strategic position during the days of clan warfare.  After nearby raids by Clan Mackenzie (who else?) in the early 17th Century, the Rock of the Raven was fortified to include a 6 story tower -- the remains of which can still be seen today.

Bonnie Prince Charlie visited the castle in 1745, riding high on the early successes of his Jacobite Rebellion, and he is said to have rested there, in April 1746, after it all went wrong at Culloden. Following the Prince's defeat, the castle was sacked and partially blown up by the Duke of Cumberland's troops as part of his systematic suppression of the Highlands.

But they couldn't get all of those thick walls to fall...much to my Outlandish delight!


We spent the night all alone moored beside the castle ruins. We fell asleep counting the stars through the escape hatch over our heads, and awoke to a hard frost on deck, mist on the water and the most beautiful clear-blue sky you've ever seen.

Easily a Top 5 wake-up of all time.

Actually, more like a Top 3.

April in the Highlands is hard to beat.  Just make sure you pack your long johns AND your sunscreen. Our rosy (mine) and deeply tanned (Howard's) faces belied the multiple layers of clothing we wriggled into, still abed and crouched under the low ceiling of our cabin, just so we could get the kettle going in the galley.  By noon, we were down to one layer of everything, including a brimmed hat and a thick coating of SPF 45.

Me and my pale-skinned Viking colouring don't fool around.  Howard, whose Maltese roots have left him with skin leaning towards olive, applies sunscreen to humour me and dons a baseball cap because he doesn't like to brush his hair while on vacation. ;)

But this trip wasn't all about fun in the sun.  There was research to do, and an authentic Bridie worthy of Brianna to be found.  To that end, I tried one everywhere I found them on the menu, which was, unsurprisingly, mostly in butchers and pie shops.  In addition to this lock-side butchers in Fort Augustus where I ate my Bridie while Howard was in the pub getting us each a pint (hence no photo), there were one or two three in Inverness, another at a BAD roadside cafe (really, we should have known better) and the last one from Auld Jock`s Pie Shop, where I dragged my mother in for a second lunch while we were wandering up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

Out of all of my samples, I was surprised that just one was made with short crust pastry, while the rest used puff.  In every last one of them, the filling was ground beef, onion, salt and pepper -- except for the vegetarian Bridies -- which were filled with turnips.  While I love the idea of a veggie Bridie, I don't love turnips.  And in Scotland, the turnip is (I'm just going to say it) an OVER-USED vegetable -- especially in vegetarian Bridies.

I'm a self-described locavore -- honestly -- and I went to a lot of trouble to have local, organic produce, meat and cheese delivered to the boat before we boarded in Inverness (Life (and Food) Aboard the Caledonian Canal).  But I've always preferred a light-handed approach to turnips, which, unfortunately, seems to be in direct conflict with the approach taken by the entire Scottish food scene at the moment.  (I ate a lot of turnips while we were there, OK?  And yes, I know they're pretty much the only thing that grows in Scotland this early in the year.  Still -- there were a lot.  TOO MANY.)

OK, strange turnip rant over.

Howard managed to snap this picture of me and my Haggis crisps before I devoured the bag.  Like I said, he wasn't fast enough to capture the Bridie.

Haggis?  No, not so much.  Haggis crisps?  Yes please!  And no, you can't have one -- nor can you have a sip of my cider.  I know I'm smiling, but I suggest you back away before bad things happen.

Even Howard had to go get his own bag.  I stayed behind to guard the drinks.  (Selfless, I know.  People tell me that ALL THE TIME.)

OK, strange Haggis chip crisp tangent over.

Forfar Bridies, as they are formally known in the homeland, are said to have first been made by a traveling food seller, Maggie Bridie of Glamis, about 125 miles southeast of Inverness.  Local lore has her selling her hot, savoury pies at the Buttermarket in Forfar, Forfarshire (now County Angus).  While it traditionally uses the same short crust pastry as a Cornish Pasty, the filling of a Bridie is different to its southern cousin.  A pasty traditionally contains beef, onion, potato and rutabaga (yellow turnip (it's everywhere -- aagh!)), whereas a Bridie's ingredients are limited to beef, suet and, most times, onion.

As you may have gathered, I wasn't particularly impressed with the Bridies I sampled on our trip.  I was disappointed by the puff pastry and ground beef.  There is a big difference between a flaky, buttery shortcrust made by hand and mass-produced, oily puff pastry.  There is also a big difference between minced steak and hamburger.  In both cases, I prefer the former.

I have no doubt that, somewhere in Scotland, a great authentic Bridie still exists -- I'm sure it was just a case of this Outlander not knowing where to go (silly Sassenach) -- so, if you know the whereabouts of the ultimate Bridie, please share the wealth!

As for the two Bridies that Brianna bought on the market square in Inverness -- the first she savoured herself, the second she shared with her newly acquired bondsmaid Lizzie -- Diana is very specific in her description:

A bridie was a plump hot pie in a half-moon shape, filled with minced steak and suet and spiced with onion.  A rush of hot, rich juice and flaky pastry filled her mouth, and she closed her eyes in bliss. (Drums of Autumn)

Having found modern-day Bridies to be so much less than bliss making, I think it's in all our best interests if we go back in time and make them the way they used to.  Sort of.

 Outlander Kitchen's Valentine's Day Round Up

Brianna, born in 1948, would have been accustomed to the taste of suet -- even before she travelled through the stones.  Prior to the wide-spread popularity of vegetable shortening, animal fats were widely used in baking, and there is no doubt that the crispest, flakiest pastry is made with suet (beef) or lard (pork).  However, animal fats have fallen out of favour in recent decades, so that many people today consider suet`s taste unusual, if not unpalatable.

Before we left on our trip, I made a batch of Bridies using suet.  Having taken one bite, I doubt there are many alive today who would choose to eat a whole Bridie made with exclusively suet.  If you exist, you know who you are.  The rest of us should use butter. Although much more expensive than suet, butter was readily available in the 18th Century.  If you are determined to incorporate at least a little suet into the recipe for authenticity's sake, I suggest using it in place of the butter I have called for in the meat filling.  Beef fat mixed with meat is more familiar tasting than suet pastry (actually, it's quite tasty).

Suet used to be found in the at the end of the frozen meat section.  It is getting harder to find though, especially at times other than Christmas (traditional mincemeat uses suet).  Your butcher may have some buried in his/her freezer -- you'll never know until you ask.

In addition to a hand-minced steak Bridie, I also created my own version of a vegetarian Bridie.  For all that authenticity is important, most people these days agree that vegetables are more important.  If Claire was around, I'm sure she would approve.

I omitted the turnip and instead opted for potato, onion, celery, carrot, red pepper and extra-aged cheddar.  Claire probably would have used at least some turnip -- and thrown in the green tops in for good measure.  I'll leave that decision to you.

Show/Hide Comments


02 Nov 2011 - 8:42pm

Natalie Zook (…

Those sound delightful! Your blog is a lovely mix of cooking, traveling, and the Outlander novels. Three of my favorite things. :)

04 Nov 2011 - 12:59pm

Kathy C

I made this recipe yesterday. The directions are easy to follow and my bridies are wonderfully yummy. They're not quite as pretty as yours, but not ugly, either!


Great news Kathy! Crimping a bridie is a little tricky -- I`m sure your last one looked better than the first -- but now that you know how delicious they are, you`ll be an expert in no time flat! (Bridies make great brown bag lunches...) Theresa

16 Jan 2012 - 5:48am


Thanks for sharing your travels! We too did a week of Caley Cruising last June, after being inspired by the Outlander novels. Hope you got to take in Culloden while you were there. It was absolutely moving. Especially the Clan Fraser stone and the farm house. Cheers from Michigan!


Kelly,nnAnother happy cruiser! We loved every moment of our 2 weeks in Scotland. We did get to take in Culloden, as well as a couple of nights in Edinburgh. Can't wait to return...Theresa

25 Feb 2012 - 5:17am


A lassies from one of the Outlander Chat groups posted your recipe on that site. It presented on the page with much gibberish. I am so glad I already knew about your blog and could come here and get it right. She did give you credit on the link. I cannot wait to try this. We are trying to promote you.... Are you a member of one of the Many many Outlander Chat groups? Happy weekend, Helen in Ark.


Hi, Helen! Glad you found me here. I am on facebook as well as twitter and actively chat on both. May I ask what chat group you found this link? Just curious! Theresa

24 Mar 2012 - 11:27pm


Thank you so much for sharing your tidbits, trips, info and recipes with us. Having read all of the seiries, Lord Johns series as well, I love that I can now try some of the food that I hear and read about You can still get suet at the markets, call the meat dept. and let them know and they will save it for you. I make suet for the birds during the winter months and some when it is warmer. I even have my husband listening to the audio (unabridged of course) of the outlander series. We listen to them alot when we travel and brings up some interesting conversations, such as what would Jamie think of, say about, do and one can last as long as he does when he makes love. (hee hee) Then of course, we both love history so that fits in our ideals as well. We just came back from Key west, (we live in western New York and drive, so get a chance to listen to 3/4 of a book easily) and stopped to try and find Fraser's luck this time, but our next trip down, as we go ever year, we are stopping longer this time. Thanks again. Is it ok, if I print out the recipes and make a book so I can make notes as I cook these?


Glad you're enjoying the Kitchen, Ladyjohawk! You are welcome to print out the recipes...each title is a link to a printable document. Theresa

24 Sep 2012 - 7:05am

Scotch Eggs f…

likely: the Scotch egg was a portable lunch made from leftovers; a variation of a Cornish pasty, bridie, or any other working mans lunch from that era in

25 Sep 2012 - 7:04pm


Ahhh, I can't wait to make these. I remember reading this passage and thinking I wanna make those! Thank you for this recipe, I'll keep you posted on the results! I have been a fan of this series since 1994, enjoy it so much. Now, even more so! ;-)


Great news, Mardra! good luck with the bridies. :)

08 Apr 2013 - 3:09am


Made these tonight with ground lamb instead of the beef, used the rest of the original recipe, but added some fresh rosemary and oregano. Delicious! Can't wait for lunch tomorrow for leftovers. I have had so much fun cooking with recipes from this web site and now Island Vittles.


I'm so happy to hear all of that, Darden! Keep on cooking. :)

09 Aug 2014 - 4:44am


Thank you for posting! I look forward to making these as they sound delish! I too am a fan of anything Outlander, food and travel. Scotland is at the top of my bucket list and I think your trip sounds phenomenal! When I first began reading the series my husband and girls used to tell each other, "Mom's gone to Scotland again!" So maybe someday I'll actually get to step foot on the land that inspires me! Thanks again!

14 Aug 2014 - 9:20pm


So glad you liked them! They're always popular around here too.

18 Aug 2014 - 3:37am


Hi, Lori! Nope, you put the steak in the crust raw. Enjoy!

20 Aug 2014 - 10:59pm


Aren't they great?! Glad you like them!

06 Sep 2014 - 9:55pm


I have made these this week and my Scottish husband gave me a big compliment! Truly was excellent. Thank you for sharing as I did on Facebook!

19 Jan 2015 - 11:15pm


This recipe sounds delicious! Can't wait to try it!

07 Feb 2015 - 6:13am


Reading about your description of suet and tastes reminded me of growing up in the 50's. We were fortunate enough to have a large chest freezer. When occasionally we got a quarter of beef, my Mom would have the butcher shop save and grind the fat. She then rendered it in our oven to use when cooking and baking. You're quite right, it is an entirely different taste! We also baked our family recipe of "applesauce cake" with lard. It called for a half-gallon of applesauce and all the spices were Tablespoons. These days, we use vegetable shortening and half the recipe. Though I did buy lard and make the original for a friend at work several years ago. He raved as his grandma had baked with lard.

19 Apr 2016 - 8:53am


Can't wait to make these soon! Is this a recipe that could be made in large batches and frozen(either before or after cooking)? They look delicious but would be even more tempting if I could do a bunch at once and have them on hand..


They freeze beautifully before cooking. I believe I've included instructions in the above post. :)

20 Apr 2016 - 1:36pm


It sounds like you had a great time baking these up! Definitely try all those variations you`re talking about - that`s how you make a recipe your very own! Theresa

14 Aug 2014 - 9:03pm


Holy Yummy! I made a double recipe of the meat version for an Outlander viewing party, and people have been asking for the recipe all week. Thank you so much for sharing - we all loved these, and I'm sure I'll be making them again before too long.

18 Aug 2014 - 1:01am


I'm not much of a cook so I have what may be a silly question. Do you cook the steak before you use it to fill the crust? Thanks.

19 Aug 2014 - 9:36pm


Made these twice and both times delicious! First time was chicken (cooked first) w/veggies. Second was the beef and vegetarian pies. :) Amazing! Even my picky eater loved these.


Oh I forgot! I also put 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce in with the beef. Yum.

20 Aug 2014 - 9:44pm

Andrea James

Just made these for dinner! They are amazing! Thank you!

10 Sep 2014 - 12:31pm

Kelly Lee Brosky

I am gluten intolerant. Do you think the all purpose flour could be substituted for gluten free all purpose flour? I usually do that but I know that this type of dough can be triksey... Thanks!


I can`t tell you for sure that it will work, Kelly Lee, but it should work. Maybe make a half batch the first time around?

20 Sep 2014 - 1:38am


These were a big hit with my husband and they tasted great heated up again as leftovers! I had never thought of grating frozen butter before, and discovered that in Arizona in the summer I had to put the cubes of butter back in the freezer about 1/2 way through so that they did not melt in my hands. If I had thought about it, I would have put the grater and the bowl in the freezer before hand as well. But the crust tasted great, although I am going to have to work on my crimping technique!

20 Sep 2014 - 11:24pm

Rebecca Karstetter

I made these for my book club last night. We read Outlander at my suggestion and had bridies and a little whisky tasting. The bridies were fabulous. As someone whose pastry has, in the past, been hit or miss, your directions were spot on. I will definitely make them again. Yum!

23 Oct 2014 - 3:57am


I made these tonight. They were amazing! I made a double batch of the steak. Even my 4 year olds gobbled them up!

17 Dec 2014 - 12:20am


Theresa, I want you to know what a gift this recipe has been to my family. My husband likes these so much I was able to bribe him into listening to the Outlander Books on CD so I would make them for him. He is about 1/2 way through Dragonfly in Amber and is hooked! This is the only home made meal I can make that my 85 year old Da who lives alone will reheat to have with salad (instead of frozen dinners)! For me that is huge!!! Thank you so much!

01 Jan 2015 - 4:34am

Chelsea Tracey

Is it possible to get a picture included with the printable recipe?


The printed recipe is intended for those who don't want to waste ink on a could always click on the pic you want to print, which will open it on a separate page and print it from there.

13 Mar 2015 - 4:54pm

Teresa Ortego

Is there a difference between these and those Scotish meat pies I see sold at Ren Faires and Highland Games besides the shape? Thank you! Looking forward to making these. Oh if I use chicken in them should it be raw or cooked?


No, pies and Bridies are different. Whatever meat you use, use it raw. Have fun!

18 Mar 2015 - 1:17pm

Teresa Ortego

Theresa, I made these te other day and OH MY!!! The pastry crust was the flakiest I have ever made. I think the key is grating the butter frozen. A biscut recipe called for this method as well and made a huge difference. That and all the chilling of the dough. I loved these, thank you so much for sharing!

28 Aug 2015 - 1:09am

Reva Callaway

I can't make these 'til I get back home in October, I have a wood-burning oven & I think these would be perfect in it! I was wondering what would happen if you combined the two fillings...maybe 3/4 beef & 1/4 vegetables.


Reva, I have not combined the filling ingredients in a Bridie, but I routinely combine leftovers from the both fillings and stir fry and it is wonderful! I am sure it would be just as wonderful in a Bridie. I don't have good proportions, as it depends on what is left over each time, I would guess about 50/5o or 60/40 is about what I usually have.

11 Sep 2015 - 4:26am


I used to make these years ago with a similar recipe for Cornish pasties. They used minced cabbage in addition to the other veggies. We really enjoyed them, but lost the recipe. Will have to try this one. BTW, my husband was born in Anglesey and we have visited several times. Lovely island and people.

12 Sep 2015 - 4:39am


What a fabulous adventure!!! Thank you for sharing it with us. I am gonna make your Bridies. Yum!

12 Sep 2015 - 3:02pm

Barbara Lee

Ohhhhhh these look so good. As a fan of Outlander since 1997, Gabaldon's descriptions of certain foods have left my mouth watering unsatisfactorily.. since I don't have the foods at hand. I will definitely be preparing these asap. I love books that describe food in the story with such an enticing manner... but then you never have that food to eat! This is an awesome site. Thank you!

19 Apr 2016 - 5:39pm


I haven't tried making a double batch, but a single batch makes more than enough for the 2 of us, so I routinely freeze them after cooking and they taste just fine reheated in the microwave!

19 Apr 2016 - 9:07pm


Hi Theresa, I have been saving this recipe (I printed it out last year) and made them for the opening night of Season 2 to share with a couple who are also fans. YUM! My friends RAVED! My husband thought the veggie ones were a bit more tasty than the steak ones (I did add one small turnip which made for leftovers of just that filling -- silly me, if you add volume you get more.)! I guess our palates have changed in the lasts 40 years . One comment, there was butter/grease that collected on the baking sheet by the end of the baking, I am wondering if the amount in the filling is necessary? I definitely think I would rather have suet or lard as the fat with the meat, the butter just didn't "taste right" to me. I'll search my meat department next time (there will definitely be a next time! Also my "mental taste buds" were thinking that adding some mushrooms to the meat ones would really be grand - have you ever done that? I think it would be 'authentic' as Claire is always adding 'shrooms. Your directions for crust worked well. One ques: Which size holes on box grater do you use? I used large and think medium might be better? Thanks!! Bangers & Mash are next--excited about that crockpot onion gravy!

Add new comment

You might also be interested in