Pīrāgi (Bacon buns)

piragi bacon pies

Speķa pīrāgi or bacon pies/pasties have become the most popular and most recognised of Latvian treats. Traditionally they would be eaten at any major celebration, be it birthday, Chistmas or Jāņi; hand-made from yeasty dough and streaky smoked bacon.

The recipe comes from our aunt Brigita, who is the hostess (saimniece) at Sydney Latvian Church.

Pīrāgi (bacon pies)

3 hours

Pīrāgi (bacon pies)


    For the dough
  • 500ml milk
  • 125ml cream
  • 100g sugar
  • 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 125g sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1kg plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • For the filling
  • 500g middle bacon or side bacon
  • 1 small onion
  • salt and pepper
  • Extra flour for rolling
  • 1 egg for egg wash


  1. Pour milk and cream in a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat the mixture until it becomes blood warm. (Test by placing couple drops on your wrist, if the milk feels very hot, let it cool down a bit. Do not get the milk to the boiling point as it will kill the yeast.)
  2. In a large bowl, pour the milk mixture and add cubed butter, sour cream and the whisked egg, combine well.
  3. Add yeast, sifted flour, salt and mix until all is combined well to create the dough. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and does not stick to the hands or the bowl (add a bit more flour if necessary).
  4. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). To speed up the process, place the bowl in a sink filled with hot water.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling: finely cut the bacon and the onion, add a teaspoon of finely ground pepper and combine well.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Sprinkle some flour on the rolling surface and place the dough on it. Cut it in quarters and work on each quarter at a time by rolling it until the dough is 5 mm thick.
  8. Cut out circles about 6 cm in diameter (I usually use a mug for cutting) from the rolled dough. Place one heaped teaspoon of filling on one side of the circle and fold over. Tightly press the dough together using your fingers, place pīrāgs seam side down and bend in a shape of a half moon (the last bit is optional).
  9. Transfer pies on to the baking tray, spaced about 2 cm apart. Using a pastry brush, brush each pie with the egg wash.
  10. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown.


This amount of dough will make around 45 pies. Pīrāgi can also be filled with sauerkraut, mushrooms or minced meat. When used in other recipes, the amount of dough is considered to be one quantity.





  1. […] Author: Adapted from Latvian Eats Cuisine: Latvian Prep time:  100 mins Cook time:  25 mins Total time:  […]

    1. Andra
      December 28, 2020

      Do you have to activate yeast? I just made the dough and worried it won’t rise properly. Other recipes I’ve tried have you activate yeast.

      1. Liva
        December 28, 2020

        I am using dry yeast and you do not need to activate it. Jut two things to keep in mind: make sure the yeast you use is fresh, I found small sachets work best, and the temperature of milk is not too hot. Good luck!

  2. […] I looked long and hard for the softest and airiest dough recipe, as making them from the regular yeast dough just did not cut it for me. However, I do usually make them from leftover pīrāgi dough, then I […]

  3. Beverly
    December 20, 2015

    Oh my, my all-time favorite Latvian munchie that my Latvian Mother-in-Law made was Piragi. I would have eaten dozens of these without blinking an eye.
    I Americanized it by using packaged croissant as the dough. While a not too bad substitute, the homemade dough is soooo devine.

  4. tania
    December 31, 2015

    Oh, sugar in piragu dough!!! You’ve got to be kidding me……… YUK!

    1. Kire Smura
      December 15, 2016

      You obviously never had good piragi, very dry and tasteless without sugar

      1. Bro
        September 28, 2020

        yeah but 100G seems an awful lot

        1. Linda
          April 19, 2022

          I agree 3 tbsp to 1kg of flour is what I use

    2. Anonymous
      September 23, 2018

      Even pizza made in town, has sugar in its sauce!

    3. Linda
      April 19, 2022

      It’s a sweet dough so that’s how it’s made.. it isn’t bread dough

  5. Megan
    January 14, 2016

    My boyfriend and his family are from Latvia, currently living in Northern Ireland, and when his granny comes to visit she always brings a big bag of these from Latvia, they are absolutely delicious :)

  6. Peteris
    December 12, 2016

    My mom brushed black coffee on the Piragi after they came out of the oven. I have no clue why? Has anyone heard of this?

    1. Sarah
      December 21, 2016

      My grandmother and mother mixed ground coffee in with the egg wash. I’m not completely sure why, but I always thought it was to make them a bit darker. These piragus are much lighter than anything I’ve ever had.

      1. mike
        December 6, 2019

        My grandma’s looked light like the ones in the picture. She was raised by a baker in Cesis so I’m assuming she had a pretty legit recipe (not to brag). I’m guessing the coffee is individual taste though.

    2. Anonymous
      November 22, 2019

      My dad’s mother, my grandma did that, the reason being that she liked the piragi to be baked very, very light, and brushed with coffee to make them appear a darker golden brown.

  7. […] around in the wallet to attract money), white bread and salt (for blessing), beer, bacon buns (pīrāgi) and gingerbread. Table would not be cleared for the whole night so that prosperity continues in […]

  8. Steve
    December 13, 2016

    My grandmother used to make them all the time. I grew up on them and now im gonna make them for my kids…had many when i was in riga …went well with zelta gold..

  9. […] for the recipe, I followed the lovely Liva on Latvian Eats, who explained the procedure in detail. As for the pies, they were amazing and I even drank some of […]

    1. Brigette
      February 26, 2022

      How is the best way to store the dough until the next bake, can you?
      I made the dough today but would prefer to bake them tomorrow.
      Tanks in advance!

      1. Liva
        March 11, 2022

        The best way is to keep the dough in the fridge covered with cling film. I do not recommend it though, in my experience dough tends to overproof and piragi are not as soft as they could be.

  10. David McGregor
    October 31, 2019

    I ( and my Grandmother, mother) use a simple pizza dough with a bit of extra sugar but I’ll try this. Thanks.

    1. Ilse Hofmanis Farrell
      December 18, 2020

      Pīrāgi are all about the dough. No way that made with Pizza dough or crescent rolls can they be called pīrāgi . Add cardamon to the dough for an extra taste and smell sensation.

      1. Valda
        January 4, 2021

        How much cardamom do you add to the dough?

        1. Liva
          January 4, 2021

          I don’t use cardamom in my dough, but I’ve seen recipes that state 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom for every 3 cups of flour.

  11. Marks
    December 5, 2019

    For years we used the UK packaged pizza dough mix for the bread, which were fine, thin shell and like people say, managed to eat dozens at a time. For a while is then used Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough mix which gave a more breast and larger rising dough, but after trying these last night, doubling the recipie, this gives such a rich and soft dough. This really does hit the nail on the head in terms of matching that subtle sweetness of the ones you get in Riga from the markets. Don’t be alarmed of the sugar and creams in the ingredients, it provides a very balanced flavour, almost brioche texture to the finished Piragi which tastes just brilliant. Will be using this recipie from now on. Very very good.

  12. Best in Espresso
    March 10, 2020

    The taste of Latvia every bite.

  13. Nat
    April 11, 2020

    What type of cream is used? Thickened cream?

    1. Liva
      April 13, 2020

      Any cream will do, you just need to add more fat to the dough. Some recipes use milk and oil, but I prefer adding cream so to imitate full fat milk I can’t really get these days anymore.

  14. Denise Ferguson
    April 18, 2020

    Relative used to make them and so happy I have the recipe will try asap Thank you
    Also have been looking for a cake recipe she also used to make.
    It was sponge like and had cream or something all over it and roasted almonds everywhere it was best cake I have ever eaten. She made it for every party. And Latvians know it as I would love the recipe please

  15. […] pīrāgi filling is a bit more time-consuming to make compared to chopping bacon and onion, but it is a good […]

  16. Grace
    December 13, 2021

    Do you cook the bacon before putting it in the dough?

    1. Liva
      December 24, 2021

      Hi, I never cook bacon or onion before filling the buns – it will have a very different flavour, if bacon and onion is cooked first

  17. Kelly-Ann
    March 9, 2022

    Just wondering if they can be prepared and then frozen ready to be baked at another time? I’ve made big batches in the past, baked them and frozen them once cooled. I then reheated them when needed. My grandmother always made these for Easter and Christmas and I’d like to have some freshly baked and warm for Easter Sunday. Thanks in advance and love your site.

    1. Liva
      March 11, 2022

      I believe they are better when baked, frozen and reheated when required. I have had a bad experience with getting frozen yeast pastry to cook properly – it just turns hard and dry.

      1. Kelly-Ann
        March 13, 2022

        Thank you. I think I’ll stick to baking them first, then freezing and reheating.


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